Can I Install Solar Panels on Metal Roof?

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If you have a metal roof on your house can you install solar panels on top of it?? Well, in this article we will see the possible answer, advantages, disadvantages and alternatives if any.

You can install solar panels on a metal roof and it will cost you less money than a traditional RCC mounted solar system (in most cases) but the overall power generation will be lower if installation is done with the pitch and the direction of the metal roof.

Can I Install Solar Panels On Metal Roof ?

To answer this question, yes you can install solar panels on a metal roof. You can either lay down your solar panels directly on your metal roof using mounting rails or you can design custom frame to mount your solar panels to a specific angle and to face a specific direction.

The power generated from solar panels will depend on the pitch of your roof (angle) and the orientation (North-South roof or East – West roof) of your roof.

The power generation of solar panels depends on the angle and direction of orientation. For maximum power generation, if you like in northern hemisphere, your solar panels should face towards south and if you live in southern hemisphere your solar panels should face towards north.

Hence, if you have a two face slope roof (which most houses have) like north – south slope or east – west then one side in case of north – south and two sides in case of east – west will produce less power than it should.

If you have a east – west roof and you directly lay down your solar panels then power generation will be sacrificed but the overall cost of installation will be less since no custom structure will be required (standard mounting rails available in market will work).

Solar panels directly laid down on a metal roof

But if you decide to orient your solar panels to the best direction and the best angle needed for your east-west roof, then overall power generation will increase but so will the overall cost of solar installation.

Left -Solar panels directly on roof | Right – Solar panels with custom structure

In most cases you don’t have to worry about the angle of installation but the direction in which your solar panels face is important.

When should you not install solar panels on your metal roof:

Yes, we can install solar panels on a metal roof but when should we use our metal roof and when should we not.

You should not use your metal roof for installing solar panels in the following scenarios.

  1. Metal roof frame is weak – If the metal frame which is underneath your solar panels is weak then you should avoid installing solar panels on it. Weight of one 330 watt polycrstalline solar panel is around 25 kg hence for a 5 kW system which has 16 such panels the overall weight of solar panels and mounting structure would be around 450 kg. Since the weight is distributed most roof can accommodate this much weight but it is also good to take a professionals opinion.
  2. Old metal roof – If you have a 10 – 15 year old metal roof, then chances are it won’t last another 25 years, which we want since our solar panels life is well over 25 years. If your roof is old you should get it replaced with a new one before installing solar panels.

How are solar panels installed on metal roof?

Well this depends on the type of metal roof you are having, in India most houses and factories have corrugated metal roof.

For corrugated metal roof mounting rails are revited to the roof and then solar panels are mounted on it using end clamps and mid clamps.

If you have a metal roof other than corrugated metal roof you then I don’t have much idea about it since I have not seen any other metal roof which has solar on it, but anyways I feel you will find mounting structure for almost any type of roof.

Key here is not the mounting structure but the installer. If the installer has worked on similar projects before, then he will find a way to install solar panels on almost any roof.

Advantages of installing solar on a metal roof:

Metal roof has good amount of advantage over asbestos roof and even RCC roof, lets look into some important one –

  1. Life of metal roof is high – All solar panels (except thinfilm) have warranty of 25 years hence, in ideal case you want your roof or the surface on which solar panel is installed should to last for at least 25 years. In most cases metal roof last for 25 – 30 years.
  2. Cost of installation – A metal roof mounted solar system will cost less than a RCC roof or ground mounted solar system because, of the less structure used. (This can be other way around if heavy structure is used on metal roof to achieve proper orientation and angle)
  3. Better cooling – Since most of the sun rays will be hitting the solar panels and not your roof, the overall temperature of your home will be less, and hence less load on your air conditioner for cooling.
  4. Thinfilm panels can be installed – If your roof cannot hold the weight of traditional crystalline solar panels then you can also use the flexible or thinfilm solar panels (most of them will directly stick to the metal roof). Also if you are someone who are worried about solar panels hampering your house look then you can go with thinfilm.

Disadvantages of installing solar on a metal roof:

Every good thing has something bad in it and metal roofs are no exception.

  1. Less power generation – As I told you above if you lay down solar panels on east and west side then overall power generation will be lower. This will not happen with a ground mounted or RCC mounted system (your terrace) as you can install the structure for optimal power generation. (In most cases difference in power generation is 5% to 10%)
  2. Maintenance is difficult – If something goes wrong with the wiring, it is difficult to access the cables as some are underneath the solar panels which is laid on the metal roof. Hence no space to access them.
  3. Washing of solar panels is risky – Most of us find climbing on our roof risky and at times tedious (if access is not proper). Hence the cleaning of your solar panels will be often neglected. If you have solar panels on your terrace then you will clean it more often since it’s accessible than a roof. Check out this article to know more about cleaning of solar panels – How to clean your solar panels.

Best roof to install solar panels:

Now that we know that we can install solar panels on a metal roof, what is the best roof to install solar panels to get maximum power generation?

If all the environment conditions and quality of material and installation is same, installing solar panels on a terrace (RCC roof) will be the best option, since it gives the added advantage of installing the solar panels in any angle, any direction and easy access for cleaning and maintenance it.

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Thank you for reading.

Have a nice day 🙂

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