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Thread: Mounting solar panels on the roof

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    Mounting solar panels on the roof

    I have a follow up question. I'm also considering installing solar panels, and I don't think I'll have any issue with the connection. My bigger concern is how to attach them to the roof? Is it fairly easy? Thats the piece I don't want to mess up. Also, what area do you need to be noticeable at all? I remember hearing awhile ago, that you ideally want to put up the same area of solar panels as the area of your pool, but that seems excessive for a large pool especially.

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    SW Indiana

    Re: Mounting solar panels on the roof

    The actual mounting is pretty easy. You screw a lag bolt into a hole you pre-drill. Squirt a shot of roofing cement into the hole before putting the bolt in to seal the connection. Two bolts per panel at the top is the normal installation method, with straps across them down below. The hardest part is moving around on the roof as you install them.

    I have 192sqft of panel on my 20X36 Grecian that is about 21K gallons. That was the absolute maximum I could get on my poolhouse roof on the south side. I gained a lot of heat from that, and the water was noticeably warmer from the returns. I think the 80% and higher recommendations are for climates where the air stays warm most of the year. I found that the panels kept the pool warm longer than the air temperature was warm enough to swim.

    It's fairly easy to add more panels if you find they aren't doing the job. I'm toying with the idea of adding 6 more panels to the north side of the building so I can just forget about a solar cover. The panel manufacturers swear this is a terrible location, but during the swimming season, the sun is north of our latitude, so the north side gets more sun than the south side.
    TFP Moderator
    20K Gallon 20X36 Vinyl Inground
    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

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    Re: Mounting solar panels on the roof

    We have a solar panel we are getting ready to mount and Hubby is trying to figure out how to mount the panel w/o putting any holes in the roof. He tried gently lifting the tabs, but the roof has dimensional shingles and since they've been down for a few years, they won't lift up at all. We thought we'd use the brackets that you put under the shingles, but now that won't work. He has a problem with putting any kind of hole in the shingles. He wanted to make some kind of rachet system to go from the peak of the roof to the bottom edge of the roof. All I see that doing is tearing up the shingles in the heat of the summer. Now we're off to plan B, but don't know what that is yet.

    Last year we put up some black tubing on a small pole barn close to the pool but the roof on it gets a too much shade from neighboring pine trees we want to keep for privacy. We could put the panel up there and see how it does but not sure it's going to help a lot. The tubing we used there last year seemed to give us some heat, but we really want to capitalize on full sun.

    Hubby wanted to put a panel through the railing on the fence for the pool, but this would only get sun morning through mid-afternoon, & would block our view partially from the pool to the play set and if (more like when) we want to add another panel, we'd be hunting for a place to put it.

    Any information/helpful insight would be much appreciated!
    Indiana, ABG 24'x52" Galveston by Blue Cascade (Craigslist $600 w/part of deck included), 13,500 gallons, Intex SWG, solar panel

    My backyard is like a park... Why then does DH always want to go camping??? I just don't understand.

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    Join Date
    May 2009
    Chilliwack, BC, Canada

    Re: Mounting solar panels on the roof

    I wouldn't be that concerned about screwing through the shingles . I have done this a few times and have had no problems...I originally was thinking like your husband and tried to lift the shingles and attach all-around under the tab of the shingles but this ended up being more harm than good...especially on a roof that has had a season of sun on it.
    "I predrill a hole (try really hard to hit a truss)....then using "roof patch" (tar) in a caulking tube squirt a good shot into the hole and then lag through will squeeze out nicely....then once it is fully secured you can put another dollop of tar over the top.
    16x32 Vinyl inground pool, 9-4'x10' solar panels, sand filter, Taylor K-2006 kit

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    kenandshari's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Savannah, GA

    Re: Mounting solar panels on the roof

    I just did my DIY solar install a few weeks ago (automated and all that) and agree with all above on the holes. I wrestled mentally with the idea of putting holes into a roof that does not leak. I discussed it with a roofer I know and felt better about the whole process after that. You can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs, so you'll just have to go for it. Buy high quality sealer and keep a couple of old t-shirt sized rags on the roof with you as you work. That sealer is very messy and I promise that you WILL need the rags. Goo Gone and GoJo work well for getting it off of your hands at the end of the day. I hear that laytex surgical gloves are a good clean hands option as well. (I just got dirty and used the aforementioned cleaners after the fact.)

    Here's how you safe yourself on the roof: get a decent climbing rope for you and something adequate for your tool bag. Tie the ropes off to an immovable object (a tree works well) on the opposite side of your house from where you are working and take the rope over the peak of the roof so it hangs down on the side you need to work on. Tie yourself off with this (70's Batman & Robin climbing style). Use caribeaners to clip yourself in and make adjustments etc. so you can easily move around. Once you are secure up there it gets pretty fun. There's rock climbing sites out there that can show you how to tie off & secure yourself --it is really easy to do, keeps you safe, and frees up both hands and your mind so you can work efficiently and effectively. Now, for the cheaper grade rope, get yourself a tool bag and load it with all the things you may need up there. Pull it up to the roof and tie it off. You can use dummy chord on things you may drop and break (drills and such). You may want to use gloves depending on roof temp so you don't burn yourself. Having lots of pockets is a plus too..they come in very handy on the roof. Oh, and get good galvanized lag bolts, you don't want rust up there.

    Now that you're tied off and safe, working with the panels on the roof can be a pain as well. You can preset them by tieing them off with ropes so you don't have to hold and drill at the same time. I did not have a helper up there, so I had to get creative on how to make it happen. I tied my panels off and pulled them up to the roof, then tied them in to my ropes to hold them where I wanted so I could align them, drill, and bolt. It went pretty smoothly. Basically, I pulled a page from some things I had been trained on in the past and applied it creatively to my project. Hope this keeps you safe and helps you out. I installed 5 each 4' x 12' panels this way. Oh, you'll need to use the schedule 40 PVC to connect it all together. Just get white pipes (unless you have black available in your area) and paint them black with the plastic formula spray paint for the pipes that will go on the roof. I cut and dry fit all of my pipes, then I glued my roof pipes in sections and painted them on the ground. After they had adequate time to dry, I took them up to the roof and installed them. I scratched them in some places so minor touch-up painting was all I had to do on the roof...simple to do. I initially made the mistake of using black ABS pipe to span a skylight and learned that ABS is a bad choice...the hard way. There's always time to do it again...the right way. Good luck with your install.
    Ken & Shari
    Savannah, GA
    16' x 40' freeform fiberglass inground (Pacific model, mfg by Tallman Pools), 23k gal, 2" plumbing throughout, Intellichlor IC-40, Easy Touch controller, Intelliflow VS 3050 pump, Pentair Clean & Clear Plus Quad Cartridge filter. 4 Jandy deck jets (3/4" plumbing), Fiberstars color changing lighting, SR Smith salt friendly diving system, Interfab Wild Ride slide, Aquasol Solar Heat (5 panels 4'x12' DIY install automated with ET) RIP Nitro Wall Climber Mar 2011-Aug 2012, Nitro is survived by a Polaris 360.

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