Aluminium Insulated Roof Panels - The Pitfalls Of Budget Replacement Roof Options

23rd April 2024

There are a number of budget options available in the market advertised as the perfect, affordable solution to upgrading your existing conservatory. Insulated Aluminium Roof Panels are one such product, often promoted as a quick, cheap and thermally efficient way to upgrade your old conservatory roof. Here we discuss why this claim might not stand up and why budget alternatives might not always be the most cost effective way of improving your old conservatory.

Aluminium Insulated Roof Panels - The Pitfalls Of Budget Replacement Roof Options

Aluminium Insulated Roof Panels - The Pitch

The sales promise for installing Aluminium Insulated Roof panels often follows these key points:

Easy To Install

Replacing only the existing glass or polycarbonate & utilising the existing frame work of the original conservatory roof.

Affordable & Thermally Efficient

Cheap alternative to replacing your old roof with a new solid tiled or hybrid roof. Promises high performing thermal efficiency

Aluminium Insulated Roof Panels - The Concerns

Here is the breakdown outlining why installing aluminium insulated roof panels might not be the best option and how in reality, it could be fraught with issues.


The process of installing aluminium insulated roof panels sounds straight forward, but involves more than you might think.

In order to fabricate the new panels to match your existing roof, it is a requirement for the new company to remove the existing polycarbonate or glass panels from your roof in order to measure them. This involves removing all end caps and external dressing from your roof, a process that will also need to be repeated again upon returning to fit the final panels.

These existing components can become brittle over time due to age and if broken on site, can create issues when finding replacements, particularly if you have an older conservatory.

The question then arises as to who is responsible for replacing components if they are broken during the measuring or installation process, as you now have a second company to consider over the original installer. This can often lead to finger pointing and questions of accountability.

Albeit the final procedure of installing the new panels can be quick and completed in a day, there is still the major factor of re-sealing the roof after fitting and ensuring the old roof is water tight. If the panels are not constructed to fit your old roof perfectly, there could by multiple issues occur, including water ingress and condensation.

Aluminium Insulated Roof Panels - The Pitfalls Of Budget Replacement Roof Options

Materials & Performance

One of the primary marketing points of aluminium insulated roof panels is their capacity to improve your old roofs performance and thermal efficiency. Here we look at what the panels promise and why it doesn't quite ring true.

Thermal Efficiency

Most providers of aluminium insulated roof panels will run with promise of low 'U' values and greatly improved thermal performance, claims which are painfully misleading. The construction of each panel consists of a slab of insulated foam, cut and sandwiched between an internal and external sheet of aluminium. In most cases, the company will promote a low 'U' value based on the panels thickest point, usually around 75mm. At first glance this value will look like a strong promise for an efficient roof. Unfortunately for homeowners, thermally, the panels don't really improve things. Where the company will likely quote a centre panel 'U' value, which is specific to the panel itself, this value does not directly correlate to the overall performance of the roof. In reality, the thermal benefits of the insulated panels are not great, as heat in still lost at the same rate through the bars and ridge of the existing roof, where you will also notice the panels are much narrower in order to fit into the existing polycarbonate panel position, greatly reducing the panels depth and hence performance over the full area of each panel.

In short, the company's claim of a low centre panel 'U' value is not reflective of the roofs overall thermal performance and is a misleading claim on the performance of the roof as a whole.

Aluminium Insulated Roof Panels - The Pitfalls Of Budget Replacement Roof Options

One of the primary components of these insulated roof panels is also one of the primary concerns. As stated previously, the panels consist of a cut slab of insulation foam, sandwiched between two sheets of aluminium.

Using flat sheet aluminium on the inside of the roof unfortunately poses a huge issue for condensation in the colder months. Due to the design of the panels, the inner face of the panels will shoot over the eaves, making the whole inside surface cold as the product has no thermal barrier.

As outlined by RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) aluminium, although its lightweight, durable properties make it the perfect structural material, it is also an effective conductor. This means that, without the proper design, it’s easy for cold and hot temperatures to transfer from outside an aluminium frame to inside - resulting in wasted heat and poor insulation.

Without an effective barrier between internal and external temperatures, panels with aluminium frames are at serious risk of cold bridging: the process that can cause water droplets to form on the surface of the metal. Over time, the build-up of water can compromise the safety and effectiveness of the product.

As shown in the diagram below, there is unfortunately no consideration for aluminiums material properties and no thermal breaks included in the design to separate aluminium components, making condensation a huge risk if installing these panels.

Aluminium Insulated Roof Panels - The Pitfalls Of Budget Replacement Roof Options


With the performance of the insulated panels now in question, all there is really left to consider is the aesthetic of the product. Unfortunately for most aluminium insulated roof panels, they are not attractive.

As you are glazing into an existing roof with all other roof features remaining, you need to find the balance between the old and new elements. Old roofs will often have tired and be in need of a robust clean in order to not look out of place with the new insulated panels installed.

There are also no design options on offer, as all you are really doing is removing the existing glazing and replacing with a panel.

Unlike solid roof replacements for conservatories or hybrid roofs , you do not have the capacity to decorate, add lighting or a plastered and painted finish. And with limited colour options available, the inclusion of an aluminium insulated roof panel does little to add to the overall look and feel of your space.

Replacing the old roof with a solid tiled or hybrid alternative not only gives you superior performance benefits, it also allows you to create a room that fits your needs and feels like a true extension of your home.

Aluminium Insulated Roof Panels - The Pitfalls Of Budget Replacement Roof Options

Responsibility & Aftercare

The final and probably most important thing to consider if you do choose to go the route of aluminium insulated roof panels, is who will be responsible in the event an issue does occur. Structurally, if something was to move or fail, this could prove a grey area, as you will essentially have the original roof provider and installer of the insulated panels to navigate, with neither likely looking to take responsibility if there is a question of the other being at fault.

Any 10 year guarantee provided upon installation of the new panels will likely only cover the panels themselves instead of the overall performance of the roof. You will need to discuss and be clear on where responsibility lies if you choose this path.

By installing a new solid or hybrid roof in full, you are working with a single provider and 100% responsibility will lie with them to ensure the longevity and after care of your roof, making any issues much easier to resolve.