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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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.

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