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Waterproofing Solutions for Rooftop Solar

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Jane Marsh's picture
Editor Environment.co

Jane Marsh is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co. She covers topics related to climate policy, sustainability, renewable energy and more.

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  • Apr 18, 2022
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Homeowners are improving the sustainability and value of their properties by investing in solar arrays. Installing solar panels is a costly and time-intensive process. After completing the process, residents should have effective panel connections for up to 30 years.

The residential solar industry is relatively new, following the sustainability tech boom. Some inadequately trained installation professionals contribute to rooftop water damage. Environmental engineers and scientists are exploring waterproofing solutions for rooftop solar systems. 

How Water Enters a Solar-Paneled Roof

Before exploring the waterproofing solutions, individuals must identify how water enters solar roofs. Most individuals learn in grade school that water flows downhill. Contrary to the initial teaching, wind can blow rainwater upwards and between shingles.

Ice melt also contributes to roof leaks. If indoor temperatures exceed outdoor, ice may melt down into an attic. Water can seep into a roof through small pinholes, causing structural damage.

Over time, roofing materials can rot and degrade. Solar panels can significantly contribute to rooftop water damage. When installation professionals place panel racks on a home, they drill into the roof as an anchor.

Without adequate flashing, drill holes can allow water to penetrate through roofing materials. There are four significant solutions to rooftop water damage. The first prevention method relies on advanced photovoltaic (PV) solar technology.

Installing Solar Shingles                      

Residents can prevent penetration from racking by using solar shingles. Engineers at Tesla designed solar shingles to enhance panels' aesthetic and installation efficiency. The technology produces emission-free electricity like conventional PV panels and acts as a roofing material.

Solar shingles may prevent water damage by creating a tight roofing seal. They also eliminate the need for mounting components, optimizing a roof’s design for renewable energy production. Some homeowners prefer installing conventional PV panels for their cost-efficiency.

Solar shingles require higher upfront costs and offer a lower return than panels. There are also few certified installation professionals, decreasing the technology’s accessibility. When individuals install traditional panels, they can prevent water damage by repairing any damage.

Repairing Leaks

The best time to install rooftop solar panels is after residents replace their roofs. If individuals plan to install panels without replacing their roofs, they should first repair any leaks or damage. Enhancing a roof’s durability can prevent water damage from mounting processes.

Professionals suggest residents hire a restoration company to conduct repairs. Unlike homeowners, professionals have the necessary tools to complete long-lasting maintenance. Installation workers can also waterproof solar roofs by adding protective mounting membranes.

Add a Waterproofing Mounting Membrane

Waterproofing specialists in France recently developed an advanced panel mounting technology. The technology is compatible with different roofing materials like wood, concrete and metal. The French manufacturer, Axter, creates PV modules covered in a waterproof bituminous material.

Installation professionals can use the technology when placing panels on roofs with less than 10% inclines. The material eliminates structural degradation from various elements. Solar workers can additionally enhance waterproofing by flashing drill holes.

Using Proper Flashing Methods

After installation, professionals secure a solar array mount to a roof, they may flash seal any small openings. Single-ply membranes use thermally and chemically welded flashings. Conventional flashing techniques rely on thin metal components, which keep out moisture.

Proper flashing techniques and materials are essential to a solar roof’s structural stability. Corrosion-resistant materials can effectively improve a solar roof’s longevity. Aluminum may protect mounting drill sites from water damage over the years.

Benefits of Rooftop Solar

When individuals invest in solar arrays with waterproof advancements, they access economic and environmental benefits. PV panels minimize residents’ reliance on fossil-fuel-derives energy. Singular solar cells can produce up to two watts of clean electricity.

Panels also deliver the most cost-effective power supply on the market. Residents can significantly reduce their utility costs by investing in rooftop panels. They also minimize air pollution, which protects individuals’ lung health.

Solar Power’s Future

As countries work to decarbonize their energy grids, more individuals invest in rooftop solar panels. Some nations plan to source 100% of their electricity from renewables in the coming decades. Solar installation professionals and panel manufacturers may focus on waterproofing technologies to improve efficiency rates.

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