If you’re in the market for a new roof for your home, and you’re thinking about solar power – then why not both?

GAF Energy, one of the world’s largest roofing material companies, and Solaria, who makes a beautiful all black super high efficiency solar panel, have teamed up to offer the DecoTech 2.0 system.

The system is custom designed to be installed directly to the roof – without the need for standard shingles underneath. The key structural benefits of this are that you don’t need to make extra holes in the roof to attach the solar modules. In fact, you make fewer holes since shingles need more nails than the solar panels. As well, versus a standard solar installation – these nail holes will be tightly sealed underneath the solar power system. Most solar module installs occur above shingles, with lots of spacing for weather and water to get in between.

The Solaria solar panels are an all black shingle cell product. The shingle cell process means that 100% of the solar panel’s sun facing surface is made of sun absorbing solar cells. This maximizes the amount of electricity produced. Even if you’re not installing a GAF Energy system, you can install Solaria panels on their own.

A microinverter, made by Enphase, is attached to the solar panel. These units convert the DC electricity from the panels, into AC electricity that your house can use. As well, this hardware will let you see the exact performance of each individual solar panel. Enphase offers 25 year warranties on their hardware.

In the image below, the black Enphase unit sticks out from the module and is about the size of your hard with fingers extended. The two cables connect directly to the back of the solar module.

The installation process begins by adding a layer of fireproof material underneath where the solar modules will be laid. After that, the lower edging material is installed. This material helps protect from squirrels and other critters getting under the modules. As well, it adds to the aesthetics of the installation by creating a smooth edge to transition from the roofing material up to the solar panels.

After this we begin to install the solar panels. The panels are about seven feet by three feet in size and weigh about 60 pounds each. During the initial consultation, your solar power company will need to verify that your structure can support an additional three to four pounds per square inch. Sometimes this can be easily determined, other times it will require a full engineering analysis to determine.

In the custom engineered GAF Energy system, the panels slide right into the lower racking structure – sorta like a really nice Lego system. As you can see below, the racking structure is strong enough to support the partial weight of two installers on a high angled roof.

Some of the key refinements in the GAF system are visible below. In more than a decade working in the solar industry, I haven’t seen the rubber edging on the solar module. This is a key aspect of keeping the solar system dry underneath.

Along the top edge of the solar installation there is more edging. This does two things – first it directs rain to go over the solar modules, instead of underneath them. As well, it adds to the aesthetic continuity of the whole system.

If you were installing black shingles, it might be that these units ‘hide’ very well in your roof.

The completed solar panel installation, while it doesn’t look as pretty in this image as construction in ongoing and the roofing material installation isn’t complete, is very clean and tight fitting to the structure. Exactly what you want for a product that will be in place for multiple decades.

If you’ve got a couple of minutes, and are interested in seeing how a system is installed in Massachusetts – visit this link on This Old House. The solar installation portion starts at 6:18 into the video. The images in this article are pulled from that video.

If you’re more into the details of how an installation occurs – here’s a link to GAF’s installation guide.

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CommercialSolarGuy is a licensed and insured Massachusetts construction firm Our roofing partners are certified GAF Roofing installers. If you’re interested in a quote, please contact us at 508-499-9786 or fill out the below form:

About John Fitzgerald Weaver

John Fitzgerald Weaver is a solar developer; known digitally as the 'Commercial Solar Guy.' As a project developer and installer, he’s sold and managed 50+ solar projects, valued over $25 million, ranging in size from 5kW to 1500kW. He’s been involved in many aspects of the solar supply chain –- as a company founder, developer, project manager, manufacturer, permit runner, salesman, contractor and financier. In his free time he tries to get away and clear his mind by climbing mountains, or more regularly by enjoying an IPA or scotch, and really loves the strange connection between politics, energy, finance, and environment in the energy world.