Metal roofs are popular among homeowners because of their durability and solar panel compatibility. These roofs are considered one of the best roofing materials in the US.
Can you put solar panels on a metal roof? In general, you can install solar panels on a metal roof because metal offers large, protruding seams, making the panel array attachment easy and, therefore, cheaper. In addition, there is no need to drill holes into the roof.
With new homes adopting metal roofs and others replacing old roofs with metal, you may ask if you can mount solar panels on a metal roof.
In this article, I explain how to install solar panels on your metal roof and the benefits. Let’s dive in.
Most people wonder how many solar panels power a house; I wrote a whole article that I encourage you to read.
Are Metal Roofs Ideal For Solar Panels?
As consumers become increasingly aware of environmental sustainability, they continue to look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
Most homeowners are turning to solar power to achieve this goal and reduce the cost of electricity. But you have a metal roof; will it be compatible with solar panels?
Consider five factors that make metal roofs ideal for solar panels.
1- Easy Installation
Many homeowners considering installing solar panels on their roofs are often worried that the solar installer will poke holes in the roof to mount the panels. If the solar panels are improperly mounted, they could cause roof issues like leaks.
It seems as if solar panel installation could cause more harm than good. However, metal roofs dispel this worry because the installer does not need to drill holes in your roof. This means you can have the benefits of solar without the anxiety of roof issues occurring down the road.
How are solar panels mounted on metal roofs if no holes are created on the roof? The installer can use unique products designed for metal roofs, especially if they have standing seams. The installer can attach the solar panels through a mounting system that fastens the seams without making holes. The installation process is often faster.
2- Compatible With Thin-Film And Standard PV Panels
While most homeowners in the United States install standard photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, metal roofs are also compatible with thin film solar. This type of solar panel can’t just be installed on any roof. But metal roofs with standing seams offer an ideal surface for their installation.
Thin film solar panels are easy to install, although they may not offer similar efficiency per square feet as PV panels.
MiaSole is a California-based solar panel manufacturer that offers thin-film solar panels to homeowners with metal roofs.
Solar panels have a lifespan ranging from 25 to 30 years. This durability makes them an ideal investment for most homes because they offset their initial costs in the long run.
However, it may also mean that solar panels can outlive your roof, resulting in more expenses for replacement before removing and reinstalling solar panels when the roof gets old.
You will not face this problem with metal roofs because they are more durable than most conventional roofing materials. Metal roofs will outlive your solar panel, thus reducing roof replacement expenses and anxiety.
4- Energy Efficiency
Metal roofs, especially those coated with reflective paint, can keep your home cool in the hot summer, thus reducing energy consumption.
The reflective coating reflects more sunlight than the conventional roofs with black asphalt Shingles. You can also paint your roof with reflective paint to repel more heat.
Alternatively, you can install solar panels on the reflective roof, thus providing additional shading on the roof’s surface. The house will be kept cooler, allowing you to optimally use solar power at home.
5- Solar Panels And Metal Roofs Are Eco-Friendly
Environmentally conscious homeowners interested in reducing their carbon footprints can combine solar panels and metal roofing.
Metal roofs and solar panels offer cooling effects in the house, enabling you to earn points from green building certification programs like Energy Star and LEED.
Furthermore, you can recycle solar panels and metal roofing materials, making them environmentally friendly.
6- Resilient To High Winds
Metal roofs are more resilient to high winds than other roofing types. Once you have securely fastened your solar panels using brackets, high winds will not blow them away.
How Can You Install Solar Panels On a Metal Roof?
You may wonder how delicate solar panels will fare when installed on a metal roof. The installation process depends on the type of metal roofing structure.
Let’s explore the types of metal roofing structures and how to install solar panels.
1- Corrugated Metal Roofs
Corrugated metal roofs will need some drilling to fit solar panels. However, the installer will not drill excessive holes; if properly done, you will not incur the risk of water leakages.
These metal roofs are popular with commercial properties, warehouses, and changers. Commercial solar companies will likely install solar panels on their roofs through light drilling.
The installer will use penetrating brackets and straddle blocks, allowing the panels to sit above the roof’s ridges. They also ensure that the solar panels are elevated and secure on the roof.
What about the few holes used in fixing the panels? Your installer will apply sealants to prevent any potential leaks, thus protecting your roof and home. Corrugated metal roofs are the only metal roof that needs the drilling of holes during solar panel installations.
2- Standing Seam Metal Roofs
This type of metal roof has standing seams- a series of broad metal panels crimped together to create a flat continuous join.
Standing seam metal roofs are durable, lightweight, and watertight. They are specifically designed to facilitate solar panel installations.
The installer attaches the solar panels using a mounting system that tightly fixes them to the roof’s seams, leaving no hole for leaks.
Standing seam metal roofs are easy to install, lowering the installation costs since they are low-labor intensive.
You will commonly see this type of solar installation on residential properties. No drilling is needed on standing seam metal roofs; therefore, no water leakage risk on your roof.
3- Metal Tiles Roofs
Metal tiles roofs will also not require drilling when installing solar panels on your roof.
Manufacturers of the mounting system design replacement mounting products that resemble roof tiles. These mounting products are swapped with the existing tiles on the roof. The panels can then easily be attached to the mounting products.
They ensure the roof remains watertight because the installer will only replace certain tiles on the roof with a corresponding mounting metal.
4- Thin-Solar Panels
Flexible solar panels are easy to install. They can be mounted on your metal roof using adhesive since their surface is irregular.
Ensure the metal roof is clean to enhance the panel’s ability to stick.
Challenges Of Installing Solar Panels On a Metal Roof
Installing solar panels on a metal roof is not always simple. If your installer messes, they can cause some problems to your house. Consider some potential challenges.
1- Water Leaks
Your home’s roof should protect your family from harsh elements such as rainwater. Water leaks into the house can affect your building’s structural integrity and damage property.
Solar installation on corrugated metal roofs requires the drilling of some holes. However, if your installer fails to seal the holes properly, it can result in water leakages.
Your solar panels may feature some metal. If the metal frame touches the roof, there could be a galvanizing reaction, causing corrosion on the frame.
However, you can avoid this problem by ensuring that the solar frame material is compatible with the metal on the roof.
Additionally, you should consider roof paint. The paint should be friendly to solar panels. And if you live in places with frequent acid rains, you can add protective coating for solar panel frames to protect them from corrosion.
3- Roof Load
Different metal roofs have different thicknesses or gauges. The roof’s gauge determines its performance and durability.
You will notice that places that experience heavy snow have thicker roofs to keep the roof from crushing from heavy snow accumulation.
However, the weight any roof can bear is limited, hence the need to ensure your roof can comfortably hold the panels you intend to install. Sometimes, you may consult an engineer to determine how many solar panels your roof can bear without any issues.
What to read next:
- How to Choose Batteries for Solar Panel? (7 Best tips!)
- How Long Can Solar Panels Last Without Sun?
- Are Solar Panel Trackers Worth It? (Including their pros and cons)
Metal roofs are highly demanded in the United States because of their durability and solar compatibility. They can outline solar panels meaning you will reduce the potential cost of roof replacement and solar re-installation.
Metal roofs are also eco-friendly and promote energy efficiency, making them ideal candidates for solar panel installations.
So, can solar panels be installed on a metal roof? Absolutely! Most metal roofs do not require drilling, thus reducing the risk of water leakage.