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Residential Metal Roofing: Is It Right for Me?

When the contractor delivered the sad news that my roof needed replacing, that led to a discussion of material choices. I was surprised to hear that metal roofing was an option. Sure, it was fine for commercial buildings, but a home? My contractor told me that metal is used for homes more than people realize. The panels can be designed to look like just about any type of roofing you can imagine. After looking at some samples and finding out about the long life of metal roofs, I decided to give it a try. Fifteen years later, my roof is still in great shape. If you are facing a roof replacement in the near future, let me tell you more about metal roofing. I'm betting that you'll decide this solution is right for your home.

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Residential Metal Roofing: Is It Right for Me?

Is Your Roof Ready For Solar?

by Kelly Murphy

Solar panels are gaining popularity among homeowners, and the prices for installation are falling. Combined with tax incentives that vary by state, installing solar panels may be a good financial move for your family. In fact, sometime this year the one millionth residential installation of solar panels will take place.

Solar power is an attractive energy source because it can save you as much as $1,000 in energy costs each year. But before you decide on solar panels, pay attention to the condition of your roof. What do you need to do in order to make your roof ready for solar, and how much will it cost?

Get Inspected

Your first step is to have a roofing contractor climb up and take a look around with a professional eye. Most solar panels are guaranteed to last 20 to 25 years, and your roof will need to have a similar lifespan.

Your roofing expert can then tell you what repairs are needed to make sure your roof is in tip-top shape before you put solar panels on. He or she will be looking for:

  • Missing shingles
  • Damaged flashing
  • Leaks, especially near chimneys, skylights, vents and other holes

The other thing you'll want to have your roofing contractor review is the placement of existing vents. The solar panels will need a certain square footage, typically on the south or southwest side of your roof. Anything that prevents you from having an uninterrupted space suitable for the solar panels will need to be moved. Your roofer can tell you how complicated this process might be and what your options are.

Supporting Solar Panels

You will also want to make sure your roof can support the weight of the solar panels you want to install. This will require some collaboration between your roofing contractor and your solar panel installer.

In some cases, additional braces must be added to your rafters to strengthen your roof's ability to handle the added weight. On average, solar panels weigh between 2 and 4 pounds per square foot, but new technologies are making these more lightweight all the time. If your roof can't support the weight of standard panels now, you may want to wait a few years until newer panels are available. Or, you can simply install fewer panels than you'd originally planned.

Estimating Costs

Simple roof cleaning and the basic replacement of a few shingles may only cost a few hundred dollars. In a worst-case scenario, you'll need to replace your entire roof before having solar panels installed. For the roof replacement on a 1,200-square-foot house, you'll pay between $6,900 and $11,000 depending on materials and what area of the U.S. you live in.

Your roofing contractor may be able to assist with the solar panel installation during the re-roofing process, which can save you a little bit of money overall.

Talk to your roofing contractor for more information about what makes your roof ready for solar.