Can I Install Solar Panels on a Tin Roof?

Roofs made of metal, like steel, aluminum, copper, zinc, or tin, are becoming more popular with homeowners.  Metal roofs last longer, they hold up better under severe weather, and they are environmentally friendly.  But some homeowners will want to really go green by installing solar panels on the roof to generate electricity.

You can install solar panels on a tin roof.  In some ways, metal roofs are actually better for solar panel installations.  You might need to adapt your panels and mountings for the type of roof you have, but there is a solar panel setup for all the common metal roofing systems.

This article will talk a little bit more about why solar panels and a tin roof can be a great combination.  I’ll go on to talk about the different types of metal roofs and the different ways to mount solar panels.  As you’ll see, the durability of a tin roof makes solar panels even more economical.  And solar panel installers have found ways to work with just about any type of metal roof.

Metal Roofs And Solar Panels Work Together Very Well

A metal roof isn’t cheap.  A metal roof will cost around twice as much as a traditional asphalt shingle roof for similar-sized houses.  But for the right homeowner the cost can be well worth it.  They hold up better under the day-to-day beating of wind, rain, and sun, and are more durable in severe storms.  An asphalt shingle roof will generally last 15 to 20 years, but a well-installed and maintained metal roof can hold up for 40 years or even longer.

Metal roofs are also energy efficient.  They are great for keeping cool in the hot summer months.  Finally, metal roofs are recyclable.  When they finally need to be replaced, the metal can be melted down and reused for just about anything that uses metal, including making the materials for a new metal roof!

They do have their downsides.  Heavy rain or hail falling on a metal roof can make a lot of noise.  During the winter they tend to shed snow and ice quickly, which can create hazards for bystanders.  They can be slippery for you or any workmen who need to go up on the roof to make repairs.  And the cost can be a major obstacle, especially if you aren’t planning on staying in the house for very long.

Saving Energy Two Ways At Once

For those who value the environment, who value recyclability, and want to reduce energy use, a roof made out of tin or some other metal can be ideal.  And that brings us to the first reason why the combination of a metal roof and solar panels works so well for homeowners: they provide a one-two punch of energy saving and energy self-sufficiency.

This can work particularly well if you live in a warm, sunny part of the country.  The metal roof can keep your home cool, while plentiful sunlight will keep your solar panels cranking out electricity.

Ease of Installation

Installing the solar panels will often be easier on a metal roof than on a traditional asphalt shingle roof.  The panels will need to be attached firmly to the roof, and doing that means drilling through the outer layer of roofing material to install screws, nails, or some other anchor.  On a shingle roof, this will mean creating many small holes in the shingles and wood, and each of those holes is a potential leak.

But a metal roof will need fewer drill holes made to mount the panels.  Depending on the type of roofing, mounts can be made by strategically replacing tiles or by using anchoring points that the metal roof design provides by itself.  The risk much less risk that your solar panel mounting will create leaks.

A More Durable Roof Makes Solar Panels Even More Economical

And the longer life cycle of a metal roof will mean that you don’t have to worry about needing to replace your roof before your solar panels wear out.  The average solar panel is liable to outlive a traditional asphalt shingle roof.  After 25 years of use, a solar panel will still generate electricity at 80 percent of its original efficiency: still very usable for most families.

But a shingle roof will probably need to be replaced after 20 years.  And in order to get to the shingles, you will need to remove the solar panels.  That’s not the case with metal roofs.  If you install your metal roof and your first set of solar panels at the same time, you could conceivably go through the usable lifetimes of two sets of solar panels before you need to replace the roof.  At the very least, you’ll likely get the full use of the first set before your tin roof wears out.

How To Install Solar Panels On A Tin Roof

Metal roofing materials come in various shapes, and how your solar panels will get installed will depend on just what type of metal roof you have.  The shape will be more important than the material.  What matters is that the panels are firmly anchored.  As I mentioned earlier, it’s best if you can do this without creating holes in the roof where they can allow water to seep through.

Some metal roofs will have what is called a standing seam design.  This means that there is a raised edge along both sides of each piece of metal.  The metal pieces will be arranged so that these seams run down from the top of the roof to the edge.  The raised seams will act as channels, guiding rain, ice, or snow straight down and preventing it from accumulating in one part of the roof.

These raised seams can be used to anchor your solar panels in place, either with specialized clamps that grip the raised metal, or by drilling holes through the raised seams.  Since these holes will be horizontal, not vertical, water won’t follow them down into the house.

If your roof uses metal tiles, the installer can replace some of the tiles with specialized tiles that have anchors built into them.  The new tiles will be just as water-resistant as the old ones.

Finally, if your metal roof is fastened with screws or nails, the existing fasteners can be pulled up and an anchor installed, with the original fastener replaced by a new screw or nail.  The existing hole will serve as anchoring points, so there are no new holes that can lead to leakage.  The old holes can be recalked to further reduce leaks.  Here’s a video that shows what this looks likeOpens in a new tab..

Having a tin roof is no obstacle to installing solar panels.  If anything, the metal roof makes installation easier, more economical, and less risky.


If you already have a roof made of tin or some other metal, or you are considering having one installed, then you are probably the sort of homeowner that puts a high value on protecting the environment or saving energy, or maybe both.  Installing solar panels on your tin roof makes all the sense in the world.

Solar panels provide you with your own renewable energy source, and they work very well with a metal roof.  The durability of a metal roof means you will get the maximum lifespan of your solar panels.  And installing solar panels is actually easier on a metal roof.

If you are thinking about installing solar panels on your tin roof, there really is no reason not to go ahead.

Stephen Rajeckas

Hi! I'm Steve. I'm the owner of Pro Energy Advice. I — along with everyone on the Pro Energy Advice team — love researching and writing about everything related to the science of energy. Thanks for visiting the site; I hope you learned something new.

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