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Installing your own metal roof and solar panels  RSS feed

 
John Saltveit
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We plan to get a metal roof one of these years because we need to replace ours and we want to be able to use the water for the garden and for ourselves.  We also took one of those free tests that evaluate whether you are a great candidate for solar panels and apparently we are great candidates for them.  A friend put a metal roof on his mom's house and he said it wasn't that hard.  We were told that a particular kind of solar panel can be put on a metal roof.  In your opinion, would it be too difficult for an average handy adult to install them or is it really something that only should be installed by a professional? It would save us 1000's of dollars.
Thanks,
John S
PDX OR
 
Miranda Converse
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Regarding solar panels; I can't say much about how easy they would be to install, but I do know that it's much harder to get government rebates with a self-installed system. The rebate right now is 30% I believe, which is a significant savings. Also, if you are getting a whole-house system, it's a good idea to get it grid-tied so that when you produce more than you can use, you can sell it back to the power companies (if your power company allows that). Every bit of solar sold back to the power companies is a bit less fossil fuel usage for someone else. It also ensures you still have power in times when you might not produce enough.  Most companies won't allow a self-installed system to be grid tied, so that's something to consider...
 
Eric Youngren
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A great way to mount solar PV arrays to metal roofing is to use standing seam roofing and "S-5!" ( www.s-5.com ) aluminum clamps that squeeze down on the vertical part of the roofing (the "standing seam").  Onto those clamps you mount the aluminum rails and then the PV panels onto the rails.  This will work with any type of framed panels. Its nice because it is quick,  you don't have to drill holes through your brand new metal roofing and the clamps can be positioned wherever is convenient. 

But mounting the panels on the roof is typically the most straightforward part of a system installation. It's the wiring, electronics and interconnection with your house electrical system that can get very complicated and can potentially get you in trouble with your electric company and/or code enforcement officials, not to mention potentially causing a fire or a shock hazard if the wiring is not done properly.  

What kind of a system are you considering?  Most new solar PV systems in the PNW are direct grid-tied with no batteries. That is probably the kind of system that the folks who did a site survey of your house are suggesting.   Those systems can generate power anytime the Sun is shining and 'store' the energy by spinning your meter backwards through a "net-metering" agreement with your utility.  As Miranda mentioned, in many places you will need to work with a licensed and approved installer to be able to capture all the benefits, tax credits and incentives available for grid-tied PV systems.    The other type of system you might be considering is an "off-grid" or "standalone" system that is not connected to the utility, to use for charging batteries that you can draw from as an independent or backup source of power.   A small off-grid system may not require an electrical permit and can be installed in a DIY approach more easily.    You CAN claim the 30% federal tax credit for an off-grid system on your residence.  
 
John Saltveit
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Thanks for the great answers. We live in a suburb, so we are probably less motivated to be off the grid.  I'll have to weigh the savings with the tax credit and the difficulty/amount of work. 
John S
PDX OR
 
John Weiland
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@John S: "....so we are probably less motivated to be off the grid. "

You probably already have this link, but just in case:  https://energytrust.org/renewable-energy/incentives/solar/Residential/SolarElectric

One thing I would recommend since you are considering some re-configuration of intertie with the local utility and if you don't already have one installed.  If allowed by ordinances, have a transfer switch and plug-in for a generator installed at the same time.  I don't know to what extent you have power outages from the utility, but we feel quite glad to have installed one of these and have had to use it on occasion.  If you are already a household of frugal power consumption, a ~5000 - 7000 W generator is a great back-up power source for times of need.
 
Michael Bushman
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Location: Sacramento, CA
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Eric Youngren wrote:A great way to mount solar PV arrays to metal roofing is to use standing seam roofing and "S-5!" ( www.s-5.com ) aluminum clamps that squeeze down on the vertical part of the roofing (the "standing seam").  Onto those clamps you mount the aluminum rails and then the PV panels onto the rails.  This will work with any type of framed panels. Its nice because it is quick,  you don't have to drill holes through your brand new metal roofing and the clamps can be positioned wherever is convenient. 
 


As someone in the wholesale solar PV business as well as a MFG of solar PV racking, we recommend S-5 clamps all the time for metal roofs, very sanitary installation method.

There are a couple of "best/cheapest" ways to get solar.   Doing it all yourself is certainly one.   Another is buying the equipment directly ($1-$1.50 per watt for turnkey systems) and then hiring a contractor to do the install and most will charge +/-$1 a watt for the work.     Another alternative is to have a contractor friend charge you full retail ($4-6 a watt) for the system and take the 30% federal tax credit off the top and then what you and your friend actually do about the cost is up to you.

 
Chris Wells
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Get good leather gloves if you're going to install the metal roof yourself. Choose a wind free day and have a helper. Read up before you do it. Metal roofing isn't difficult to install, but the edges are sharp and one quick gust of wind or erroneous move could take your fingers along with the sheeting.
 
frank li
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Location: Michigan
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Roofing in barn steel or standing seam panels is not too difficult. If you can get the whole material kit cut, or standard lengths, even easier.

For barn steel (cost effective) the shear is gonna be a great tool to have.

I like the sunmodo lag with a boss for attatching l feet with a machine screw, itl be truly leak resistant, removable and clean.

S-5 for standing seams or even stick on amorphous modules.

As long as your system passes electrical inspection and utility requirements, you should be golden.

Always, always check with these entities on conventional residential structures and with a structural pe and or the building erector and manufacturer for manufactured of fabricated buildings...before you buy equipment.

 
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