Solar Roof Talk Episode 3! Rail-based vs Rail-free – Part 2

Quick Mount PV is proud to present Solar Roof Talk, a podcast series for rooftop solar installers and others in the solar industry. Hosted by solar industry veterans, Jeff Spies, Senior Director of Policy & Susan Stark, NABCEP Certified PV Technical Sales Professional™ & Product Specialist.

In this episode, Jeff and Sue continue their discussion of the GTM Research report: U.S. PV Racking 2017: Landscape, Pricing and Forecasts and a comparison of rail-based vs rail-less pv mounting. Topics include:

  • Comparison of rail-based vs rail-less pv systems
  • Module-level electronic attachments
  • Residential and commercial racking and mounting markets
  • Surprise conclusions from the report

Listen to Part 1 here.

Subscribe to our podcast on SoundCloud or iTunes and follow it here on the blog!

Solar Roof Talk Episode 2! Rail-based vs Rail-free – Part 1

Quick Mount PV is proud to present Solar Roof Talk, a podcast series for rooftop solar installers and others in the solar industry. Hosted by solar industry veterans, Jeff Spies, Senior Director of Policy & Susan Stark, NABCEP Certified PV Technical Sales Professional™ & Product Specialist.

In this episode, Jeff and Sue discuss the GTM Research report: U.S. PV Racking 2017: Landscape, Pricing and Forecasts and a comparison of rail-based vs rail-less pv mounting. Topics include:

  • Comparison of rail-based vs rail-less pv systems
  • Module-level electronic attachments
  • Residential and commercial racking and mounting markets
  • Surprise conclusions from the report

Subscribe to our podcast on SoundCloud or iTunes and follow it here on the blog!

Can Solar Shine in Coal Country?

sunshine-vector_GREEN

In a state where the political climate is dominated by a belief that there is a “war on coal,” the prospects for solar energy may seem dim. In the face of this political backdrop, a surprising story is unfolding on the ground. 

Though still in its infancy, a movement is afoot in West Virginia to adopt renewable energy, not in opposition to coal, but as a sensible augmentation to help the state sustain its proud tradition of powering America. This article, written by Ronald Fel Jones, spotlights two social enterprises leading the way in this grass-roots effort, Solar Holler and Coalfield Development Corporation.

Led by two native West Virginians, Dan Conant and Brandon Dennison, these innovative organizations are are making it possible for under-employed young men and women to gain technical expertise, earn AA college degrees, and acquire the life skills necessary to combat generational poverty and deeply ingrained hopelessness caused by the collapse of the coal industry.

The article is based on interviews with the three prime movers of this joint enterprise; three young coal-family men who have benefited from these efforts; an elected member of the West Virginia House of Delegates; two solar trainers who worked with both entities; and other stakeholders.

Their compelling story offers hope and encouragement for the citizens of West Virginia, and provides lessons for other coal-producing states on how to help workers in distressed communities gain new skills for new jobs.

Not only does their on-the-ground success suggest that renewable energy is “not as bad for West Virginia as the politicians keep telling us it is,” it demonstrates why West Virginians are well-suited to succeed in creating and sustaining a viable renewable energy industry in Appalachian coal country.

Read the full article here, and tell us what you think! You can also view the full article on medium.com.

Coalfield-Article-Ron-Jones

Download PDF

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Solar Pioneer Party 2015

SP-Party
Photo courtesy of Rachel Bujalski

In October of 2015, a group of solar professionals gathered in the capital of off-grid America – Southern Humboldt County – for the first ever Solar Pioneers Party, which was conceived and produced by Jeff Spies, Senior Director of Policy for Quick Mount PV, with generous contributions from Backwoods Solar and PV Cables. The group assembled to celebrate the roots of residential PV and recognize the contributions of all the intrepid back woods solar engineers and mad scientists that made solar home power possible. The event was a huge success, bringing together numerous PV visionaries and pioneers. Many of whom, dating back to the early 1970’s, were integral to bringing solar to the public and helping fuel a true, “power to the people” revolution in off grid living, as well as usher in the modern era of grid tied residential solar.

We’ve put together a short video of what transpired. Stay tuned for the full Solar Pioneers documentary, based on the hours of interviews performed by Tor Valenza and Tristen Kreager. All video shot and edited by Jason Vetterli and Kristen Huster Young.

Solar Pioneer Party from Quick Mount PV on Vimeo.

The Next Generation Home

We’ve been working with nextgenhometv.com on their web series, First to the Future Home, featuring TV star and carpenter, Ty Pennington. The series covers the design, build and reveal of a truly next generation home, showcasing what it takes to make a house energy efficient, weather resistant, healthy and smart. As you might imagine, rooftop solar was an important aspect of this project.

We were honored to be included in the series and on the roof. Our QBase Composition Mount was installed on a sustainable and 100% recyclable Decra metal shingle roof during the SolarCity installation episode (episode 25). And just for fun, our first ever TV commercial is at the end of the latest episode (episode 28). Also, If you are interested in the Decra install, make your way to episode 18. The home will also include an AET solar thermal system, which they discuss in episode 24. Check it out, the episodes are short (less than 5 minutes) and it’s really amazing to see the latest innovations in smart, energy efficient home products, from foundation to rooftop. Enjoy!

Ty Pennington’s First to the Future Home

Ty Pennington’s First to the Future Home

Installing Solar On Metal Shingle Roofs

Over the past few years, our tech support staff has fielded a growing number of questions about metal shingle roofs. Metal shingle installations are more challenging than asphalt shingle roofs or even tile roof projects and require partnering with a qualified roofer. As a result, fewer solar installers bid these projects. However they can be more profitable than other projects as they are less subject to intense competitive pressures. Metal shingles are noticeably more expensive than asphalt shingle and tile roofs. Homes with metal shingle roofs are often in affluent areas with owners that are more likely to invest in solar. These homeowners tend to be less concerned about the modest savings common in grid tie competition and are usually more concerned with an attractive installation that preserves the aesthetic appeal of their pricey metal shingle roof.

To help make sense of this more challenging installation, we contacted the largest metal shingle manufacturers, and developed several methods for installing on metal shingle roofs. While there is a wide array of metal shingles, they typically fall into three basic mounting configurations:

Figure 1: Decra interlocking metal shingles with Quick Mount PV QBase mount installed over Decra underpan

Figure 1: Decra interlocking metal shingles with Quick Mount’s QBase Comp Mount installed over Decra underpan

Interlocking
Interlocking metal shingles most often resemble asphalt shingles or slate. They are directly nailed or screwed to the deck and have interlocking lips on the upper and lower edges, or sometimes on all four sides. These interlocking lips lock together for a lightweight, highly wind resistant roof. This style of metal shingles often requires complete removal of the roof from the ridge to the bottom of the array.

Figure 2: Batten mounted metal shingle

Figure 2: Batten mounted metal shingle


Batten Mount
Batten Mount metal shingles often resemble shake or tile. They typically mount to horizontal wood battens attached directly to the deck with screws inserted into the leading edge of the shingle. Batten mount metal shingles are relatively easy to install solar onto, because the individual shingles can be removed by taking off the screws at the top and bottom of the shingle and installing the mount. 
Figure 3: Counter batten roof

Figure 3: Counter batten roof

Counter Batten Mount
Counter Batten Mount metal shingles are installed onto a grid work of horizontal wood battens secured to vertical wood battens attached to the roof deck. This arrangement is best in a wet climate as it allows for rapid drainage of water that might leak past the metal shingles. An important caution is in order: before quoting any metal shingle project, always check for old shingle or shake roofs under the array. If you find an old shingle or shake roof under the metal shingles, the best strategy is the “strip and go” procedure outlined below. It is very challenging to effectively seal mounts on roofs of this configuration.

There are four methods for installing Quick Mount PV mounts on metal shingle roofs.

Figure 4: The light blue underpan extends under the mount and channels any rainwater harmlessly off the roof just below the mount. Note how the upper edge of the underpan is sealed to the underlayment.

Figure 4: The light blue underpan extends under the mount and channels any rainwater harmlessly off the roof just below the mount. Note how the upper edge of the underpan is sealed to the underlayment.


1) Underpan: Quick Mount PV has worked closely with Decra (the largest manufacturer of metal shingles) to develop a procedure for installing solar arrays on Decra metal shingles (aka stone coated metal panels). Decra is unique in offering a clever drainage pan configuration referred to as underpans. These underpans are positioned under the mount location with a flashing installed over the mount and the shingle installed over the flashing. Any water that hits the mount flows harmlessly down the underpan to the shingles lower down the roof. Since Decra stone coated metal panels are galvanized steel, any contact between the aluminum mount and the metal shingle is protected with a barrier material like a fully adhered underlayment.

Figure 5: The flashing shingle sandwich installation method requires a flashing installed between 2 metal shingles. Note that the lower metal shingle does not need to match color of the upper visible metal shingle.

Figure 5: The flashing shingle sandwich installation method requires a flashing installed between 2 metal shingles. Note that the lower metal shingle does not need to match color of the upper visible metal shingle.


2) Flashing sandwich: For batten mounted metal shingles that do not use underpans (like Gerard), you may be able to use the flashing sandwiching method. This requires purchasing enough of the exact same shingle as is currently on the roof. Color is not important, as these new shingles will be installed under the original shingle with a flashing sandwiched in between. The mount is bolted to the roof deck. Next, cut a 4” diameter hole into the new shingle and install over the QBase Comp Mount. Trim the top edge of the flashing as needed to fully cover the shingle. Finish by installing the original shingle over the top of the flashing. Cut small 1″ wide drainage slots in the butt edge of the top shingle to allow any water that gets onto flashing to easily drain. If the shingles are galvanized steel, use a self adhered underlayment on the top and bottom of the flashing to protect against galvanic corrosion caused by aluminum to galvanized steel contact. Finish by applying sealant around flashing cone to minimize water getting past flashing cone and sprinkle color matching granules into wet sealant to produce an attractive color matched mount. In this configuration, the bottom shingle serves the same function as the underpan in the method above.

 
3) Adhered flashed mount: Metal shingles that are fully interlocked on all four sides require a different approach. There are two possible approaches for “Aluminum Lock Roofing” shingles. The first method involves trimming the top edge of the Classic Comp Mount or E-Mount so the bottom edge of the flashing is just above the butt edge when the top edge is wedged all the way up in the interlock area above the penetration. The flashing is then coated with a sufficient amount of sealant, and the lag bolt is carefully torqued to the proper setting (when the QBlock stops pivoting). When installed properly, the gasket seal is tightly compressed between the flashing above and shingle below providing a reliable long term seal. The second option for interlocking shingles requires cutting a slit in the interlock just above the penetration and slipping the upper edge of the flashing under the second course of shingles until the block is positioned in the proper location. Sealant is applied to the cut area and under the flashing.

Figure 6: This metal shingle roof is installed over an old asphalt shingle roof. The best solar mounting option for this configuration is "strip and go".

Figure 6: This metal shingle roof is installed over an old asphalt shingle roof. The best solar mounting option for this configuration is “strip and go”.


4) Strip and go: If there is an old shingle or shake roof under the metal shingles, the easiest approach would be what is commonly referred to as, “strip and go”. First, a qualified metal shingle roofer would “strip” off the metal shingles from under the field of the array. Then the roofer would “go” by installing a new asphalt shingle roof under the field of the array. This installation method is a compelling option since the customer gets a new roof that lasts the life of the array, and the roofer can warranty the roof and flashed mounts. The long term cost benefits of a new roof under the array are dramatic- saving thousands in repair costs during the life of the solar system. When done properly, “strip and go” has the attractive appearance of Building Integrated PV Systems (BIPV), particularly when installed on batten mounted metal shingles shaped like curved tile or shake. There are six basic steps in the “strip and go” process.

  • Step 1: Roofer removes existing metal shingles under and around field of array.
  • Step 2: Solar installer secures QBase Comp Mounts over new underlayment into rafters using lag screws.
  • Step 3: Roofer installs shingles AND flashings over mounts.
  • Step 4: Solar installer assembles array.
  • Step 5: Roofer installs flashing around perimeter of shingles.
  • Step 6: Roofer installs metal shingles around perimeter of array.

While metal shingles require a bit more research, learning how to install on this high-end roofing system can boost your bottom line and bring solar to homeowners that often struggle to find a willing and able solar installer.

To learn more, register for our next metal shingle webinar on February 12. Or visit our website to download the presentation slides or view a previously recorded webinar.

SPI 2014 Wrap-Up

SPI Logo

Last week Las Vegas, Nevada hosted thousands of solar professionals from all over the globe to view the latest in products and services for the solar industry. SPI-booth The show floor appeared bigger than last year in Chicago, and attendance at the Quick Mount PV booth was very strong. There were a number of new integrated racking solutions on display in Las Vegas, but none received more attention than the Quick Rack rail free mounting system for shingle roofs. It was a hit with installers and designers alike. Every hour, the installers from Apex Solar made quick work of installing the 9 module PV system using Quick Rack mounts with integrated grounding. Everyone commented on the rapid installation and attractive finished appearance.

In other industry news, we were excited to see the B3 backfed main breaker from Q Factory 33. This breaker was promised to have it’s UL listing by January. If this device works as promised, it could reduce the need to upgrade the service panel in most cases saving $1000-$1500 per solar installation. Major industry buzz focused on the growth of solar powered battery systems. Numerous workshops and conference sessions addressed the coming wave of battery systems for grid tie backup systems, demand charge load shaving packages, and off grid. Several large industry players including LG and Enphase are planning introduction of home based battery systems. Think of it as a refrigerator sized uninterruptible power system that will keep your critical loads (refrigerator, lighting, computers) running for outages of a few hours to a few days. Another hot topic of discussion was the influence that utility companies are starting to have on solar installation and the growth of our industry through changing interconnection policies and net metering fees. Several utilities including APS in Arizona and Heco in Hawaii are even exploring the possibility of owning the rooftop solar systems on their customers homes and businesses. This development could have a major impact on the direction of the solar industry, so stay tuned.

Rapid shutdown is another challenge that installers are looking to resolve. SMA debuted their new rapid shutdown kit that is slated to work with the entire TL line of inverters, but there are still not many choices for rapid shutdown of string inverters causing more installers to consider micro inverters and maximizers.

Quick Mount PV’s Jeff Spies and Johan Alfsen both gave successful SEI training workshops on the show floor. Over 100 attendees came early on Wednesday to learn about calculating financial payback on a solar investment from Jeff Spies. This workshop proved quite popular and as a result, this content will be offered via Solar Energy International (SEI). We will also be adding this content to our own Successful Solar Business webinar, check out our website for the next scheduled webinar. Johan Alfsen also gave an SEI workshop on Racking & Mounting Best Practices on Thursday of the show to a large crowd.

Overall the event was a big success and everyone was looking forward to an even better SPI in Anaheim next year. we hope to see you all there!

Stop by our booth at SPI and check out our exciting new products!

spi-qmpv200
We are getting excited for Solar Power International next week and wanted to share with you what we have in store! So stop by our booth (#1412) and say hello. What are you looking forward to checking out at the show? See you in Vegas!

 

Quick Rack™

Introducing Quick Rack, an innovative rail-free QR-Johan-275
mounting system that significantly increases speed and ease of solar installations. Quick Rack will be featured at our booth with live product presentations so stop by and learn more.

Quick Rack, featuring QRack™ technology, is an integrated roof mount and racking system, engineered to be robust and structurally sound. Quick Rack is fast and easy to install, with only a few components and minimal tools required. Quick Rack features integrated flashing and grounding, requiring only one ground lug for up to 300 contiguous modules.

Eliminating long rails significantly reduces material handling, installation time, and labor costs. The Quick Rack system also features our patented Elevated Water Seal. This ensures long-term water seal integrity and waterproofing for the life of the roof and solar array. Quick Rack also comes with design software, ensuring every solar array is accurately designed and code-compliant.

 

Quick Hook® Series

To better meet your needs in the tile market, we’re updating our Quick Hook product line to work with a broader range of tiles and mounting options. Quick Hook, featuring QHook® technology, is now designed for use with side-mounted or bottom-mounted rails. Multiple height options allow for use with a variety of tiles. Includes preformed flashing for code compliance. Updated hooks will be available in late November but we will have a special sneak peek at our booth at SPI. Current Quick Hooks products will continue to be available until then.

Quick Hook® SS/LS – For Side Mount RailsQH-SideMount
Standard height & low height hooks for side-mounted rails. Preformed flashing and adjustable hook with 6″ base for simple, clean installation.
Available finishes: aluminum mill (A)

Quick Hook® SB/LB – For Bottom Mount RailsQH-BottomMount
Standard height & low height hooks for bottom-mounted rails. Preformed flashing and adjustable hook with 6″ base for simple, clean installation.
Available finishes: aluminum mill (A)

Download our tile product brochure for more information. (PDF 514KB)

 

Classic Composition & E-Mount Series

The Classic Comp Mount andE-Mount Lag E-Mount, featuring our patented QBlock® Elevated Water Seal technology, are now available with three attachment options: standard 6″ hanger bolt, extended 6.5″ hanger bolt, or lag screw.

 

Extended Warranty

We have doubled warranty coverage for our QBlock®, QBase® and QHook® line of solar roof mounts to 20 years. Effective Sept. 1, all solar mounts featuring the patented technologies QBlock, QBase and QHook, will be covered with a 20-year limited product warranty. Our engineering, ISO 9001:2008 certified manufacturing, and years of field experience means we can stand behind our products for decades.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. We look forward to seeing you next week in Las Vegas!

10 Tips for Installing Solar Roof Mounts

Our training and tech team spends much of their day answering technical questions on solar mounts for comp shingles, tile, shake, metal shingles and other roof types. We advocate quality installation practices that improve reliability and longevity of rooftop solar systems. Most PV arrays are capable of producing power for 20-30+ years. If the roof and waterproof mounts last the life of the solar system, the homeowner reduces their monthly energy cost and insures clean, emissions free power for years to come.

We’ve compiled our top ten tips for installing solar on shingle and tile roofs. By following these guidelines you will ensure better long-term system quality and lower the cost of power for your customers.

1. Locating rafters
Rafter-finding techniques include attic rafter mapping, rubber mallet roof tapping, drilling two to three holes through the sheathing to locate the edge of the rafter or using sophisticated stud finders like the Bosch D-tect 150.

2. Centering attachment point
Take care to center your lag bolt in the middle-third of the rafter. This ensures the fastener has the structural capacities listed by the American Wood Council charts.

3. Piloting holes
Drilling pilot holes is critically important when using 5/16- or 3/8-in. lag bolts in a 2x rafter. This is true even with the newer generation of self-drilling fasteners (like those from GRK). While these specialty fasteners can be installed in wider lumber without pilot holes, failure to drill pilot holes in the outer chord of 2×4 or 2×6 rafters will likely result in split rafters.

4. Remove shingle nails
Always remove the nails on composite shingles to allow the upper edge of flashing to be 1/2-in. Failure to remove nails is the most frequent mistake when installing flashing. Removing nails allows the flashing to extend up under the third course of shingles for code-compliant, reliable waterproofing.above the butt edge of the third course shingles. Failure to remove nails will prevent the flashing from being positioned up under the butt edge of the third course of shingles and thus become a leak risk, especially when the flashing is positioned under a butt joint between two adjacent sections of shingles.

5. Acceptable working temperature
Shingle temperatures should be between 45° and 85° F to avoid damaging the shingles. When installing on asphalt shingles above 85° F, care must be taken to avoid compression deflection of the flashing from over-torquing the lag bolt. Special roofing shoes or protective mats can be used to minimize the risk of bruising on warm or cold days.

This diagram shows the acceptable position for flashed roof-mounts. Most mounts will require at least one nail be removed.
This diagram shows the acceptable position for flashed roof-mounts. Most mounts will require at least one nail be removed.
6. Flashing width
Asphalt shingle flashings should be at least 9 in. wide to comply with roofing industry best practices. This assures at least 4 in. of coverage from the edge of the hole to the edge of the flashing. More width provides additional protection from wind-driven rain making 12-in. wide flashing very popular. Tile flashings typically are 18 in. or wider to meet Tile Roofing Institute (TRI) guidelines.

This flashed Quick Hook uses a three-course sealing system that is approved by the TRI guidelines. Mastic applied to fiber mesh provides long-term waterproofing of the top and sides of the base flashing to the rolled roof underlayment.

7. Flashing material
Flashings should be made from an NRCA-compliant metal (aluminum, stainless steel, lead or galvanized steel). This flashed Quick Hook uses a three-course sealing system that is approved by the TRI guidelines. Mastic applied to fiber mesh provides long-term waterproofing of the top and sides of the base flashing to the rolled roof underlayment.The TRI requires curved tile flashing be made from malleable metal. SMACNA (Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association) considers galvanized steel to be suitable only for 15 years of service life, and any breach of the zinc coating will cause corrosion and rust staining. For this reason, galvanized is inadvisable in coastal and industrial environments as well as any installation with more than 15 years of expected life.

8. Seal design matters
Select flashed mounts with a robust seal. Seals that are elevated above the waterline will provide longer life than seals at the waterline, especially in freezing climates. Please note that sealant is a helpful addition to a properly installed flashing; however, when used alone, sealant is not an alternative to metal flashing required by building codes.

The Tile Roofing Institute guidelines require a base flashing be used at the underlayment level. The TRI guidelines are code-required for most tile roofs. Underlayment bibbing is one of two accepted methods for waterproofing the base flashing.

9. Install base flashing on all tile roof mounts
This frequently disregarded code requirement will cause premature leaks on tile roof installations within five to 10 years. The Tile Roofing Institute guidelines require a base flashing be used at the underlayment level. The TRI guidelines are code-required for most tile roofs. Underlayment bibbing is one of two accepted methods for waterproofing the base flashing.All major tile manufacturers abide by TRI’s guidelines which mandate flashing at both tile and underlayment levels. All tile standoffs need a “base flashing” that is bibbed or three-coursed to the underlayment. Then the “tile-level flashing” is installed either on top or just below the tile. Tile hooks also require base flashing, but tile-level flashing is not required since the tile is not penetrated.

10. The benefits of re-roofing under the array before solar installation
Most arrays are installed on roofs with less than 10 years of remaining life. It is strongly advised that the installer replace the shingles or tile underlayment under the field of the array before installing solar. Replacing the roof under an average-sized array prior to PV installation will add $1,000 to $1,500 to the initial installation cost. Homeowners who ignore this advice will pay an additional $3,000 to $5,000 to remove and reinstall an average-sized system for the inevitable roof replacement. Simply stated, unless your roof is relatively new, re-roofing prior to PV installation is the most effective strategy to getting the best financial performance from a solar investment.

Written by Jeff Spies. Original article appeared in Solar Builder’s May/June issue.