Overlook This Vital Aspect of Going Solar and You’ll Be Sorry
September 15, 2016
Protect Your Home’s Greatest Asset
When looking into switching to solar, there’s one vital asset of your home that you must protect. It’s a part of your house that you couldn’t do without, but it often gets overlooked. Wondering what it is? It’s your roof.
Going solar is one of the best ways to combat rising electric bills and reduce your carbon footprint. But not all solar products are created equal. Not only do solar panels themselves vary in quality and durability, but so do the products that actually attach your panels to your roof. It’s important to make sure that every aspect of your solar system (panels, inverter, mounting and racking, and the monitoring system) are all of the highest quality so that your system performs at maximum efficiency for years to come.
Let’s Talk Warranties and Avoiding Leaks
When a homeowner chooses to have a solar system installed on their roof that means two things are going to happen. The first is that dozens of holes are going to be drilled through the roof. And the second is that tiles are going to be removed. The roof mount product used dictates exactly how hundreds of pounds of solar panels are attached to a roof. This raises two concerns - one immediate and one down the line.
The short-term concern is the quality of work your solar company will do. Does your solar installer warranty the penetrations they make in your roof?
The long-term concern is roof and home damage. Solar installations are semi-permanent additions to homes that have an intended life of 25+ years. That's a long time for material to breakdown and leaks to form, and is a really important reason why the work of attaching a solar array to a roof needs to be done well.
The solution to both concerns is relatively simple: find a great solar company that is reputable and uses proper installation techniques and products. At Baker, we offer a ten-year warranty against leaks caused by the holes we drill into the roof during installation. Many solar installers will offer warranties like this, but will they be around to honor them? It's definitely something worth considering since roof repair can be costly, especially when solar panel installations have to be decommissioned and removed prior to repairs. Baker is built on 78 years of local electrical contracting experience, so you can trust that we’re not going anywhere.
Comparing Products: Quick Mount PV’s Tile Replacement Mount vs. ProSolar’s TileTrac
These two products are commonly seen in residential solar installations with tile roofs.
What’s In the Box?
Quick Mount PV Tile Replacement Mount
Quick Mount PV’s Tile Replacement Mount comes designed to fit perfectly on either a S-shaped, W-shaped or flat tile roof. The mount incorporates their patented QBlock water seal technology. ProSolar’s TileTrac mount seals the bolt holes in the flashing with a rubber seal which is mounted at water level directly against the flashing, making leaks almost inevitable as the rubber seal slowly deteriorates due to weather. Quick Mount PV’s QBlock uses an aluminum flute to elevate the EPDM rubber seal above the flashing and so that water has no way of seeping through.
Both products are designed to be attached to a rafter. QBlock allows for the use of two lag bolts, while TileTrac uses a single lag bolt design. TileTrac uses a threaded stud and an aluminum base to distribute weight, while the Quick Mount PV Tile Replacement Mount comes complete with industry-leading mounting base and post attachment which doesn’t bend or wear down over time and supports the full weight of the solar system. Both of these products are intended to do exactly the same thing: be a load-bearing structural attachment that is both secure and leak-proof.
Flashing, or weatherproofing, refers to thin pieces of impermeable material installed to prevent leaks.
The Quick Mount PV Tile Replacement Mount is double flashed at both deck and tile level for superior water proofing and code compliance. TileTrac uses a single flashing that drops over the stud and onto the tile.
TileTrac is considerably cheaper than the Quick Mount PV mount. The Tile Replacement Mount can be 3-4 times the price of TileTrac. Depending on the size of the install, this can be a variance of hundreds of dollars. However, TileTrac is almost guaranteed to leak due to its poor design and the breakdown of its rubber seal at roof level. The amount of time and money it requires to fix dozens of leaks on your roof years down the line far outweighs the initial cost of the solar mounting products.
The Baker Way versus the Competition
At Baker Electric Home Energy, we go the extra step for our customers, especially when it comes to roofing issues.
We do a thorough inspection of each roof prior to any work being performed. This is for the customer's sake and ours. Roofs need to be in pretty good condition before hundreds of pounds of panels are loaded onto them.
We have a few roofing companies that we partner with. They each offer the quality and service that we would expect from anyone we back with the Baker name. If a home's roof needs work prior to an installation, this is the one time we contract the work out. We're not roofers, we're electricians. We leave heavy roof work to the professionals. It's best when our customers work with our roofing partners as we can then ensure that roof warranties are valid.
As a reputable company with over 78 years of history, we're not going to align ourselves with roofers that do poor work. If a customer's roof needs work before an installation, we make sure it gets done right and for a good price.
At Baker, we can't promise the lowest price. What we do promise is a high-quality, custom solar energy solution installed by Baker professionals at a fair price, with exceptional service every step of the way. It's because we have a great team and use great products like Quick Mount PV that we are able to offer an industry-leading workmanship warranty of 25 years. And with our history and strength, you know we'll be around to honor that warranty.
So, savvy solar shopper, next time you have a solar salesman in your home, remember to ask these questions:
What roof mount product do you use?
What warranty do you provide against roof leaks?
What kind of workmanship warranty do you provide against my solar system sliding off my roof?
What evidence can you offer to suggest your company will be around in 10, 15, 20 years to honor a warranty?