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Standing Seam Metal Roof with Solar Panels

A metal roof with built-in solar panels is the most energy efficient and longest lasting solar roofing solution. A metal roof will usually last in excess of 50 years, and solar PV panels usually last 30+ years with minimal loss of efficiency or or electric power production. The combination of the two creates a one-time green roofing investment that will pay for itself over time, and then it will produce free electricity. Such a smart combination eliminates the chance of roof leaks, since there are no roof penetrations, and gives a homeowner piece of mind and confidence in their green metal roof.

Why go with a metal roof, instead of asphalt shingles:

Why would you want to install PV solar panels with a metal roof, instead of installing it on the existing asphalt shingle roof? The answer is very simple; asphalt shingles last an average of 15 years, while your solar panels should last at least 30 years. That means that even if you install your solar panels over a brand new asphalt shingles roof, you will have to remove the whole solar system in 15 years, replace the roof, and then put the solar panels back onto the roof. With the installation costs of a solar PV system being about $2 per watt, and an average solar system size of 3 KW, you will have to pay an extra $6000 (in today’s dollars, before any inflation is calculated) to reinstall your solar panels, and another $1500-2000 to
remove the panels, so that the roof can be replaced. With today’s average solar system price of $9-11 including solar panels, inverter, all wiring, rack-mounting system, permits, installation, etc.), the removal and re-installation price amounts to about 25% of the total solar system cost.

A properly installed standing seam metal roof will easily outlast any asphalt shingles roof by 3 time or more, and it will also outlast a warranty period on any solar panels. When your solar panels get old, and start producing less electricity than what they were designed for, you will have an option to either keep the old solar panels or install the new ones (as a side-note – average efficiency loss of a solar panel is 0.5% per year or 10% over a 20 year warranty period). All your infrastructure will already be in place, and you can simply swap the old solar panels for the new ones. You may also have to swap the charge controller / inverter. In 20 or 30 years, as technology progresses, the efficiency of solar panels and inverters will be much higher, and the cost per watt will be considerably lower. At the same time you will still have your metal roof, performing at 100% efficiency – being leak free and beautiful, that is.

Installing solar panels on a standing seam metal roof

Solar panels can be attached to a standing seam metal roof in two different ways. One is to use a thin film Solar PV panel laminated inside the pan of a standing seam metal roof – a so called solar metal roofing concept, when solar panels are integrated with the roofing material. The limitations of solar metal roofing include lower efficiency (per sq. foot or sq. meter) of the solar PV laminates. Therefore you would need double the roof area to get the same number of kW of a solar system. Also the size limitation of each solar PV laminate (18 feet long panels) make it impossible to install them on roofs with a roof run of less than 18.5 feet.

A better way to install solar panels onto a metal roof is to use S-5 clips or mounting brackets, specially designed to add adequate strength and support of rack-mounting systems installed on standing seam metal roofs. S-5 clops are made of cast aluminum blocks, with stainless steel tightening screws. S-5 clips are attached to the ribs or locks of a standing seam panel, and provide great pullout ratio, meeting and exceeding Miami-Dade county building code requirements for wind uplift.

Image of Solar Metal Roofing s-5 clamp

S-5 Solar Panel mounting clamps allow for a quick and inexpensive installation of the solar rack-mounting system. Solar panels can be attached directly to the clamps, or to horizontal / vertical rails. The overall cost of such solar racking system is reduced from about $1 per watt, to about 50 cents per watt, or less. Also, you do not have to worry about any roof leaks, as there are no roof penetrations, and all mounting hardware is attached to the ribs of the metal roof panels.

You can also get a double tax credit for your solar roofing installation – Your first tax credit would be a 30% tax credit for solar panels, and and another one – up to $1500 cool roof tax credit. An average cost of metal roofing materials will exceed $5000 per roof, so you will be able to get a full 30% cool roof tax credit. With today’s metal roofing prices for steel standing seam ranging from $15000-20000, a $1500 tax credit will save you about 7-10% off your lifetime metal roof.


Interesting Facts About Farm Water Conservation

A tremendous amount of water is used globally for agriculture. It’s estimated the world’s population by 2050 will be around 9 billion, and if we do not reduce our water usage, there won’t be enough fresh water to go around. Alternative methods of agriculture (aquaponics for instance), composting toilets, and low flow fixtures can all help! (see for ideas)

Infographic by Seametrics, a manufacturer of water flow meter technology that measures and conserves water.


Benefits of Green Metal Roofing

How would you like to have an environmentally friendly roof that provides unbeatable protection for your home, a long service life with virtually no maintenance, and offers the biggest long term return on your investment? A metal roofing system will give you all that and more. As a homeowner, you may not be thinking of metal roofing as a viable option, since conventional roofing systems such as asphalt shingle are still the easy, cheap and most common choice. However, if you are interested in replacing your old roof, or need a roof for a newly constructed house, installing a metal roof will give you the most benefits. Moreover, if you are a forward thinking proponent of green building, energy efficiency, and green living, then Eco-friendly metal roofing should be your material of choice.

Eco-Friendly and Energy Efficient Metal Roof

Consider the following benefits of metal roofing:

1. Superior protection for your home

No matter what climate you live in, there are adverse natural elements such as snow, hail, rain, wind and fire that put your house at risk. A metal roof will keep your house safe in all weather conditions.

-A metal roof sheds snow and ice, preventing the formation of ice dams which are the biggest cause of leaks in conventional roofs. If you live on the east coast are tired of your roof constantly needing repair after winter snow storms, a metal roof will save you the trouble and the money of constant repairs.

-A metal roof is highly resistant to hail damage. In the hail belt regions of the US, insurance commissions grant metal roofing materials the highest rating on impact resistance to hail.

-A metal roof is able to withstand winds of up 110 miles per hour and higher, which means that during hurricane season it will stay in tact, when other roofing systems will be blown off. If you live in hurricane prone states such as Taxes, Florida and Louisiana, investing in a metal roof is the best thing you can do for your house.

– A metal roof will not rot or crack, providing you with excellent corrosion protection.

– A metal roof will not catch of fire. This has the dual benefit of not having to spend money to buy a new roof in case of fire, and also reduced your home insurance premiums. A steel roof is the most fire safe roof. It gets the highest rating and is classified as a noncombustible roofing material.

2. Long service life and low maintenance

-If you have a metal roof that was properly installed, its service life is typically 2-3 times longer than of other conventional roofing systems, such as asphalt shingles.

-A metal roof is very durable and withstands most weather elements, climate change and does not leak. This means that you will have a really easy time maintaining it. A metal roof will save you the hassle and stress associated with roof repair such as disruptions to family life, noise, debris, preparation and clean up.

3. Financial Savings

-The superior durability and longevity of a metal roof directly translates into major financial savings. Once you have a metal roof, you will not need to spend money on routine roof repairs whether you do them yourself or pay even more and hire a professional roofing contractor. Moreover, you will be saving money by not having to replace any of your personal items and doing interior repairs that would result from a leaking roof.

-A metal roof is a wise financial investment that ultimately pays for itself. Unlike a conventional roof, a metal roof upraises the value of your house and increases curb appeal. For example, an asphalt shingles roof that is more than 10 years old actually decreases the value of your house because of the major repair issues associated with it. On the contrary, if you ever sell your house outfitted with a metal roof, you will get most of the cost of the roof back through the resale value, as well as attract many more prospective buyers.

– You can also save money by getting green building tax credits that metal roofs qualify for as a green roofing material.

– A metal roof will literally be the last roof you will ever buy, saving yourself thousands of dollars in roof replacement costs. To compare, a well-maintained asphalt shingles roof still needs to be replaced every 17 years.

4. Energy Savings

-By installing a metal roof you will enjoy considerable energy savings since a metal roof reflects 90% of solar radiant heat, keeping your house cool. This means that a metal roof will reduce your cooling costs will be reduced by about 40%. If you live in areas that are hot year round, having a metal roof can save you a lot of money.

– If you live in a cold climate, a metal roof will make your house warmer in the winter by reflecting inside heat from the underside of the roof back into the house. This will significantly reduce your heating costs in the winter.

5. An environmentally friendly, green choice.

– A metal roof can be outfitted with solar panels, which will allow you to further decrease your reliance on conventional energy sources.

– A metal roof is 100% recyclable. This means that after its long service life it will not be disposed into our landfills, which are already overflowing with millions of tons of none-recyclable roofing materials.

– A metal roof contains at least 25 % recycled content, which means that buying a metal roof is a green choice that supports our environment.

– Since a metal roof is light weight, it can be easily installed over your old roof, eliminating the need to take it the landfill.

– A metal roof helps to reduce the “urban heat island” effect, thereby reducing the demand on utilities for electricity, most of which is generated by the burning of fossil fuels. This in turn contributes to reduced green house gas emissions and cleaner air.


Build the Green Trust Compost Bin

For under $15, you can have a very nice compost bin. Get a used 55 gallon plastic drum (removable top is best, but you can cut out the top of a closed top drum), and about 7′ of 3′ wide wire mesh (your dimensions may vary, see instructions).


  • 1- 55 gallon plastic drum that has been cleaned out very well, especially if it contained something inedible
  • ¼” square galvanized hardware cloth or other welded wire mesh(1/8″ to 1/2″ is ok)
  • Tools:

  • Drill, preferably electric because you will be doing a LOT of drilling
  • Drill Bits:
  • ½” normal twist drill
    2” hole saw, Size may vary from 1-3”, adjust instructions below to suit the size you choose.

  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers (to bend down any sharp points on the wire)
  • Gloves (because hardware cloth has better teeth than piranhas)
  • Steps:

  • Wrap string around top of barrel, mark where end meets
  • Measure from the end of the string to the mark, and write that down
  • Divide the measurement by 20 (at least an even number), call this “X”, and write it down
  • Mark the string every “X” inches. If this is an non standard (not on your ruler) number, and you want you last set of holes to look right, use a digital caliper to make a set of marks on a board to transfer to the string.
  • Wrap the string around the barrel again, marking the barrel at every “X” mark
  • Repeat 1-5 at the bottom lip or bottom rib if you don’t have a lip, be sure that your #1 mark lines up on both sets of string. I start at one of the seams, and go to the right for the first line, then flip the barrel over, and start at the same seam, and go to the left for the second line. This way if your lines are not evenly divisible all the way around, at least the marks are straight.
  • Connect your top and bottom sets of “x” marks with lines and number each line.
  • Measure down 2“from the top of the barrel, and mark this level on ODD NUMBERED LINES
  • Measure down 4” from the top of the barrel, mark this level on your EVEN NUMBERED LINES
  • On each line, measure down 4” from the marks you just made, and make another mark
  • You should have a staggered pattern of marks till you get within 4” of the bottom of the barrel
  • Drill 2” holes at each mark you made
  • Drill ¼” holes in bottom of barrel for the drains. See pattern in image below. It’s not critical.
  • Measure the inside height of your barrel to the top of the top row of holes. Cut your welded wire about 6” longer than the middle of the barrel measurement, and 1” wider than the height measurement.
  • Drop the wire into barrel.
  • Optional Improvements:

  • Add a pan or other container under your barrel to catch good compost tea
  • Add Earthworms
  • Ad Nasuem (User imagination required)
  • Images by Byron Morgan


    RENEWABLE POWER FOR AMATEUR RADIO (and other electronic devices)

    RENEWABLE POWER FOR AMATEUR RADIO (and other electronic devices)
    by Larry D. Barr, K5WLF

    About the author: Larry D. Barr is an Amateur Extra class amateur radio operator, first licensed in 1966. He is uniquely qualified to write on this subject, having lived offgrid for 19 months with the majority of his electricity provided by a Wincharger 1222H wind generator. Larry is a journey level electrician, an alternative energy systems designer and the former editor of Energy Self Sufficiency Newsletter. His pickup mounted, solar powered ham radio installation was featured in the American Radio Relay League’s “We Do That” video series and on their website. Currently employed as the Planetarium Manager for Tarleton State University in Texas, Larry continues to be active in renewable energy and looks forward to living offgrid again in the near future.

    Because of my interest and involvement in renewable energy, I’m often asked by other amateur radio (ham) operators about the best way to run their stations on renewable energy sources. Most of these queries pertain to solar, or photovoltaic (PV), sources, but we’ll also mention wind and minihydro in addition to PV in this article.

    The good news is that modern, solid state ham rigs lend themselves extremely well to renewable power. They draw relatively little current at a nominal 12 VDC, and therefore require fairly modest expenditures in generating devices.

    The bad news is that hams who like the old vacuum tube (hollow state) rigs will not be able to power those old “boat anchors” without a serious layout of funds for PV panels or a much larger than usual wind generator. The old rigs simply draw too much current to be practical for operation on a renewable system.

    So, let’s look at the practicality of running a modern, 100 watt, solid state transceiver like my Yaesu FT897D on a PV system. It’s easy to do – and at a relatively low cost for the solar setup.

    First, let’s consider the power required to operate the radio. There are two distinctly different current requirements for the unit. One is the power required for the radio to receive incoming signals. That’s about one ampere (1A) at a nominal 12 volts direct current (12 VDC). Nominal 12VDC turns out to be somewhere in the vicinity of 12.6 VDC, for a fully charged 12 volt battery, to around 13.8 VDC which is the output of an average vehicle alternator. We’ll mostly stick with 12 VDC for this article just to make the calculations easy.

    The other requirement is 22A while transmitting at the full 100 watt output level. Well, you’d think that wouldn’t take long to run down a battery, and you’d be right. But think a minute. We don’t transmit all the time. Actually, the ratio of transmit to receive in normal ham operation is right at 1:9. 10% transmit and 90% receive.

    Now, we need to figure out how many Amphours (Ah) we’ll use per clock hour in normal operation. Amphours is the numbers of amps, the current, consumed over a period of one hour. It’s the way the battery capacity is rated. As I said earlier, normal radio operation is generally calculated at 90% receive and 10% transmit.

    So, in 1 clock hour we’re consuming:
    (1A X 0.9h) + (22A X 0.1h) = (0.9Ah + 2.2Ah) = 3.1 Ah

    Figuring our 100Ah battery at 50Ah, because we don’t ever want to take the battery below 50% depth of discharge, we divide:
    50Ah / (3.1Ah/hour) = 16.129 hours

    Which is about 16 hours and 8 minutes from a fully charged battery. I run two 100 Ah sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries in my battery banks for a rated 200 Ah capacity and a ‘real world’ capacity of 100 Ah. That doubles my run time to about 32 hours and 16 minutes.

    There are those who will disagree with me about my advice to never exceed 50% depth of discharge in a deep cycle battery. They are welcome to do so. And I will never loan one of those folks my batteries. Your batteries will last much longer and provide better service to the end of their life if you follow my advice. Each time a battery is drawn below 50% charge, it gives up a small part of its longevity. Personally, I can’t afford to replace batteries before the natural end of their life. So, I treat them well. My shack and pickup batteries are over six years old and still operating at peak efficiency.

    I must mention here that manufacturers base the capacity ratings of their batteries on the assumption that the discharge will be made at a constant rate. That rate is assumed to be one twentieth (1/20) of the published Amperehour rating of the battery. In the case of our single 100Ah battery, the rate would be 5A. For our 200 Ah bank, it would be 10A. This relationship is called C (capacity) / 20. You’ll see it published simply as C/20 or ‘the C/20 rate’.

    Any deviation from this C/20 rate, especially discharge rates which exceed it, will result in a different amount of power available from the battery. If we exceed the C/20 rate, the capacity of the battery will be less. In many cases, much less. It depends on the extent to which we exceed the C/20 rate of discharge.

    In the case of our 100 Ah example, since our calculated rate of discharge was 3.1Ah/hour (or 3.1A), we were below the C/20 rate of 5A and should get at least the run time we calculated. However, if we were to exceed the C/20 rate, our run time would be less. How much less would be proportional to the amount above the C/20 rate that we imposed on the battery. If our discharge rate is below C/20, we may get a bit more. But let’s figure for worst case and not count on it. This phenomenon has been well documented by a gentleman named Peukert and his analysis of the effect is known as Peukert’s Theorem.

    We should note, and must accept, that this does not indicate that the battery is faulty. It’s simply reacting in accordance with the laws of physics and chemistry that batteries operate under. To draw an analogy — if you bought a car and the manual stated that you could expect 25 MPG at 50 MPH, it would be unreasonable to expect that same mileage at 120 MPH. You’ve changed one of the variables in the equation and you can’t expect the result to be the same.

    Now, let’s look at the PV panels and other gear required to support our FT897D on a solar electric diet.

    My system consists of two UniSolar US64 amorphous panels rated at 64 watts each. They’re connected in parallel for a total of 128 watts. With the Xantrex C12 charge controller set at an output voltage of 14.2VDC – it seems high, but it’s right for the SLA batteries – that gives me about 9.01 amps to the batteries. Let’s just call it 9 amps. So, in one clock hour, I’ve put 9 amphours back into the batteries. That’s almost a 3:1 ratio of input to output.

    Truth be told, I usually see about 7.4 amps, more or less, from the panels going into the battery bank. But that’s more than twice what I’m using and certainly explains why, on occasion, I’ve gone out on a radio mission with less than fully charged batteries, worked on the air for four hours or so and returned home with a fully charged battery bank. And all free, from Mother Nature.

    My UniSolar panels aren’t available anymore. Unisolar has decided to dedicate their manufacturing capability to mainly Building Integrated PhotoVoltaic (BIPV) and has discontinued their line of discrete PV panels. We recently mounted a Kyocera 235 watt panel on our local ham club’s tower trailer, and if I were buying now that’s what I’d get for myself.

    Let’s look at the total cost of a PV system to run the radios using the Kyocera panel.

    The PV panel will run you about $375, the Schneider/Xantrex C35 controller with the CM digital display (recommended) is about $165, and a pair of PowerSonic 100 Ah SLA batteries will round out the system for $275 each or $550 for the pair. That’s a total of $1090 for the system. With proper care, the panel and the controller will last you for a lifetime. The life span of the batteries depends on you. I’ve been running mine for about six years now, and they’re still doing their job, and doing it well. If you abuse them, by discharging them below 50% capacity, or over or under charging them, their life span will decrease.

    Now, let’s talk about wind power for a minute. If I were buying a wind generator today, I’d get an Air 30 turbine made by Southwest Windpower. It’s a 400 watt unit and has all the controller circuitry built in. At peak output, it’ll give you somewhere around 25 amps, and because of the integral controller, it interfaces seamlessly with a PV system. Cost is somewhere in the neighborhood of $600. If you live where wind is one of your most prevalent natural resources, you might get by with just the Air 30, but I really recommend a hybrid system that uses more than one source. Wind and PV is a great combination, for many times when the wind is blowing the most, the sun is obscured.

    Minihydro is a wonderful power source if you have a year round watercourse on your property. If you don’t, just forget about it. My dream is to find a property with a year round stream on it, but unless I win the Lotto and maybe leave Texas (not likely), I’ll never find it. Don’t even fret over hydro unless you can provide your system with a reliable and continuous source of water. There aren’t many locations available with that resource and it’s best to not even think about it unless you already own it. If there’s a call for it, I’ll gladly write about minihydro at length in a future article.

    OK. let’s summarize. I’ve explained how to calculate the draw of your radio. We’ve discussed the factors that control battery run time and battery life. We have talked about the initial cost of a PV system, and considered adding a wind turbine to the system. It’s easy to add other 12VDC devices, such as lighting or entertainment devices, to the system. Just do your calcs and ensure that you’re not drawing your battery bank below 50% capacity. Be sure to follow all appropriate wiring codes and make damn sure that your wiring is safe and overload protected. Enjoy the free energy that Mother Nature provides. ldb

    Off grid info and components available at

    Discuss Amateur radio and alternative energy topics at


    Englert Building Integrated Solar Thermal, PV and Rainwater Harvesting

    The folks at Englert have a novel system that integrates a solar thermal system with their standing seam metal roofs (up to 35 year warranty), and offers a PV option. Produce your solar heated water for heating (hydronic) and domestic hot water, produce grid tied power, and harvest rain water for toilet, laundry and irrigation. Check out their system at Englert Environmental.

    What we do on the roof is important because what happens below the roof is critical. More than a decade ago, we began imagining the roofing systems architects, builders and homeowners could use to face their most common environmental challenges.

    Imagine a roofing system that protects your home or building, keeping it cool in summer, warm in winter and providing all the hot water and electricity you require.

    Now envision a roofing system that captures 95 percent of its rainwater runoff, channels it through a debris-proof gutter system and deposits it in a rainwater harvesting tank for immediate use.

    Today Englert Environmental is a leading provider of renewable energy solutions where metal roofing and gutters systems play a critical role in collecting solar energy and harvesting rainwater.

    Partnering with key technology and service providers, including the foremost photovoltaic, inverter and mounting solution providers and the nation’s principal source of commercial and residential rain water harvesting systems, Englert provides world leading, best-of-breed technology, products and services.


    Everyone here is passionate about change.

    We all believe the World can’t continue as is – so together, we’ll do our part to make it a better place. We believe that people are ready to use the power of technology for good – but talk is cheap and doesn’t resolve the issues facing our planet. We’re about impact – funding programs in the field that drive tangible positive change. We’re here to provide the platform and tools to help each of us drive change.

    We’re doing something that’s different – so we’re bound to encounter skeptics and naysayers along the way. But for those that join – you’re becoming part of a special movement made up of believers and change makers. Make no mistake about it – this is your movement. The degree impact we have together is up to each of you. So let’s get started.

    A bit more about Better The World…

    A great way to donate to the charity of your choice—without paying a cent!

    I wanted to write and tell you about the recently launched site Better The World. It’s a great way to give to charity if you don’t have the extra cash or if you are already giving but want to do more.

    How it works is simple—when you are surfing the Internet you are already seeing ads that corporations are paying for you to see. By joining Better The World and downloading its tools, you still see ads, but now 90% of the revenue from Better The World ads goes to a charity you pick. And, as an added bonus these ads are all from companies that have social responsibility programs, social products and services, have products of interest to our members, or are non-profits.

    By going to you can immediately start raising money by:

    1. Choosing a charity you are passionate about.
    2. Downloading a sidebar (seamlessly integrates into Microsoft Internet Explorer & Firefox).
    3. Surfing the Internet as usual.

    So, for those of you interested in bettering the world, whether you are someone who already contributes but wants to do more, or you just can’t afford to donate to a cause quite yet, Better The World offers an opportunity to help the charity of your choice. It’s a simple, but highly effective way of combining the power of the Internet and your desire to help make the world a better place.

    The more people who surf together to help a charity, the more money we can raise! So please tell your friends!