North America’s largest roofing manufacturer has entered the solar game in a big way. Offering not-quite solar shingles but also not-quite a traditional solar system, GAF’s new DecoTech system fastens full-sized solar panels directly to the roof deck, and the panels act as shingles to shed water. The system is only compatible with GAF asphalt shingled roofs for standard warranty coverage, and it’s encouraged to have GAF Solar Elite Contractors do the installation.
We talked with Amy Ochsenreiter, renewable energy product manager at GAF, about the new DecoTech “roof-integrated” system and why the industry needs this BIPV/traditional solar hybrid.
SPW: Is DecoTech for new roof installs or can it be attached on existing roofs?
AO: DecoTech is installed on a clean roof deck. If installed on an existing roof, the plane of the roof where the system is being installed is removed before the installation begins.
SPW: How is DecoTech attached to the roof deck?
AO: One of the key benefits of DecoTech is its integrated, interlocking system, which was developed to be intuitive for contractors to install. DecoTech fastens directly to the roof deck, instead of being attached to rafters like traditional systems. Much of the assembly can be completed before the contractor gets on the roof, which helps save time and cost.
SPW: How do you ensure no water or pest intrusion?
AO: DecoTech panels are low profile, and the flashing method used in the system provides strong perimeter protection. Additionally, they shed water just like shingles. These unique features help protect against unwanted intrusion from water or pests.
SPW: What is all included with the DecoTech system?
AO: The DecoTech System consists of the panels with their interlocking frames and flashing components. MLPE, BOS, and, should the homeowner choose, storage is also kitted at the distributor. We have remained technology agnostic for flexibility with MLPE and storage, and these components may be separately provided by the contractor.
SPW: What solar panels are you using?
AO: GAF utilizes premium panels from a variety of manufacturers, all of which are covered under a comprehensive GAF warranty. Our panels are currently 285 W, and we anticipate being able to offer higher capacity soon.
SPW: Has your system gone through UL testing?
AO: To comply with the UL 2703 standard, the DecoTech racking system has undergone electrical grounding tests, fire tests and mechanical load tests through UL labs. The DecoTech System has also undergone the roofing tests such as the uplift resistance test (UL 1897) and the wind driven rain resistance test (TAS 100).
DecoTech’s 25-year warranty includes power generation and manufacturing defects, and it covers the workmanship if installed by a GAF Solar Elite Contractor.
SPW: How does a solar installer become a GAF Solar Elite Contractor?
AO: We’re proud to work with a large network of GAF Master Elite and Solar Elite Contractors who are experts in their trade. Contractors and solar installers interested in attaining Master Elite or Solar Elite recognition can contact 877-GAF-ROOF for further information.
SPW: Are your closest competitors solar shingle/BIPV brands or more traditional solar system providers?
AO: We view DecoTech as an upgrade from traditional solar systems, as its simple installation process protects the integrity of the roof and saves time and cost for the contractor and homeowner.
SPW: Why does the solar industry need the DecoTech product?
AO: With more than 130 years of roofing expertise and several patents on solar products, GAF has an unmatched reputation in the industry. We built on our legacy in roofing and solar to develop a product with superior value, quality and aesthetic appeal. We’re proud to offer a durable, innovative residential solar roofing product that is intuitive for contractors to install and affordable for homeowners.
DecoTech offers a unique installation method that integrates seamlessly with GAF roofing products to protect the integrity of the roof. Its sleek, low-profile design and best-in-class high output panels distinguish it from other residential solar roofing products on the market. In addition, its monochromatic Deco Black gloss finish and concealed wires offer a seamless look, unlike other systems that are elevated above the roof and can be an eyesore.
We stand by the quality of DecoTech, and proudly offer exceptional warranty protections for homeowners.
SPW: Where is the system available right now?
AO: DecoTech is available for purchase and installation throughout the United States. We’ve recently installed DecoTech Systems in some of America’s top solar states, including California, New Jersey and New York, and continue to see interest in DecoTech from homeowners around the country.