How To Install S5! Solar Clamps

On A Metal Roof

The S-5-N Clamps

are a little tricky to install on a standing seam metal roof. Here’s a few tips to make the job go smoother. 

S-5-N solar clamps

Installing a PV Solar system on a metal roof presents a few challenges. There are a few mounting systems that require you to drill holes through the metal. A better alternative is available from S5! – clamps that attach to the ribs between the metal panels that do not penetrate the roof. Here we are installing the clamps (S-5-N mini) on Taylor Metal Easy Lock Roofing.  

Mark the Edges

Position the clamp in line with your string line and mark the top and bottom with a sharpie. 


Adjust the Vise-Grip

Set your Vise-Grip locking pliers about 1/16″ smaller than the opening at the bottom of the clamp.


Crimp The Rib

Use the Vise-Grip to crimp the rib where the clamp will attach. Overshoot your layout lines by about 1/8″.


Fit The Clamp

You’ll notice that the clamp will not slide all the way down- it’s up about 1/4″ off the flat part of the metal roof. I’ve heard that some installers like to cut the tab off the bottom of the clamp to make the installation go faster. Do Not do this! When properly seated, the tab will help keep the clamp from rotating while you tighten the set screw.


Tap It In

A couple of swift whacks with a hammer will seat the clamp down onto the rib. Make sure the tab is engaged with the lip of the seam.


Impact Driver

If you want to use an impact driver to tighten the set screw, it’s virtually impossible to get the bit into the set screw correctly because of the angle and lack of space between the roof and the screw.


Use a Pivot Holder

Using this DeWalt Pivot Holder lets you get the correct angle to drive the set screw.


Or Use A Ratchet

Even though it’s not as fast as using an impact driver, we find that using a ratchet actually works better. When you tighten the set screw, there is a tendency for the clamp to want to ride up the rib slightly, due to the angle of the rib. 


Torque Wrench

Be sure to finish off with a torque wrench set to the recommended amount of torque. Here we’re tightening the set screws to 11 foot pounds.


Finishing Up

The only drawback to using the S5! clamps is that you’ll need to install quite a few more than compared to installing lags into the rafters or trusses on a composition roof, but far superior to drilling holes in a metal roof.


Ready for the Rails

Ready to install the rails.


Ready for the Panels and Inverters

Ready to install the solar panels and inverters.


All Done!

Ready to start producing electricity!


A Note About Safety

Safety is important. I can’t say it any better than my all-time favorite woodworker/ TV host, Norm Abram, so I’ll just leave you with his famous quote:

“Be sure to read, understand, and follow all the safety rules that come with your power tools. Knowing how to use your power tools properly will greatly reduce the risk of personal injury. And remember this: there is no more important safety rule than to wear these (Norm points to his glasses) — safety glasses.” 

-Norm Abram, New Yankee Workshop


Steve Wright

Steve Wright is a general contractor who over the last 30 plus years has built hundreds of new homes, ranging from first time affordable homes to multi-million dollar custom homes and everything in between.