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

SolarRoofHook now an approved vendor of BOS hardware for Sunnova

Sunnova, one of the top residential solar providers in the United States, has recently partnered with SolarRoofHook, a leading supplier of solar mounting hardware, to become one of the company’s approved vendors for balance of system components. The timing syncs up with the release of SRH’s new 4-in. Microflashing and patented Stainless-Steel QuickBOLT mounting system for Asphalt Shingle Roofs. Orders can be placed now for stock arriving this month. You can also learn all about its benefits in this year’s Residential Rooftop Report, available for free download below.

All Sunnova installer partners can now use SRH products to install their solar systems. Contact SRH by going to their website to purchase products directly online or give them a call at 844-671-6045.

SolarRoofHook is a Division of Quickscrews International Corp, the leading supplier of fasteners for the woodworking industry in the U.S., founded by Greg Wiener in 1987 in his garage. Using their knowledge of wood fasteners, the team at Quickscrews launched SRH in 2010 as a supplier of mounting solutions for the residential solar industry. Wiener received the patent for the QuickBOLT in 2012 and has been educating the industry for the past 7 years on the value of downsizing the products installers use on our roofs.

— Solar Builder magazine

The Ultimate SPI Showcase: Here’s what to see at Solar Power International 2017

Big leap for microinverters

APsystems SPI

APsystems will unveil the YC600, a dual-module, smart grid and Rule 21 compliant microinverter at SPI in Las Vegas. A groundbreaking design in microinverter technology, the YC600 will offer the highest peak output power, faster transmission speed and more modules allowed per string than comparable microinverters. A wider MPPT voltage range will result in a greater energy harvest for homeowners.

You’ll want to get the full scoop at booth 1745.

Streamlined Shutdown

Fronius

Fronius is launching a new generation of its Rapid Shutdown Box, which the company says will be the most convenient solution for NEC 2014 (690.12) and NEC 2017 compliance, while enhancing overall rooftop and firefighter safety. The new generation includes two versions: the Fronius Rapid Shutdown Box Duo and Quattro.
“Based on customer feedback, we implemented many improvements into this new generation of our Rapid Shutdown Box,” says Michael Mendik, head of solution management at Fronius USA.

Directly connected to the inverter through the same conduit as the DC homeruns and powered by the array, the Fronius solution minimizes the number of components and eliminates the need for an external power supply. The low-profile design and the multiple mounting options allow for installation underneath the modules, ensuring a clean system look. In addition, the NEMA 4X rating ensures the box is built for severe outdoor conditions. MC4 connectors, spring-loaded terminals and generous wiring space make the wiring a breeze. The Rapid Shutdown Box also acts as a combiner box, removing the need for additional hardware. Booth 3943.

Lightweight, flexible power conversion

Ideal Power

Ideal Power invented a new kind of power conversion architecture that delivers on flexibility, allowing you to enable or disable any features depending on project needs. At SPI, check out its 30-kW Stabiliti Series power converters. These multiport, compact converters are smaller, lighter and dramatically reduce installation costs while increasing return on investment. Ideal Power recently partnered with NEXTracker to implement it in various PV sites throughout North America. Booth 1433.

A top rail clip to rule them all

Heyco solar rail clips

Heyco has been busy this summer, introducing several new clips and wire management accessories for the solar market. Newest to the lineup are the SunRunner 4-2 and SunRunner 4-2U, which are top rail clips for various racking manufacturers such as Unirac, Ironridge, Everest, SnapNRack, Solar Mount and other similar racking profiles. The SunRunner 4-2 and SunRunner 4-2U are suitable for the new Enphase Q Cable. At the booth, you can also enter for a chance to win a Google Home. Booth 4762.

Drive down carport costs

Baja Carports InterSolar 2017 Booth Models

Baja Construction always has a standout booth, and this year its in-house construction team will be installing its signature Baja Solar Support System design, the “Braced Single Post Support,” built with high-tensile light gauge steel to support 24 solar modules (7.8 kW). Included in the structure is an EV Station for the hot red Tesla parked underneath. Meet Baja’s in-house designers, engineers and project managers and also make certain to visit Baja’s sponsored lobby lounge for food and beverages. I’m sure you’re already there. Booth 4155.

Improve your grip strength

Ace Clamp solar mount
AceClamps are factory-assembled clamps with patented design features that allow strong connections to standing-seam roof panels without the use of set screws or any other loose parts that could damage the surface of the roof panel. AceClamp designs have been vibration tested during the development stage and incorporate special locking features to ensure that the bolts do not back out when subjected to vibratory loads from wind flutter and light seismic activity. Booth 809.

OMG Roofing solar mount

OMG Roofing Products has introduced PowerGrip Universal for mounting solar racking systems on commercial roofs. PowerGrip Universal is designed to reduce or eliminate ballast in solar racking systems, so there’s less weight, material handling and labor on the roof. Made of heavy-duty cast aluminum, PowerGrip Universal offers 3,300 lbf of tensile strength, 2,500 lbf of shear strength and 2,000 lbf of compressive strength. It’s one of the strongest anchors on the market. Booth 629.

Solar Connections

The Standing Seam Power Clamp from Solar Connections can attach to virtually any standing seam profile and draws its strength from patent-pending WaveLock Technology with optional two, three and five points of attachment. The top can be custom drilled and tapped to fit any bolt configuration. Offering ease of installation, the Silver Bullet set screws include a rounded bullet tip to maximize strength while also keeping the paint finish and seam free from harm. Additionally, the Standing Seam Power Clamp is available in standard mill finish aluminum material, making it an item you can easily keep in stock when the need arises. Booth 1569.

Reinventing the ground mount

Nuance Energy

Nuance Energy’s patent-pending Osprey PowerPlatform could revolutionize ground-mounted solar projects. This earth anchor foundation system satisfies permitting requirements for virtually any site and soil type without the need for geotechnical reports or special inspections. It eliminates the need for heavy equipment or cement by enabling small, unskilled crews to install the entire platform quickly and easily using only handheld tools. Booth 2108.

Meet the 4G platform

Ginlong Solis inverter

Ginlong Technologies is now shipping its Solis 4G Platform. What you can see at SPI this year in booth 2427 is the Solis-1P(2.5-10K)-4G-US single phase string inverters, with high switching frequency; 2, 3 and 4 MPPTs designs; 97.8 percent peak efficiency (97.5 percent CEC); fan-less NEMA 4X / IP65 design, integrated AFCI; web-based and smartphone app monitoring, all under 44 lbs. The Solis 25K-66K-US three phase inverters are designed for all commercial and utility-scale installations with four MPPT designs and ultra-low start up volume that maximizes energy harvest. Booth 2427.

Five trackers to, um, track

SunLink TTD

SunLink’s TechTrack enables efficient load redistribution and allows the system to handle extreme wind with less steel, fewer foundations and lower cost. Now, TechTrack’s intelligent control system also delivers equally responsive control modes for snow, flood and O&M. The result is system level benefits, visible in SunLink’s Vertex data monitoring system. Rigorous testing to UL3703 further reduces permitting risk. Booth 3319.

Soltec

SF7 is the next-generation horizontal single-axis solar PV tracker from Soltec. Soltec says the SF7 enables up to 5 percent greater MW per acre than other trackers and does that with 54 percent fewer piles-per-MW, 15 percent less parts count and 58 percent fewer screw type connections than leading competitors. SF7 standard features include short tracker site-filling options, unique steep-slope tolerance of 17 percent NS, efficient self-powering and innovative cable management solutions for combining, fusing and protecting PV source circuits more economically. Booth 3640.

Solar FlexRack TDP 2 Turnkey Solar Tracker_2017

Solar FlexRack is launching its TDP Tracker with a new BalanceTrac design to increase energy yield and reduce balance of system costs. This TDP 2.0 Solar Tracker with BalanceTrac, optimized for 1,000- and 1,500-V modules, has greater rotational range of up to 120° and enables more modules per row (up to 90). The robust design delivers autonomous tables that increase site flexibility to maximize land use. Booth 2538.

AllEarth Renewable

AllEarth Renewables is showing off its new Gen 4 tracker which will be self-powered, to guard against the grid going down and will have expanded communication options, such as Wi-Fi, cellular and SD card enabled. It will come as a complete, pre-engineered system for easy, efficient shipping. Booth 626.

Array Technologies

Array Technologies is revealing the results of a recent TÜV Rheinland-backed independent report focused on solar tracker reliability. Array’s latest single-axis tracker, the DuraTrack HZ v3, is often touted for its reliability and lower cost of ownership. Array says DuraTrack HZ v3 is proven to be 300x less likely to experience catastrophic failure during wind events than more stow-reliant, single-row competitors. Booth 2919.

Page two has new on big-time collaborations, products for boosting performance, installing on shingles and more.

— Solar Builder magazine

2016 Solar Mounting/Racking Guide: Product Showcase

PV mounting solutions

Photo credit: EcoFasten Solar

Most of you may have learned that the earth is not flat. Which is too bad, really. If it was flat, we’d just place PV panels all over it and call it a day. Our Mounting Guide would certainly be a lot less interesting.

But no, of course it isn’t flat. It’s not even round, really. It’s hilly and bumpy and slanted and hard and soft. It’s also full of wind and falling water and ice. And sometimes, when the gods are bored, the ground literally quakes. And that’s just on one site.

Somehow, on top of all that, we are now installing GWs of renewable energy. How is it even possible? Why, mounting and racking solutions, certainly help. Below is a guide to many of today’s top mounting/racking companies, the services they offer and a standout product in their lineup. And if you missed any of our other Mounting Guide articles this year, check those out too:

 

Roof-Tech

Roof Tech’s RT-[E] Mount

RT- [E] Mount is a compact, versatile rail-less PV mounting system. Simply attach the RT-[E] Mount to the rafters or anywhere else on roof decking. Once the panels are fastened, the system array is electrically bonded. RT-[E] Mount comes complete with RT Butyl flashing, renowned for its watertight performance and durability. PE stamped certification letters available: UL 2703, ICC ESR-3575, ASTM 2140, Fully Waterproof.

Lineup Snapshot

Residential
C&I
Utility
Roof-mounts
Ground-mounts

X
X
X

Types: Rail-free

Website: www.roof-tech.us
Contact: info@roof-tech.us

RELATED: Mounting with butyl rubber: How Roof Tech gets a leak-proof seal 

 

Spice-Solar

Spice Solar’s complete system

Spice Solar has developed a complete system that reduces parts and rooftop installation time on all roof types and all wind/snow zones. No more racking, mid and end clamps, transporting 20-ft rails, sawing, splicing and grounding — not to mention all the purchasing, inventory and logistics hassles that go along with this blizzard of rooftop parts.

Residential
C&I
Utility
Roof-mounts
Ground-mounts

X
X

Types: Integrated racking

Engineering Services: Layout/design

Website: www.spicesolar.com
Contact: info@spicesolar.com

 

 

NEW-SolarRoofHook-ProductSolarRoofHook’s All Tile Adjustable Roof Hook

SolarRoofHook’s All Tile Adjustable Roof Hook is the leading mounting hardware for clay and concrete tile roofs in the industry. It is designed to work with a variety of tile sizes and types, including both flat and Spanish tile roofs. This hook has three points of adjustability and is compatible with all major racking manufacturers, accepting 5/16 in. or 3/8 in. bolts.

Residential
C&I
Utility
Roof-mounts
Ground-mounts

X
X

Types: Rack-mount, hooks

Website: www.solarroofhook.com
Contact: jwiener@quickscrews.com

 

NEW-ECOFASTENEcoFasten’s Rail-Free Rock-It System

With the top-down leveling of EcoFasten Solar’s rail-free Rock-It System, the installer can level as they go or after the install. Also, the extensive EcoFasten line of patented watertight solar roof mounts is comprised of a series of product systems characterized by roof-type application. Each system can be paired with a wide variety of brackets, allowing installers to attach EcoFasten Solar roof mounts to virtually any racking option.

Residential
C&I
Utility
Roof-mounts
Ground-mounts

X
X
X

Types: Structural, rail-free

Engineering Services: Layout/design

Website: www.ecofastensolar.com
Contact: (877) 859-3947

RELATED: Do you need a solar snow management system? 

 

CertainTeedCertainTeed’s Solstice System

CertainTeed’s Solstice System features high-efficiency, 60-cell monocrystalline or polycrystalline photovoltaic panels with power outputs from 260 W to 285 W. The rack-mounted modules are available in a variety of black and white frame and backsheet combinations. Solstice is also backed by CertainTeed’s equipment, power output and installation workmanship warranty — one of the most comprehensive in the industry.

 

Website: www.certainteed.com/roofing/solar

 

MagerackMagerack’s Solar Mounting System

The Magerack Solar Mounting System is a turn-key solar mounting solution that includes all components from the rail and clamps to roof attachments. The system is UL 2703 listed and has a Class A file rating with integrated bonding and grounding. In particular, its patented L-foot with flashing is easy to install and absolutely waterproof at a competitive price. Magerack will also have innovative rail-less mounting system available this year.

Residential
C&I
Utility
Roof-mounts
Ground-mounts

X
X

Types: Structural, hooks

Website: www.magerack.com
Contact: info@magerack.com

 

SnapNrackSnapNrack’s Series 100 Roof Mount System

The SnapNrack Series 100 Roof Mount System is engineered to optimize material use, labor resources and aesthetic appeal. The system boasts pre-assembled, stainless steel “Snap-In” hardware, watertight flash attachments and installs with a single tool. It is fully integrated with built-in wire management solutions for all roof types, one-size-fits-all features and can withstand extreme environmental conditions. It is listed to UL Standard 2703 for Grounding/Bonding, Fire Classification and Mechanical Loading.

Residential
C&I
Utility
Roof-mounts
Ground-mounts

X
X
X

Types: Rack-mount, hooks, fixed tilt

Engineering Support: Layout/design

Website: www.snapnrack.com
Contact: contact@snapnrack.com

 

Solar-SpeedrackSolar SpeedRack’s SpeedMount

Solar SpeedRack’s SpeedMount (UL 2703, 1703 and 467) is a shared rail system.  The black anodized aluminum rails are shipped pre-assembled and are adjustable to fit over 95 percent of the available modules. Its rail strength and spans are industry leading with roof penetrations further reduced by using its SpeedFoot, a non-penetrating load-bearing rail attachment making this system an ideal solution for high wind and/or snow loads. Through use of its calculator, available free of charge on its website, customers can design their project in portrait, landscape or a combination of both and produce an accurate bill of materials for the racking required.

Residential
C&I
Utility
Roof-mounts
Ground-mounts

X
X
X
X

Types: Rack-mount, fixed-tilt, carport

Engineering Support: Layout/design, geotech

Website: www.solarspeedrack.com
Contact: shane@solarspeedrack.com

 

QuickRack-systemQuick Mount PV’s Quick Rack

Quick Mount PV’s patented mounting system Quick Rack is a simple, cost-effective and elegant rail-free solar mounting system. Featuring QRack technology, the patented system is an integrated roof mount and racking system, engineered to be robust and structurally sound. The system works with standard module frames and comes with state-of-the-art design software. Quick Rack ships in small boxes, saving money on shipping and logistics. With no rails, installation is fast and simple with mounts-to-modules instead of mounts-to-rails-to-modules.

Residential
C&I
Utility
Roof-mounts
Ground-mounts

X
X

Types: Rack-mount, rail-free, hooks

Engineering Support: Layout/design, installation

Website: quickmountpv.com
Contact: sales@quickmountpv.com

Click 2 for rooftop commercial and ground-mount products

— Solar Builder magazine

Mounting by roof type: Experts share tips for all residential solar installs

Experts share tips for mounting on composition shingle, tile, slate and metal residential roofs

Before mounting a PV array on any residential roof, Jolene Ciosek, marketing for EcoFasten Solar, says it’s critical to inspect the homeowner’s roof. In addition to evaluating the structure of the building and the roof, check the age and type of roof in order to determine the correct steps needed to maintain its integrity. Knowing the condition of the underlayment is essential too, as it is the primary source of waterproofing. Pay close attention to dirt buildup and damage from pests or past work, being sure to repair any damage before installing PV. Roof drainage, traffic, roof access and safety are also extremely important factors.

According to Ciosek, it is important to pre-drill and backfill. “Skipping this step runs the risk of cracking or splitting rafters, which causes leaking and liability. Done the right way from the start, there will be no headaches later on,” she says.

Barry Cinnamon, CEO of Spice Solar, says to make sure the roof penetration is done properly. One of the more common approaches on a shingle roof these days is through the use of flashings. On the safety side, Cinnamon recommends making sure installers are trained properly, and that they use permanent anchors in the roof.
“They cost the same and can be left there, useful for anyone returning to do maintenance. There is no excuse for not having fall protection,” Cinnamon says.

Be sure every module is clipped properly so it doesn’t loosen. “In the occasional situation when a panel blows off a roof, it is because the installer didn’t tighten it properly or because the product was designed in a way that prevented the installer from tightening it properly,” Cinnamon says.

RELATED: Primer for buying, installing residential solar+storage systems 

Composition Shingles

Milton Nogueira Jr., senior business development manager at Roof Tech, says to seek solar installation guidelines from the asphalt roof manufacturer.

“Unless the installers are professional roofers that know roofing products well, it can be challenging to find out what materials are present,” Nogueira says. “Ask the homeowner for documentation about their roof to find out who built it and who manufactured it. Some asphalt roofing manufacturers are skeptical about solar and don’t provide solar installation guidelines.”

Nogueira also recommends using a sealant that matches the roofing material, being sure to check its upper service temperature. “Summer roof temperatures can range from 150-200 degrees F. Try to find the best sealant at the highest service temperature. If the wrong product is used because of lack of knowledge, it can react poorly with the roofing system, ultimately giving the industry a bad name.”

Ciosek says to make sure to notch the flashing to fit around nails. This best practice allows the flashing to extend up and under the third course of shingles. Also, position the flashing between vertical joints of shingles as an additional waterproofing measure.

The biggest challenge with shingle roofs, according to Cinnamon, is making sure the roof mount is attached to the rafters, which are under the shingles and can’t be seen.

“They are difficult to find, and it’s hard to train to ensure installers hit the middle of the rafters,” he says. “There are no magic X-ray tools to help installers find where the middles are. They have to be trained to find the rafter and use trial and error. When they miss, they’re trained to seal the holes they make.”

Nogueira says the new school mounting approach is with an integrated flashing system that becomes mechanically attached to the roofing system. “With conventional metal flashing, it may be easy to place the upper flange under the underlayment at the time of building a new roofing system, however on a retrofit, which are 90 percent of the installs in the United States, it becomes very time consuming and it may not deliver the best result.” A system with integrated flashing like Roof Tech’s is attached to the decking using clamps with wood screws that are attached directly to the roof and doesn’t require pilot holes or bolts that go into the rafters. Leak-proof RT-[E] Mount systems can be installed on any asphalt pitched roof.

Nogueira says the key to installing a PV array is distributing the energy through multiple points of attachment or applying expansion joints. This will help to mitigate the roof torsion, loosening of hardware and water resistance issues related to the effects of thermal contraction and expansion and provide a more reliable, waterproof installation.

RELATED: Mounting with butyl rubber: How Roof Tech gets a leak-proof seal 

Tile

Tile is going to require a different approach, and a great option for installing on these sensitive roofs is going with hooks. Jared Wiener, VP of marketing at SolarRoofHook, says the design determines what type of hook to use since they vary by tile size, the height between peaks and valleys, adjustability and whether there are battens present on the roof. Before hooks, the only option for taking these roofs solar was replacing the entire roof.

Wiener says by the time installers are up on the roof, it’s too late to change an array’s design, so adjustable hooks add value by saving time when it matters most. Installation involves only a few steps: drilling and sealing a pilot hole, driving the mounting screw through the hook and driving the mounting screw through the hook and placing the tile back on top. Tiles don’t have to be penetrated. The base or the height of the hook can be adjusted on the roof without being removed.  Along with hooks for every tile job, SolarRoofHook also has solutions for asphalt shingle and stone-coated steel.

Remember that even the strongest tiles are brittle and break easily, so Ciosek recommends keeping time on the roof to a minimum. Be especially careful not to drop tools while on a tile roof. Before installing, replace any cracked or damaged tiles too because the last person on the roof will usually be blamed for any recent damage.

Mission clay tile is fragile and isn’t always ideal for installation due to risk of breakage. Provide homeowners the option to mount with conventional/asphalt underneath. Also, professional roofers can do the “strip-and-go” method, quickly removing tiles from the section of the roof on which the array will be installed and replacing them with asphalt shingles, so installers spend less time on the roof.

Slate

As a material, slate is very heavy, expensive and brittle. It is challenging to work with because it sits flush with the sheeting on the roof or underlayment, and there is no elevation between tiles that allow a hook to go underneath it. There’s no ability to notch it, and it should never be drilled in any way because cracks will ultimately cause leaking and void the homeowner’s roof warranty.

All of that can lead an installer to see slate roofs as burdensome and almost impossible to work with — with few good solutions to help. However, there are a few installation options that are similar to composition shingle roofs that involve removing tiles prior to installation.

The slate and composition shingle combo method is the fastest and lowest cost option. It involves removing the slate and placing shingles where the standoff would normally go into in the rafter, using a lag with flashings to protect the roof. Since it is underneath the solar array, it is not noticeable.

Depending on the visibility and homeowner’s preference, another more aesthetically desirable solution protects the integrity of the slate. Before installing the solar array, remove the tiles, attach the standoff through a piece of sheeting, flash around the standoff as you would a roof vent and attach a mounting bracket to the standoff. Some installers finish the coverage with an extra piece of slate, cutting around the standoff and installing it after it’s lagged in, flashed and the hook has been attached.

For code compliance and to maintain the waterproofing properties of slate roofs, Ciosek says make sure the top edge of the flashing extends up and under the third course of slate. As with any mounting method, it is important to hit the rafter and go as deep as is required according to the wind and snow loads in the area.

Metal

“One of the advantages of installing a solar PV array to a metal roof is that metal is one of the longest lasting materials on the roofing market, so your chances of needing to re-roof prior to installation are slim,” Ciosek says.
For installs on metal standing seam roofing, Ciosek says to use roof mounts that use clamp-to-seam technology via oval-point set screws that won’t penetrate the roofing material. Making holes is not recommended. Make sure the mounts you use will not void a roofing manufacturer’s warranties.

On corrugated metal, she says to use a mount that attaches to the sides of the panel, as opposed to in the valley where moisture accumulates. Or, use mounts with waterproofing technologies such as EPDM rubber bushings that will form a compression-fit seal once the fastener is attached.

Debbie Sniderman is an engineer and CEO of VI Ventures, LLC, an engineering consulting company. She can be reached at debbie.sniderman@vivllc.com.

— Solar Builder magazine