American Solar FAQs

Question: What is the cost of a solar-metal roof compared to other types of solar technologies?

Answer: A solar-metal roof is usually the lowest life-cycle cost for a solar energy system. A solar-metal roof can cost anywhere from a few dollars per square foot of roof to $20 per square foot. In contrast, solar PV systems cost around $100 per square foot and solar hot water systems cost around $50 per square foot.

Many factors affect the cost of a solar metal roof. For example, if you require a new roof or a re-roof, the cost of the roof may already be included in your budget. In that case, the cost of the solar components (fans, ducts, controls) may only be a few dollars per square foot.

Another factor affecting solar roof cost is the Federal and state tax credits available for commercial solar projects. These credits can cut the after-tax cost in half, or more, depending on your state incentives and corporate tax rate. Even non-profit and government organizations can get the benefits of tax credits if the solar roof is purchased by a commercial organization.

To get the exact cost requires a detailed review of the planned installation.

Question: How long will a solar-metal roof last?

Answer: Solar-metal roofs can last for 40 years with minimal maintenance. Most installers of solar-metal roofs will guarantee the roofs to be weather-tight for 20 years and guarantee the paint finish even longer. Minor recoating can extend the life to 40 years.

Question: I already have a metal roof. Can you retrofit my existing roof using your system?

Answer: Yes, in some cases, you can use your existing metal roof as the solar heating surface and a new solar roof is not required. In other cases, the installer will place the new solar roof over the old roof using conventional construction.

Question: I’m really interested in electricity, why should I consider solar-thermal?

Answer: Solar-thermal systems produce more solar energy per square foot and cost less than solar-electric systems. They also meet the largest need for energy in buildings, and that is the need for heat.

Solar-thermal systems collect about 20-40% of the solar energy and convert it into useful heat. Solar-electric systems collect about 10% of the available sunlight and convert it into useful electricity.

Solar-thermal systems produce heat for as low as $4-6 per million BTU, or about 1.5-2¢ per kilowatt-hour of thermal energy delivered. Most electricity customers spend about 7-15¢ per kilowatt-hour. Most solar-electric systems produce solar electricity for about 15¢ per kilowatt-hour. Since the largest need for energy in most buildings is for heat, buildings typically use much of their electricity for heating. If your electric bills are high, it may be because you are using electric heat for space heat, water heat, drying, etc.

If solar-electric systems are a ‘must have’, American Solar can provide a system which produces both solar heat and solar electricity. We typically recommend that the energy savings from the solar heating be used to ‘subsidize’ the higher cost of a small amount of solar electric system, so the overall system still provides a cost effective installation.

If you only wish to have a solar-electric system installed, we recommend that you find a local contractor via

Question: Why don’t you offer solar thermal for the residential market?

Answer: American Solar only provides solar heating services to commercial, industrial, agricultural, institutional, and government customers. We are focused on these classes of building owner because they have the largest needs for solar heat, and offer the best avenue to deploy large solar energy systems with the resources we have available.

If you are seeking help for a residential solar project, we recommend that you find a local contractor via

Question: Does my solar roof or siding need to be black-colored to work?

Answer: No, A solar roof can be almost any color and still deliver solar heat energy. American Solar has tested a variety of different colors from black to light browns, and even off whites. For all colors, ASI documented temperatures of over 50 degrees F above outside air temperatures.

For example, the photos blow show an off white metal siding exposed to full sun at a temperature of 125 degrees F and the same siding a few feet away, in the shade, at an ambient temperature of 71 degrees F. We have also registered 170 degrees F on red roofing panels during 90 degree summer days.

While darker colors absorb more sunlight and produce more solar heat, black is not required.

At American Solar, we think you should choose your color and style to match the design of the building and then we can harvest all the solar heat that is available.

Question: Is there only one style of solar roof or siding?

Answer: No, American Solar is unique in the industry in that we can deliver solar roofing and siding in literally hundreds of different shapes and colors to match any building roofing or siding system. We use metal building roofing and siding systems from dozens of different manufacturers to design our solar roofing and siding systems.

We have used rustic shakes to match an old stone farmhouse appearance that is appropriate for light commercial construction, and flush panel siding to match the sleek look of a modern high rise. Almost without exception, if a metal roofing or siding system is in production, we can use it for solar heating.

At American Solar, we think you should choose your color and style to match the design of the building and then we can harvest all the solar heat that is available.

Question: Will a solar heating roof raise my electrical use during the summer air conditioning season?

Answer: No, a well-designed solar heating roof will not increase electrical use during the summer air conditioning season. In fact, a well-planned system can reduce electrical use from air conditioning and other summer heating uses.

At American Solar, we know how to contain the radiant heat from the solar roof during the summer cooling season. This radiant heating effect is the primary way a hot roof generates a heat flow to the occupied spaces below the roof. The proper application of insulation and ventilation can actually eliminate most of the radiant heating from the roof and reduce the heat flow into the top floor of the building.

Other uses of the summer solar heat such as solar water heating, desiccant cooling, or industrial process heating can reduce electric energy use during the summer months.