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Posted by McElroy Metal ● Jan 24, 2022 8:00 AM

Solar Panels on Metal Roofs

With an increased focus on energy efficiency and sustainability in recent years, the use of solar panels in residential home projects has increased. The same trends and consumer behaviors that have made metal roof panels an increasingly popular choice for residential projects also impact homeowners’ decision to install solar energy systems on their homes.

solar-panels-on-metal-roofs

Homeowners, builders, and architects are seeking products and materials that are high-performing, durable, and energy-efficient. Together, metal roof systems and solar panels can also exceed these desired performance requirements and offer financial benefits. 

A Durable and Strong Mounting System

When solar panels are installed on an asphalt shingle roof, they are affixed by drilling holes directly through the roof. These penetrations in the roof’s surface can lead to leaking and other potential problems.

Conversely, standing seam metal roofs use a zero-penetration clamping system that allows solar panels to be installed without violating the integrity of the roof or the roof’s warranty. 

Metal also provides an exceptionally strong base that can support the weight of heavy solar systems, reducing the possibility of roofing failures. 

A Long-Term Solution

The lifespan of a photovoltaic system is estimated at approximately 32 years, according to a study performed by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)

State Farm estimates the lifespan of a traditional asphalt roofing system at 12-20 years, which means that homeowners face the likelihood of their roof failing before their solar panel system does.  

There are high costs involved in completing a re-roofing project for a traditional asphalt shingle roofing system. The process often requires the modules, mounting, and racking systems to be removed, modules decommissioned during the process, and then the photovoltaic system to be reinstalled and recommissioned after the installation of new asphalt shingles. Each step adds substantial labor costs to a re-roofing project. 

With a metal roofing system, homeowners significantly reduce the risk of their roof failing before the solar panel system does. Metal roofing can last up to 60 years, two to three times the average lifespan of other roofing materials. A metal roof should easily outlast the solar panels. 

Maximum Energy Savings

Changing climate patterns show that many regions are experiencing hotter weather patterns stretching for longer periods, and with these changes come inflated energy costs. A study by the Yale School of the Environment shows that as temperatures climb, the demand for home air conditioning in the U.S. is expected to increase 59% over the next 30 years. This increased energy usage also means increased emissions, strained power grids, and inflated utility costs. 

Especially when combined with solar panels, metal roofs offer abundant energy-efficiency benefits. Metal roofing systems are considered “cool roofs” due to their reflectivity. Asphalt shingles absorb and hold heat; even basic, unpainted metal roofs reflect more solar radiation than asphalt shingles. 

Cool metal roofing is highly reflective and has a high thermal emittance. Reflectivity is the amount of energy reflected away from the surface of the roof. Thermal emittance, on the other hand, is the measure of a panel’s ability to release heat that it has absorbed.

Reflectivity and thermal emittance reduce the amount of the sun's energy absorbed by the roof. This results in less heat entering the home through the roof with less heat entering the attic space and the rest of the home, lowering the utility load.

According to the MRA (Metal Roofing Alliance), cool metal roofs can reduce the amount of air conditioning needed by 10-15%. The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that ENERGY STAR-qualified roofs could lower roof temperatures by as much as 50 degrees. 

State-Funded Incentives

California was the first state to mandate solar panels in residential construction in 2018. The mandate requires that new single-family homes and multi-family dwellings up to three stories high have solar panels installed starting in 2020. 

California’s solar mandate was created to help the state move entirely to renewable energy. And while the state does not provide any additional tax credits for installing solar panels, federal tax credits are available to cover 26% of the total solar panel cost.

Other states offer tax incentives for using solar energy (visit www.dsireusa.org) to make installing solar panels an economical choice for homeowners. Affordable payment programs are also available. 

As the cost of solar panels decreases, the return on investment for homeowners continues to improve.

Individually, solar panels and metal roofing systems are known for their durability, long lifespan, and energy savings. Paired together, they maximize these benefits to offer homeowners a high-performing, cost-savings solution that will last decades. 

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About McElroy Metal

Since 1963, McElroy Metal has served the construction industry with quality products and excellent customer service. The family-owned components manufacturer is headquartered in Bossier City, La., and has 13 manufacturing facilities across the United States. Quality, service and performance have been the cornerstone of McElroy Metal’s business philosophy and have contributed to the success of the company through the years. As a preferred service provider, these values will continue to be at the forefront of McElroy Metal’s model along with a strong focus on the customer.

Topics: Metal Roofing, Solar

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