Streamlined residential solar: Solaria, Enphase Energy, Quick Mount PV join forces

Solaria Power XT Enphase AC module

Solaria Corporation, a global provider of high efficiency solar modules, is teaming with mounting and racking provider Quick Mount and microinverter manufacturer Enphase Energy, to produce a single, unified system that ensures efficiency, performance and aesthetics. Available through select distributors, the complete solution gives solar installers the ability to streamline installation and ensure homeowner satisfaction at the lowest possible cost.

Solaria manufactures the PowerXT pure black solar modules using advanced cell interconnect and module production processes, significantly boosting power generation and providing outstanding performance with unmatched aesthetic appeal.

Quick Mount PV’s QRail racking system features patented QClick and QSplice technologies that simplify and speed solar installation. The result is the fastest and most reliable system deployment in solar.

The Enphase IQ 7+ Microinverter features Enphase’s two-wire cabling for ease of installation, and leverages semiconductor integration for higher reliability and better economies of scale. The 295 W AC Enphase IQ 7+ Micro combines efficiency, reliability and streamlined installation and is available either as a standalone component or in the factory-integrated Enphase Energized PowerXT-AC module from Solaria, which further improves installation efficiency.

Solaria will be exhibiting at booth 1251 at Solar Power International in Anaheim, September 25-27, 2018.

— Solar Builder magazine

Keep it simple, solar: Advice and products to streamline your next rooftop install

Keep part counts low

solar roof hook

The Low Profile QuickBOLT with Microflashing from SolarRoofHook can be installed in less than 60 seconds, and the key is its Microflashing technology, which is installed on top of the shingles and eliminates the need to pry apart shingles and shove oversized aluminum flashing underneath.

“We would like to see installers move away from the old-school aluminum flashing method and replace that with Microflashing technology,” said Samantha Dalton, marketing manager for SolarRoofHook. “Using Microflashing reduces installers risk too. When installers are forced to separate shingles to install aluminum flashing, they often must remove nails from the roof. This leaves open penetrations in the roof, as well as leads them to risk voiding the roofing warranty and breaking code. Microflashing doesn’t pose those same risks and bonds with the roofing material to create a watertight seal.”

Quick Mount debuts new full rooftop rail system

 Quick Mount QRail

Quick Mount PV is simplifying your supply chain with QRail, its new rooftop racking system featuring patented QClick and QSplice technologies that simplify and speed installation. QRail combines with Quick Mount PV’s waterproof mounts to create a complete, fully-integrated racking and mounting solution for installing solar PV modules on any roof.

The patented QClick technology enables module clamps to easily click into the rail channel and remain in an upright position, ready to accept the module. QRail’s QSplice is the fastest, most efficient splice in the industry — a tool-free, bonded, fully-structural splice that installs in seconds with no extra hardware required.
Electrical bonding is fully integrated into every system component. All electrical bonds are created when the components are installed and tightened down. QRail is fully code compliant, certified to UL 2703, and backed by a 25-year warranty.

Pre-assembly

Magerack,

As a best practice, Jason Xie, president of Magerack, recommends assembling components on the ground as much as possible and avoiding assembling tiny components such as rubber washers on the roof.

For example, Magerack solar mounting components don’t contain any rubber components and all components are pre-assembled out of box. Magerack roof attachment doesn’t need any rubber washer and has no tiny components except pre-assembled fasteners. The two major components of MageMount MageMount II Rail-less Solar Mounting System, module connector and module brackets, can be assembled to the solar module on the ground before moving them on the roof. Module connectors are used to connect and secure two adjacent solar modules along the same row or between two rows. Those connectors and the roof attachments can be attached anywhere along the module edge where they are needed the most.

Look to kits

Unirac’s SunFrame Microrail

Consider systems where only a single tool is required for installation. Take Unirac’s SunFrame Microrail or the new Pro Series SM for example. Parts come pre-assembled out of the box making for a quick and easy install on the roof. There is no need to fumble with loose parts and pieces. Parts can be pulled from the box and can be put straight to use.

“One tool installation saves time on the roof, eliminating the chance of dropping tools while changing sockets,” says Anthony Romero, lead trainer for Unirac.

The SM Pro Series features module agnostic mid and end clamps. The end clamps secure the module while staying beneath the module. Arrays look very clean and appealing without any rail or hardware protruding. The mid clamps come pre-assembled and are self-standing. They also come coated with anti-seize to prevent galling and breaking stainless steel bolts. Unirac’s FlashKit Pro comes in a pack of 10 with flashing, L-Feet, T-bolts and lag bolts in one convenient box. Having everything in one package helps cut down on the amount of packaging needed on the roof. They are the easiest flashing kit to count, kit and carry to the roof.

SKU reduction

SunRunner 4 clip

The SunRunner 4 clip from Heyco was developed to reduce the number of SKUs for an installer. For those using a mix of SolarEdge and Enphase, this clip will handle both types of cable. The SunRunner 4 clips directly onto the PV module frame and holds up to four SolarEdge cables or up to three Enphase Q cables comfortably. The SunRunner 4 takes the guesswork out of ordering the correct clip as it holds both types of cable. Heyco also manufactures top rail clips with the exact same clip design as its SunRunner 4 for top racking manufacturers like Unirac, IronRidge, and Everest. This universal design allows the clips to be used on a wider range of installations and reduce the number of SKUs (and headaches) for installers. Heyco also offers a series of nylon UVX clips which qualify for its 20-year warranty and are generally 20 percent less expensive than their stainless steel equivalents.

— Solar Builder magazine

Florida’s 3D Solar installs first Quick Mount QRail Racking System

QRail Quick Mount

Quick Mount’s QRail

3D Solar, a Florida-based solar contractor, and Quick Mount PV, a manufacturer of waterproof mounting and racking systems, announced today that 3D Solar has installed the nation’s first Quick Mount PV QRail Racking System. QRail is an innovative new rooftop racking system, with patented QClick and QSplice technologies that simplify and speed up installation. QRail combines with Quick Mount PV’s renowned waterproof mounts to create a complete, fully-integrated racking and mounting solution for installing solar PV modules on any roof.

3D Solar is so confident in the flashing system that it has decided to offer Florida’s best solar rooftop installation warranty of 25 years.

“Our installers have told us that this system makes the installation process easier, faster and more efficient,” said 3D Solar Owner and CEO David Ringo. “QRail enables us to better serve our customers, providing them with the best waterproof solar mounting systems in the industry. Quick Mount PV products are a great fit with our approach to solar: going above and beyond to ensure every job is completed to our highest standards.”

The patented QClick technology enables module clamps to easily click into the rail channel and remain in an upright position, ready to accept the module. QRail’s QSplice is the fastest, most efficient splice in the industry — a tool free, bonded, fully-structural splice that installs in seconds with no tools or extra hardware required. Read more about the system here.

“We’re thrilled that 3D Solar is installing solar rooftop arrays with our new QRail racking system,” said Quick Mount PV CEO Claudia Wentworth. “With QRail, we now have what our customers have been requesting: a comprehensive, cost-effective single-source solution for solar installation on all roof types. And because of the QClick and QSplice technologies, solar installers will find that QRail exceeds their expectations for quality and ease of installation.”

Download our free 2018 Residential Rooftop Report for more tips and install trends

— Solar Builder magazine

The Replacements: These solar mounts for tile rooftops cut labor costs, avoid OSHA issues

Quick Mount PV’s Tile Replacement Mount

It’s always reassuring when solar technology moves faster than a federal regulator, even if it is a well-intentioned agency like the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In this recent case, a new crop of solar tile replacements that support rooftop mounting systems are eliminating the need for drilling, grinding or sawing cement tiles, an activity that generates harmful dust for workers when not controlled carefully.

Stuck in the Middle

OSHA came down with a new silica rule (29 CFR 1926.55, 1910.1000) in October that limits worker exposure to 50 micrograms of silica dust per cubic meter of air over an eight-hour time-weighted average. Penny-wise-and-pound-foolish solar companies that still choose the cheapest tile hooks requiring them to saw or drill cement tiles now must monitor worker exposure to silica dust and mitigate exposure through practices including mask use, wet-cutting and dust collection. Other more forward-looking solar companies will simply opt for the new tech and cut their BOS labor costs for a net job gain.

Sawing or drilling concrete roof tiles was the standard for installing rooftop PV mounting systems up until a few years ago. Now a number of tile replacement manufacturers say that their products are no more costly than most old-design tile hooks, are faster to install and save a roof tile at every penetration point. Saving tiles for an older roof is no small event. Cement tile costs around $7 per square foot, when a replacement with the same shape can be found, much less with matching fade.

“I’m not sure how much the new OSHA rules will drive the tile replacement mounting market or affect it, because the market will change more as companies see the benefits of saving time and cost,” reckons Andrew Wickham, the marketing manager for SnapNrack Solar Mounting Solutions.

SnapNrack’s tile replacement

SnapNrack’s tile replacements feature a base assembly for simply lagging the base into place and then sliding the riser shaft into position for the tile replacement flashing.

Color Me Impressed

Several replacement tile mount manufacturers suggest that their cement tile replacement product goes on faster than tile sawing or drilling.

“We are a bit more expensive than hooks, but there is far less labor,” says Jordan Pacheco, the director of product management at Pegasus Solar. “An installer that is grinding tiles might use four crews of five men, but we can do five crews of four men with our Lightspeed Tile Replacement.”

The U.S. market for rail-less residential solar mounting systems, the Pegasus specialty, is expected to grow by 67 percent from $240 million in 2016 to $400 million by 2022, according to GTM Research. The Pegasus tile replacement system, available in rail or rail-less mounting configurations, has undergone several refinements in design since it initially launched in 2014.

“The tile replacement technology is definitely faster, and some studies say 20 percent faster than grinding,” says Stri Zulch, the vice president of marketing at Quick Mount PV.

In a time trial in 2016, Quick Mount conducted an in-house test with three different products. The trials were conducted on a test roof, with eight mounts installed for each trial. The installers were third-party contractors, and Quick Mount PV timed and monitored the trials.

“Results showed that the Tile Replacement Mount was 26 percent faster than the Universal Tile Mount and 22 percent faster than Quick Hook,” the company reports. “The Tile Replacement Mount eliminates the need to cut tiles, resulting in the Tile Replacement Mount saving time. Although, there are a number of variables that affect installation times, the Tile Replacement Mount will save on average a minute per mount.”

Quick Mount PV’s Tile Replacement Mount

Quick Mount PV’s Tile Replacement Mounts feature its patented Elevated Water Seal Technology for optimal waterproofing

Quick Mount’s Tile Replacement Mount comes with a 25-year warranty and features a universal base mount, which works with three flashing profiles including a flat tile, S-shaped tiles and W-shaped curved tiles.

“Once you see more of these large-scale installs, it will drive the market for tile replacements,” says Brandon Gwinner, the western region sales manager for SunModo. One of his customers using SunModo’s tile replacement on a large cement tile project in Hawaii with 2,800 support points, reports cutting project labor costs in half — with no tile breakage.

The SunModo tile replacement can be attached either by a single bolt into a rafter, like most tile replacement designs, or by four screws into the sheathing, in cases where a rafter is not reachable. The industry is now trending toward the sheathing-attached method since it is more reliable and is now proven, Gwinner notes. While his company specifies no less than 1/2-in. oriented strand board (OSB) sheathing, many home builders or roofers opting for cement tiles are upgrading the sheathing by using thicker OSB, if not structural-grade 5-ply plywood, he notes.

Here Comes a Regular

After the construction downturn resulting from the recession in 2008, roofing is on an upturn and expected to reach a global value of $95 billion by 2024, according to a September report by Global Industry Analysts.

Cement tile is the fastest growing segment of the global roofing market, with an estimated combined average growth rate of close to 7 percent by 2020, according to a recent study by Technavio. Recent hurricanes and other adverse weather have helped demonstrate the durability of cement tiles over asphalt shingles and over clay tiles, which are much lighter than cement tiles.

In the U.S. South and Southwest, where daily temperature highs and lows range widely, and air conditioning is a major use of electricity, cement tiles are a favorite because they can be used for cool roofs as well as for evening heat retention.

Tile replacements for cement tiles already are highly waterproof and manufactured with formable aluminum. But cement tiles also are evolving via nanotechnology. Nanotech coatings for cement tiles will provide additional benefits for protection against heat, mold, mildew, fungus and algae, according to Global Industry Analysts.

Overall, signs indicate that the U.S. adoption rate for tile replacements should accelerate. However, at the heart of the market is installer awareness and preference. “For the market to grow, installers will need more education about the advantages of tile replacements,” suggests Stella Sun, the marketing director for SunModo.

Charles Thurston is a freelance writer covering solar energy from Northern California. He is not to blame for all of the Replacements song references.

— Solar Builder magazine

PV Pointer: How tile hooks factor into safety, noise prevention, long-term leak protection

Quick_Hook

The two most common approaches to mounting PV arrays on tile roofs are “standoff” posts and tile hooks. Standoff posts tend to be stronger due to their simple column loading design, while tile hooks use a cantilevered loading configuration (think diving board), which deflects under wind and snow loading. A strong tile hook can be a great solution, and tile hooks have become the most common tile mounting method due to their lower cost, simpler installation process and attractive appearance since most do not need a visible tile level flashing.

However, not all tile hooks are created equally. Tile hooks come in two varieties: 1) structurally robust hooks, which cost a bit more, and 2) inexpensive bent metal steel hooks.

Structurally robust tile hooks are an excellent option for securing a PV array to a tile roof. These hooks typically feature a stiff aluminum cross-sectional design that minimizes cantilever deflection during heavy wind or snow events in an effort to protect against hook-to-tile impact damage. These structurally robust hooks are dimensionally sized to ensure sufficient “serviceability clearance” under the hook.

Inexpensive bent steel hooks have limited upward/downward load capacity. They often sit close to or right on the tile underneath. Even if the hook is adjusted to sit above the tile, these thin bent steel hooks are often too weak to deflect more than 10 to 20 lbs of downforce from causing contact with the tile. When winds reach critical speed, the entire array can chatter on the roof. This chattering noise is alarming and disconcerting to the homeowner, but bigger problems can arise over time as the impact of the weak hooks break tile, allowing excessive rainwater to flow underneath the tile. Since the underlayment is the ultimate waterproofing for a tile roof, this exposure to excessive water can accelerate degradation, ultimately leading to roof leaks.

RELATED: Residential Rooftop Report: How Microflashing leads to solar install savings

Wind driven rain will always find its way uphill between the tile and drip onto the deck, so the official tile flashing requirements found in the Tile Roofing Institute (TRI) Installation manual requires that all penetrations through the roof deck be flashed at the underlayment level. For example, the Quick Hook from Quick Mount PV includes a hooded underlayment flashing which protects the lag screw penetrations from rain water when sealed to the deck using underlayment bibbing or three coursing with asphaltic roofing cement and a reinforcing fabric. Some inexpensive bent metal hooks with vertical height adjustment have sharp corners that rest on the underlayment when adjusted to the fully downward position. These sharp corners dig into the underlayment at the point where the wind driven rain drips down onto the underlayment, and a flashing cannot fix this vulnerability.

Trimming the tile’s weather guard lug is a mandatory step to ensure the tile sits back down in its proper position. Some installers skip the tile trimming process, believing that the thin bent metal hooks are so thin that trimming is not required. However, when the lugs are not trimmed, the tile sits up on top of the tile hook, creating a ½-in. to ¾-in. gap between the tiles. This gap allows even more wind driven rain to reach the underlayment. Trimming the tile lug usually only takes 30-60 seconds using a “tuckpointing” diamond blade on a grinder.

A word of caution: OSHA has recently started enforcing a ban on dry cutting of tile due to silicosis risks. These new regulations regarding silica exposure require wet cutting of tile. To avoid dry cutting, installers are turning to metal Tile Replacement Flashing (TRF), which is a replacement for tile trimming altogether and an easy solution for OSHA compliance. Another benefit of using the TRF is that with every flashing installed, you have a matching tile left over to replace any of the tiles broken during the installation process.

Cutting corners with thin hooks and non-compliant deck waterproofing is a recipe for future leaks. Choosing a strong tile hook and flashing the deck-level penetrations using TRI-compliant flashing methods protects you and your customer’s roof. Your customers will thank you for years of leak-free performance.

Jeff Spies is senior policy director for Quick Mount PV.

— Solar Builder magazine