Can you put solar panels on a metal roof?
Long story short- Yes you can.
Both standing seam metal roofs and corrugated metal roofs have secure installation techniques available. In this article, the aim is to tell you a little bit about those techniques and ease any worries you may have about installing solar panels on your metal roofed building.
Standing Seam Roofs
Standing seam panels are popularly used in constructions in many different kinds of buildings, both big and large. They’re durable and long lasting, and stand up well to the elements and whatever nature might dish out.
To attach solar panels to a standing seam roof, solar panels and their racking system are attached via U clamps, more often than not without requiring any kind of holes to be drilled. This is always a positive, of course, as metal roofs are not easily patched.
Maybe most important of all, solar installations on a standing seam roof are usually a little cheaper, as they are fairly simple and require very little special equipment.
Solar Panels on Corrugated Metal Roofs
Corrugated metal roofs are also popular in commercial roof installations. Though they are similar, installation of solar panels on these roofs has to be done in a slightly different way.
These mountings are universally going to require drilling holes in the roof- there’s no way around that. However, if it is done correctly, your roof will remain waterproof and strong.
To mount these panels, a small “foot” has to be mounted over or between the corrugations in the metal, and a rubber bushing will be secured to the bottom to seal the holes created by the mounting, thereby keeping water out.
Solar Panels on Metal Tile Roofs
Metal tile roofs are also relatively easy to mount solar panels on, though they require specialized equipment. Tile replacement mounts have to be fitted to the roof and swapped out with existing tiles. These tile-replacement mounts have the added bonus of keeping your solar installation completely waterproof so long as the installer fits the replacement tile precisely in the place of the metal tile.
Some customers worry that solar panels are too heavy to be supported by metal roofs, but most metal roofs are perfectly capable of supporting the weight of solar panels. Keep in mind that solar panels. Every roof needs to be inspected before solar panels are installed, usually by a 3rd party roof inspector to make sure it can withstand the additional weight of solar panels. Keep in mind that solar panels only exert something like 3-4 pounds of weight per square foot, so unless there is something structurally unsound about the roof the inspector will almost certainly sign off on the project.
In the case of a question with structural integrity, the inspector will make recommendations for what needs to be fixed or updated before the project can go forward. Once those improvements are made, the inspector will come back out and sign off if the fixes are to their satisfaction. In very rare cases, such as with a very old roof, the inspector may recommend a complete replacement.
Will Solar Panels Damage a Metal Roof?
Metal roofs cost a lot of money and last a very long time, so it’s understandable why anyone would be hesitant to do anything that might damage them, so we’re going to try to put some of those fears to rest right here.
Solar panels have certain industry standards that should be met during installations, and as long as your installer is competently trained and has the right equipment, your roof should not suffer any damage (short term or long term), and as a matter of fact solar panels can even help strengthen your roof.
Solar panels are designed to withstand a lot of punishment, being exposed to the elements 24/7- heat, cold, rain, snow, wind, hail, you name it. They can act as a buffer between your roof and mother nature, saving it some wear and tear over time.
With standing seam roofs, no punctures are necessary whatsoever to install solar panels, so you won’t be exposing yourself to any possible leaks. Ribbed roofs do require some holes to be drilled, but the bolting system used in this technique is specifically designed to keep those holes from leaking for as long as your solar panels are installed, so once again, leaks in the roof shouldn’t be a great concern.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last?
Currently, solar panel technology maxes out at about 25-30 years, and your metal roof will likely last significantly longer than this. Metal roofs are popular partly because they last anywhere from 40 to 70 years or longer, so there is a very good chance that your roof will outlast your solar panels.
So what if your roof needs to be replaced before your solar panels? Obviously this adds an extra step to replacing your roof, because your solar installer will have to come out to remove the panels, then your roof will need to be replaced, and your solar installer will have to return to re-install the panels. This is an added expense, and there’s no way around that. However, as we said, there’s a very good chance your roof will far outlast your solar panels, and frankly it is very likely to be someone else’s problem by the time any of it needs replacing. So smile! You won’t be here when it happens! Probably.
Overall, solar panels on a metal roof are every bit as good, if not better, than regular roofs. Whereas there’s a very good chance you’ll have to replace a regular roof on a house every 20-30 years, metal roofing lasts practically as long as the building it’s on, so your solar panels probably won’t ever have to be uninstalled and reinstalled.
Metal clamps eliminate the need to drill into certain types of metal roofs, and properly installed solar panels on corrugated roofs should negate the possibility of leaks. Metal roofs are plenty strong enough to support the added weight of solar panels, so that concern is a non-factor in any structurally sound roof.