Why Photovoltaic Systems Complement Spray Foam
Originally published by: Sprayfoam.com — December 14, 2017
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Talk about a partnership made in energy-efficient heaven: Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) and photovoltaic (PV) systems. As green, sustainable construction maintains a steady, inclining line of progression with LEED designations and net-zero building as the main drivers, the unification of SPF and PV presents a direct solution for promotion of renewable energy. Together, they not only help eliminate former dependence of ozone-depleting electricity sources, but they create and sustain clean power that doesn’t hike up the monthly energy bills, all the while rendering superlative indoor climate. Because of spray foam’s ability to create a robust, rigid membrane that provides excellent R-value to the building, many solar system manufacturers, architects, roof consultants, and other design professionals who are involved in PV roof mounting system installations have acclimated to working exclusively with SPF roofing systems, providing more and more lucrative opportunities to the SPF industry. So, if you’re a roofing contractor that specializes in SPF system applications and are interested in capitalizing on PV system installation jobs, then here are the reasons why moving forward is warranted.
THE WAVE OF THE NOW
Where they once were hailed as the wave of the future, PV systems have caught up with the present, and they are a well-known key component in the creation of clean energy. They constitute several panels that are grouped to form a solar array that is installed to the roof, and their absorption of sunlight generates energy via an electrical conversion. Notwithstanding, one thing is for sure: PV systems perform better with a reflective roof system and superior energy saving insulation, and it is of extreme importance to have a roofing system that will match or exceed the life of the PV system, which has a projected lifespan of 20 + years in most cases. Since an SPF-based roofing system checks off all of the above, there’s no denying its compatibility as the optimal system to be installed in conjunction with a PV system for new and existing roof designs. Moreover, PV panels can be oriented towards the sun, and without significant shade, the PV cells on the panels can effectively convert light to electricity. The installation of the panels, however, does provide shade to the surface of the roof, which, in turn, can provide a greater life to the roof system. In layman’s terms, this marriage is so effective because PV systems create energy while SPF saves energy—ergo, the increasing popularity of its dual installation within current building trends.
“The installation of photovoltaic panels should also involve the roofing system,” notes Bruce Schenke, product manager, Roofing Division, Accella Polyurethanes. “SPF and PV are a perfect partnership for the building envelope because, if installed together, can have an equivalent service life and the cost of energy savings for this combination is just unbelievable. The roof mounted solar systems are being installed on many facilities across the country creating a rising need to understand this installation and the partnerships involved between PV systems and roofing systems.”
The addition of protective coatings to their offerings allows SPF contractors to work on many different structure
PENETRATING RACK SYSTEMS + SPF
One of the PV system types can be mounted on racks that are directly adhered to the roof structure. That is to say, the array is typically either supported by anchors or fastened through the roof. The latter of the two possibilities can cause hundreds, if not thousands, of penetrations. But because of the self-flashing nature of the SPF, seams and penetrations do not become an issue. The SPF system is applied as a liquid to the roof surface, and it rises and cures around the brackets to self flash and seal these penetrations. This is a distinct advantage over other systems.
NON-PENETRATING RACK SYSTEMS + SPF
PV panels can also be mounted with a ballast (concrete blocks) to hold them in place. Typically, in this case, the panels are supported by skids that rest on the roof surface. With these PV systems, a roof system with high compressive strength and durability such as SPF is needed. Therefore, mounting the PV panels using a ballasted racking system will not cause problems to the rooftop with an SPF system in place.
GREEN PARTNERSHIP THROUGH THE RIGHT PARTNERSHIP
Given the apparent demand for PV systems in numerous buildings across the country, roofing contractors are encouraged to take the leap into this innovative technology and promote their environmentally conscious status, but in doing so, it is important for these contractors to affiliate themselves with a manufacturing company that can act as their right hand in this venture. In other words, the right partnership of companies is the first step for a swift transition into this remarkable, sustainable joint solution of PV and SPF. Accella Polyurethane Systems exemplifies and facilitates said transition because they have researched, tested, and partnered with many PV manufacturers and SPF roofing system installers to produce many quality applications across the country. The Accella spray polyurethane and reflective coating roofing systems have many years of proven performance with PV installation and, as of late, they are working closely with the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA) to develop application guide specifications for the installation of both systems.
“The roof mounted solar systems are being installed on many facilities across the country creating a rising need to understand this installation and the partnerships involved between PV systems and roofing systems.”
“The first and most important thing Accella has to offer is quality proven products designed for these applications,” explains Schenke. “We offer experience and knowledge of the installations and application methods. Accella has one of if not the most experienced and knowledgeable technical and sales staff in SPF roofing systems in the industry. This translates to the best service to our customers to meet their needs and to partner with them in success.”
Energy savings, renewable energy sources, building green, sustainable design: These are new opportunities and challenges for the spray foam roofing applicator and for the spray foam roofing community to innovate and create new solutions for the future.