According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “Solar power is more affordable, accessible, and prevalent in the United States than ever before. From just 0.34 GW in 2008, U.S. solar power capacity has grown to an estimated 97.2 gigawatts (GW) today. This is enough to power the equivalent of 18 million average American homes. Today, over 3% of U.S. electricity comes from solar energy in the form of solar photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP).”

They go on to report, “Solar’s abundance and potential throughout the United States is staggering: PV panels on just 22,000 square miles of the nation’s total land area – about the size of Lake Michigan – could supply enough electricity to power the entire United States. Solar panels can also be installed on rooftops with essentially no land use impacts, and it is projected that more than one in seven U.S. homes will have a rooftop solar PV system by 2030.” Not to mention it being a “proven incubator for job growth throughout the nation.” American solar jobs have increased 167% over the past decade, which is five times faster than the overall job growth rate in the U.S. economy. 

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reported, “The year 2020 was a record-setting year for the solar industry, and it won’t be the last. The fourth quarter exceeded the prior quarterly record set in Q4 2016 by 22%, with just over 8 gigawatts-direct current (GWdc) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed. The year ended with a total of 19.2 GWdc installed, an astonishing 43% more than capacity added in 2019 – all in the midst of a global pandemic.” Check out their Solar Market Insight Report 2020 Year in Review for more insights into this growing industry.


As the popularity of solar continues, solar mounting technologies continue to evolve to improve installation efficiencies and reduce material and labor costs. There are several factors to consider including if your current roof will accommodate solar panels. While most types of roofs are compatible with solar panels, you may have to make some adjustments to your current roof, or if it’s time to replace your roof, you may want to consider a different roof material. Metal roofs can last up to 70 years, whereas asphalt composite shingles are expected to last just 15-20 years.

Since a metal roof will outlast solar panels (20-25 years life expectancy), with a metal roof in place, you would be able to swap the panels out without having to mount brackets and rails when it is time to invest in new panels. This can potentially save you a lot of time and expense much further down the road if you’re planning on staying in a home a long time. Metal roofs are extremely versatile mounting platforms that outlast PV systems. While you can mount PV with rails, or use the built-in rails already up there (direct-attach), you can take advantage of the savings that come with the rail-less method whether you have standing seam or ribbed, face-fastened panels.

While certain factors need to be present for a rail-less method, it is proving to be a more affordable option. Rail-less mounting systems are installed using fewer components claiming it could cut install times drastically and reducing shipping costs. The smaller packaging also makes it easier to warehouse and handle than rail-based mounts.

Training installers to install rail-less systems requires extra focus on alignment. Not all roofs have a completely straight slope, so vertical alignment of roof mounts is important, especially since there isn’t a guiding rail to compensate for an uneven roofing surface. METALCON is committed to provide the metal building community with the resources it needs to make this affordable option more available. Join us this Wednesday for a comprehensive webinar on rail-less solar techniques on metal roofs.



Learn from experts Shelly Higgins, AIA, CSI, IIBEC, NWiR Architectural and National Accounts Director with S-5! and Mark Gies, Director of Solar Business with S-5! as they cover the following learning objectives in this webinar:

  • Learn why a metal roof is a perfect solar platform.
  • Define the advantages of rail-less solar PV mounting systems.
  • Understand how solar on metal roofs prove to be the most economical and the most eco-friendly.
  • Learn best practices for design and deployment of wire management.
  • Describe best practices for installation techniques and other balance of system (BOS) components.



Sponsored by S-5!, this “show within a show” is where leading brands in solar components, performance monitoring systems, smart energy, energy storage and consulting services will connect with solar contractors, and metal construction and design professionals, to present solutions that address the increased demand for solar from their clients. Participating exhibitors will have the opportunity to meet with hundreds of architects, developers, roofing contractors and others in the METALCON community who are eager to learn about Solar Energy. Download the Solar Center Prospectus to learn more about exhibiting in this special area of the METALCON show floor.