This solar mounting system from SunModo anchors entirely above roof tiles

TopTile sunmodo

Professional solar installers no longer need to grimace when considering a risk-laden solar PV installation on tile roofs. Referenced in our latest Mounting Guide issue, SunModo’s TopTile Mount System conveniently anchors solar racking entirely above the tiles, which spares the installer needing to disrupt tiles, remove battens, damage underlayment, or leave leak-prone holes or fasteners.

The TopTile Mount System features three mounting options that secure panels 4-7 inches above the tile surface, using stanchions with water-proof sealing washers and moldable flashing. Installers can choose either SunModo’s patented deck mounting system when anchoring into decks or a rafter mounting system. The system can also be mounted to a flat concrete surface. The system works on concrete, clay, stone, fiberglass or rubber tile roofs, in accordance with ICC building codes.

sunmodo toptile mount

“Our TopTile system makes it easy for installers to pursue tile roof installations because they no longer have to bear the cost and risk of tearing apart tile roofs,” said Stella Sun, Marketing Director of SunModo Corp. “This innovative solution is destined to become an industry standard with application on more than 90 percent of tile roof environments.”

SunModo TopTile Mount Systems are part of a complete line of racking and mounting options available through leading distributors or directly from the company at www.sunmodo.com. Samples are available and will be on display at leading solar shows.

SunModo is a private U.S. company headquartered in Vancouver, Wash., that is focused on innovative racking and mounting solutions for professional installers in the fast-growing solar industry. Energized by a desire to make solar installation easier, more reliable and more affordable, its solar racking solutions are at work in 15 countries, and from Hawaii to Connecticut.

sunmodo top tile specs

— 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

EcoFasten releases Tile Hook Flashing for use with third-party hooks

EcoFasten Solar just announced its newest product in its long line of solar roof mount solutions: The Tile Hook Flashing.

Ecofasten tile hook

This Tile Hook Flashing was designed specifically for use with third-party tile hooks and because it replaces one complete tile, the need for cutting, grinding or replacing tiles is eliminated.

The Tile Hook Flashing is currently available in profiles for flat, S and W tile roofs, in either mill finish or sierra tan.

Visit the EcoFasten Solar website and discover the entire product line.

— Solar Builder magazine

Everitt and Schilling Tile Brings Old World Craftsmanship to Modern Sustainability

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As German-Russian craftsmen who left their homes in Russia to migrate to America and become farmers, the Schilling family and its history are integral to the passion for tile installation craftsmanship that Luke Schilling brings to Everitt and Schilling Tile. Aaron Everitt has roots in the lumber business as far back as the Oklahoma land rush and now manages the family’s development and homebuilding company. Luke and Aaron have joined forces to create a unique and sustainable wall covering from repurposed and reclaimed wood.

Everitt-and-Schilling-Tile

Based in Fort Collins, Colorado, Everitt & Schilling Tile creates two lines of wood tile that are derived from reclaimed barnboard and upcycled hardwood that are then finished with high-quality, environmentally-friendly (low VOC and water-based ceramic) finishes. Beautiful and easy to install, they can be used on interior walls, backsplashes, ceilings, or as art installations.

Reclaimed wood tiles are shaped from barnwood that has been salvaged from the western United States in range of colors, patterns, and formats, some of which are designed to be locked into other tiles. A patent-pending backing system permits installation with thin-set material in the same manner as traditional tile installation.

Repurposed wood tiles are made from upcycled hardwood that is shaped and cut into the Parkwood patterns and locks into other tiles. Available in a number of stains and colors, they can be grouped in patterns and designs that complement the interior theme.

Recently added to the E&S product offerings are Barnwood Wall Planks in two sizes and a Boardwalk pattern.

Samples are available directly from the company or from distributors.

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Related Articles on JetsonGreen.com:
Fine Earthy Wood Tile by Everitt & Schilling
Reclaimed Barnwood Bricks for the Home
Custom Color Sustainable Ceramic Tile Now Available from Fireclay Tile