Case study: McElroy Metal adds solar system to its standing-seam metal roof with S-5!

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Wanting to offset the plant’s electrical usage, and still show a return on investment, McElroy Metal chose a solar solution system for its plant. A solar addition is old hat for McElroy, as they previously re-roofed their Peachtree City, Ga., standing seam roof facility with 1,960 solar panels. The amount of energy generated through these panels is above what the plant consumes. In addition, McElroy expects to see a return on this solar investment within just three years.

Clamp selection

It doesn’t make much sense to install a solar array on something that will fail long before the solar plant does. So, a roof inspection was performed prior to installation to ensure it was corrosion-free and suitable to outlast the service life of the solar. Being in the desert (Adelanto is less than 100 miles from Los Angeles) certainly helped. It then became a matter of selecting the right structurally-sound attachment solution that would not only handle harsh sun elements but would also preserve a durable panel connection.

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For McElroy, it was all about function.

“Being a roofing manufacturer, we are obviously concerned about the overall roof performance for the long-term,” said Ken Gieseke, Vice President of Marketing at McElroy. “And as a long-time convert to S-5! products, it was, for us, the obvious, and frankly only, solar attachment solution to consider.”

In Adelanto, the project called for 646 solar modules to be added to McElroy Metal’s manufacturing facility. To ensure secure attachment, the aluminum RibBracket IV was selected. Compatible with most metal roofing materials, this economical bracket also fits a number of trapezoidal roof profiles too.

RELATED: Clamps of Approval: Here’s what to look for when selecting PV clamps

McElroy saved time on installation too. The slotted top hole on the bracket, which accommodates the S-5-PV Kit, simplifies alignment and maximizes flexibility in attaching ancillaries. The RibBracket IV also comes with a factory-applied EPDM rubber gasket seal on the base. And even though moisture might not be a concern, the heat, wind, and parched conditions wreak havoc on metal, sealants, and screws. To help combat this, the reservoir on the bracket conceals the EPDM from UV exposure, preventing drying and cracks.

McElroy says it plans to explore more solar mounting opportunities for its other facilities. It was a grand undertaking to invest in and complete such a massive solar panel installation strictly for one’s own company. McElroy hopes such a project can “serve as a showcase for those interested in the use of solar panels with metal roofing.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Metal roofs could trend upward after California’s solar mandate

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As the first state in the nation to require all new homes to have solar power, California’s recent decision may result in a dramatic shift in the way American and Canadian homeowners think about their roofing options, says the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA).

“California’s leadership is a giant step forward to bring solar power into the mainstream for all homeowners no matter where they live,” said Renee Ramey, Executive Director of the Metal Roofing Alliance. “It also promises to cause a major shift in the building and construction industry for how to adopt methods and materials that are better suited for solar systems. After all, the return on a residential roof-mounted solar investment is only as good as the quality and longevity of the roof where it’s installed.”

Beyond California, recent reports such as “Selling into the Sun: Price Premium Analysis of a Multi-State Dataset of Solar Homes” demonstrate that buyers in other areas of the country are willing to spend more for a home with solar panels. Utility company incentives available in many regions are also helping drive solar demand.

Return on solar investment: Why the right roof matters

According to the California Energy Commission, when the state’s solar standards kick in two years from now, it will save consumers an estimated $80 on monthly heating, cooling and lighting bills, a positive long-term return on the investment that is predicted to easily offset the higher cost of installing solar.

However, while the benefits of producing their own rooftop electricity are significant for homeowners, MRA warns that those savings can quickly be wiped out if the roof underneath the solar system fails. That’s because repairing or replacing a roof—in addition to the substantial extra labor costs of removing and reinstalling a solar panel system—can be tremendously expensive.

For homeowners and builders looking to protect their solar system investment, MRA suggests the following:

• Think long term. Metal roofs are the best option for photovoltaic systems, greatly reducing the risk of a roof failing before a solar panel system does. The estimated lifespan of solar panels is typically about 20 to 25 years while metal roofs last for 50-plus years, two or three times the average lifespan of other types of roofing materials. That means the roof will easily outlast the panels.

• Start with a strong base. Metal is exceptionally strong and durable, able to support the weight of heavy solar systems by using a simple attachment and clip solution that does not require drilling holes into the roof or the need for self-ballasted systems, reducing the possibility of roofing failures and potential leaks.

• Maximize the energy savings. Considered “cool roofs,” metal offers additional energy efficiency benefits, especially combined with solar. Even basic, unpainted metal roofs will reflect more solar radiation than asphalt, which typically absorbs and holds heat. Metal roofs with special coatings deliver high total solar reflectance and high infrared emittance, keeping homes cool and saving energy by re-emitting most of what solar radiation is absorbed.

• Reduce environmental impacts even more. Metal can be 100 percent recycled rather than dumped into a landfill at the end of its long life. It reduces long-term maintenance by naturally resisting moss and fungus, cutting down on the need for strong chemical treatments.

• Consider all-season climate conditions. Solar isn’t the only consideration in sunny climates. In extreme climate conditions that are becoming more prevalent in every season and region, metal stands up better to hurricane-force winds, severe rain and hailstorms, heavy snowfall and dangers including wildfires that are more likely to damage other types of roofs.

— Solar Builder magazine

Homeowners in Elizabethtown Opt for Sustainable Seam Metal Roof Panels

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The Keith family from Elizabethtown, KY was disappointed with the short lifespan of classic asphalt shingles covering their roof. Only six years after the last replacement, they were once again forced to reroof. Looking for a longer lasting and more sustainable solution, they opted for seam metal panels made by Metal Sales. These metal panels are durable, elegant, energy efficient and sustainable.

The Keith residence is a modern Mediterranean style home with a taupe-colored stone exterior and dark bronze accents on windows and doors. Aesthetically, the metal roofing panels blend in with the other design elements of the house perfectly. The Keith’s roof was covered by 110 squares of Metal Sales’ 24 gauge, 16” wide Vertical Seam panels with a PVDF (Kynar 500®) finish in the Dark Bronze color. Since the metal panels come in a variety of colors, the homeowners where able to choose the color that best complements the exterior color scheme of their home.

Overall, the aesthetic and sustainable properties of vertical seam metal roof panels make these an excellent choice for reroofing private homes. These roof panels are made of steel, which makes for a much stronger, but still very lightweight roof. Metal seam roofs also do not require as much maintenance as other types of roofing materials. The estimated lifespan of a metal roof is between forty and fifty years. Compared with classic shingles, this is three to four times as long.

Metal seam roof panels help achieve net-zero energy consumption of a house by being energy efficient and enabling renewable energy production. All the color coatings of Metal Sales roof tiles
are ENERGY STAR® listed for their ability to stay cool by reducing solar heat gain. In addition to this, these roofing systems are also perfect for harvesting rainwater, while they also allow for seamless integration with PV laminate and polycrystalline solar technology. Wind turbine applications can also be fitted onto them without the need for roof penetrations.

By installing metal roof panels, instead of the traditional shingles, the house is made much more energy efficient, because the amount of energy needed for cooling in the summer is greatly reduced. The metal panels made by Metal Sales are 100% recyclable, and contain a minimum of 25% of post-consumer, recycled content. Because of this, the metal roof panels the company offers have low embodied energy compared to other construction materials, such as single-ply roofing, which makes metal roofs an even more sustainable choice.

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According to the EPA, 11 million tons of asphalt shingles are dumped in landfills across the country every year. On the other hand, the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI) holds that steel is the top recycled material in the US. Metal roof panels can be fitted over existing shingle or other type of roofing, Because of this, and taking into account the much longer lifespan of metal roofing, much less chemical-based materials end up in landfills. The costs of reroofing are also greatly reduced if the metals seams are placed over the existing roofing materials.

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