6 things we learned at the 2017 Solar Mounting Training Conference

The second gathering of the solar industry’s leading solar mounting manufacturers, installers and other players wraps up today in Anaheim, California. The 2017 Solar Mounting Training Conference (SOMO), hosted by S-5!, SEIA, OSEIA, CALSEIA and NABCEP, was a three-day event for solar installers to learn best mounting practices.

Many of the courses served as refreshers, but we also learned a few things too. Here are just a few of the tips we picked up.

 

Wire management is incredibly important. That’s why mounting manufacturer SnapNrack spent a whole session on it. Wire management is important to the lifespan of projects, and there’s a real need for integrated wire management right now. It’s difficult to match wire management life expectancy with the lifespan of the solar array, but if you do your homework, you can find systems that comply.

Preventing leaks on a roof-mounted solar array is obviously a top priority. Roof Tech uses butyl rubber flashing as a watertight seal for its mounting systems. Butyl can adapt to the roof shape and surface for a permanent seal, sometimes better than metal flashing. The rubbery product also has the ability to seal all screws, and butyl tape has a 20+-year service life expectancy.

Did you ever consider using your distributor as a source of lead generation? Colorado-based distributor BriteStreet has an end goal of helping installers become more nimble and competitive while remaining relevant. Besides common distributor services like supplying product and offering training, BriteStreet said when homeowners call the company asking for suggested installers, the distributor can provide a list of installer partners and generate you some easy leads.

The fewer penetrations on a roof, the better. Many mounting companies have released shared-rail systems to cut back on the number of holes needed. Solar SpeedRack’s SpeedMount system comes with a non-penetrating SpeedFoot (seen at the start of the second roofing section above) that helps distribute the weight of the system in between anchored mounts. One less hole!

Quick Mount PV gave us a refresher on the proper way to install flashings on an asphalt shingle roof. The lazy way is to slide in the flashing until you hit the nails above (example on the left). The correct way is to remove the nails and position the flashing above the third course.

 

And finally, a ground-mount tip! Mounting Systems highly suggests rechecking torque values on your large ground-mounted systems after one year in the field. Unplanned weather systems can affect an installation in unpredictable ways, sometimes shifting soil and ground conditions. Checking torque values after a little time ensures the installation will meet warranty and you’re able to get ahead of things before they’re an issue.