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Can You Use Solar Panels on a Steel Building?
We’re all feeling the effects of inflation: At the grocery store, at the gas pump, and in our utility bills. In many ways, there’s not much to do but ride it out. However, there are ways to cut costs where you can, and lots of people are looking to take advantage of as many of those ways as possible.
You already know that metal buildings have the potential to be much more energy efficient than traditional construction. With a quality HVAC installation, sufficient insulation, and the inherent conductive properties of steel, a metal building can stay comfortable and temperate inside, no matter the conditions outside. And of course, depending on the location of your building, it can be incredibly easy to outfit it with electricity either during the construction process or through a later retrofit.
But what if you want your metal building to be even more energy efficient, add more value to your property and save on your utility bills? You’ve probably started thinking about solar energy.
Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, collect energy from the sun and turn it into electricity. Because of an ever-increasing focus on sustainability and renewable energy, solar power is becoming much more popular and in some cases, is even being incentivised.
In perpetually sunny areas of the United States, solar panels on new construction provide ROI very quickly. But even in colder, cloudier states, utility companies are feeling pressure from both the government and constituents to incentivize renewable energy solutions. That means you could get a kickback from utilizing solar power in your metal building. Plus, as solar tech improves, the price of personal use PV will continue to decrease, making it an even more affordable option.
Depending on the size of your roof, incorporating solar could mean saving hundreds or thousands annually on electricity. And because of the mentioned incentives to incorporate renewable energy, you’ll likely be able to find low-cost loans, rebates, tax credits and other money-saving opportunities if you go the solar route.
But can you install solar panels on a metal building with a metal roof? You can!
In many ways, metal roofs are a fantastic host for solar panels:
- Metal buildings often have lower-pitched roofs that are a great match for solar panels
- Metal roofs are excellent for easy installation compared with traditional roofs
- Metal roofs have a very long lifespan compared to traditional roofs, so you will get more longevity from your PV panel installation
However, there are some things to consider before diving head-first into solar power for your steel building:
- Figure out which type of installation is best for your building. Your two main choices are a crystalline panel array, which has been around for a long time, but may have to be drilled into your roof, which isn’t always optimal. With a metal roof, however, installers can almost always mount the panels using brackets or clips. There’s also a new product, laminate solar panels, which are extremely lightweight, installed using peel and stick materials, have a very low profile, and work very well on metal roofs. However, they aren’t as efficient as crystalline panels.
- Consider the effect solar panels may have on your building’s warranty. Depending on which type of solar panels you choose and how you want to install them, they may affect any warranty that is active on your metal roof. We recommend reaching out to the experts at Worldwide Steel before investing in solar technology for your steel building to discuss.
- Ensure your building kit can handle the weight. If you plan to install solar panels on your steel building’s roof at any point in the future, you’ll need to make sure the additional weight of the panels is accounted for during manufacturing. Since Worldwide Steel manufactures all our own metal building kits in-house, this is an easy process.
- Think about the directional positioning of your building. For our US customers, solar panels generally are most effective when facing south or southwest. Roofs facing the west are also able to gather a lot of solar energy during peak hours. However, this is all dependent on where your building is positioned relative to its surroundings, like other buildings and tall trees. We recommend consulting with a professional for optimal installation.
- Research your installation options. This goes beyond the installation methods mentioned above. Like a Worldwide Steel building kit, there are lots of routes to solar installation. If you want to DIY, you’ll need to make sure you have the correct tools, wiring and know-how. If you want to hire a professional, you’ll want to connect with someone who has metal building-specific experience.
- Know whether you’ll be hooked into the grid or using standalone solar. There are pros and cons to each. A grid-connected solar system augments your local utility grid and can be used as a surplus or backup. In some states, you can also resell your unused energy back to the utility company if your solar panels generate more energy than you’re using (potentially generating revenue, depending on how your building is used). Standalone solar systems work by charging a battery bank that stores the solar energy for when you need it. If your metal building is located somewhere off-grid, this is probably your only option, and it’s a great one!
Want to learn more about increasing the value and sustainability of your Worldwide Steel building using solar power? Give us a call at 1-800-825-0316! We think renewable energy is an amazing idea, but again, we want to reiterate that just like any other aftermarket changes or upgrades you make to your Worldwide Steel building, the addition of solar panels could have an effect on our industry-leading 50-year structural warranty. Let’s chat before you make any final decisions.