What You Should Ask Prior to Purchasing a Photovoltaic System

By Hawaii Renovation Posted in: EnergyExteriorRoofing

Pacific Islands Construction believes that the purchase of a photovoltaic (PV) system for your home or business requires a bit of education on your part before a unit is installed on your rooftop. Questions such as “How is the system being installed on the roof?” “How much bolt penetration is required to securely install the system?” and “What flashing details will be employed to ensure the roof will not leak in the future?” are just some of the questions often asked by those looking into purchasing a solar system.

Since this is a relatively new buying decision for many, Pacific Islands Construction’s goal is to answer these questions so that you are better prepared when evaluating a solar system.

Generally, PV and solar thermal systems are installed on your roof. To secure these modules, bolts are used to penetrate into your rafters. Due to high winds experienced in Hawaii, these bolts are sunk deep into your roof, and each hole represents a potential leak. As a general rule, one should expect that these penetrations will be flashed in a manner to prevent potential leakage.

Rule No. 1: Your contractor should use industry-standard flashing details, not some caulking around the penetration.

Ask the contractor to show you the flashing they expect to use. These penetrations, if done properly, won’t leak now or in the future. Unfortunately, many PV systems have been installed improperly and have leaked — particularly during the recent rainy weather. Thus, it is imperative that you have your system installed properly from the get-go. While it costs more to have flashings installed, the security they provide far outweigh the cost.

There are many manufacturers in the solar business that are relative newcomers to the industry. These companies may be names you are familiar with, but may not actually be making the modules with their names on them. Companies that have been in business for more than 20 years actually have a better understanding of the modules’ construction and generally construct their own modules. Companies that are providing 25-year power warranties (after 25 years, modules will provide at least 80 percent of the original energy production) should have a proven track record of customer satisfaction. Kyocera has been making modules for more than 35 years, and modules they made more than a quarter-century ago have only depreciated by 10 percent.

Rule number 2: Research who the manufacture is and how long it has been in business.

Module construction is actually one of the biggest concerns when considering what PV system to purchase. Pacific Islands Construction has been stressing that many modules sold in Hawaii are not constructed for the islands’ climate. While it is true that Hawaii is ideal for solar systems, other factors such as humidity, corrosive conditions, high heat, UV exposure and general biological conditions, such as molds, do not provide ideal conditions for module-life expectancy.

Pacific Islands Construction feels it has an obligation to provide the best equipment and materials to its customers. By providing the highest quality materials and offering proper installation from the beginning, the company guarantees its customers great value and peace of mind. Pacific Islands Construction can be reached at 841-7756.

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