Metal Roof Solar Installation Guide

Solar energy can seem like an attractive addition for any home owner. Questions of compatibility are common, and some contractors might say solar isn’t an option, but solar panels can be a great addition to almost any home.

Solar panels can be installed on a metal roof. In fact, metal roofs are one of the most compatible with solar panels. Panels can often be installed without creating holes in the roof, and metal is an excellent insulator, so it pairs well with solar panels.

If you are interested in installing solar on your metal roof, keep reading for more information on the process, benefits, and how to find a contractor who can help meet your needs.

How Solar Panels are Installed on Metal Roofs

Standard Panels

One advantage to metal roofing in terms of solar are the rails that run vertically on metal roofs. These rails provide secure points of attachment for solar panels that don’t require holes to be drilled down through the roof, and instead commonly use a clamping system.

A clamp is placed on the rail, which has a mechanism used to attach the panel on top of it. While the clamps are often drilled in, they are drilled through the seem, preventing potential damage caused by drilling through roofing and into the house.

Several clamps are used per solar panel, which creates a stable platform for the panel. This is done as each panel installed on the roof, and the clamp system makes it easy to address a panel that isn’t in the correct spot.

In the youtube video linked below, a solar installer discusses the process in detail, while demonstrating the process. It is simple enough to understand, and interesting to see.

Solar Film Laminates

Another option often utilized for metal roofing is solar film laminate, which is a thin film solar panel which can be readily applied to a metal roof.

These function essentially like a sticker, so the solar film has an adhesive on one side that sticks to the roof. This prevents the need for any sort of drilling whatsoever.

The solar film laminates are flexible, intended to be able to be applied to any surface. As such they seem to be a fantastic option as a convenient alternative to the heavy, difficult to install solar panels found more commonly on home roofs.

Additionally, home companies have designed this type of solar panel specifically for metal roofs; they are designed to sit between the seems on the roof.

Solar Panels vs Solar Film

With this view, it can be easy to assume that solar film is a much better solution to your solar needs. It’s convenient, accessible, and literally designed for metal roofs, but the question really isn’t as simple as how easy the installment of the solar panels is. Renewability and efficiency are both major concerns when comparing these two options.

Renewability is one of the primary goals of solar energy, and you could say that sacrificing renewability in the pursuit of solar energy completely defeats the point. This is a major point of concern, as solar film laminates contain cadmium, an element known to cause major health concerns, like cancer and organ toxicity, in prolonged exposure. Right now, this solar film presents major health risks to the people exposed to it.

A second problem is the efficiency of the solar film. They produce no more than half as much energy as their full solar panel counterparts, so ultimately they will be less productive and beneficial to you and your home.

Solar technology is developing at an incredible rate, and new ideas and solutions are brought up all the time. The amount of cadmium in solar film laminate decreases with every improvement to the technology, and the efficiency is constantly on the rise. That said, in the here and now, solar film laminates cannot outperform or out-value the use of more traditional solar panels.

Benefits of Solar Panels on Metal Roofs

In addition to the added benefit of less damage to your roof, the clamp system allows for easier access to the solar panels. Should a panel need repair or even replacing, a repairman can more readily access, remove, repair, and replace the panels installed, than he would have been able to in a different installment system.

The simplicity of installation on a metal roof is brilliant. There is no need for additional water sealing, the longevity of a metal roof means that rather than confronting the additional expense of solar panels in a roof replacement every 20 years, you could be celebrating up to a 70 year lifespan on your roof before it’s time to replace.

Metal roofs are also stronger than other roof types, which makes it ideal for solar panels, as the panels will be more stable and secure.

Solar panels match the choice of a metal roof. Metal roofs are often made from recycled material, they are one of the most sustainable options for roofing, just as solar is a great alternative source of energy.

One of the primary benefits of a metal roof is the absorption of heat without heating the house beneath it. Solar panels build on this, turning that light into usable energy.

Finding a contractor

Combining solar panels and metal roofing is a relatively new practice, so many contractors don’t have experience with the process. However, this does not mean that it is too difficult, or even impossible.

Contact a contractor, and ask about installing solar on your metal roof. If they say that it can’t be done, they aren’t the contractor for you. If you’re having trouble, ask a contractor if they can refer you to anyone who can do the job. Chances are, someone near you will know how to do the job.

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