Solar panels on metal roof.

Can Solar Panels Be Installed On A Metal Roof?


Many homeowners know that a quality roof is one of the best ways to protect the home from the elements and costly repairs. It provides a barrier against snow, rain, wind, branches and debris. 

Metal roofs have soared in popularity recently due to their exceptional performance, durability and energy efficiency. Metal roofs can even make a home more resilient to climate extremes, such as hurricanes, wildfires and hailstorms.

But roofs serve more than just one purpose, especially if you want to install a solar power system. Often, homeowners wonder if a metal roof is compatible with solar. Read on to learn more.

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Can You Put Solar Panels On A Metal Roof?

Yes, metal roofs and solar panels make an excellent combination, but it is possible to install solar panels on most types of roofs. Metal roofs have a lifespan of 40 to 70 years, which is longer than the life of your solar panel system.

This means that you won’t need to remove your solar panels to complete roof work. Also, it is often possible to mount solar panels on a metal roof without roof penetrations, which is an ideal scenario.

Types Of Metal Roofs

A variety of metal roofs are available on the market for residential applications. Typically, these roofing products come in various colors.

  • Standing seam metal roof: This roofing system has raised seams or vertical legs and a broad flat area between the two legs. It features a concealed fastener system and can be used for roofing and metal walls.
  • Metal tile roofs: These roofing products are designed to look like ceramic roof tiles but are easier to install and more durable.
  • Corrugated metal roofs: This round and wavy roofing material consists of metal made into panels that are attached using screws.

How To Install Solar Panels On A Metal Roof

Let’s explore some tips when it comes to mounting a solar power system on a metal roof.

1. Mount Your Panels On A Standing Seam Roof

Standing seam metal roofs and solar panels go together like peanut butter and jelly. The vertical ribs on the roof are ideal for attaching solar panels without any roof penetrations. Installing solar panels on standing seam metal roofs also saves time, potentially reducing the labor expense of your solar project.

Installing solar panels on metal roof tiles is a bit more complicated because there isn’t a flat surface to attach the panels. Often, solar installers use tile replacement mount products that create a flat surface and protect the roof from damage.

Likewise, corrugated metal roofs can also be a bit challenging for installing solar panels, and it requires drilling holes into the roofing material.

2. Use A Solar Mounting System To Prevent Damage

The right solar mounting system makes installing solar panels on a metal roof easier and can help prevent roof damage. Solar installers often use railed racking systems on corrugated metal roofs because they require fewer roof penetrations yet securely attach the photovoltaic (PV) panels to the roof. Choosing an ideal solar mounting system is particularly important in areas prone to hurricanes.

Although most rooftop solar mounting systems aren’t costly compared to the total cost of the system, they can have a big impact on the amount of labor needed to install your solar panels. Also, a solar mounting system is paramount for the longevity of your roof, especially if you don’t have a standing seam metal roof.

3. Choose A Light-Colored Metal Roof For Better Energy Efficiency

If you live in a warm climate, then you likely have high cooling bills. However, there are ways to make homes more energy-efficient to consume less electricity. Light-colored roofs are more effective at reflecting heat away from your home, keeping it cool.

4. Consider Thin-Film Solar Panels

Although metal roofs are well suited for solar panels, thin-film solar panels are also an excellent choice. It can be mounted between the seams on a standing seam metal roof, making it aesthetically pleasing.

Thin film technology is often flexible and has an adhesive that sticks to surfaces. It is typically less expensive than other module options and performs well at high temperatures. Because it is less efficient than crystalline solar panels, it is often used in applications where there is plenty of roof space.

Benefits Of Installing Solar Panels On A Metal Roof

There are many advantages of going solar with a metal roof.

  • Durability: The lifespan of a metal roof is typically between 40 and 70 years, eliminating the need to replace the roof during the lifespan of the solar energy system.
  • Greater cooling: Light-colored metal roofs can also help promote home energy savings in warm climates. Reducing your electricity consumption makes it easier for your solar panels to produce 100% of your electricity needs.
  • Sustainability: Metal roofs are recyclable and durable, making it a smart choice for the planet and the pocketbook.
  • Energy efficiency: When metal roofs are attached with a batten/counter-batten system that allows airflow underneath, it can significantly reduce both heating and cooling bills in the home.
  • Easier installation: It is usually easier to install solar panels on a metal roof, so this helps reduce the time it takes to install them. Often, this can help reduce the total cost of a solar system a bit.

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FAQs About Solar Panels On A Metal Roof

Because metal roofs have just recently become more mainstream and popular, many homeowners have questions.

What are the best solar panels for a metal roof?

Both crystalline panels with a frame and thin-film solar work well with metal roofs. This is especially true for standing seam metal roofs and crystalline panels because the hardware can clamp directly onto the seams, avoiding roof penetrations.

What is the life expectancy of solar panels on a metal roof?

Because metal roofs typically last between 40 and 70 years and solar panels for 25 to 30 years, metal roofs often outlast the solar panel system. By contrast, the lifespan of an asphalt shingle roof is about 15 and 30 years, depending on the climate.

What is the best type of roof material for installing solar panels?

Although asphalt shingles are the most common roofing material for solar panels, standing seam metal roofs are the best metal option. The lifespan of the roof is longer than the solar panels and it isn’t necessary to penetrate the roof during the solar system installation. This is beneficial for both the roof warranty and long-term durability.

Are there any disadvantages of a metal roof?

One of the biggest downsides to a metal roof is the upfront cost, which is significantly higher than an asphalt shingle roof. However, because the roofs last longer, they can still be a smart investment. Unfortunately, metal roofs can be noisier when it rains than asphalt shingles, depending on the decking and insulation. Also, sometimes the fasteners can fail before the roofing material.

What type of roof can solar panels not be installed on?

Wood and slate roofs are not ideal for solar panels. For example, installing solar panels on cedar shingle roofs is a fire hazard. It is important to use standoffs when installing solar panels on slate roofs to avoid drilling into the slate.

The Bottom Line

As both metal roofs and solar panels grow in popularity, many homeowners wonder if the two are a good combination. Metal roofs and solar panels are an excellent combination for numerous reasons. The long lifespan of metal roofs, its durability and performance make it a wise choice.

Visit the Rocket SolarSM Learning Center for more information about powering your home with solar electricity.

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