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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.


Solar Homes & Solar Collectors

Solar energy is our birthright like the air we breathe or the water we drink. Solar Home Plans and affordable Solar Hot Water Plans are the gateway into a “Solar Age” of energy independence. Fossil fuels are no longer necessary to keep the wheels of civilization turning. Build your own solar heating system with an MTD Solar Collector Kit. Explore the Strawberry Fields Book Store for more information. Alternative energies like solar energy will increase in value as fossil fuel prices escalate. Solar collectors, solar hot water systems, heat storage vaults, photovoltaic electricity, solar panels, solar greenhouses and solar house plans will become more important in this century. According to Buckminster Fuller “We have wondered too far from the roots.” An energy crisis can only be avoided only if we learn to rely on a diffuse, sustainable resource like the sun. .


Homemade Solar Panels in Action –

The team at GreenDIYenergy has been active lately teaching impoverish communities how to harness solar power using homemade solar panels. Over the last year, their solar expert Brian Clark has conducted four free “solar workshops” in poor, rural communities.

What Have They Done?
Oct. 2008 – Nicaragua – 3 month trip to Nicaragua to teach local schools how to build solar panels, allowing students to continue learning after the sun goes down.
Oct. 2009 – South Dakota – 3 day intensive seminar at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. With unemployment exceeding 80%, the solar seminar was aimed at transferring knowledge to empower the local people with electricity and potential job opportunities.
Nov. 2009 – New Mexico – 3 day intensive seminar at the Cochiti Indian Reservation. This trip focused on harnessing solar power through homemade solar panels, to power water pumps. This will allow the local community to expand their crops with irrigation.
Dec. 2009 – Uganda, Africa – 3 week trip to the Ugandan village of Mbale in Africa. The focus of this trip is to teach locals how to build solar panels for their homes, as most of the residents currently live without electricity.

Solar Power In Action
All of their solar goodwill trips are posted at . It’s amazing to read how homemade solar panels are affecting so many different communities. With the right knowledge and expertise, solar power can be harnessed inexpensively. Be sure to check out their website to see how they are using solar to empower some of the poorest communities in the world.

We have checked out many of these “DIY Build Solar Panels” guides online and the product is the best. For only $50 you get a CD mailed to your home showing the detailed videos, guides and bonuses. It’s great to see that they don’t just sell good information, they also teach it to those who need it the most.


Solar Thermal Use “Heats Up” in Colder Climes

Photo courtesy of DOE/NREL & Craig Christensen

New York, NY (March 3, 2012) – Many people associate solar energy with hot regions like Arizona and Southern California. However, solar thermal water heating (SWH) can be used by families and firms in colder areas, such as Wisconsin and Oregon. In fact, Germany is a solar thermal market leader in Europe.

“Many people assume that SWH is not an option for them because they do not live near a scorching desert or by a sun-drenched beach,” said Nigel Cotton, OEM Team Leader of the International Copper Association (ICA) and founder of, a web community for solar thermal professionals.

“However, in a solar thermal system, the energy of the sun is used to heat water in a ‘holding tank’. This warmed water is circulated to provide hot water throughout the system,” Cotton explained. “While SWH may not be able to provide for all hot water needs in colder climes, it can provide significant savings.”

In Colorado, home owners are already taking advantage of SWH. According to the Colorado based Center for Resource Conservation, a solar thermal heating system for domestic hot water use can be a long-term cost saving addition for a home. They estimate that when replacing an electric system, SWH can save a household $625 annually. This kind of long-term investment in solar thermal also can pay off for business operations.

A laundromat in Toronto, Canada installed a SWH system that is saving money on energy costs. According to the Canadian Solar Industries Association, the solar thermal system “is expected to pay back its investment in less than ten years if energy prices remain stable, but will achieve faster payback as energy prices rise”.

“Solar thermal technology is able to capture the energy of the sun and transfer it into heat in many regions around the globe,” says Baerbel Epp, editor of the newsletter. “It is helpful for families and businesses to explore the different ways of using the free-of-charge energy from the sun no matter where they live.”


General Motors Selects Envision Solar’s EnvisionTrak™ Solar Trees®, CleanCharge™ Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

San Diego (October 14, 2010) – Envision Solar International, Inc., (OTCBB:EVSI), a leading sustainable infrastructure designer and developer, announced today that the company has been selected by General Motors, LLC to install its CleanCharge™ solar powered electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations integrated into EnvisionTrak™ tracking Solar Trees® at a number of prominent locations.

“We are pleased to have been selected by General Motors for these strategic installations that will enable Chevy Volts to leverage clean solar power to recharge their batteries without relying on carbon fuel generated electricity,” said Bob Noble, CEO of Envision Solar. “We applaud GM’s commitment to clean energy as well as green job creation through this initiative.”

The Chevy Volt extended-range electric car is expected to hit showrooms in November 2010 and will be rolled out initially in California, Michigan, Washington, D.C., Texas and New York. New Jersey and Connecticut will join in mid-2011.

“GM is committed to reducing carbon emissions and reliance on petroleum,” said Tom Stephens, GM vice chairman, global product operations. “We chose Envision Solar because its clean charging infrastructure allows us to maximize the environmental benefits of our electric vehicles through the use of clean renewable energy and further demonstrates our commitment to the proliferation of sustainable EV charging infrastructure.”

Envision Solar’s Solar Tree with EnvisionTrak™ is a highly engineered parking lot solar array that is 20 to 25 percent more productive than conventional fixed solar arrays, due to the incorporation of dual axis tracking which enables the canopy to follow the sun throughout the day. “We have designed this technology with an architectural focus that enhances the overall aesthetic of corporate and commercial campuses,” Noble added. “The addition of our CleanCharge system makes this a truly comprehensive design and technology package, offering a value-added investment for businesses anticipating the dramatic growth in the electric vehicle market over the next decade.”

Pike Research forecasts that the market for plug-in hybrid and battery electric passenger cars and light duty trucks will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 106 percent between 2010 and 2015, resulting in sales of more than 3.24 million vehicles during that period.


Solar Assisted Biking

Solar assisted bikeI’ve been biking for many years, and since I bike in mountainous country, I have been interested in adding solar assist for long journeys. You can pedal, or let the sun help you get up those hills. Another option is you pedal to charge the battery, and the motor always powers the bike. When you get home, you can plug into your home for a fast, full charge, and you can have onboard solar for slow rate charging while on the road. Here are some ideas for those who want solar powered transportation:







7 Easy Green Home Improvement Tips You Can Do Today

Your home is a reflection of who you are, and as such, it offers plenty of opportunities to make a statement not only about your style, but also your values and beliefs like caring about the environment. From cool white roofs, to solar panels, geothermal heating systems, wood siding, insulated windows and doors, energy efficient light bulbs, there is a wide range of home improvement projects that you can do to make your home more environmentally friendly and energy efficient. However, you do not have to do it all at once, nor do green home improvements have to cost you a fortune. In fact, as a homeowner, you can play an active role in lowering the carbon footprint on our earth by adapting some very simple and inexpensive green home improvement ideas. You will be pleasantly surprised that these changes will not only be beneficial to the environment, but will also actually increase your own comfort level, and help lower your energy bills.

Here are 7 easy environmentally friendly home improvement tips that
you can do today:

1. Install a programmable thermostat


It turns out that the number one source of energy consumption in your home is heating, especially if you live in a cold climate. While there are major changes you can make such as getting a whole new energy efficient pump, improving your insulation, installing new energy efficient windows, etc, one thing you can start with, is installing a programmable thermostat. When you are out of your home during the day this thermostat will shut off the heater completely or lower it to the lowest setting you have preset, in case you have pets in your house that need to stay warm. This nifty device will save you about 15% on your monthly heating bill, and will help the environment because your heater will not be wasting energy by being constantly turned on high.

2. Insulate your windows

It is no secret that installing new windows can be very expensive. However, you can still insulate your existing windows in a number of different ways or even use a combination of these methods. One simple change you can make right away is purchase black out curtains. These are fairly inexpensive, and you will be able to get high quality ones for around $100. Black out curtains will reduce your heat loss by about 25% and will also reduce the noise level by almost half. The beauty of black out curtains is that they will trap heat during the winter, and will keep the sunlight and heat out during the summer. This will also help reduce your air conditioning bills. High end blackout curtains will block out almost 99% of sunlight coming in. Moreover, you can also use energy film to reduce your heating and cooling costs while still letting light in. Unlike regular window plastic, energy film has increased transparency. If you really want to save energy and lower your bills, you can use energy film in combination with black out curtains and make your windows more green without spending a fortune.

3. Motion detector for outdoor lighting

Did you know that if you leave the outdoor light on all night you actually waste a lot of energy and disturb wildlife? Instead, you can conserve energy and save money by installing a light motion detector. It will regulate the outdoor light, activating it when necessary so that the area will be well lit, but without the negative impact on the environment and your wallet.

4. Conserve water

Water is one of the most precious resources that we have on our planet, and each one of us can do our part in conserving water. It just takes a few lifestyle changes, such as taking quicker showers, turning the faucet off when you are brushing your teeth, not letting the water run for too long when you are doing the dishes, etc. If you have kids, you can also educate them about the importance of water conservation and help them adapt these simple water conservation practices into their daily routines as well. If you want to get even more serious about reducing your water spending, you can inspect all the faucets in your house, and fix or replace them if any of them are leaking. Also, you can install low flow shower heads. These are a smart investment, since they help cut down on water usage and also reduce energy costs.

5. Clean air conditioner filters

Air conditioners are a lifesaver on those unbearable hot summer days. However, they can waste a lot of energy and cost you a lot of extra money if you leave the filters unattended for too long. A dirty filter will hamper the flow of air and you will need to run the system more and on a higher setting to achieve the cool temperature you want. By regularly cleaning and replacing the filters when they get too old, you will keep your air conditioners operating at an optimal level. If you are not at home, you can also adjust the thermostats on your air conditioners to an appropriate temperature level so that your house remains comfortable, but without wasting energy to keep it super cool when no one is at home.

6. Power strips for computers

Technology rules our lives and we cannot live without our computers, i-pads, phones, scanners, X-boxes, faxes, etc. What we often neglect to realize is that these devices use a lot of energy when we keep them constantly plugged in, because the flow of electric power continues even after we have turned them off. Instead, get power strips for your devices, they are inexpensive and will prevent energy from getting wasted.

7. Energy efficient lighting

One of the quickest and easiest green home improvements is to replace all the light bulbs in your house with energy efficient lights. You can purchase either LED or fluorescent light bulbs from your local hardware store. Both types of light bulbs come in a variety of shapes, styles and will fit all your fixtures from lamps, to chandeliers, to recessed lights, etc. Energy efficient light bulbs use about 75 % less energy than conventional lights and will also last up to 10 times longer. While you will have to spend a little extra money to purchase either the fluorescent or LED lights, which are both more expensive than the incandescent bulbs, you will get a surprisingly good return
on your investment with lowered electricity bills and a much longer service life.


Build your own Solar Oven

Eric Smith has written a book full of practical projects that you can build to utilize the power of the sun. He has authorized us to provide one chapter of that book, that will teach you how to build a Solar Oven, for your education and enjoyment.

For the full book, DIY Solar Projects, see:


Solar Insolation

Solar Irradiance (W/m^2) is a measure of how much solar power you are getting at your location. This irradiance varies throughout the year depending on the seasons. It also varies throughout the day, depending on the position of the sun in the sky, and the weather.

Solar insolation (kWh/m^2/day or “full sun hours”) is a measure of solar irradiance over of period of time – typically over the period of a single day.

A 200 watt panel with 5 full sun hours daily produces 1000 Watt hours.

This insolation calculator takes data collated over a 22 year period to provide monthly average insolation figures. This information is then used to calculate the average daily power generation a photovoltaic system will produce in any given month.

I needed to know the insolation for Anguilla, so I used the calculator at to find out how many full sun hours (kWh/m2/day) I can collect at various panel angles. I then design for the worse month using the best angle practical.

Join the DIY Solar group to learn and discuss how to design and install your own solar power solutions.


Off Grid Solar Packages

Because of cheap, incomplete solar “packages” flooding the market by mass marketers of Chinese junk, we have been requested by our readers to provide a quality “everything in the box” kit, with detailed DIY instructions for installation and maintenance. We have provided these proven kits to the Caribbean, off grid hunting camps, and less developed countries where electricity, water, and other services are intermittent or non existent. Some of these systems run unattended for 6 or more months of the year, and have been in place for 5 or more years without disruption. All kits come with our complete electronic library of solar, wind, and rainwater harvesting ebooks.

The first step to buying a solar pv kit is to know your power consumption. For a whole house, this is on your electric bill, listed as your monthly kWh consumption. Divide by 30 to get a average daily consumption, then look at the packages below for a daily production that fits that range. For doing room at a time projects, use A Kill-A-Watt meter to determine the consumption of devices in that room, then pick the package that fits.

We list the raw wattage of the system, and the expected daily kWh production for 2 extremes, low end (NY – 2 full sun hours daily in winter) and high end of solar availability (Anguilla – 6 full sun hours daily in winter). Most folks will fall somewhere in between. You can determine your daily and monthly averages at

Kit #1 (RV optimized) (200 watt, .4 – 1.2 kWh daily)
1 200 watt panel
1 15 amp solar charge controller
2 12v AGM battery (100 ah)
1 300 watt SW inverter
1 wire, fuse, and connector kit
Trimetric Battery Monitor Kit

$2299 (S&H Not Included)

Kit #1 can at minimum (NY), power 10 of our LED lighting kits for 10 hours and our 12v cistern water pump for daily washing and cooking.

Kit #2 (400 watt, .8 – 2.4 kWh daily)
2 200 watt panels
1 30 amp solar charge controller
4 12v AGM battery (100 ah)
1 300 watt SW inverter
1 wire, fuse, and connector kit
Trimetric Battery Monitor

$3599 (S&H Not Included)

Kit #2 can at minimum (NY), power 10 of our LED lighting kits for 10 hours, our 12v cistern water pump for daily washing and cooking, and a laptop computer or small LCD TV for 4 hours or so.

Kit #3 (600 watt, 1.2 – 3.6 kWh daily)
3 200 watt panels
2 30 amp solar charge controllers
6 12v AGM battery (100 ah)
2 300 watt SW inverters
1 wire, fuse, and connector kit
Trimetric Battery Monitor

$5199 (S&H Not Included)

Kit #3 can at minimum (NY), power 10 of our LED lighting kits for 10 hours, our 12v cistern water pump for daily washing and cooking, and a laptop computer or small LCD TV for 8 hours or so.

Kit #4 (800 watt, 1.6 – 4.8 kWh daily)
4 200 watt panels
2 30 amp solar charge controllers
8 12v AGM battery (100 ah)
1 2000 watt SW inverter/charger/transfer switch (for gen kit)
1 wire, fuse, and connector kit
Trimetric Battery Monitor

$7499 (S&H Not Included)

Kit #4 can at minimum (NY), power 10 of our LED lighting kits for 10 hours, our 12v cistern water pump for daily washing and cooking, a laptop computer or small LCD TV for 6 hours or so, and 2 ceiling fans for 6 hours or efficient fridge.

Kit #5 (1000 watt, 2 – 6 kWh daily)
5 200 watt panels
3 30 amp solar charge controllers
10 12v AGM battery (100 ah)
1 2000 watt SW inverter/charger/transfer switch (for gen kit)
1 wire, fuse, and connector kit
Trimetric Battery Monitor

$8699 (S&H Not Included)

Kit #5 can at minimum (NY), power 10 of our LED lighting kits for 10 hours, our 12v cistern water pump for daily washing and cooking, and a laptop computer or small LCD TV for 6 hours or so and a efficient fridge.

Portability Kit
Electronics packaging optimized for portability, either appliance dolly or wagon mounted. Not as appropriate for kits 3-5.

$199 (S&H Not Included)

12v LED Lighting Kit (2w – 100 lumen)
Perfect for task lighting, these lights consume very little power, produce very little heat, and last almost forever in extreme conditions.

$37 (S&H Not Included)

12v Water Pump Kit (contains wire, fuse, and disconnect)
for cisterns or water barrels – $199 (S&H Not Included)
for wells up to 30′ deep – $550 (Motor & S&H Not Included)

Generator Charging Kit
Contains a Honda powered generator, wiring and a 3 stage battery charger for kits 1-3, or just the generator and wiring for kits 4 & 5.

eMail for price