One of the biggest disadvantages of the traditional method of solar panel installation is that it necessitates drilling through the roof, which can lead to a number of issues. This article will answer one of the most pressing questions residents of Greenville, South Carolina, in particular, have: how to install solar panels on asphalt roofs in Greenville?
How to Install Solar Panels on Asphalt Roof in Greenville – Why You Should Avoid Drilling
Drilling holes into any surface is bound to have some drawbacks, and the roof of your home is certainly no exception. While most solar panel installations do turn out successful, occasionally, things can go wrong, leading to a multitude of problems and expenses for the homeowner. Here are a few reasons why you should avoid installing solar panels by drilling holes into your roof:
Drilling Holes Can Lead to Roof Leakages
While drilling holes does not necessarily have to result in roof leakages, it most certainly can if the installation was done poorly. Normally, the solar installer uses sealants to close off any tiny gaps or openings left by the drilled holes that may let water seep through. However, the sealants, in rare cases, can fail, or the installer may not have done a good enough job in closing off all the gaps.
A leaking roof could also be a result of a roof that is incompatible with a solar installation. Roofs made of clay, wood, or slate are usually not preferred for a solar installation as these materials can crack during the installation. Many installers suggest replacing the roof or part of the roof where the panels are to be installed.
Roofs that are old and haven’t been replaced for over 30 years are also likely to give way to leakages as the material will no longer have the strength to bear the load and strain exerted by the panels. This, of course, would not be a concern when mounting solar panels without drilling.
Drilling Holes Can Void the Roof Warranty
Generally, there are two main types of roof warranties. Firstly, there is a warranty provided by the manufacturer of the roofing materials used in your roof; the warranty can last for 20 to 25 years. Then there is a workmanship property offered by your roof installer, which covers your roof for usually ten years.
Depending on the terms and conditions of the warranties, drilling holes into your roof to install solar panels can void either one or both the warranties. In most cases, however, installing solar panels the conventional way will void the warranty provided by the manufacturer in the area where the panels are installed; however, the installer’s warranty will remain intact.
However, to know for sure, you should consult your roof installer first.
How to Install Solar Panels on Asphalt Roof in Greenville – Mounting Solar Panels Without Drilling
Since the introduction of solar technology, the only way to mount solar panels on residential roofs was to drill holes into the roofs and fasten the mounting set up to the roof using fasteners. The solar panels would then attach to the mountings. However, some innovative companies have reimagined the process of solar panel installation and have developed products that allow for the mounting of solar panels without drilling.
So, if you’re curious about how to install solar panels on asphalt roofs in Greenville, here are a few ways you can do it:
SolarPod, a company based in Minnesota, developed a unique mounting system called Z-Rack that offers homeowners in Greenville, South Carolina, and in other cities an easy and effective solution for mounting solar panels without drilling holes on their roofs.
The patented Z-Rack technology, formerly known as the SolarPod Crown, employs a counterbalance mechanism that works in a similar way to the spoiler that you would find at the rear of a Formula 1 race car. When the wind blows over the panels on your roof, it exerts a downforce that forces the panels to stick to the roof securely.
The racking system has winds up to 130 miles per hour and with heavy snow, loads to ensure it’ll stand through harsh weather. Additionally, the system is also UL-listed and has received four patents. The versatility of the system allows it to be compatible with various roof types, including asphalt shingles, metal, wood shake, corrugated metal, and tile.
While the system does appear to be an effective solution for mounting solar panels without drilling holes, however, one can object that by opting for this solution, you entrust the installation of your system to only a single manufacturer. This could lead to problems down the road if the company goes out of business.
The panels do come with a 25-year warranty; however, they won’t be of any use to you if the company goes out of business. In this case, you may have difficulty finding skilled experts to address any faults in the system as well as sourcing new parts or panels.
S:FLEX Flat Direct
The Flat Direct system by S:FLEX is another great alternative for a drilling-less solar panel installation. Similar to the Z- Rack system described above, Flat Direct also uses the downforce of the wind to push the panels against your roof and keep them attached.
S:FLEX, established in Germany, has been serving the industry for over 20 years and has branches all around the world. Flat Direct works by having wider spaces between panels compared to the traditional drilled-in methods to prevent the entire solar array from rising during high wind speeds. Furthermore, the Flat Direct system uses a counterweight or a fastening to the ends of the rafter in order to secure the panels in place.
Foam mats are also used on the support pillars to safeguard the roof from damage while also creating traction that helps improve the system’s stability. Solar Flat may normally be installed on a traditional roof made of asphalt shingles. However, some drilling may be required depending on your roof’s specifications and location.
Since everything comes from a single company, like the Z-Rack system, you could encounter problems in the future regarding the system’s repairs, maintenance, procuring system parts, or customer support if the company were to go out of business. It is worth noting, though, that S:FLEX is a considerably larger and well-established business compared to SolarPad. Therefore, the likelihood of them going out of business is much lower.
Another problem that you could possibly face is a delay in services. For instance, if the branch of S:Flex in your area has run out of a certain part that you require, you may have to wait for some time before the part is restocked and available for you to purchase seeing as how the part is being manufactured in Germany and therefore has to be shipped from there. And while the company has a US office, they are based in Germany.
Furthermore, having the part shipped from Germany to the United States may also elevate the cost of the part. This means that replacing any part of your system may be a bit pricy.
Thin-Film PV Solar Laminates
Thin-film PV solar laminates are another great alternative for mounting solar panels without drilling any holes in your roof. The best thing about thin-film solar laminates is that they are much lighter in weight than your typical solar panels and therefore do not burden your roof with an extraneous load. Additionally, these thin-film panels are also very easy to install, making them a charming option for homeowners and solar installers alike.
Thin-film solar panels, unlike your typical polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels, can be manufactured from a range of materials. Cadmium telluride is the most often used thin-film solar panel material.
This type of thin-film panel is made by sandwiching Cadmium telluride between two conducting layers that are transparent. This helps with the entrapment of solar radiation. A protective glass layer is usually also placed on top. Other than this, thin-film solar panels can also be made from Copper Indium Gallium Selenide or amorphous silicon.
Installing thin-film solar laminates simply involves using adhesive to paste the thin panels onto your roof. On the downside, thin-film solar laminates do not work too well with asphalt shingle roofs because the curved shape of the shingles makes it difficult to properly attach the panels.
However, thin-film panels are an excellent option for metal roofs with seam metal panels and a good roofing system. Knowing this, if you’re out for a roof replacement and are inclined towards getting a metal roof, thin-film panels would be a good option for you.
It is also worth knowing that thin-film panels have a lower efficiency than your typical monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels. And so, if you’re on a tight budget and only want to invest in as many solar panels as necessary, thin-film panels might not be the right option for you.
Solar Stack – Pedestal Mounting
Solar Stack, a Florida-based company, has been selling no-drill panels since 2011. With Florida being one of the most hurricane-affected places in the world, these Solar Stack panels have withstood some of the strongest gusts in the United States. The solution offered by Solar Stack relies on a pedestal mounting mechanism that eliminates the need for rails by using a code-approved foam adhesive.
Since 1992, foam adhesives have been widely employed on tile roofs in the Hurricane Zones of Florida and, therefore, have a proven track record. One of the biggest plus points of the Solar Stack system is that the installation time and costs for the system are noticeably lower than for typical solar systems because it does not require drilling.
However, one of the biggest shortcomings of the system is that since it employs an adhesive foam for attaching itself to your roof, it does not work well with asphalt shingle roofs.
The team at Firefly Solar is ready to answer your questions and give you a no-obligation price quote. Feel free to call us at 864-252-7858 or book a consultation online. And we’ll get in touch within 24 hours.
How to Install Solar Panels on Asphalt Roof in Greenville – 4 Helpful Tips
1. Get a Permit for Installation
When mounting solar panels without drilling or even using the conventional way of installation, the first and foremost thing you need to do is to secure a permit from your city’s building department. If the installation of the panels isn’t accompanied by any structural changes, you’ll probably be able to secure the permission without the assistance of a professional. Also check up on any permits and approvals you may need from your utility company.
2. Cross-Check the Flashing Specifications with the Roofing Material Manufacturer
The primary purpose of flashing on a roof is to keep moisture from seeping through the roof plane into the interior of the property.
According to IBC 1507-2-9, flashing must be installed in compliance with the instructions provided by the asphalt shingle manufacturer. It’s clear from this that an installer must identify who the manufacturer of the roofing material is and ascertain from their website the instructions for properly installing a flashing; this will allow you to maintain the waterproofing of your roof as well your roof warranties.
3. Use the Recommended Sealant
Sealants are required to close off any openings or gaps left by holes drilled for installing solar panels. In order to retain your roofing warranties, it is essential that you use the sealant recommended by the roofing materials manufacturer. You can access information regarding this by logging on to the manufacturer’s website.
4. Leave a Bit of Space Between Your Solar Panels and Your Asphalt Roof
Asphalt shingles tend to heat up easily; having your panels installed right up against the shingles will leave no room for ventilation and dispersion of heat that your solar panels will have absorbed by the sun. This can lead to warping of the shingles as well as overheating of the solar panels.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can Solar Panels Be Installed DIY?
A DIY solar installation is possible but not recommended due to the intricacies of the process.
Can You Mount Solar Panels on the Ground?
Solar panels can be mounted on the ground. However, such systems are only practical for open fields with no obstructing objects in the surrounding that would block off sunlight.
How Are Solar Panels Attached to the Roof?
For typical asphalt roofs, solar panels are attached with the help of a lag bolt which is screwed to the rafters of the roof.
For homeowners wondering how to install solar panels on asphalt roofs in Greenville, this article should have cleared your doubts and reservations. The solutions outlined above allow the mounting of solar panels without drilling not only in Greenville but also in other cities of South Carolina. Do keep in mind, however, that while no-drill solar installation has its benefits, it also has its shortcomings. You should carefully analyze both installation methods and choose the one that meets your preferences and needs best.
The team at Firefly Solar are ready to answer your questions and give you a no-obligation price quote. Feel free to call us at 864-252-7858 or book a consultation online. And we’ll get in touch within 24 hours.