Metal roofing is already one of the most energy-efficient choices for roofing material you can make. And there’s still a way you can take it up another notch: add solar panels! However, there are different types of metal roofing. So here are things to think about if you want to know how to install solar panels on a metal roof.

How to Install Solar Panels on a Metal Roof

Installing solar panels on a metal panel or aluminum tile roof is a bit different compared to other types of roofing due to the unique surface texture makeup of metal. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to install solar panels on metal roofing, beginning with the materials you’ll need:

  • Solar panels and mounting hardware (racking system)
  • Metal roof hooks or brackets
  • Stainless steel bolts and nuts
  • Sealant or flashing to prevent leaks
  • Safety equipment (safety harness, gloves, etc.)
  • Power drill and metal drill bits
  • Ladder or scaffolding
  • Wrench and other basic tools

Step-by-step installation process

If you’re somewhat handy–or have a fear of heights–you may want to leave this job to the professionals. Not only could you damage the solar panels, but you could also mess up the roofing that is already in place (and depending on the roof type slope, yourself). So take special care when starting the project.

  • Planning
  • Prep
  • Roof Anchors
  • Panel Rails
  • Attach Panels
  • Wiring
  • Final Inspection

Assessment and Planning

First and foremost, a structural analysis is necessary to ensure your roof can handle the extra weight from the solar panel system–you may need to get a structural engineer to take a look. This will ensure that your roof stays intact and your panels are securely mounted. Next, it’s important to think strategically about the orientation and angle of your roof.

By maximizing solar exposure, you’ll ensure your panels are as effective as possible. Finally, planning out the layout of your solar panels is crucial to avoid shading and optimize energy production. You’ll take all of this information to your local city or county planning departments to get the proper permits.

White Cedar Shake Metal Roof with Solar Panels in Gresham, OR, to help illustrate hot to install solar panels on a metal roofHow to Install Solar Panels on a Metal Roof: Preparation

It is important to make sure your roof is clean and free from any debris. This will ensure that your panels can be properly mounted, will be supported by a sturdy structure, and there will be no “settling” after installation. To provide these crucial anchor points for your solar panel mounts, you will need to identify the rafters or other structural mounting spaces on your roof.

Install Roof Anchors

Attaching roof hooks or mounting brackets using stainless steel hardware so they can withstand harsh weather conditions. It’s essential to make sure that the attachment points are secure and properly sealed with a waterproof sealant to prevent any potential leaks. Follow all manufacturers’ recommended installation processes.

Mount Solar Panel Rails

Following the manufacturer’s instructions, install the mounting rails on the roof hooks or brackets. This solar mounting system will serve as the base for the solar panels–so make sure the rails are level and properly aligned to ensure the solar panels fit securely. As with any home improvement project, any mistake along the way will affect the rest of the process.

Attach the Solar Panels

When it comes to attaching the panels to the mounting rails, it’s important to take your time and work carefully. Make sure to align them properly and use the clamps or brackets provided with the solar panels to secure them in place. The last thing you want is for one of them to slip off or get blown away in a strong wind.

Electrical Wiring

You want to actually use the energy the solar panels are producing, right? So you’ll need to connect the solar panels together in the correct configuration (series or parallel) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Then run the electrical wiring from the solar panels to the inverter and from the inverter to your electrical panel. You might consider an electrician to help to ensure all codes are met.

Final Inspection

Although you should have been getting inspections (as directed) throughout the process, before local jurisdictions can sign off on the panels, there needs to be a final inspection. Double-check all connections and ensure everything is properly secured and sealed. Have a qualified electrician inspect the system to verify its safety and compliance with local regulations.

We recommend only the handiest of handymen attempt to put solar panels on a metal roof, or any roof for that matter. While the panels themselves are usually pre-assembled, you’ll need to make sure all of the other parts are correctly installed to prevent leaking problems and performance in the future.

Are solar panels a good idea for metal roofing?

Solar power has gained incredible popularity in recent years. As a renewable energy source, it allows homeowners to use sunlight to power their homes. This cheaper and cleaner energy is a great option for people of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest. And did you know that metal roofing and solar panels go together like summer and sunshine?

Yep — solar panels can easily be installed with metal roofing systems. Here are two big reasons why the powerful combo of metal roofing and solar panels is a possibility worth considering: energy efficiency and durability. It’s a practical combination that can look great when done correctly.

#1: Energy efficiency

Metal roofs work wonders for energy efficiency. Because of their unique reflective coatings, they reflect heat to keep your home cool during the summer. That means your air conditioning system doesn’t have to work as hard.

Installing solar panels with your metal roof can also significantly help lower the amount of energy you use in your home to keep the inside at the most comfortable temperature.

#2: Durability

Solar panels will last up to 30 years in most cases. Metal roofs also have a longer lifespan — sometimes up to 60 years. That means if you choose a metal roof installation, you can trust that your solar panel installation will not outlive the lifespan of your amazing metal roof.

In fact, you are making an investment in the durability of your roof and energy source so you can ultimately save money in the long run. All in all, solar panels and metal roofing are the perfect pair. They are incorporated easily together so you can start enjoying the feeling of doing your part to save the earth’s energy.

If you already have a metal roof installed and you are thinking about adding solar panels, you can be confident knowing that there won’t be a problem with the installation. But what if you have a traditional roof right now and are considering switching to a metal roof before you advance to your solar installation project?

Our experienced team at Mountaintop Metal Roofing can answer all your questions. We look forward to speaking with you about the variety of durable and beautiful metal roofing systems, including standing seam metal roofing and others. (Standing seam roofs are gaining in popularity as are metal roofing shingles and roofing panels that can mimic the look of other materials.) All Mountaintop Metal Roofing products are protected by a lifetime roof warranty.

If you’re interested in a metal roof with an integrated solar energy system, let us know! We’re happy to discuss some options with you to help make the most of your metal roof’s potential for energy production.

In the meantime, take a look at your options for your own environmentally friendly roof-integrated solar system and all that it entails. There are many options available — thin film solar panels, crystalline solar panels, solar PV panels, solar laminates, etc. — and we’ll need to discuss roof penetrations and other aspects of the design.