Converting Existing Carports to Solar Carports with Flexible PV Modules

Rooftop solar has become commonplace on commercial buildings and homes. Although a residential home often has sufficient rooftop area to power the home 100 percent with solar, this is not always true with multi-story commercial buildings, apartments and condominiums. The properties often do not have the necessary roof space to offset their energy needs with solar. This situation can also apply to low-rise buildings with high electrical usage, such as factories, big-box stores and warehouses.

The Miasole FLEX Series PV Modules

The Miasole FLEX Series PV Modules

Carports have become a standard feature on many commercial and multifamily properties. Even buildings without carports have parking lots with space for them. Carports provide users the benefit of shading cars and protecting cars and people from rain and snow. Carports keep cars cool, reducing the power required to air condition them when they’re started and reducing sun damage to the car finish. From an environmental standpoint, carports help migrate the heat island effect in which large concrete and asphalt parking lots absorb heat during the day and release the heat at night. This additional heat can drastically change local weather patterns, especially in metropolitan areas.

In recent years, building owners have been installing new carports with solar PV modules. These solar carports have all the benefits of traditional carports with the added advantage of producing clean renewable solar energy while reducing the need to add rooftop solar to buildings.

In many places, existing carports were designed and built with minimal steel support structures and the metal roof and deck panels are already spanning the maximum distance between supports to keep costs down. Most were built to meet the minimum local wind and live-load code requirements. With the cost of solar installations falling, utility energy costs rising and increased interest in improving the environment while reducing a building’s carbon footprint, building owners are interested in retrofitting their existing carports with solar modules. Unfortunately, many of these existing carport structures cannot support the additional 4- to 6-pounds-per-square-foot weight of standard crystalline PV modules and associated racking and rails. The only solution available to the owner is to structurally upgrade the carport or tear it down and replace it with a carport designed for the extra weight of solar. Even if the existing carport structure can support the weight, retrofitting the carport with solar can be technically challenging and expensive.

MiaSolé has developed two solar application solutions to solve the live-load limitations of many existing carports. MiaSolé manufactures a flexible lightweight high-efficiency (16 percent plus) CIGS-based flexible PV module weighing less than 9 ounces per square foot in two format sizes: the narrow-format FLEX-N series designed for traditional architectural standing-seam metal roof panels and the wide-format FLEX-W series. Both can be applied to the carport roof with a simple peel-n-stick adhesive.

Standing-seam Panel

Miasole FLEX-N on standing-seam metal panels.

Miasole FLEX-N on standing-seam metal panels.


Two roofers can easily apply the FLEX-N series to the existing carport metal panels:

  • Power wash the roof.
  • Wipe down the areas where the FLEX-N modules will be applied with rubbing alcohol.
  • On the standing-seam metal panel (16- to 18-inches wide) lay down the module.
  • One roofer lifts up the module at the j-box end, removes the release film from the adhesive and sets the module down.
  • The second roofer at the other end lifts up and supports the module.
  • The first roofer continues to remove the release film and lays down the module, rubbing the module with his hand to ensure full contact.
  • Once the module is fully adhered, both roofers use a silicone roller to bond the module to the metal pan surface.

Trapezoidal Rib Panel

Although architectural standing-seam panels are frequently used on carports, the 7.2 trapezoidal rib panel is the metal roof industry’s most commonly used corrugated roof panel for carports. Nearly every major metal roof and steel building manufacturer offers a 7.2 rib panel type profile.

The 7.2 corrugated rib panel is economical, strong and aesthetically pleasing while offering excellent spanning and cantilever capabilities, making it an excellent choice for carports and walkway canopies. The 7.2 rib panel with its long-spanning performance helps lower costs by reducing the number of purlins and structural steel needed. The ability to use long metal panels and fastening with exposed fasteners on slopes as low as 1:12 greatly reduces labor costs.

Installing the Miasole FLEX W on a 7.2 Metal panel

Installing the Miasole FLEX-W on a 7.2 metal panel.

Working with several major metal roof manufacturers such as McElroy Metal and one of the solar carport leading builders, Baja Construction, MiaSolé modified the adhesive patterns on the MiaSolé FLEX-W, the large-format PV module originally designed for low-slope single-ply roofs. The new adhesive pattern makes it simple to bond the MiaSolé Flex-W module directly across the standard 7.2 corrugated rib profile. By eliminating the need for racks and rails, the powerful 360-watt FLEX-W PV module can be rapidly installed by just two roofers over any existing carport or walkway. With a low-slope roof canopy, solar orientation—the direction the carport is facing—is less critical.

Two roofers can easier apply the FLEX-W series to the existing carport metal panels:

  • The existing carport is power washed to remove any dirt and debris from the metal roof surface.
  • Any loose panel fasteners are tightened and missing fasteners replaced.
  • The areas where the FLEX modules are to be installed are cleaned with rubbing alcohol.
  • The FLEX modules are laid down across the corrugated ribs, and the adhesive strips are aligned with the ribs.
  • On one end, the roofer lifts up the module, peels back the adhesive release film, lays the module back down on the 7.2 panel ribs and presses down to bond the module to the ribs.
  • The second roofer on the other end repeats the same process.
  • Both roofers finish bonding the module by rolling the adhesive areas with a silicone roller to ensure complete adhesion to the metal panel.

MiaSolé FLEX series PV modules make it possible to economically convert existing carports with live-load limitations into new solar carports without having to make any major structural modifications. Even on new solar carports, the MiaSolé FLEX series modules can reduce labor and construction cost by reducing the need for heavy steel support structures and allowing longer metal panels with fewer support purlins.

The peel-and-stick adhesive system reduces labor costs while speeding up installation time. Unlike conventional rigid crystalline panels, the flexible MiaSolé FLEX modules work over curved roof structures for solar carports, solar walkways and solar awnings.

Projects: Office and Warehouse

BMC ISSAQUAH, ISSAQUAH, WASH.

Because of the steep slope of this roof, the Columbia Roofing & Sheet Metal crew installed 60-mil Sureweld HS (High Slope) TPO.

Because of the steep slope of this roof, the Columbia Roofing & Sheet Metal crew installed 60-mil Sureweld HS (High Slope) TPO.

Team

Roofing Contractor: Columbia Roofing & Sheet Metal, Kent, Wash.
Project Foreman: Rudy Sanchez

Roof Materials

Because of the steep slope of this roof, the Columbia Roofing & Sheet Metal crew installed 60-mil Sureweld HS (High Slope) TPO. HS TPO contains more fire-retardant chemicals in the membrane to help decrease the spread of fire. In addition, 1/4-inch Securock Glass-Mat Roof Board was installed, which gave the building a Class A fire rating while helping protect against moisture and mold.

TPO Manufacturer: Carlisle Syntec Systems
Roof Board Manufacturer: USG

Roof Report

BMC Issaquah manufactures doors and high-end cabinetry. The industrial building features a 525-square barrel roof that was very wet and experienced dry rot. The crew replaced nearly 150 sheets of plywood throughout the project.

The main challenge during installation was safety because of the extreme slope. The barrel roof is nearly 60-feet tall from the bottom to the top of the barrel, making installation on the edges difficult because crewmembers had to hot-air weld rolled product on a nearly vertical surface. The HS TPO added another level of difficulty while welding along the edges.

The project was completed on May 1, 2015.

PHOTO: Columbia Roofing & Sheet Metal

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Metal Roof and Walls Help Home Reach Lofty Design Goals

When Ilhan Eser and his wife Kamer decided to build their new home in Woodland, Calif., they had some ambitious criteria in mind. They wanted the home to not only be energy efficient, but to produce enough energy to be self-sustaining. They also desired a home with great aesthetics that fit in with the beautiful countryside and minimized impact on the environment.

Ilhan and Kamer Eser decided to design and build their own home on 80 acres of land in the California countryside. Their goal was to have a LEED-certifiable house powered by solar energy and protected by a highly insulated metal wall and roof system.

Ilhan and Kamer Eser decided to design and build their own home on 80 acres of land in the California countryside. Their goal was to have a LEED-certifiable house powered by solar energy and protected by a highly insulated metal wall and roof system.


As the CEO of Morin, a Kingspan Group company, Eser had another key design goal: to showcase his company’s metal roof and wall systems. “We wanted to do something that was good for the environment and the country,” Eser recalls. “So we said, let’s do a LEED-certifiable, net-zero house that will be a house of the future, if you will, using our company’s products. Our company is all about being environmental and being green and being sustainable, so that was the starting point.”

The result is a home that provides more than enough energy to meet its own needs with solar panels. It also captures graywater (gently used household wastewater) to use for irrigation and features a cutting-edge geothermal heating and cooling system that does not burn fossil fuels. All the household systems can be operated with a smartphone. “I believe in the future every house will be built like this, with your energy on top of your roof, basically,” Eser notes.

The metal roofing and wall systems are made of durable, highly recyclable materials and provide a high level of insulation to help keep energy costs down. The roof design features stunning angles, including an inverted “butterfly” roof over the great room to bring in the maximum amount of natural light.

As he began the project, Eser soon realized that he was breaking new ground in more ways than one. He found most residential architects and general contractors were unfamiliar with metal framing, roofs and walls, so he decided to tackle the design himself. He also served as his own general contractor, tapping into his 30 years of experience in commercial and industrial applications.

“I decided to look at it as if it were a light commercial building, and then I started finding people,” he says. “It was an interesting experience. I designed the house myself—although my wife had the overriding power, as always. She had to approve whatever I did, and when we had an argument, you probably can imagine who won.”

The Project Takes Wing

When it came time to discuss installing the roof and wall systems, Eser called Rua and Son Mechanical Inc., headquartered in Lincoln, Calif. According to President Louie Rua, the company focuses on metal roofing and wall panels—and that’s all they’ve done for the last 25 years. “We are very specialized in what we do,” Rua says. “We’re certified installers for most if not all of the metal roofing systems out there, and we also do our own custom fabrication. It’s become a niche market, so we travel around quite a bit.”

The roof of the Eser residence features unconventional angles, including a large section over the great room with an inverted butterfly design that required an internal gutter system.

The roof of the Eser residence features unconventional angles, including a large section over the great room with an inverted butterfly design that required an internal gutter system.

The company has made a name for itself by excelling on high-end, intricate and cutting-edge metal projects that transcend typical warehouse applications. “We’ve found that when we go outside the box and take on the real difficult projects, the ones that are a little bit intimidating for other companies, that’s where we excel,” Rua says. “We’ve been doing it so long, and our team has a wealth of experience. When the trickier jobs come around, we are well equipped to handle them.”

This project was right up the company’s alley. “Ilhan was pretty adamant he wanted us to do it,” Rua recalls. “This was his personal house, so it was quite a compliment. I took on the challenge, and we took it very seriously. We worked through what it would cost, how long it would take, all the dynamics. His design team did all the preliminary design and then our team got in there and played with it a little bit and made a few tweaks. We put a lot of thought into those details.”

Rua admits the high-profile nature of the client and the complexity of the project were daunting. “Any job when you first jump into it and see it’s outside the box can be intimidating,” Rua says. “But then as you get familiar with it and start breaking it down and working through it, it gets easier. One of my lead superintendents, Fernando Huizar, was knee-deep in it, and he and Ilhan really hit it off, which is important. The relationship with our clients is our first priority, and on every job we strive to meet and exceed their expectations. It couldn’t have gone any smoother.”

Rua and Son Mechanical installed the double-layered roof and wall systems, which consisted of insulated metal panels (IMPs) and aluminum finish systems. The 7,500 square feet of exterior walls are made up of 4-inch-thick IMPs, topped with concealed-fastener panels. The mechanically seamed roof incorporates 8,000 square feet of 6-inch IMPs. The custom finish is Kameleon Dusty Rose, which changes color from green to yellow to silver to bronze to brown, depending on the amount of sunlight hit-ting it and angle from which it is viewed.

PHOTOS: CHIP ALLEN ARCHITECTURAL IMAGES

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Solar PV Tiles Fit Alongside Standard Roof Tiles

The Intecto integrated solar PV tile from Romag is specially designed to fit seamlessly alongside standard residential and commercial roof tiles and is available in a range of colours to match existing roof coverings.

The Intecto integrated solar PV tile from Romag is specially designed to fit seamlessly alongside standard residential and commercial roof tiles and is available in a range of colours to match existing roof coverings.

A new concept in building integrated PV products from solar manufacturer Romag means property aesthetics, building design and visual appearance need not be compromised by rooftop solar Installations.

The Intecto integrated solar PV tile is specially designed to fit seamlessly alongside standard residential and commercial roof tiles and is available in a range of colours to match existing roof coverings.

The system has been specifically developed to enable architects, house builders and roofing contractors to provide an effective rooftop PV solution with a conventional appearance and without any compromise in solar power production.

Installed directly and securely onto wood roofing battens using a guaranteed fixing system, the frameless Intecto units sit flush with conventional interlocking concrete, clay and terracotta tiles and can be used to provide a whole roof PV solution if required.

The lightweight tiles reduce roof loading, eliminating the need for any roof reinforcement, and contribute to higher Code for Sustainable Homes and BREEAM ratings.

The special roof integrated tiles have been developed to meet design and aesthetic considerations, and can be used to meet specific planning conditions. They are also appropriate for use in heritage and green-belt areas, where the requirement is for rooftop solar PV systems that maintain the integrity of individual buildings and their local environment.

The Intecto roof tiles incorporate the same high-quality PV cells used in Romag’s existing range of PV products, enabling the system to provide the same weatherproofing and protection measures provided by traditional tiles, but with the added benefit of renewable energy generation.

Available in black, grey and terracotta colours, the new range is fully IEC and MCS certified and complies with other international and European building industry regulations and roofing performance standards.

Benmax to Represent MiaSolé in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore Markets

Benmax Group in Australia has entered into a representation agreement with MiaSolé in which the Benmax Group will represent MiaSolé in the Australia, New Zealand and Singapore markets. Benmax Environmental, a new division of Benmax Group, provides high-quality environmental advisory and consulting services to help organizations throughout Australia and New Zealand rise to the challenge of changing environmental codes and standards. Benmax Group believes that sustainable building requires very close cooperation of the entire project team—the designers, the architects, the engineers and the client at all project stages. They have a proven track record of working cooperatively with its clients and its practice expands and complements the standard building design concerns of economy, utility, durability and comfort.

Benmax Group will sell MiaSolé FLEX modules, the most efficient thin-film lightweight flexible modules on the market today with an efficiency rating of more than 16 percent. MiaSolé FLEX modules bond directly to the roof surface with a simple peel-and-stick adhesive. The low-profile FLEX module provides wind resistance and a seismic advantage compared to traditional rack-and-panel systems where their higher profile increases the likelihood of damage in a hurricane or earthquake, making FLEX modules an ideal solar solution for the Hawaiian and island markets. This adhesive approach also eliminates the need for racking and reduces labor and logistics cost to provide a 20 percent lower BOS cost than traditional glass solar systems. The FLEX-02 Series module is IEC 61646 & IEC 61730 and UL 1703 certified.

MiaSolé Solar Modules Are IEC and UL Certified and Class A Fire Rated

MiaSolé's CIGS-based, thin-film FLEX-02 solar modules are IEC 61646, IEC 61730, UL 1703 certified and UL 790 Class A fire rated.

MiaSolé’s CIGS-based, thin-film FLEX-02 solar modules are IEC 61646, IEC 61730, UL 1703 certified and UL 790 Class A fire rated.

MiaSolé announces that its CIGS-based, thin-film FLEX-02 solar modules are IEC 61646, IEC 61730, UL 1703 certified and UL 790 Class A fire rated. The MiaSolé FLEX module is a high-efficiency flexible, lightweight thin-film solar module, with production efficiencies of 16 percent. The FLEX module provides high power density for many types of applications—from roofing to reservoir and landfill covers, to auto, truck and other transportation applications through off-grid and consumer applications. The FLEX modules are produced in high volume at MiaSolé’s Heyuan, China, factory, which has passed UL, IEC and ISO9001 qualifications.

FLEX-02 modules provide customers significant benefits. The low weight of the module (less than 0.7 pound per square foot) allows installation on roofs and other structures that cannot support the weight of traditional glass solar panels. Because the FLEX-02 modules adhere directly to the surface of the structure or object, there are no penetrations or damage. The FLEX-02 is also aesthetically pleasing, blending into roofs, vehicles and other structures and preserving the original look without unsightly racking. The low-profile FLEX-02 module provides wind resistance and a seismic advantage over traditional rack-and-panel systems where their higher profile increases the likelihood of damage in a hurricane or earthquake.

Ygrene Energy Fund and Solar Roof Dynamics Offer Affordable Financing Options for Rooftop Solar

Ygrene Energy Fund Inc., a multi-state provider of residential and commercial PACE financing, announced a strategic partnership with Solar Roof Dynamics LLC, a premier distributor of best-in-class solar solutions for California’s roofing industry. Leveraging Ygrene’s unique PACE financing model, YgreneWorks, Solar Roof Dynamics can now offer consumers through its broad base of commercial and residential partners the ability to pay for their rooftop solar upgrades over time through property taxes.

Via Solar Roof Dynamics’ roster of expertly trained solar contractors, YgreneWorks is now making California’s cleanest, least expensive and most abundant renewable resource—solar—affordable for an even greater percentage of California’s businesses and homeowners, creating the potential for unprecedented growth. This is an exciting addition to Solar Roof Dynamics’ already innovative, value-added business model. Solar Roof Dynamics is transforming the solar industry by working directly through its network of authorized roofing contractors with extensive experience in installing roofing and solar systems. This network of contractors gives consumers the opportunity to install solar panels at the same time that they are replacing their existing roof.

“We have a long history of introducing quality solar products and services to local roofing contractors,” says Aaron Nitzkin, CEO of Solar Roof Dynamics. “With YgreneWorks, we can offer one of the best financing options for solar and roofing available on the market, reach more consumers, and most importantly, generate more clean, cost-effective solar energy to enhance California’s sustainable infrastructure.”

Available in more than 180 communities throughout California and Florida, YgreneWorks provides financing for energy efficiency, water conservation, renewable energy and climate retrofits for homes and businesses. PACE financing programs such as YgreneWorks are authorized by local governments in an effort to stimulate local economies, generate jobs, address climate change and provide constituents with access to low-cost, money-saving home improvement funds. Since its inception, YgreneWorks has approved more than $1 billion in funding nationally for upgrades to the built environment, producing more than $2.6 billion in economic stimulus, 15,500 new and sustained jobs and 65 megawatts of energy, as well as conserving 4.5 billion gallons of water and enough energy to power 1,026,635 homes for a full year and keep 1.2 million metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

“California remains at the forefront of renewable energy innovation and the Solar Roof Dynamics partnership will ensure that PACE-financed solar power will be made available to as many homes and businesses as possible,” says Stacey Lawson, CEO of Ygrene. “We’re proud to support California’s accessible and cost-competitive solar installation platform.”

MiaSolé and Upland Corp. Enter into Sales Agreement to Sell Thin-film Lightweight Solar Modules

Upland Corp., a manufacturers’ representative firm that provides building material solutions to the commercial construction industries, and MiaSolé have entered into a sales agreement. Upland Corp. will sell MiaSolé FLEX modules in New Mexico and El Paso, Texas, territories. Since 1984, Upland Corp. has helped architects, building owners and contractors by providing quality building solutions to these valued construction partners.

Upland Corp. will engage in the sales and marketing of MiaSolé FLEX modules, efficient thin-film lightweight flexible modules that offer an efficiency rating of more than 16 percent. MiaSolé FLEX modules bond directly to the roof surface with a simple peel-and-stick adhesive. The low-profile FLEX module provides wind resistance and a seismic advantage providing huge benefits over traditional rack-and-panel solar systems.

The FLEX-02 Series module is available in two formats. The FLEX-02W module is 39.3 by 102.3 inches and is rated at 360 watts, and designed for low-slope commercial single-ply roof systems. The FLEX-02N module is 14.6 by 102.3 inches and is rated at 120 watts, and designed specifically for standing-seam metal roofs. The FLEX-02 Series module is IEC 61646 and IEC 61730 and UL 1703 certified.

The FLEX-02 module provides Upland Corp. customers other significant benefits. The low weight of the module (less than 0.7 pounds per square foot) allows installation on roofs that cannot support the weight of traditional glass solar panels. Because the FLEX-02 panels adhere directly to the roof surface, there are no penetrations, eliminating the worry of leakage and damage to valuable contents within the building. The FLEX-02 also is aesthetically pleasing, blending into metal and TPO roofs and preserving the original look of the roof.

Roof Tiles Are Embedded with Solar Cells

Power Shield Inc. has introduced roof tiles that have solar cells embedded into them.

Power Shield Inc. has introduced roof tiles that have solar cells embedded into them.

Power Shield Inc. has introduced roof tiles that have solar cells embedded into them. The tiles are designed to cover the whole roof. The Power Shield roof system features a cool roof coating, above-deck ventilation, and is made from recycled and non-combustible, lightweight steel. Energy is produced through the 16 watts of power per solar tile. Building-envelope thermal performance is improved through:

  • Cool roof coatings on tile keep it cool and improve energy production. The cool roof coating has high emissivity on the sun side to allow heat to be radiated out and low emissivity underneath, making the tiles a radiant barrier.
  • The efficient above-sheathing ventilation on the tile system provides a chimney effect as warm air flows between the tiles and the roof deck and out from the building. In winter, the air gap between the tiles and roof deck are insulating, reducing the heat transfer out of the attic.

OMG Roofing Products Publishes Brochure about Its Solar Attachment Products

New literature about OMG Roofing Products’ full line of solar attachment products is available. OMG Roofing offers several products for solar applications, including the OMG PowerGrip and OMG PowerGrip Plus roof mount systems for ballasted and rail-based solar racks, OMG PipeGuard rooftop pipe supports for solar conduits and pipes, and OMG EverSeal Roof Repair Tape, as well as a variety of OMG Fasteners. For a copy of the Solar Attachment brochure visit OMG Roofing Products’ website.