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: They could use snot for all we care
By Reclaimer77 on 5/13/2008 12:03:18 PM , Rating: 0
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.

Solar panels are like hybrid cars. Yes they save you money on gas/energy, but they cost more. So in reality your 10-20 years, how much of that " savings " is really just recouping the large initial investment ? Solar panels do not " pay for themselves " as people would have you believe.

Smart visionary ? Thats debatable IMO.

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)

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