Solar metal roofs 2017: top 5 things you need to know

solar on metal roof

Metal roofs are light, durable, and often made of eco-friendly recycled materials, so it’s no wonder that installing solar on metal roofs is an increasingly popular topic among homeowners. If you fall into this category, the good news is that metal is one of the best roof materials for solar panels. Ease of installation, durability, and environmental benefits are just three of the reasons to consider putting solar panels on a metal roof.

1. It’s easy to mount solar panels on a metal roof

Typically, your solar installer will drill holes in your roof so that they can attach the mounting for your solar panels. This is one of the main areas of concern for many homeowners considering solar, as an improperly mounted solar panel system can cause leaks or other roof issues. Most qualified solar installers offer workmanship warranties and roof warranties to reassure their customers that there will be no issues with the installation.

If you have a metal roof, however, your solar installer likely won’t need to make any holes in your roof at all, which virtually eliminates the possibility of issues down the road. There are a few alternative mounting options that make installing solar on a metal roofs easier:

solar racking for standing seam metal roof

Solar racking clamped to a standing seam metal roof.

  • Standing seam metal roofs: Two different solar panel mount manufacturers, Quick Mount PV and Ecofasten, have products designed specifically for metal roofs with standing seams. If you have a standing seam metal roof, your installer can attach panels using a mounting system that clamps onto the seams of the roof without having to make any holes. As an added bonus, using this type of racking can speed up installation times (and lower your labor costs) because your installer won’t have to drill holes into the roof.
quick mount pv tile roof

Quick Mount PV Tile Replacement Mounts on a Spanish tile roof.

  • Metal tile roofs: Quick Mount PV also manufactures a Tile Replacement Mount to make installing solar on tile roofs, including metal tile roofs, easier. Tile Replacement Mount products are shaped like roof tiles and can be swapped out with the existing tiles on your roof. In addition to making the installation process easier, they have the added bonus of ensuring that your solar installation is completely watertight since your installer is simply replacing tiles on your roof to mount your panels.

2. Solar metal roofs can host thin film panels in addition to standard PV panels

Thin film solar on a standing seam metal roof.

Thin film solar on a standing seam metal roof.

The majority of homeowners with solar in the United States are installing standard silicon photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, but homes with metal roofs have another option – thin film solar. Thin film solar can only be installed on certain types of roofs, and standing seam metal roofs are an ideal surface.

While PV panels offer higher efficiency per square foot, thin film solar panels have a lower profile and are easier to install. They also require much less energy to manufacture than silicon solar cells, which can make them a lower-emissions renewable energy option from the start.

3. Metal roofs are durable enough to outlast your solar panels

Solar panels are extremely durable and can last for 25 to 30 years, which is part of what makes them such a great investment for your home. However, in many cases, this means that your solar panels can outlive your roof, which can result in an added expense. If your roof is aging, you have to replace it before installing solar panels, or incur the additional cost of removing and re-installing your panels when the time comes to replace your roof.

Metal roofs, on the other hand, are the most durable conventional roofing material available. If you have a metal roof on your home, it will likely last longer than the lifespan of your solar panels, which reduces expense and hassle in the long term.

4. Solar panels can maximize the cooling benefits of a metal roof

Homebuilders and contractors often tout the benefits of cool metal roofing (e.g. metal roofs coated with reflective paint) to keep your home cool in the summer and reduce your energy use. Metal roofs reflect more sunlight than traditional black asphalt shingles, and some also have reflective paint to increase this effect. Installing PV solar panels can take your electric bill savings a step further simply by shading the roof’s surface.

5. Metal roofs and solar pair together to make an eco-friendly home

If you want to make your home truly eco-friendly, metal roofing and solar panels are two of the best ways to do it. Installing a cool metal roof can help you earn points through green building certification programs like LEED and ENERGY STAR, both of which also encourage home renewable energy options like solar panels. As an added environmental benefit, unlike many other options, both solar panels and metal roofing materials are recyclable at the end of their lifespan.

How to find a company to install solar panels for your metal roof

If homes with metal roofs are common in your area, you may be able to easily find local companies that have experience installing solar on metal. However, you should always get multiple quotes from installers to ensure that you’re working with a company that has the right expertise and background for your needs.

The best way to find multiple local solar installers is to register your property on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace. When you join, simply indicate the location of your property on Google Maps so installers will know that your property has a metal (they will see an overhead satellite image). To ensure that you get quotes from companies who will work on your property, you can also indicate that your home has a metal roof when you set up your preferences after joining.

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