Get Solar Installed on Your Roof and Get Money for it! - PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Get Solar Installed on Your Roof and Get Money for it! - PODCAST TRANSCRIPT
April 1, 2024 at 12:00 p.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with Mark Gies and Rob Haddock from S-5!. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast.

Megan Ellsworth: Welcome to the Ask a Roofer podcast, where all your roofing questions find their answers. Your hosts, Megan Ellsworth and Lauren White, peel back the layers of the roofing world to reveal the knowledge, tips and FAQs you've been curious about. From shingles to skylights, metal to asphalt, we are here to demystify the system above your head. So, get ready to ask, learn and explore the fascinating world of roofing one question at a time, on the Ask a Roofer podcast.

Hello everyone, my name's Megan Ellsworth.

Lauren White: And I'm Lauren.

Megan Ellsworth: And this is the Ask a Roofer podcast. Welcome back. So excited to have the gentlemen of S-5 on the podcast today, talking about all things solar and solar energy, Rob Haddock and Mark Gies. Hello, gentlemen. Welcome to the podcast.

Rob Haddock: [inaudible 00:00:53] Lauren. Good to be here.

Mark Gies: Yeah, great to be here.

Megan Ellsworth: Well, let's dive right in and start with you, Rob, have you introduce yourself, and a little bit of the history of S-5.

Rob Haddock: Sure. How many hours do I have? So yeah, I'm the founder and CEO of S-5. And S-5, if your viewers are not familiar with our brand, we innovate. We're an innovation company, and we innovate better ways to attach things to metal roofs, that are ways that do not impinge the integrity of the roof, maintain roof warranties and all that sort of stuff. And of course, people mount a lot of things on roofs and metal roofs in particular. We have really good solutions to do that quick, slick, easy and preserve the integrity of the roof. My background prior to that, was in contracting, so your show is Ask a Roofer, we're not roofers.

Megan Ellsworth: [inaudible 00:02:08].

Rob Haddock: I used to was.

Megan Ellsworth: [inaudible 00:02:11].

Rob Haddock: And did a lot of metal roofs. And I was in metal construction for many, many years until the founding of S-5 about 33 years ago now, 32, 33.

Megan Ellsworth: Very cool.

Lauren White: Amazing. Well, glad to have you on. Mark, let's hear a little bit about you.

Mark Gies: Hi, I'm Mark Gies. I've been with S-5 going on five years now, been a great ride. And beyond that, I've been in the solar industry for 15 years. Actually, this month it'll be 15 years, a long ride. And most of that has been with mounting systems. So what we're talking about now, is what touches the roof, what part of the solar system is really the mechanical part on the roof, has been my entire career in the solar.

Lauren White: Amazing.

Mark Gies: And happy to be at S-5.

Lauren White: Great, so we're talking about solar today. And for home and building owners who are wanting to have solar installed on their roofs, what are some of the steps that they should expect during this installation process?

Rob Haddock: Mark, you want to take that one?

Mark Gies: Sure.

Rob Haddock: And I'll interrupt you if I think it's appropriate.

Mark Gies: So, I guess how I would answer that, is the steps are pretty straightforward. It's very similar to any kind of contracting work you'd have done. So you find the right contractor, you keep on top of things. They will look over your roof, work with you on a good plan to do it and provide a bid. And then you may go to multiple contractors, and then really find the one that you're the most comfortable with, and go with it. But I think what is the critical part of that is finding that right contractor because there's definitely a lot of fly-by-nights. There's definitely folks that are not on the up and up, so it's really critical, through recommendations or whatever, is to find that right person. And once you find that right person, they really will do right for you,, and do all the work needed and lead you along the right path. So the steps are pretty straightforward, it's just really making sure you find that right person, that right team to help you with.

Rob Haddock: I got an amen to that, because as in almost any trade, 80 or even 90% of the people doing it aren't that good at it. And there's only, maybe it's the 80-20 rule, but I think it's more like a 90-10 rule, that a small percentage of the people that are out there trying to earn a living, doing whatever they're doing, are not all that great at it. And so that's a big deal, is to find the right contractor who's competent. And of course, there's some ways to check references, make sure that they're a member, perhaps, of what's the solar educational group?

Mark Gies: NABCEP.

Rob Haddock: NABCEP, sorry. NABCEP, and exhibit best practices in everything they do.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, absolutely.

Rob Haddock: And then that guy will help you assess your roof and how solar friendly it is, and that sort of thing. But one thing to remember is that even some of the better solar contractors don't know a lot about roofing. So it's really a key find if you find one who does know a lot about roofing. But if you don't, then you should know a lot about roofing, make sure that he doesn't screw up your roof, right?

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. And we did an episode a few days ago, all about trying to find a contractor that works closely or in conjunction with solar installers. So they work hand-in-hand, so you are making sure that you're getting the best installation with your solar system, not-

Rob Haddock: It really is. It is kind rare, because the same thing goes in reciprocal, there aren't a lot of roofing contractors who know much about solar. So it's kind of a rare find to find one who is really well-versed in both trades. But there are more and more, solar contractors are finding that it just makes sense to integrate solar with their business model.

Megan Ellsworth: So how does the choice of mounting equipment affect the longevity and efficiency of a solar panel system?

Rob Haddock: Well, obviously, the mounting system is what holds the solar to the roof. And so it has, it's sort of your motor mount bolts under the hood of your car. Well, they're holding the engine onto your car, so the mounting system plays a pretty significant role in making sure that solar modules don't take off in a windstorm or slide down the roof in a heavy snowstorm. And so the important thing is to make sure that the contractor is using a tested and engineered solar mounting system. And we also look at warranties. A lot of people pay a lot of attention to warranties, and our warranties that S-5 are for the life of the roof.

And another thing that people should realize is that solar, first of all, is a greater investment than the roof. So the solar is apt to cost five to 10 times as much as the roof that it's mounted on, so it's a very valuable asset, and you want to preserve the integrity of both. And the life of solar is documented to be something over 33 years, that was from a Berkeley study that was done about three years ago. And the life expectancy, the mean life or average life of a solar system grows year over year as technologies are improving. And so one might assume that today, to figure a 35-year life of the solar system, it's got to be there for 35 years. And the system, the mounting system has to make sure it stays there.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

Mark Gies: I view that question, it's a really important question for our company, because I think it's as much about the product, but it's about the company you're buying it. And something that's really core to our DNA, our very mission that Rob has created when he started the company, is that we not only have the best products, but we provide the best service around them. We help companies get over any hurdles. We're there every step of the way with companies that utilize our products. So it's not just about the product itself. It's very important [inaudible 00:09:53] a company that backs that up, like our warranty, and the service that we provide is as important, and that's really integral in our DNA, I think, at S-5.

Lauren White: That's great.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, love it.

Lauren White: Absolutely. And that actually leads us really well into our next question. So what makes S-5 mounting solutions stand out in the solar industry? Is there more that you can add than what you've touched on already?

Rob Haddock: Well, I suppose the other thing is that in light fashion to many booming industries, and the solar space is a booming industry, it's experiencing growth in strong, strong double digits, year-over-year, because it makes sense. But at the same time, you have a lot of people jumping into the business, and not only into as solar contractors, but also the providers, the OEMs of the equipment that go into solar systems. So mounting system suppliers may or may not know roofing real well, they may not have been in business too long. They may not do the kind of testing and certification in engineering, that is our company's ethos. But there are many me too's out there. So, I think anybody, just the way that you would make any serious investment, you would check the references, check the track record of the providers of that equipment and make sure that it's up to snuff.

Mark Gies: What I see is setting us way apart from everybody else, is that we have a long history of actually being part of the roofing community, as well as the solar community. So we really ride both communities, and because of that, we're really in tune with the metal roofing industry, what their needs are. We collaborate with the players. I mean, we're metal roofers that got into solar, I think that's a great story. Not everybody has that story. And I think because of it, we're really focused on solving problems that as nice to the roof as they are to the solar side. And I think we really are alone in that respect, of being part of both of those communities.

Rob Haddock: Well, we have the knowledge base to know what things to be careful of when integrating solar with a metal roof. That's our expertise.

Megan Ellsworth: That's so important, so important.

Rob Haddock: And I personally, I've been involved with metal roofing for over 50 years now, right? I'm dating myself, but-

Megan Ellsworth: Watch out.

Mark Gies: And that is shown in the way, and where we're at, we're part of this, the roofing community as well. We go to the shows. Rob and Dustin and Sean are part of leadership in these organizations, the metal construction, metal roofing organizations and we're are part of that evolution. We really work hard at helping both solar and the metal roofing industry, metal construction industry, evolve. So that's really important for us, that we're involved. And I think that shows in our products, and sort of the brand we have, that's wrapped up in it all, I think.

Lauren White: Yeah, absolutely.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. And like you said, it's important for home and building owners to make sure that the solar installers and solar companies they're going with, are using high quality products like S-5.

Mark Gies: Right. And if there's any issues, they want a company there that's going to help them through it. And we do that. We're proud of how well we do that.

Rob Haddock: We actually get on roofs. We have personnel that go out and help our customers who may be using our products for the first time, and make sure they're doing it right. Our tagline is, the right way.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, that's great. So can you discuss any of the various incentives and rebates available for building owners investing in solar energy, and maybe why they should invest in solar energy?

Rob Haddock: We're well-versed in that.

Mark Gies: I think overall, there's no time than now to do this. And there's always been what's called the ITC, which is your investment tax credit, that's been going on for over a decade now. But it was always uncertain year-to-year. But in 2022, when the Inflation Reduction Act was turned on, basically-

Rob Haddock: Passed into law.

Mark Gies: Passed into law, that's the word, it really has taken a big step forward. So now the ITC is now guaranteed for 10 more years through 3033, 2033. Along with that is now big thing, which really is that nonprofits who don't pay taxes, really could never take advantage of that. So now, there's new parts of that, that allow like a church organization or some nonprofit, to take advantage of that 30% through cash grants. So that's kind of opened up possibilities for nonprofits to go solar as well. And then besides that, now there's a domestic content adder, so that if you buy 40% of your solar system is made in the US, you get another extra 10% of cash back of your system.

If you are in what's called the energy community, maybe some place where a coal mine is shut down and the town is sort of hurting from fossil fuel, not using it, you get an extra 10%. And then there's an extra 10%, or some amount of money for low-income communities. So on the federal side, more than ever, there's the access to money depending on where you are and what's going on. Besides that, more and more states that have their own incentives, more and more utilities are doing incentives or riding that wave, and doing incentives for people to put in solar. And then another big one is, that we actually have utilized, is the USDA, another federal agency. You don't really realize it, they have what's called a REAP program, Renewal Energy, something R-E-A-P, where you can get a big chunk of your... It varies from quarter to quarter, but you can get a big chunk, upwards of 50% back if you are in a rural area, an area that's designated as a rural area, that if you are in compliance with that, you get even more money.

So there's a lot of incentives that stack up. And we've seen this firsthand, where you can get almost an entire system paid for by just having the right combination of incentives from federal, state utilities, the USDA, they really add up. So there's no time like now to do solar. [inaudible 00:17:42].

Rob Haddock: Those incentives vary from place to place. The local utility may have some incentive available, and in the next county, maybe it's not, it's a different utility or whatever. And different states, those things vary a lot. But a good resource is a government website called DSIRE, not D-E, but D-S-I-R-E.

Mark Gies: USA.

Rob Haddock: If you plug in the E, you have to get some weird websites.

Mark Gies: It's DSIRE,, is it?

Rob Haddock: I can't remember if it's .gov or .org, or what.

Mark Gies: But it's dsireusa.

Megan Ellsworth: All right, we'll put that in the show notes.

Mark Gies: You plug in a zip code and it tells you everything you have access to, federal, state, local, everything. So it's really good, it's a good clearinghouse for information. But the bottom line is you have the federal stuff, states vary. Some states are better than others, some utilities are better than others. And then there's this overriding federal REAP grant that you can get if you're in the right rural area that's designated.

Rob Haddock: I think what really matters at the end of the day, is when does the system become cash positive? So, you're spending some money up front to get it installed, it's saving money by virtue of your reduced electric bills or elimination in some cases, of electric bills. And so the bottom line question is when does it pay back? If that system is going to generate electricity for the next 35 years, at what point does it become cash positive? And to give you some examples, with just the ITC, the investment tax credit of 30% and what's called the MACRs, that's Mark can tell you what that acronym means. But in essence, it's accelerated depreciation, where you take like 80% of the value and depreciate it in the first year. So, the end result is that, just with those two incentives, most systems become cash-positive within six or seven years and then they're generating electricity for the next 28 or 30 years.

It's free. It's free at that point, right?

Megan Ellsworth: Wow.

Rob Haddock: So that's why it generally makes economic sense. In fact, a few cases in point, we have three solar projects that are in various stages. The one going on our office building here, right now, was just became energized a few days ago, wisely. And that system is subject to another incentive, the REAP grant that Mark mentioned. And that system will pay for itself within about 18 or 20 months.

Lauren White: Whoa.

Rob Haddock: The system we installed two years ago, on our plant in Texas, our manufacturing plant, paid for itself the day it was energized, it was cash positive. And it will save us somewhere in the neighborhood of $800,000 in electricity costs over the life on that system. It's pretty serious money.

Megan Ellsworth: Wow.

Rob Haddock: A lot of people just don't believe it because it's too good to be true. But in fact, the third facility is just in the same situation as the one I just mentioned, our plant. It's also in Texas, and it'll be cash-positive day one.

Mark Gies: And what sets that apart from our headquarters, is that the utility in North Texas actually gives money. It has its own incentive, which is significant, that it helped.

Rob Haddock: Yeah, 25 to 30%. So if you're doing the math, and then you add the accelerated depreciation in there, there are a lot of systems that are cash-positive within two to three years.

Mark Gies: Yeah.

Megan Ellsworth: Wow.

Mark Gies: And now is the best time is ever, to do solar.

Lauren White: No kidding.

Megan Ellsworth: Do solar now.

Mark Gies: You can do solar now. Yeah, exactly.

Megan Ellsworth: Wow, so many perks. So I guess on the other side of that, for people home and building owners, who are wanting to install solar, what are some common concerns that you've heard regarding the roof integrity, or the warranty of the system, or the roof when a solar system is being installed?

Rob Haddock: Well, I think the first thing to be aware of is how much life is left in the roof. What is the service life, or the remaining service life of the roof if it's been in place for number of years? Because if the roof needs to be replaced, and most roofs that are non-metal do need to be replaced, mid-life from the solar, it upsets the financial performance that I just explained to you. A metal roof generally has a life expectancy in the 50 to 70-year range. So if you're installing solar on a metal roof, the same rule applies.

If that roof is 40 years old, or 50 years old, you may not want to invest putting solar on that roof unless you replace the roof in conjunction with the solar. On membrane roofs and asphalt shingle roofs, it's worse because they don't have nearly the life expectancy that a metal roof does. You're down to more like 15 or 20 years in most cases, which means that you will be replacing that roof somewhere, mid-life of the solar and the costs of doing that change the financial performance dramatically, because you've got to remove the solar, then install a new roof, then put the solar back. So number one on the list would be what is the remaining service life in your roof? And Mark, I'm sure, has other factors to consider.

Mark Gies: Well, I mean bringing the warranty into it, I think this is an area where, and it can get complicated, but the building owner needs to be careful. Especially on the commercial side, making sure that they get in contact with the roof manufacturer to understand their warranty. Because sometimes you may have to do a pre-inspection before you put anything on a roof. Then after it's done, you have to have a post-inspection or otherwise they potentially can nullify their warranty. And then as well, what touches that roof could impact. They may say, "No, we don't approve that product touching our roof." And I know that can be difficult because some people don't really know the history of their roof, if you've bought an existing building. But it's really important to try to do that. And that kind of goes to what we talked about earlier, about how we position ourselves.

We spend a lot of time with the roofing manufacturers, so that they know our products, they approve us, they typically endorse us as well. So when building owners go, or installers go and talk to the roofing manufacturers about, "We're putting this on the roof," you may not always get a green light sometimes. And sometimes, we will say we're not going to hold the warranty if something happens because we don't approve this product. But that's why we spend that time and effort to collaborate and to work with that community, to make sure that we are approved, and we are endorsed, and we don't cancel any warranties with our product. But that is a big factor as well, in there, is the warranty of the roof.

Lauren White: Yeah, those are some good takeaways.

Rob Haddock: We always say you have to look at the roof and the solar as a single asset. It's analogous to the engine on the chassis of your car. I mean, they're interdependent, so you really have to look at them as a single asset. And given the extreme cost of solar, or the value of it, you want to make sure that your roof is going to last as long as your solar.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, absolutely.

Lauren White: That's why everyone should have metal roofs.

Rob Haddock: Right. Well, we're kind of advocates. But we don't sell roofing. We're not here to sell roofing. We don't sell metal roofing, we just sell little widgets to mount things on it.

Mark Gies: But that is a big message. I say that so often, I forget to say it sometimes, is that it's important to look at it as a single asset.

Megan Ellsworth: So true.

Mark Gies: And metal roofing is just such a superior platform to put solar on we feel, because of that longevity. Plus recyclability, the reason people are in solar is to help our environment. I mean, economically sound, as we talked about. But another big part of it is for environmental purposes, and metal roofs go hand-in-hand with that. Metal roofs, metal construction are recyclable and they last 70, whatever, they last forever. So you never see a metal roof in a landfill, you can't say that about other roof types.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

Lauren White: Absolutely.

Megan Ellsworth: So, what would you say are some emerging trends in solar energy, that some home and building roof owners should be aware of?
Rob Haddock: Well, there's a big trend right now, into battery storage. So, most systems, almost all systems for practical purposes, are grid-tied and different utilities treat that differently. Where we are right now, we have a bidirectional meter, so when we're overproducing for the building's consumption, it's feeding that back into the grid.

Other utilities had different policies and regulations around all that, but we see quite a trend toward battery storage. So, on days and times of the year that the solar is less productive, where the building is unoccupied or whatever, that that energy is stored in batteries. Batteries have a much shorter service life than the solar system does too. So a battery-backed system, the payback on the battery portion of it is not, the ROI is not as good as it is without batteries. So a lot of people are still not using batteries, but that's really a global trend. And part of the reason is that electricity here, is relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of electricity in other parts of the world. And so, it may make economic sense when you're paying 30 cents a kilowatt-hour for electricity and it may not make as much sense when that cost is 11 cents, or something like that, as it is here.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

Rob Haddock: So that's definitely a trend.

Lauren White: Yeah.

Mark Gies: One trend that I see, that is, I would say, is not that positive, is that solar modules, solar panels themselves, are getting bigger and bigger. The frame of them are getting bigger and bigger, but at the same time, the frames are getting thinner and thinner. So that sort of... The outlook of that is that people are starting to get concerned that the modules are now relying more and more on the mounting systems, us, to support them properly.

So that's something that people really, I think, have to look out in the future for, is bigger and bigger modules. And the fact that the module frames, they used to be 40 millimeters, then 35, now they're 30 millimeters or even less, and so they're just intrinsically not as strong as they have been. So that puts more and more emphasis on making sure that you have the right structure underneath to support them properly, because of snow, wind, wind forces, everything, that's not changing, but the modules are getting intrinsically weaker because of just getting bigger and thinner, which is a really not great trend from a structural perspective. But it does put more onus on us, the companies that make these mounting systems, to do it right, and to be able to mount these solar panels so that they stay there and are protected for their lifetime.

Rob Haddock: Another, do you want to speak at all, Mark, to the emergence of solar and shingles being-

Mark Gies: Yeah, sure. I think this is a longer-term trend, but there are some companies that, Tesla's one, GAF is another one that have what's called a solar shingle. So the intent of that is to be what's like a shingle basically, so you don't have to really put a roof on it. That becomes not only the roof, but also the solar system.

And I think the long-term outlook of that is that the idea of really integrating things together is a positive thing, but right now, it's still pretty early on and they're very expensive, and they're not as efficient. So per square-inch, you don't get as much electricity out of a solar shingle as you do the solar panels that you see today on systems. But a lot of things that are good, start out at a disadvantage, but people are definitely keeping an eye, I personally am keeping an eye out on that, because I think it is something that, for us, being part of the roofing and solar community and everything, it's something that is an interesting part of the future, depending on what's going to happen. But right now, they're very expensive, and there's a lot of challenges with it, but they're out there.

Lauren White: Oh, yeah.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, for sure. Lots of options.

Lauren White: So yeah, how S-5 then, innovating to stay ahead in this solar technology space that continues to evolve and change?

Rob Haddock: We have a lot of secrets that we won't tell you.

Lauren White: Fair enough.

Rob Haddock: But suffice it to say, we're an innovation company, and we're constantly changing and improving everything. We're finding new markets for our attachment devices, and we're constantly improving the ones that we have. There are some products that we have that are in their third or fourth or fifth generation, but we just continue to innovate. We're really an innovation company. Since our inception, we've been issued 134 U.S and foreign patents over the years. So that sort of tells you that we're always on the front edge of things, innovating new and better ways. And a lot of times, our competition is ourselves. We just want to make our products better, easier to use, more durable, whatever, easier to install. And so we're constantly changing and innovating to stay ahead of the game.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

Lauren White: Wow.

Rob Haddock: And solar is an important part of our business, because a lot of people are mounting a lot of solar. I think our count is somewhere, getting close to seven gigawatts of mounted solar to date.

Megan Ellsworth: Whoa.

Rob Haddock: Not sure if you know what a gigawatt is, but it's a lot.

Megan Ellsworth: That's a lot.

Mark Gies: It's a trillion watts.

Rob Haddock: So, it's an important part of our business, and we're constantly figuring out better, faster, cheaper ways.

Mark Gies: And I think on the metal attachment side, which is the core of our business, our focus has been on really being specific in designing products for specific roof profiles, because we think that they work the best. They're the least expensive because you're very efficient with the material, and they're easy to install.

So, I think that goes back on our relationships with these roofing companies, these manufacturers, that we get insight into what's coming down the pike and we see what's going on, and they collaborate with us. And so, we're always coming out with newer clamps, just the attachment itself, whether it be for solar or snow or all our product lines, but we put a lot of effort in innovating on that interface, exactly to the roof, what touches the roof. And I think that benefits from our collaboration that we do with the metal roof industry, actually. And that sets us apart from other companies that tend to... People who compete with us, they'll make one big one that they try to put on any roof possible, a universal clamp and we don't play that way. We have very specific solutions for specific roofs, and we provide the service to make sure people choose the right one. We help people. But that's our focus on, we think it's doing the right thing, is making the best clamps for all these roof profiles.

Megan Ellsworth: That's awesome.

Lauren White: That's amazing.

Rob Haddock: And it's all about getting a contractor, the best juice for the squeeze. So coming from a contracting background, I kind of have a thing that everybody wants to buy quality as long as it's also cheap.

Lauren White: So true.

Rob Haddock: And so, we make it a point to meet both objectives, and we do that by innovating niftier ways, that are... And of course, we do all our own manufacturing in-house too, so we have control over that process. And we designed parts with an eye and an ear toward how is this going to be manufactured, and what's the most affordable way to manufacture it, and can we tweak the design to make manufacturing more affordable and save money that way?

Megan Ellsworth: [inaudible 00:37:33]. You guys are innovating always. I love that you say you're an innovating company. That's amazing. I hope everyone out there was taking notes. I mean, all the incentives for solar, all the great things S-5 makes, all the clamps and attachments. Everyone out there take notes, go check out the S-5 directory on Roofer's Coffee Shop and on Ask a Roofer. And then also go to their website and check out that website, dsireusa and-

Mark Gies: I believe it's .gov.

Megan Ellsworth: .gov, and you'll find all the information that we chatted about. All this will also be in the show notes. Thank you so much, gentlemen. This has been so informative.

Mark Gies: It's a lot of work.

Rob Haddock: It's always a pleasure. Good to meet with you today.

Lauren White: Yes, thank you.

Rob Haddock: God bless you all.

Mark Gies: Yeah, we appreciate the time much. Thanks for having us.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, everyone keeps listening to Ask a Roofer Podcast. We have many episodes coming out in the next month, so keep an eye out for that. Lauren, another podcast in the Bucket.

Lauren White: I know, and very informative too. I want to go to that website and see what my options are.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, maybe Lauren will get solar for her roof. Awesome. Well, thank you so much. This has been the Ask a Roofer podcast.

Hot Takes after the S-5 Ask a Roofer podcast. We just chatted with Mark Gies and Rob Haddock from S-5, and boy, was that a lively conversation.

Lauren White: Gosh, yeah. Seriously, you got to stay on your toes with Rob.

Megan Ellsworth: Such a hoot and a half. I wish he was my grandpa.

Lauren White: Oh, it's a good conversation. Very fun.

Megan Ellsworth: So fun. I learned lots about solar and attaching solar systems to roofs. One thing that really stuck out to me was that metal roofing is so great. I mean, I've already been a fan of metal roofing because the sustainability aspect of it, it's infinitely recyclable. They were saying you'll never see a metal roof in a landfill. I love that. I feel like there's no other type of roofing that can really truly say that, I feel like.

Lauren White: Right. Not yet, at least. Who knows?

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, good point. Not yet. And they were saying not every roof was meant for solar, and not in the meaning of the pitch of the roof or whatever, meaning not every roofing material. Because the podcast that we did previously, talking about wanting to get your roof evaluated or replaced before installing solar, with metal, if it were me, if I were the homeowner, I would just put metal down, and then put the solar. Because that metal is going to last the same amount of time as your solar, probably even will outlive your solar system, which is so cool.

Lauren White: And they were kind of touching on too, I mean, what you said earlier, not every roof is meant for solar, because roofs have a lifespan. So if you have moved into a home, and maybe you don't know how old your roof is, if there's only really five more good years of that roof, you really want to get that evaluated before installing solar, because solar is also built to last. So having to replace your roof after five years and take that whole solar system down to then replace it, is just a headache for everyone involved.

Megan Ellsworth: A headache.

Lauren White: Yeah.

Megan Ellsworth: As much as we love roofing here, no one wants to have their roof replaced multiple times within the span of 10 years.

Lauren White: So true.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. So true.

Lauren White: Yeah.

Megan Ellsworth: And then solar shingles, how cool are those? Revolutionary, right?

Lauren White: I know. We saw some at the IRE, the International Roofing Expo.

Megan Ellsworth: That's right.

Lauren White: From Tesla, and GAF has some too. So they're beautiful and sleek, and just integrated right into the roof instead of being on a mounting system. But they are still really new. I mean, there's only a couple on the market right now, and who knows what the future holds for those. They're really cool.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, it was interesting. Rob and Mark seemed a little wary of the shingles. They were like, "It's cool, but not so sure about it."

Lauren White: Right. But yeah, who knows? I don't know.

Megan Ellsworth: Who knows?

Lauren White: And my huge thing, all of the incentives that are available for homeowners for having solar installed, incredible. There's so much out there.

Megan Ellsworth: I know. It makes me want to install solar, even though I don't own my house.

Lauren White: Same. I know.

Megan Ellsworth: I'm like, "Ted, my landlord, come on, let's do this, bud." The cash back is insane.

Lauren White: Right. Well, and they were saying too, one of the S-5 facilities, they had solar installed and the same day it was profitable.

Megan Ellsworth: Cash-positive, yeah.

Lauren White: Yeah, cash-positive with their electric and their solar and all of that. I would like that.

Megan Ellsworth: And they were saying too, oh God, me too. That was in North Texas where their plant is, and they were saying something to do with certain municipalities, or counties, or cities, towns, they all have different kind of rebate incentives for adding solar. And so I guess that one that plant is in, has a higher cash back rebate incentive situation. So maybe that's something to look for if you're a first-time homeowner looking to buy soon, maybe look around. If you want to install solar, you know that's something you want to do, look around for these counties or areas in the states that have higher incentives over other areas.

Lauren White: Right. Yeah. I know. I really wanted to get solar. How do I do this?

Megan Ellsworth: I know. They sold us. They did their job.

Lauren White: They did, without even trying.

Megan Ellsworth: They don't even sell solar. They sell S-5. It's a great company. They sell all these different attachment systems that you can attach anything. So you can attach multiple types of things to your metal roof, like snow guards, it's solar system panels.

Lauren White: Brackets and, yeah, attachment systems.

Megan Ellsworth: And then they were talking about how one negative trend that they've been noticing, is all these solar systems, the panels are getting bigger and buff, but the mounting systems are the little, tiny legs attached to said panels are getting teeny tinier, so that's a bummer.

Lauren White: Right. Yeah, not really what you want. So being aware of, as a home and building owner, if you are getting solar, being aware of those specifics of the mounting system and the solar panel being installed, and asking those questions of the installer. And everybody we talk to on this podcast is all like home and building owners are so much more informed now. They know their stuff. And so just kind of reiterating that, of do a little bit of research and make sure that you're getting something that's going to last, and finding that reputable manufacturer or contractor, yeah.

Megan Ellsworth: It's see you out there. You're the smart home or building owner listening to this podcast. And you're smart because you listen to this podcast.

Lauren White: So true.

Megan Ellsworth: Well, this was an invigorating podcast. Wish I owned a home so I could put solar on it. And maybe I will someday soon. And Lauren, you own a home, so there's no excuses there.

Lauren White: I do. I know. But it's combined with other people's homes. The whole condo situation makes it a little challenging with the roof.

Megan Ellsworth: We had an episode on that, multifamily homes.

Lauren White: We did. It was you should know about your roof. Yeah, lots of takeaways there. But one day, when I own my own home, I would like metal and solar.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes.

Lauren White: Goals.

Megan Ellsworth: Heard it here first, folks. Well, this has been fabulous, and we'll catch you all on the next Ask A Roofer podcast.

Lauren White: Can't wait.

Megan Ellsworth: If your roof needs answers, subscribe now to the Ask a Roofer podcast. We've got your questions covered, one episode at a time. Go to To submit your questions and learn more. Stay tuned, and keep those questions coming.

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