A metal roof with built-in solar panels is the most energy efficient and longest lasting solar roofing solution. A metal roof will usually last in excess of 50 years, and solar PV panels usually last 30+ years with minimal loss of efficiency or or electric power production. The combination of the two creates a one-time green roofing investment that will pay for itself over time, and then it will produce free electricity. Such a smart combination eliminates the chance of roof leaks, since there are no roof penetrations, and gives a homeowner piece of mind and confidence in their green metal roof.
Why would you want to install PV solar panels with a metal roof, instead of installing it on the existing asphalt shingle roof? The answer is very simple; asphalt shingles last an average of 15 years, while your solar panels should last at least 30 years. That means that even if you install your solar panels over a brand new asphalt shingles roof, you will have to remove the whole solar system in 15 years, replace the roof, and then put the solar panels back onto the roof. With the installation costs of a solar PV system being about $2 per watt, and an average solar system size of 3 KW, you will have to pay an extra $6000 (in today’s dollars, before any inflation is calculated) to reinstall your solar panels, and another $1500-2000 to
remove the panels, so that the roof can be replaced. With today’s average solar system price of $9-11 including solar panels, inverter, all wiring, rack-mounting system, permits, installation, etc.), the removal and re-installation price amounts to about 25% of the total solar system cost.
A properly installed standing seam metal roof will easily outlast any asphalt shingles roof by 3 time or more, and it will also outlast a warranty period on any solar panels. When your solar panels get old, and start producing less electricity than what they were designed for, you will have an option to either keep the old solar panels or install the new ones (as a side-note – average efficiency loss of a solar panel is 0.5% per year or 10% over a 20 year warranty period). All your infrastructure will already be in place, and you can simply swap the old solar panels for the new ones. You may also have to swap the charge controller / inverter. In 20 or 30 years, as technology progresses, the efficiency of solar panels and inverters will be much higher, and the cost per watt will be considerably lower. At the same time you will still have your metal roof, performing at 100% efficiency – being leak free and beautiful, that is.
Solar panels can be attached to a standing seam metal roof in two different ways. One is to use a thin film Solar PV panel laminated inside the pan of a standing seam metal roof – a so called solar metal roofing concept, when solar panels are integrated with the roofing material. The limitations of solar metal roofing include lower efficiency (per sq. foot or sq. meter) of the solar PV laminates. Therefore you would need double the roof area to get the same number of kW of a solar system. Also the size limitation of each solar PV laminate (18 feet long panels) make it impossible to install them on roofs with a roof run of less than 18.5 feet.
A better way to install solar panels onto a metal roof is to use S-5 clips or mounting brackets, specially designed to add adequate strength and support of rack-mounting systems installed on standing seam metal roofs. S-5 clops are made of cast aluminum blocks, with stainless steel tightening screws. S-5 clips are attached to the ribs or locks of a standing seam panel, and provide great pullout ratio, meeting and exceeding Miami-Dade county building code requirements for wind uplift.
S-5 Solar Panel mounting clamps allow for a quick and inexpensive installation of the solar rack-mounting system. Solar panels can be attached directly to the clamps, or to horizontal / vertical rails. The overall cost of such solar racking system is reduced from about $1 per watt, to about 50 cents per watt, or less. Also, you do not have to worry about any roof leaks, as there are no roof penetrations, and all mounting hardware is attached to the ribs of the metal roof panels.
You can also get a double tax credit for your solar roofing installation – Your first tax credit would be a 30% tax credit for solar panels, and and another one – up to $1500 cool roof tax credit. An average cost of metal roofing materials will exceed $5000 per roof, so you will be able to get a full 30% cool roof tax credit. With today’s metal roofing prices for steel standing seam ranging from $15000-20000, a $1500 tax credit will save you about 7-10% off your lifetime metal roof.
CFLs have several advantages over incandescent light bulbs: they last from 8-10 times longer, use about 75% less energy, and produce 90% less heat while delivering more light per Watt. For example, a 25 Watt CFL provides about 1800 lumens, compared to 1750 lumens from a 100 Watt incandescent lamp.
CFLs have come a long way since their introduction. They provide a flicker-free, soft-white light and come in a variety of styles. The traditional “twist” bulb is the most popular, but if you need a more stylish version, consider the household style. This bulb is similar in design to a standard incandescent bulb but uses significantly less energy. The 3-way CFL is perfect for reading lamps or conversation areas where ambience is a factor. The globe style is designed for bathroom fixtures.
Here’s a groovy advantage – CFLs save you money! One 20 Watt CFL (replaces a 75 Watt incandescent bulb) will save you $66 dollars over the life of the bulb (based on $.12 KWH). Replace one 100 Watt incandescent bulb with a 25 Watt CFL and save a whopping $74 dollars over the life of the bulb (hey – that’s 21 extra Mocha Latte’s).
Not only are CFLs the smart choice – they’re hip too. The EPA reports that CFLs are the environmentally responsible choice. Replacing one incandescent light bulb with an energy saving CFL bulb reduced carbon monoxide emission to the atmosphere by 1,000 pounds.
According to the Department of Energy, as a nation we spend about one-quarter of our electricity budget on lighting, or more than $37 billion annually. And while traditional incandescent light bulbs are less expensive to purchase, they are much more expensive to operate. Incandescents aren’t such a bright idea after all (sorry – couldn’t resist).
If you live in an urban area and only have a small rooftop you can still create a magical lush garden. Here’s how to do it:
#1 – Check with your local planning office to ensure you can add the garden to your home. If your home is rented obviously this is another point to consider with your landlord. You’ll also want to check that your rooftop is structurally safe to take the extra weight.
#2 – Think about safety. Your planning office should set these regulations into place and advice you regarding safety, but it’s worth noting. If you have young children especially, you’ll need a barrier that is high enough so that they cannot climb on it. Also keep items away from the sides of the rooftop which children can use to climb on and look over the railing. A good idea may be to place a screen of different heights (to avoid blocking the wind completely) around the edge of the garden and planting lots of plants in front of the screen. This way the edge can’t be accessed easily.
#3 – Once you’re ready to build your garden concentrate on the structural parts of it first. The rooftop will be windier than a standard garden and you’ll need to install windbreakers. You can add bamboo screens or wooden trellises but leave several sections as they are. This way you disrupt the force of the wind cycle rather than abruptly stopping it. This means that your trellises and screens are more likely to stay up than get blown away.
#4 – Think about water. Will you have a separate tap installed for the garden or do you have a nearby source of water? Rooftop gardens can be a lot of sun and certain plants may need to be watered regularly. To be a little more green with your watering habits install a water collector to one side of the garden. This way you can use rainwater for the plants. You can also plant certain tropical or plants native to your area which will need little water – palms are great for shade, can act as a windbreaker and need little water even in very hot sun.
#5 – Think green and lush. A very green and super lush rooftop garden can be a magical place. The goal should be to block out some of the sunlight and give you an almost jungle-like sanctuary to retreat to from your urban surroundings. Do this by planting plants with lots of green foliage such as palms, fatsia and ferns. Keep the ferns underneath shady areas as they don’t do very well in direct sunlight.
Once you’ve filled the garden with lots of green structural foliage add a dash or two of color with bright accent plants in pots. Hot pink and/or purple always work well against green. You can also try a deep plum burgundy shade or bright orange.
Finally add a natural accent or two. A set of wicker loungers or chairs are fantastic for relaxing on. A small wooden or steel table with a few chairs make a great place to eat. And don’t forget to add tea candles and lanterns for a magical feel. A string of solar bulbs hung around the rooftop can be a nice natural source of light too.
Whether a homeowner is interested in lowering their monthly utility bill or doing their part to help the environment, here are a number of quick and simple ways to save electricity in your home. Collectively, following these energy savings tips adds up.