Going with a solar panel system does not mean that you will be ripping off your roof. You can always start small by purchasing outdoor lighting that is run off of solar energy. They'll charge up during the day to light all night, with exception of pre-dawn hours during long winter nights.
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If you think you might need to replace your roof in the near future, hold off on installing solar panels. Solar panels can be difficult for some roof installers to contend with, and this means a more difficult and increasingly costly roof repair bill. If you can afford to wait on the panels and replace your roof first, this is the way to go.
Talk to your local government about doing any major solar installations in your home or business. You want to be properly permitted and within building, zoning and construction codes and regulations. However, you may also discover tax credits, rebates and other financial incentives. They may also have data and information about how well certain solar technologies work in your area.