Print 38 comment(s) - last by Keeir.. on May 16 at 3:10 PM

Move over screws and racks, new adhesive mounted panels are gaining steam

DailyTech recently reported on the growing interest in solar power, both public and private, being fueled by enterprising startups like Sungevity.  However despite current methods of streamlining installation and reducing costs via optimizations, the installation process remains costly, slow, and has some undesirable side effects.

Panel installation typically involves drilling holes in the roof, compromising its integrity.  Racks are affixed to these holes using bolts, and the entire process is rather time-intensive.  The end result is big installation bills and a headache for the customer.  It's also a hassle for the installer, who has to use special tools and could be making more money off a more efficient installation approach.

Well a logical answer has arrived in the form of DRI Energy, a solar-power roofing contractor, operating out of California.  Instead of racks, DRI Energy simply applies a strong roofing adhesive, to hold the panels in place.  The seemingly common sense approach seems to work.  The company shows in a video that 2.25 kW of its proprietary Lumeta solar panels can be installed in only 35 minutes by two of its solar engineers, a process that would normally take hours.

Shorter installations mean that costs drop greatly, and installers are able to perform more installations per day, making more money overall.  As most roofing installers regularly use the same adhesives used to affix the panels, the move opens the doorway to installations by roofers not specially trained in solar installation, possibly further dropping the cost.  Further, no racks also means no holes in the roof, a plus for many customers. 

Unfortunately for now the method is only compatible with DRI Energy's special panels.  However, given the commercial benefits, other companies are likely to quickly follow in suit.  After all the move seems common sense, and well worth the time to design slightly modified panels to work with the improved installation process.

DRI is based out of Irvine, California and installs solar panels in nine western states.  It is a rather large company with seven regional offices in the states of California, Washington, and Nevada.  The company also offers rack mounted systems, in addition to the new adhesive-mounted ones.

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They could use snot for all we care
By Reclaimer77 on 5/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: They could use snot for all we care
By ZmaxDP on 5/13/2008 12:16:41 AM , Rating: 4
Ahh, yes. The classic overstatement. I would hardly call myself ultra rich, though I don't mind being called an environmentalist. (Just don't accuse me of being one of those eco-terrorists...) My wife and I have a combined salary well under 100K, but we're getting them on our roof. We did this thing called "saving" that most people forgot how to do and once we've got them installed we're going to have our utility bill cut down to almost zilch.

We actually could have afforded a larger array, but the geniuses in congress and our state legislature have failed to pass a decent law requiring fair compensation for consumers like us who are producing energy. Sure, if you let a company put a wind turbine in your yard they'll get a decent rate per kilowatt hour for that output, enough that they'll pay you a decent "rent." If you're joe consumer and you pop solar panels on your roof you get just a hair over squat for your output. I wouldn't mind having a lobbyist or two...

Anyway, long story short, if our lawmakers would get their acts together we could have been receiving a paycheck from the power company, not a bill. As is, every bit we pass back into the grid we might as well throw away, but I'm too much of a poor environmentalist to throw 30 grand away into some pretty nasty batteries so I could go off the grid.

If you've got a standing seam metal roof, common around here, they have little brackets that will mount to the standing seams (no punctures!) and you mount rails to those, and the solar panels to the rails. Sounds complicated, but with a chalk line, a measuring tape, and two guys you can knock out a whole roof in a matter of hours as well. Usually, installing the inverters and the other electrical components takes a lot longer than the actual panel install anyway, so I'm not sure how much time this saves...

RE: They could use snot for all we care
By Reclaimer77 on 5/13/08, Rating: 0
RE: They could use snot for all we care
By Keeir on 5/13/2008 2:53:36 AM , Rating: 4
Gosh, someone needs to pay a little more attention

#1. Solar Panel systems do not cost 20-30 thousand. As reported by Dailytech, the panels themselves are more like 10+ thousand installed. The Batteries to make an entire system self-contained, those start pushing the cost through the roof. Since the average cost of a home in the US is 200 thousand plus, college is pushing 15 thousand a year even a state schools, and average family spends 8-10 thousand a year on cars (per year without gas)... I think durable goods on the order of 10-20 thousand are "affordable" in comparison.

#2. The poster is not saying you should pay for his installation. He is saying power companies should be forced to credit people producing excess power at peak times. This would make it more attractive to purchase excess solar capability since even if you go on vacation, you can be sure you are still getting benifit from the capitol you invested.

Solar panels are for the rich and or the avid environmentalist. You are the exception, not the rule.

I think most homes/households in Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah (among others) could actually see a cost savings over 10-20 years with solar panels! In those areas, Solar Panels are for the smart and visionary.

RE: They could use snot for all we care
By cheetah2k on 5/13/2008 3:49:02 AM , Rating: 2
The Queensland Government in Australia has established a subsidised programme, supplying cheap large solar panels in a trial to 1500 homes across the state. They will be receiving rebates for putting power back into the grid

I think this is a great way to encourage the use of Solar Panels in homes.

Just needs world wide initiative!

By cheetah2k on 5/13/2008 3:51:39 AM , Rating: 3
I think we could all learn from this!

RE: They could use snot for all we care
By Reclaimer77 on 5/13/08, Rating: 0
By Donkeyshins on 5/13/2008 2:53:43 PM , Rating: 4
Well now, that all depends on how expensive 'traditional' forms of energy become, doesn't it? Light, sweet crude oil (granted, not heating oil) has shot past $125 USD/barrel and will probably keep going up. Heating oil and natural gas have also been rising, and the trend for electricity (hydro or coal or nuclear) has been up as well. At a certain inflection point, home solar (or wind) power starts to be a very good investment - especially if there are government-sponsored rebates.

By Keeir on 5/16/2008 3:10:01 PM , Rating: 2
mmm well lets see with some numbers


PV of a reoccuring payment A where i is the interest rate per period and n is the total period.

Lets see what the present value of a system you expect to save $250 dollars a month in energy costs at a monthly rate of return of 1% (IE, 12.7% APY). The system will operate for 120 months and at the end will be worth 0 dollars.

PV(A)=250/0.01*(1-1/(1.01)^120)= 17,435 dollars.

IE, if a solar system was capable of saving an average of 250 dollars a month over 10 years and cost less than 17,000 dollars, not only would the system "pay for itself", it would yield a handesome APY. If you only were concerned with the system "paying" for itself, lets assume a 4% APY to offset inflation. Thats a monthly interest rate of ~.4%.

PV(A)=250/.004*(1-1/1.004^120)=23,788 dollars.

As I said originally, it really depends on your location. Total power production per dollar of Solar Panel, Total Fraction of cost of house to cost of Solar Panel, Energy Rates in Local Area, etc. Its certainly not for the people of Pittsburgh! (aparently the cloudiest and most particle polluted city in the USA)

What if?
By oab on 5/12/2008 1:02:37 PM , Rating: 5
What if you needed to have the shingles re-done on your roof? How would you get these panels off to be able to redo them properly? I assume it's possible, but is it easy?

RE: What if?
By Hulk on 5/12/2008 1:15:09 PM , Rating: 3
Seems like this could be a dangerous proposition. What happens if in 5 or 10 years people are having problems with panels sliding off roofs? Leaking roofs? Difficulty/expense reroofing? It is probable that these problems would be "blanket" blamed on the "solar panels" and not an improper installation. The last thing we need is for this technology, which people are already skeptical about, being given a bad name due to improper installation.

The only way I'd would mount these panels would be the normal way; On top of the shingles or possibly sitting on the plywood/OSB, screwed to it, and flashed. Thus reducing the amount of shingles needed for roofing and making reroofing easy. You could also easily replace the panels in the event there was a problem with one or a better panel comes along in the future.

- Mark

RE: What if?
By afkrotch on 5/12/2008 4:02:35 PM , Rating: 3
I'm assuming that the adhesive isn't attached to the panel, but instead onto a bracket. Then the panel is attached onto the bracket. This way only a small amount of adhesive is used.

So if there were problems with the roof, panels, etc, you simply dismount the panel and you can get to anything under the panel. If it's under the brackets, you can pull the roofing for that small area.

Kind of like installing the normal way, but with adhesive, isntead of screws.

RE: What if?
By cheetah2k on 5/13/2008 3:44:22 AM , Rating: 2
Its time we started getting creative with this stuff. How about corrigated solar roof sheeting, or solar tiles?

Stuff this damn stick on rubbish....

RE: What if?
By therealnickdanger on 5/13/2008 8:59:54 AM , Rating: 2
"Solar shingles" have been available for a long time. Google it for more info.

RE: What if?
By tmouse on 5/13/2008 7:35:14 AM , Rating: 2
From their site it appears the adhesive is applied directly to the panel.

Installation on Flat Surfaces
By woody0486 on 5/12/2008 1:25:23 PM , Rating: 2
The panels are recommended that they are to be installed on flat surfaces, and likely not on angled surfaces or shingles. The video as well installs the panels on a flat rooftop.

By RogueSpear on 5/12/2008 2:19:15 PM , Rating: 2
I've seen quite a few articles on this type on installation over the last year and in almost all of them, they are applied to a metal roof - the kind that is fairly common in parts of Florida.

this sucks
By goku on 5/12/2008 8:02:07 PM , Rating: 4
We got our solar panels on our roof back in 2001 and today we go replacement panels because it turned out the ones we had were defective, providing no juice. Kyocera has kept this issue hush hush and has NOT been informing its customers of this known issue. They're replacing the panels on a complaint basis only. I can only imagine how difficult it would have been to replace these panels were they glued like this article discusses.

By AlmostExAMD on 5/13/2008 2:56:43 AM , Rating: 2
I thought I read somewhere on the net a short while back on a company that is developing(or maybe already has) actual roof tiles that are the solar panels themselves.
I'd rather go this option in the future and just replace tiles at your desire, Gradually adding to your solar array!

RE: Obsolete?
By zsdersw on 5/13/2008 6:54:41 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think that's a product that would obsolete roof panels, but would, instead, complement them. Solar shingles/tiles won't be ideal or cost effective for all situations and neither will solar panels (regardless of how they're attached).

Shingle panels
By pnosker on 5/13/2008 9:36:11 AM , Rating: 2
I read in Popular Science that panels that look like shingles came out a few years ago. A quick google search turned up this:

By noxipoo on 5/12/2008 12:10:31 PM , Rating: 2
maybe it's just me, but i'd think this company has engineers and QA to test obvious things like this.

By afkrotch on 5/12/2008 12:20:14 PM , Rating: 5
Ya, that explains the great track records of Firestone tires on Ford Explorers, Xbox 360 early versions, Sony batteries, and the gamut of other products put to market.

By Ringold on 5/12/2008 2:21:50 PM , Rating: 2
Nonsense. Those, and adhesive failures, are features. ;)

By Oregonian2 on 5/12/2008 2:37:44 PM , Rating: 3
I suspect there are more products without the problem than a list of those that do.

By FITCamaro on 5/12/2008 3:08:41 PM , Rating: 1
A lot of the issues with Firestone tires were attributed to people not properly maintaining their tires. Also people going too fast on tires only rated to certain speeds.

By afkrotch on 5/12/2008 3:55:15 PM , Rating: 2
Also a lot of issues were not attributed to improperly maintained tires or going to fast. The whole point of Firestone recalling the tires.

Not to mention, a company is usually builds tires over specs, just in case. How many other tires out there are improperly maintained and users go over it's rated speeds? Yet, it's just Firestone/Bridgestone that had exploding tires.

By winterspan on 5/12/2008 5:21:21 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I'd bet in most (all?) of those cases, you'd have to assume the problems had more to do with cutting corners on design/materials/manufacturing/testing for cost savings, than deficiencies in their engineering and Q&A staff.

By theapparition on 5/13/2008 8:33:51 AM , Rating: 2
Specifically in the Firestone issue, it was intentional underinflation of tires by Ford.

If you looked at the sidewall of the tire, it said to inflate to 35psi. Ford found that with the Explorer it was too likely to roll over, so their solution was to run the tires at ~25psi. You'll see this inflation pressure in the user manual and on the door.

The lower pressure caused the tire to flex more and break the tread bonds due to cycling. Where Firestone was liable, was because they knew about this cycling issue and didn't convey the information.

By MrBlastman on 5/12/2008 12:53:23 PM , Rating: 2
Well I think the guy brings up a good point.

Nontheless, I am waiting to see a guy use this technology to stick panels all over his body and walk around a crowded street shooting electricity out of his arms a la Big Trouble in Little China (can't forget the pointy straw hat) shouting: "I am the powa man!"

By Funk Phenomena on 5/12/2008 2:24:29 PM , Rating: 2
Classic movie, lol.

By OxBow on 5/12/2008 1:27:16 PM , Rating: 2
It sounds like in the article that they're using standard roofing adhesive which is quite flexible and has a great track record, in general, these days.

If they were squirting some off brand liquid nails, you'd probably have a point, but the new stuff is pretty amazing. Not saying that failure isn't possible, and it wouldn't meet the wind codes for my area of Texas, but for most applications I'm sure it's ok.

By Spuke on 5/12/2008 5:00:43 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder what wind speeds the adhesive is rated to. We occasionally get wind speeds up 70 mph where I live and I would rather not have my solar panels flying through a neighbors window.

By GlassHouse69 on 5/12/2008 6:09:11 PM , Rating: 2
a roof needs to drain. ice can build up under crap. I wonder if this impedes anything if some just glues gunk to raw tile. would be cool if they were mini tiles that matched shingle patterns.

By MightyAA on 5/12/2008 6:47:36 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I was wondering that too. Looks like it would impede the drainage to the roof drains. This causes puddling and ice damming. Furthermore, the application would probably void your roof manufacturer warranty. On top of this, the rack normally angles the panels to maximize solar angles (which your roof probably isn't designed for).

Cutting corners to save cost often aren't the best ideas... but I do like it better than ballast type racks.

By Bruneauinfo on 5/12/2008 7:14:55 PM , Rating: 2
we've obviously not done a lot of roofing here. i know i haven't. but what little i have done i'm assuming the point of roofing cement on roll roofing, for example: it's gooy and maintains its gooiness even after it dries. i'd assume roll roofing (which is basically the same type of material as shingles) expands and contracts differently than the wood sheathing to which its attached. the cement helps compensate for this.

so how does the conversation go from solar panels being glued to a roof to exploding tires??? :/

By Sethanus on 5/14/2008 3:23:58 AM , Rating: 2
A way to increase the speed of install (it may not be much, but it would make handleing and installing easier) is to have rectangular grease paper panels with a lip for easy peeling off of the back of the solar pannel(maybe 6 or 9 for a pannel that size).

After watching that vid it looked like they wasted a minute or a minute and a half trying to peel the backing off each pannel.

my 2 cents worth

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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