Once the decision is made to install solar, often a new roof is required. Metal roofing has become a driver for roof type selection in many cases because not only is a metal/solar roof system less expensive upfront than other roof system combinations, but it also leads to improvements in the lifetime return on investment (ROI) of the system. Therefore, the PV array and the roof should be regarded as a single asset.
When computing ROI within the solar pro forma, inverter replacement is usually factored in at about year 15 – but what about the cost of roof replacement? The solar array has to be totally dismantled and then re-installed on the replacement roof. Often, even the initial cost of the solar + metal roof is less than solar and other roof-type alternatives. Factor in roof replacement and the cost advantages become grossly magnified.
A number of exorbitant expenses associated with completing a PV system re-roof for a traditional (non-metal) roof could include: removing the solar modules; removing the mounting and racking system; de-commissioning the system during the reroof; re-roofing; re-installing the PV system; re-commissioning the system; the potential for damaged components during this process; possibly needing new wiring and loss of power production during downtime.
With metal, you can avoid roof replacement due to its long service life. The roof will still be going strong long after the service life of the solar array has expired.
With the cost of solar decreasing significantly over the last decade, in addition to federal and local incentives as well as public policy mandates driving the popularity of solar, the breakeven and ROI improves every year – evident even more with solar on metal roofs because of its lower installation costs, so it makes even greater financial sense.
Metal is the most solar-friendly roof available and the PV contractor should know about it. Metal roofing is attractive, durable, non-flammable and requires almost no maintenance. The “buy-it-cheap and fix-it-later” mentality has steadily diminished over the last few decades and more building owners are choosing metal than ever before.
The growing demand for more durable and environmentally-friendly construction materials, as well as methods that reduce maintenance and have longer service lives, is on the rise―evident by statistics clearly indicating that metal has a much larger share of replacement roofing than it does in new roofing within the residential market.
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