Every solar site has its own challenges in terms of location, roof type and customer requests. On this episode of the Pitch, Steve Mumma, General Manager with SunModo, walks us through three different approaches to mounting residential solar using four new products — SMR Rail system, NanoMount, TopTile Mount and the ground-mounted SunTurf — to illustrate how selecting the right system can improve your installation efficiency and expand the number of projects you can take on overall.
Highlights from the chat
Yes, there are innovations in rails. SunModo’s SMR rail system is completely new product. The complete re-working of the system accomplished a lighter weight rail (about 20 percent lighter than conventional rail) that’s also stronger and less annoying to install, specifically when it comes to the clamps and splices.
“Most systems on the market use T bolts, but we instead went to a simple pop-on clamp,” Mumma says. “Once [the clamp] is on there, it stands up nice and firmly, so you can slide it around and adjust it on the rail and don’t have to worry about the clamps falling off of the rail.”
These new clamps also reduce SKUs by covering module thicknesses ranging from 30mm to 50mm.
Flashing is becoming obsolete. SunModo’s NanoMount removes the need for flashing, making it so the installer doesn’t have to pop any shingles and slide flashings underneath. It can also be attached to rafters or straight to deck. “Based on the time trials we’ve done, the rafter version takes about one minute per attachment to attach, and the deck version takes about 20 seconds because you don’t have to take the time to find rafters,” Mumma notes.
Complete tile jobs twice as fast. SunModo’s TopTile, as the name suggests, goes over tiles and does not require tile removal — you drill a hole through the tile and then do all of the work is done above that tile.
“It’s a deck mount, so you don’t have to find rafters,” Mumma says. “It’s a little bit slower than a comp roof attachment, but it’s twice as fast as a conventional tile hook or tile roof replacement.”
Ground-mount residential solar that’s installed in one day. Historically most residential scale ground mounts have used post and concrete foundations. So, installers have to augur out a hole, put a pipe in it, put concrete in it and wait for it to cure. Most find the juice not worth the squeeze, Mumma notes.
“A fair number of installers have not bothered with ground mount if they can’t get it on the roof, so they are leaving money on the table, and they’ve said no because they don’t want to deal with concrete, they don’t want to deal with having to schedule a sub contractor coming. It disrupts their flow.”
SunModo’s SunTurf uses ground anchors. Take a skid steer with an auger driver, screw it into the ground and you’re ready to build the rest of the system. “An experienced crew can install a 20’kW system in a day,” Mumma says.
The Pitch is a side project of Solar Builder magazine. We chat awkwardly with manufacturers and suppliers about their ideas and innovations so you don’t have to.
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We have a ton video interviews and additional content on our YouTube page. Recently we debuted Power Forward! -- a collaboration with BayWa r.e. to discuss higher level industry topics as well as best practices / trends for running a solar business today.
Our longer running side project is The Pitch -- in which we have awkward discussions with solar manufacturers and suppliers about their new technology and ideas so that you don't have to. We discuss everything from residential rail-less deck attaching and home solar financing to large-scale energy storage value stacking and utility-driven new home solar + storage microgrids.