Not all PV solar power systems are created equal…
Some are more equal than others! 😉
An ever-increasing number of environmentally conscious and high-energy-cost sensitive homeowners and savvy businesspeople consider installing a PV solar power system to harness the energy of the sun to generate electricity for their homes, or commercial buildings.
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For years, the traditional approach has been based on installing the rather heavy, crystalline solar panels on top of an asphalt shingle roof, an oil-based roofing system with a relatively short lifespan.
This approach has worked for a while, however, roof penetrations, needed for the installation of a solar panel mounting or racking system, made to an asphalt shingle roof, can increase the likelihood of premature roof leaks down the road, and further shorten the already short lifespan of an asphalt shingle roof.
Penetration/Drilling free Solar Roofing Alternative
With the latest technological advancements and innovations, you can now get a commercially viable thin-film PV solar panels offering revolutionary simplicity; Thin-film PV solar laminates are light-weight, easy to install, require no penetrations made to your roof and can last for quite a long time. Read more about it below:
Integrating your Standing Seam Metal Roof with Thin-film PV Solar Laminates
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. One of the latest technological innovations in solar metal roofing is the integration of thin-film PV solar laminates with standing seam metal panels using a peel and stick method.
Did you know? Fabral has recently discontinued their Flex 02NS – Thin-Film PV Solar Laminates. However, you can now get high efficiency PowerFLEX®+ Flexible Solar Panels from Global Solar.
Mess-free, lightweight, and long lasting, this energy efficient roofing solution pays for itself:
Pros and Cons of Crystalline PV Solar System coupled with an Asphalt Shingle Roof
Before we delve into the benefits of thin-film photovoltaic solar laminates, let’s examine some of the downsides of using the traditional combination of bulky PV solar panels installed on an asphalt shingle roof.
Here is Why you may want to think twice before installing a PV solar power system on an asphalt shingle roof…
The main problem associated with general/conventional PV solar roofing systems that you can often see on some homes and buildings around the country, is the fact that an asphalt shingle roof is likely to fail much sooner than the solar panels will.
Picture a scenario in which a homeowner spends a large amount of money to install a new crystalline PV solar power system on his/her existing asphalt shingle roof. It is likely that in several years the roof will fail, due to roof leaks caused in part by roof penetrations made during the solar system installation.
When such a situation occurs, homeowners will be faced not only with earlier than expected re-roofing expenses, but also with having to pay for a complete removal of solar panels, and for their eventual re-installation.
What further complicates this situation, is that re-roofing work, and solar panel dismantling and re-installation MUST be coordinated and simultaneously performed by both the roofer and the solar integrator.
A roofer who is only paid for the installation of a new roof, will 99% of the time make solar panel dismantling and re-installation errors that could cause irreparable damage to the solar modules.
Bear in mind that roofing warranty will most of the time not cover damages to solar equipment, let alone all the possible short-circuit of the solar wiring situations.
The additional solar panel dismantling, and re-installation cost associated with these procedures can sometimes be just as high as the expected cost of a small new roof in some areas of the country.
If you think about it, electricians, unlike roofers, must be licensed. An apprentice electrician needs at-least 4 years of schooling/work experience. This is like an undergraduate degree. Master electrician needs another 4 years. Therefore, electricians usually charge $100-$125 per man-hour. You will need at least two electricians for this job, which will take a whole day to remove the panels, and another full day to put them back on.
The math is simple: 2 guys * $100/h * 8 hours * 2 days = $3,200.00, plus the building permit and inspection, and any possible parts and supplies that may be required.
Granted, home solar companies have laborers and installers who are more skilled at handling solar panels and have lower labor cost/rates than professional electricians, but it still may be tough to get a professionally trained solar crew on site just to properly dismantle and reinstall the existing solar panels while having to coordinate the project with the roofing contractor who is replacing the old roof. Good luck getting all that coordination work done on the cheap. Every project has expensive setup costs and opportunity costs for a busy contractor.
Let’s assume it costs $3,500.00-$4,500 to completely remove and re-install, re-connect and re-inspect crystalline PV solar panels on your roof. In some parts of the country, this is how much a small 1,000 sq. ft. roof might cost for labor and materials.
What are Thin-Film PV Solar Laminates?
Thin film PV solar laminates are lightweight and easy to install. They are made to fit standard standing seam metal panels. Thin-film PV solar laminates do not require any penetrations to be made to the roof and can be easily attached to standing seam panels using a revolutionary peel and stick method.
Thin-Film PV Solar Panels vs. Crystalline PV Solar Panels
Crystalline solar panels can generate twice the amount of electricity of the thin-film solar panels. However, crystalline panels are bulkier, and use a special mounting system, which requires roof penetrations. The only exception is a standing seam metal roof. You can attach an S-5 solar panel holding brackets to the raised seams of a standing seam roof.
Thin-Film PV solar panels are designed to integrate seamlessly with a standing seam metal roof. They have a very low profile, which can be a significant architectural factor. They can generate electricity even on cloudy days, in the absence of a direct sunlight.
Why Combine a Metal Roof with thin-film PV Solar Laminates?
Unlike the ubiquitous asphalt shingle roofs, modern metal roofing systems are made to last and can be considered permanent. They are manufactured using a significant proportion of recycled metal content and are fully recyclable themselves, hence qualifying them for LEED credits as a sustainable green building material.
When Metal Meets Solar, it is a True Match!
When a standing seam metal roof is installed by specially trained professionals, it will last for many decades, and thus can be a permanent platform for a solar roofing system whether it be the old school crystalline PV panels or thin film solar laminates.
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Metal roofs combined with renewable energy technologies can create a perfect combination of lightweight, long-lasting, and affordable solution for Solar Electric and Solar Hot Water systems.
There are numerous benefits to having a metal roof combined with solar PV panels, and other renewable energy technologies. Longevity, durability, and cost savings that add up over time are just some of the benefits to name a few.
When comparing shingles vs. metal roofing you should also consider that a metal roof will help save our landfills from getting more old roofing shingles, petroleum-based products, being dumped there every time an old asphalt shingle roof gets replaced.
Metal offers a permanent and energy efficient roofing solution that can generate electricity when a metal roof is integrated with solar shingles roofing system; it uses thin-film PV solar panel technology in combination with conventional asphalt shingles.
However, the proponents of green and environmentally friendly building technologies are likely to be disappointed, because asphalt shingles underneath the PV solar panels contain petroleum. Further asphalt products are not going to last nearly as long as their metal counterparts.
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18 thoughts on “Solar Metal Roofing 2022: Thin Film Laminates vs. PV Solar Panels”
Are you saying that all the solar shingles are petro or asphalt based? We are building a new home and want to do standing seam metal roof with integrated solar panels. The crystalline panels are not flush mount are they?
First of all, solar shingles are different from PV solar panels.
The asphalt part you are referring to pertains to the regular roofing material you see everywhere: asphalt shingles, not solar shingles.
So what is solar shingle then? Well, Elon Musk has just released his version of solar shingles made of glass aka glass solar tiles: https://www.roofingcalc.com/tesla-releases-price-new-solar-roof/
Standing Seam is great for mounting of the PV solar panels — no need to drill any holes in the roof, as PV panels are mounted onto the seams of the metal roof with the help of S-5 brackets.
With a conventional roof, such as asphalt shingles, you would need to drill holes into the roof in order to mount the panels.
Hope this helps clarify it.
Hoping you can help. I have a house in the US Virgin Islands. The Caribbean islands are prone to hurricane force high winds and damage from salt spray from the sea. Would this system be appropriate in such a demanding area?
A properly installed aluminum or zinc standing seam should be your best bet in terms of overall resiliency, economy, and corrosion resistance. Most standing seam roofs are rated for a minimum of 110mph wind uplift. Go for thicker metal panels with higher ratings to insure a good fit for hurricane prone area.
Alexander…. I should have also asked about the solar systems also? Thin film or Crystalline? Thanks!
Crystalline PV Panels, with an inverter, of course. — These should be installed by a company that is licensed and experienced with the grid-tied PV solar systems.
Grid-tied PV solar power systems allow you to sell any excess electricity back to the grid, unless you plan on getting a battery and storing the energy generated for later use.
S-5 brackets should be used to secure PV solar modules to the standing seams on your metal roof.
Nowadays, it’s tough to find thin-film solar laminates for residential applications. There is a company that sells them, but only for large commercial projects. — Thin-film laminates can be purchased on Ebay, but they are not as efficient as the crystalline panels.
Will you send us the pictures of your project when completed?
Thanks for all the info Alex! Greatly appreciated. Yes, I will send pictures!
I am considering PV for a new build, seafront home west of Seattle on an aluminum or steel roof. What metal type would be preferable?
Standing seam, either steel or aluminum will work great for PV solar power integrations. I prefer aluminum for salt spray considerations given it’s a seefront property. Zinc is another great option, if you have the extra money to invest in this forever roof.
Since, Standing seam is a dream come true for PV solar panels, you should not get anything else! 😉
I want to install solar on a standing seem copper roof. Can’t find anyone who has done that. I’m concerned about potential galvanic corrosion problems. My home is near Palo Alto, California. I’ve contacted a number installers. No one has done it, but all say it is very doable by using copper mounting brackets.
Solar City said it will not do on copper roofs. Can you give me some advice?
For a copper standing seam roof, you can use S-5-B brass mounts available here: https://www.rapidmaterials.com/collections/s-5-seam-clamps-for-copper-roof-panels The installation process would be the same as with any other standing seam metal roof PV solar panel combo. SolarCity is not the only game in town. They are also overpriced compared to others. There are other companies such as Sungevity, Sun Power, and a few other big players, as well as many smaller installers. You should have plenty of options in Palo Alto!
Good Luck and send some pictures when it’s done!
I plan to build a barnominium home. Do I need to have a certain pitch roof on the side that will have the panels? Is there a different roof design required such as closer spaced purlins and rafters?
I have an historic home in Detroit, MI with a full copper roof that is nearly 80 years old and needs to be replaced. I am interested in metal options with the flexible solar panels. Can you provide contact info for suppliers/installers? I am not DYI. thank you!
Can you recommend a professional for installing a metal roof with solar thin film in northern Florida?
While I personally cannot recommend any good installers in Florida, you can get quotes from several qualified installed by entering the zip code in one of the forms on our website and using our find a pro service.
I would like more info on electrical roofing. My house will need a new roof soon. I want to make a plan to convert to assist in powering the house, and maybe sell power once the new roof is installed, or be able to apply after the fact by installing a correct roofing system.
I would recommend replacing your old roof with a standing seam metal roof that is ideal for a solar power system as it does not require any penetrations to your roof.
If you are located in New England, I would recommend http://www.NewEnglandMetalRoof.com or http://www.CoolFlatRoof.com (same company that offers long lasting roofing systems that are necessary for a long lasting PV solar roofing system.)