Start-up wants to make solar installs contagious among neighbors

solar home value

In 2017, Google’s Project Sunroof used satellite images to allow consumers to view which homes in their neighborhood installed solar. OhmHome, just took it a step further with NextDoor Solar, an online tool that allows consumers to view not only which homes in their neighborhood have solar, but also which company installed the solar and the price of the system (when available).

OhmHome’s mission is to be the most consumer-centric source of independent information for homeowners interested in purchasing solar, electric vehicles and other cleantech products. Solar and electric vehicles have significant potential in the U.S., but can be a complicated decision and we want to ensure that consumers make smart decisions. Consumers can use OhmHome’s buying guides, cost data, savings calculators, state and local guides and product reviews to guide them through the decision process. OhmHome’s recommendations are supported by the company’s research division, OhmAnalytics, which manages a proprietary database of U.S. solar projects and other cleantech products.

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Meet NextDoor

The NextDoor functionality is based on two key facts regarding solar adoption:

  • Yale research that shows solar adoption in neighborhoods is “contagious” and maps of recent solar installations can provide that extra push for consumers.
  • NREL research that shows local installers can offer consumers 10% more savings than large national companies, but it can be challenging for consumers to research local installers.

There are several existing sources for consumers to research solar installers, including traditional review sites such as Yelp or Google Reviews. NextDoor Solar stands out as on the only source that maps actual solar installation data, built with its database of over 500,000 residential solar projects in the U.S.

— Solar Builder magazine

Metal roofs could trend upward after California’s solar mandate

metal roof solar

As the first state in the nation to require all new homes to have solar power, California’s recent decision may result in a dramatic shift in the way American and Canadian homeowners think about their roofing options, says the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA).

“California’s leadership is a giant step forward to bring solar power into the mainstream for all homeowners no matter where they live,” said Renee Ramey, Executive Director of the Metal Roofing Alliance. “It also promises to cause a major shift in the building and construction industry for how to adopt methods and materials that are better suited for solar systems. After all, the return on a residential roof-mounted solar investment is only as good as the quality and longevity of the roof where it’s installed.”

Beyond California, recent reports such as “Selling into the Sun: Price Premium Analysis of a Multi-State Dataset of Solar Homes” demonstrate that buyers in other areas of the country are willing to spend more for a home with solar panels. Utility company incentives available in many regions are also helping drive solar demand.

Return on solar investment: Why the right roof matters

According to the California Energy Commission, when the state’s solar standards kick in two years from now, it will save consumers an estimated $80 on monthly heating, cooling and lighting bills, a positive long-term return on the investment that is predicted to easily offset the higher cost of installing solar.

However, while the benefits of producing their own rooftop electricity are significant for homeowners, MRA warns that those savings can quickly be wiped out if the roof underneath the solar system fails. That’s because repairing or replacing a roof—in addition to the substantial extra labor costs of removing and reinstalling a solar panel system—can be tremendously expensive.

For homeowners and builders looking to protect their solar system investment, MRA suggests the following:

• Think long term. Metal roofs are the best option for photovoltaic systems, greatly reducing the risk of a roof failing before a solar panel system does. The estimated lifespan of solar panels is typically about 20 to 25 years while metal roofs last for 50-plus years, two or three times the average lifespan of other types of roofing materials. That means the roof will easily outlast the panels.

• Start with a strong base. Metal is exceptionally strong and durable, able to support the weight of heavy solar systems by using a simple attachment and clip solution that does not require drilling holes into the roof or the need for self-ballasted systems, reducing the possibility of roofing failures and potential leaks.

• Maximize the energy savings. Considered “cool roofs,” metal offers additional energy efficiency benefits, especially combined with solar. Even basic, unpainted metal roofs will reflect more solar radiation than asphalt, which typically absorbs and holds heat. Metal roofs with special coatings deliver high total solar reflectance and high infrared emittance, keeping homes cool and saving energy by re-emitting most of what solar radiation is absorbed.

• Reduce environmental impacts even more. Metal can be 100 percent recycled rather than dumped into a landfill at the end of its long life. It reduces long-term maintenance by naturally resisting moss and fungus, cutting down on the need for strong chemical treatments.

• Consider all-season climate conditions. Solar isn’t the only consideration in sunny climates. In extreme climate conditions that are becoming more prevalent in every season and region, metal stands up better to hurricane-force winds, severe rain and hailstorms, heavy snowfall and dangers including wildfires that are more likely to damage other types of roofs.

— Solar Builder magazine

Details on PV Kit 2.0 from S-5!, updated to improve installation time

S5_EdgeGrab

S-5! sent word of its new PV Kit 2.0 EdgeGrab and PV Kit 2.0 MidGrab, offering solar panel installers significant improvements and easier installation. S-5! introduced the original direct-attachment solar panel system 11 years ago. The updates in PV Kit 2.0 are a result of solar installer feedback to solve installer bottlenecks geared toward reducing bottlenecks and improving install time.

Among the improvements to the new PV Kit 2.0:

• Only one tool needed for installation
• Preassembled components save time and money
• Installs with module, reducing lay-out time
• Single-piece EdgeGrab installs with ease
• Versatile: same kit for most modules
• Creates a 1-inch gap between modules, allowing load reduction per ASCE-7
• Improved disk design works with all S-5! clamps and exposed-fastened brackets
• UL 2703 Listed (Pending)

S-5! is a family company, known worldwide, that has been awarded fifty-plus patents for its technologies in rooftop attachment solutions.

— Solar Builder magazine

San Diego’s Semper Solaris the latest solar installer to join Panasonic’s Premium ranks

Panasonic

Panasonic continues to build out its Premium Installer network with some of the industry’s top solar companies. San Diego-based Semper Solaris is just the latest to be selected for the highest level, Panasonic Residential Solar Business Premium Installer program.

Founded in 2012 by former Marine captain Kelly Shawhan and his business partner John Almond, Semper Solaris is California’s fastest-growing solar installation company and serves the U.S.’ leading solar market. Inspired by the Marine Corps motto Semper Fidelis, which means always faithful, Semper Solaris’ values remain true to its military roots, with a mission to deliver best-in-class solar installations with trust, honor and integrity. The company prides itself as veteran-owned, and hires as many first-responders and military veterans as possible.

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“In keeping with our military heritage, the Semper Solaris team strives to empower our customers with the freedom, knowledge and access to go solar, helping them understand how solar works and how to choose the right system for their home,” said Kelly Shawhan, co-founder, Semper Solaris. “We are confident that Panasonic is the right partner to help us grow our business while enabling more Californian’s to go solar, with the ability to offer high-efficiency premium solar panels at a competitive price point and with the best warranty in the industry.”

Launched in the U.S. in 2016, the Panasonic Solar Premium Installer program provides value-added benefits and business opportunities to partners who meet Panasonic’s standard of excellence while installing its premium HIT modules. Get more details on this in our March/April cover story.

“The Panasonic Solar installer program is experiencing rapid success in just over two years, largely due to our team’s strong focus on partnering with installers who are driving the U.S. solar market forward,” said David Lopez, business development and regional sales manager, Solar Division, Panasonic Eco Solutions North America. “We are proud to name Semper Solaris as the newest member of the Panasonic Premium Installer family, as a company who represents an honest commitment to customer service and solar installation excellence. We look forward to working together to grow and enhance our installer program offerings, and to help more Americans achieve the benefits of solar.”

The Panasonic Solar Installer program is comprised of “Authorized” and “Premium” Installers, and premium installers are involved in continuous efforts with Panasonic to promote the HIT brand. These installers receive leads generated from Panasonic’s website, where they are promoted as a Premium Panasonic Installer. In addition, Premium Installers are the beneficiaries of cooperative marketing funds provided by Panasonic, at twice the level provided for Authorized Installers, to help grow their businesses and attract new customers.

— 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