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Solar panel installation on Spanish clay tile roof - floating tile hook vs comp out?

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  • Solar panel installation on Spanish clay tile roof - floating tile hook vs comp out?

    Hi all,

    I’m in a bit of dilemma trying to figure out which way to go (and company to go with) for a solar panel install. I’ve gotten close to a dozen quotes/opinions from solar installers and roofers. Only two of those contractors have suggested the tile hook method (not the kind where the hooks would be mounted to the tiles but rather the kind where the hooks are mounted to the decking/rafters). The rest have all been adamant that comp out inlay is the best way to do it. Even my own roofer, who did an underlayment & membrane repair for the prior owners a couple years ago AND replaced a bunch of broken Spanish clay tiles, advised that I should just do a comp out.

    It seems there are very obviously two camps and drastically different opinions on either method - I’ve heard some pros and cons to both.

    At the end of the day, I just don’t want for there to be any leaks in the roof!

    What would you guys suggest in this case?

  • #2
    Originally posted by jplee3 View Post
    Hi all,

    I’m in a bit of dilemma trying to figure out which way to go ........ The rest have all been adamant that comp out inlay is the best way to do it. Even my own roofer, who did an underlayment & membrane repair for the prior owners a couple years ago AND replaced a bunch of broken Spanish clay tiles, advised that I should just do a comp out.

    It seems there are very obviously two camps and drastically different opinions on either method - I’ve heard some pros and cons to both.
    .....
    I did a composition shingle inlay on a self install ten years ago. If there is sufficient slope comp shingles can provide effective waterproofing and accomodate typical flashing for attachments. There are many pros and cons. I am sure there will be those that differ. It may depend on aethetics.
    One of the drivers for me was I already had some broken tiles and finding replacements that matched was going to be expensive.
    9 kW solar. Driving EVs since 2012

    Comment


    • #3
      If by "comp out inlay" you mean removing the tiles where the array will be and replacing them with composition shingles, for many reasons I am of the opinion that is a bad idea.

      My guess is that most installers like the idea because it makes life easier for them.

      Suit yourself, but I wouldn't do it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post
        If by "comp out inlay" you mean removing the tiles where the array will be and replacing them with composition shingles, for many reasons I am of the opinion that is a bad idea.

        My guess is that most installers like the idea because it makes life easier for them.

        Suit yourself, but I wouldn't do it.
        Thanks for the input - yes, "comp out inlay" is what you are describing as removing the tiles and replacing with comp shingles. Do you have specific reasons as to why it's a bad idea?
        Someone else mentioned that comp outs are a common thing when it comes to placing/installing HVAC condenser units on roofing. Also, the comp out would be a comp "strip" (from roofline to roof edge) OR it would be the entire side of the roof where the panels are (if there are enough panels to justify replacing with comp on that given side...at least, this is how one company I've contacted would do it - they are the most expensive as well).

        As far as the tile hook method is concerned, I think a lot of people confuse that with the tile mounts that attach to the tiles directly (this seems like an awful idea) but the tile hook mount I'm thinking of is the the QuickMount one that attaches directly to the roof decking/rafters - https://vimeo.com/114688219. I would think this is the best way to do it - after all, aren't the roof caps/vents double flashed in the same or similar manner as the QuickMounts? The solar foreman of the company wanting to do the hook mount method was telling me they definitely would be breaking tiles but that they would also be replacing whatever tiles they break. The quote from this company is the lowest out of all the quotes I've received (all the others assume comp and some quotes don't even include the comp work which would probably run an additional $4-5k minimum)
        Last edited by jplee3; 05-12-2022, 03:59 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          I like the "comp out inlay" method when the inlay area can go all the way to the bottom edge of the roof. Trying to do an inlay where it has to get up over the tile below the array is problematic. We generally use "Tile Trac" type mounts with tile roofs, but clay tile is so fragile compared to concrete tile that you just can't work on it. I don't know how the roofing industry gets away with a product that is not serviceable - that you can't walk on. I guess that roofers hardly have to get out at all on to the tile of a roof they are installing, but when installing a solar array - you are all over that roof and we have enough trouble with a concrete tile roof. Most solar installers won't go near a clay tile roof.
          BSEE, R11, NABCEP, Chevy BoltEV, >3000kW installed

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by jplee3 View Post
            Do you have specific reasons as to why it's a bad idea?
            1.) The edges (interfaces) between comp. shingles and the tile are ideal leakage sites. There isn't enough sealant on planet earth to prevent it.

            2.) Add to that the usual method is to place the comp under the array tucked back far enough from the edges to prevent it being seen. That means the tile/comp. interfaces will be hidden under an array. So, you'll have higher potential leak sites located where you can't see them or inspect them, much less get at them for repair.

            3.) If you live in a climate subject to freezing, the "downhill" comp/tile interface that traps or probably puddles some moisture will expand when the water freezes. How many freeze/thaw cycles do you think it will take before damage ?

            4.) If, for any reason, the array must be removed permanently, Use your imagination and consider what the roof will look like.

            This may/may not be applicable to your situation, but for others reading my spoor, HOAs are beginning to catch up with the comp under array scam, primarily for reason # 4 when a home with a leased (or PPA'd) system is removed upon sale of the home. If/When that happens, good luck finding matching tiles to make the roof look presentable.

            I've had installers claim it's impossible to put an array on a tile roof. Since my HOA is one of those that disallows mixing different roofing materials, I know that to be B.S. after watching about a dozen or so mission tile roofs in my HOA get arrays installed on mission tile/clay roofs.

            Bottom line for me: Installers can take the time and do an array over mission tiles and not break too many. It just takes time and patience.
            As an opinion, the only benefit of comp. shingles under an array is to the installer.
            The homeowner gets a problem waiting to happen and a roof is the last place I'd think I'd want to create a future problem.

            Also, FWIW, and for a couple of reasons, I'm not a big fan of tile hooks either.
            Seems to me that the post and double flash method is still the best method to attach an array to a roof.

            Take what you want of the above. Scrap the rest.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post

              1.) The edges (interfaces) between comp. shingles and the tile are ideal leakage sites. There isn't enough sealant on planet earth to prevent it.

              2.) Add to that the usual method is to place the comp under the array tucked back far enough from the edges to prevent it being seen. That means the tile/comp. interfaces will be hidden under an array. So, you'll have higher potential leak sites located where you can't see them or inspect them, much less get at them for repair.

              3.) If you live in a climate subject to freezing, the "downhill" comp/tile interface that traps or probably puddles some moisture will expand when the water freezes. How many freeze/thaw cycles do you think it will take before damage ?

              4.) If, for any reason, the array must be removed permanently, Use your imagination and consider what the roof will look like.

              This may/may not be applicable to your situation, but for others reading my spoor, HOAs are beginning to catch up with the comp under array scam, primarily for reason # 4 when a home with a leased (or PPA'd) system is removed upon sale of the home. If/When that happens, good luck finding matching tiles to make the roof look presentable.

              I've had installers claim it's impossible to put an array on a tile roof. Since my HOA is one of those that disallows mixing different roofing materials, I know that to be B.S. after watching about a dozen or so mission tile roofs in my HOA get arrays installed on mission tile/clay roofs.

              Bottom line for me: Installers can take the time and do an array over mission tiles and not break too many. It just takes time and patience.
              As an opinion, the only benefit of comp. shingles under an array is to the installer.
              The homeowner gets a problem waiting to happen and a roof is the last place I'd think I'd want to create a future problem.

              Also, FWIW, and for a couple of reasons, I'm not a big fan of tile hooks either.
              Seems to me that the post and double flash method is still the best method to attach an array to a roof.

              Take what you want of the above. Scrap the rest.
              It's a confusing proposition because some of the old school guys have told me don't install solar on a Spanish clay tile roof but in the next breath will say "do comp inlay if you absolutely must" - I just don't get their logic - aren't any other roof penetration (roof caps, vents, etc) going to be double flashed very similarly to how a panel/array hook/post would be? It seems like a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

              Comment


              • #8
                The reality is that the tile is not the thing that waterproofs a tile roof. The tiles can get cracked and the wind can blow rain up the spaces between the tiles. The underlayment is the key to a tile roof being waterproof. That is why, if a comp inlay is used, it should extend from the ridge to the bottom as solarix has suggested.
                9 kW solar. Driving EVs since 2012

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by jplee3 View Post

                  It's a confusing proposition because some of the old school guys have told me don't install solar on a Spanish clay tile roof but in the next breath will say "do comp inlay if you absolutely must" - I just don't get their logic - aren't any other roof penetration (roof caps, vents, etc) going to be double flashed very similarly to how a panel/array hook/post would be? It seems like a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
                  Every home in my HOA has either flat concrete tile or clay mission tile or a few that have concrete mission style tiles. Of the 550 or so homes, there are about 160 roofs with arrays on them.

                  Like I wrote, there are about a dozen or so mission tile clay roofs in my HOA with arrays on them. A few of those have tile hooks, the rest are post and double flashed. As an aside, if my experience and observations are usual or common, you might be surprised find out how many jobs that claim to have double flashing don't.

                  I'm the guy in the HOA that reviews, recommends approval by the ARC for installation of all the active solar energy systems in the HOA. I then also observe installation of the systems for conformance with HOA requirements. I've seen them all go in. All 160 or so of them. The first one that went in on clay mission tile was in 2004 on the house next to mine. I'm looking at it out my office sliding door as I write this post. There is a broken tile on the roof from a golf ball strike. That's it.

                  Older and younger installers both cry the blues to me at ARC meetings when they show up with homeowners for submittal of applications for PV improvements. Interestingly, the problem of installers trying to skunk in comp shingles under arrays for both concrete and mission clay tile roofs didn't start around here until about 2012 or so. Funny how it was possible before then but then became impossible HUH ?? They usually say they never do it because to walk on clay tiles is to break them. I ask how they plan to not break any of the tiles that they are not removing (but traversing) to get to the area they're putting comp. shingles on. One installer (Baker for those in my area) bitched that it was impossible to install on mission tiles until I showed them photos of one of their jobs from 2007 installed over a mission tile roof.

                  Based on my experience, I'd say breaking tiles is avoidable. I understand and agree that breaking only one or two is possible, even likely. But that's a long way from impossible. It only takes care - but by my somewhat anecdotal and unscientific timekeeping, not more installation time BTW.

                  To say it's impossible to install PV on clay tile roofs is a bunch of B.S.
                  I know better because I've seen it done more than a few times.
                  I appreciate installers want to do things as easily as possible, but in doing so and increasing the probability of future problems, particularly on a mostly inaccessible and harsh environment is, IMO, poor and unprofessional practice.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    To me the question is what is the cost to do it your way versus new underlayment from ridge to bottom and place the tiles around the Arrays?
                    9 kW solar. Driving EVs since 2012

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ampster View Post
                      To me the question is what is the cost to do it your way versus new underlayment from ridge to bottom and place the tiles around the Arrays?

                      It's not *my* way - it's company A's way. And it costs less than any of the other companies suggesting comp out. If we compare this to Tesla on a 'normal' (non-fragile) roof, their cost is $15000~ for 6kw. So either way you go, it's more expensive with these clay tiles. But it's significantly more expensive doing a comp out.


                      These are the most recent approx quotes at 6kw:

                      Company A - post/double-flash method: $18k~

                      Company B - comp out (strip): $22k~

                      Company C - comp out (full roof): $28k~


                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Ampster View Post
                        To me the question is what is the cost to do it your way versus new underlayment from ridge to bottom and place the tiles around the Arrays?
                        Well Ampster, the question to me is what is the cost to do the easy for the vendor method vs. thinking about the increased probability of long term problems created by some outfit who probably won't be around much less living with the mess they create, and the cost in toil and treasure to clean up the mess and it's likely consequent problems that are only created to make the vendors' job easier. It's a bunch of red herring B.S. Doing the comp. shingle scam benefits no one but the vendor and causes nothing but more potential problems for the homeowner. So, you answer your own question, but when you do, also tell me the cost of remediation if/when the array or roof needs removal/service and also the translated $$ cost of wondering if/when there will be problems created by this unnecessary work done only to make life a bit easier for a vendor (and not much IMO, reached by about 10 years of observation).

                        It's a roof for goodness sake - about the last place you want problems in a home and one of the least accessible places you want any problem, especially when it's created by some outfit that may well not be as careful as they could - if they're roofers at all - and probably won't be around if/when leaks happen not only from sloppy work, but, and thinking as an engineer now, that the idea of mixed systems on a roof is a not the path to anything more than problems - AND IT'S NOT NECESSARY.

                        Think critically and get out of the short term, low dollar, least initial cost trap.
                        Last edited by J.P.M.; 05-14-2022, 12:21 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post

                          Well Ampster, the question to me is what is the cost to do the easy for the vendor method vs. thinking about the increased probability of long term problems created by some outfit who probably won't be around much less living with the mess they create, and the cost in toil and treasure to clean up the mess and it's likely consequent problems that are only created to make the vendors' job easier. It's a bunch of red herring B.S. Doing the comp. shingle scam benefits no one but the vendor and causes nothing but more potential problems for the homeowner. So, you answer your own question, but when you do, also tell me the cost of remediation if/when the array or roof needs removal/service and also the translated $$ cost of wondering if/when there will be problems created by this unnecessary work done only to make life a bit easier for a vendor (and not much IMO, reached by about 10 years of observation).

                          It's a roof for goodness sake - about the last place you want problems in a home and one of the least accessible places you want any problem, especially when it's created by some outfit that may well not be as careful as they could - if they're roofers at all - and probably won't be around if/when leaks happen not only from sloppy work, but, and thinking as an engineer now, that the idea of mixed systems on a roof is a not the path to anything more than problems - AND IT'S NOT NECESSARY.

                          Think critically and get out of the short term, low dollar, least initial cost trap.
                          Have you observed that solar companies wanting to do comp out tend to ask a higher price as well? I think the 'trend' now with the solar installers is that if they aren't outsourcing the comp out work, they want *you* to coordinate and take care of that part of it. The comp outs aren't cheap either. $4000-7000 seems to be the going rate in my area for roughly 15 or so panels. For some reason, before I started looking into this I was under the impression that comp outs were supposed to be lower cost than doing the 'floating' installations due to the amount of time it takes to do the latter. The comp out installs look fairly complicated to do because they still have to pull off a bunch of tiles, do the comp work, then relay all the tiles around the panels. So is it really any "easier" for them to do comp work than it is just them taking the route of "avoiding the most broken tiles?" On that note: we have a neighbor down the street from us with the same roof as ours doing a comp out now. The project looks like it's stalled or the installer/roofer is taking their sweet time. The area for the panels is comped out and it looks like the panels are up but the tiles are just sitting up there stacked. Unless they're DIYing it maybe, but it's been like that for at least the past couple weeks now.
                          Regardless, it does seem questionable long-term. I guess that's why our neighbor up the hill from us decided to replace his entire roof with metal hahaha.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jplee3 View Post

                            Have you observed that solar companies wanting to do comp out tend to ask a higher price as well? I think the 'trend' now with the solar installers is that if they aren't outsourcing the comp out work, they want *you* to coordinate and take care of that part of it. The comp outs aren't cheap either. $4000-7000 seems to be the going rate in my area for roughly 15 or so panels. For some reason, before I started looking into this I was under the impression that comp outs were supposed to be lower cost than doing the 'floating' installations due to the amount of time it takes to do the latter. The comp out installs look fairly complicated to do because they still have to pull off a bunch of tiles, do the comp work, then relay all the tiles around the panels. So is it really any "easier" for them to do comp work than it is just them taking the route of "avoiding the most broken tiles?" Regardless, it does seem questionable long-term. I guess that's why our neighbor up the hill from us decided to replace his entire roof with metal hahaha.
                            $4,000 to $7,000. What unmitigated H.S.

                            Well, to attempt an answer to your question: Since this comp. out B.S. scam has been specifically disallowed by my HOA's CC & R's, for about the last 10 years or so, I don't specifically remember any price adders/deducts for that comp. scam from back in the day. But I do remember only 3 or 4 were attempted (and not approved) before the comp. scam was disallowed by the CC & R change. I did kept a pretty close eye on the CSI initiative data until it closed up shop in 2016 and at that time it didn't seem that systems in my HOA were much more expensive per STC W than other systems around San Diego county, if at all.

                            But - and a bit off topic - and while I'm on my soapbox - in general, the more gullible and mentally slothful homeowners who seem to be chronically running in near panic from self induced high electric bills, and who refuse to educate themselves about either conservation measures or alternate energy limitations, generally pay more per STC W of PV system than those who take the time and make the effort to get informed. Ignorance costs money and adds to poor system quality. Hell, since PV systems seem to run in monkey see - monkey do fashion in neighborhoods in my HOA, I've seen owners of similar homes on the same street pay more for comparable size and make systems FROM THE SAME VENDOR with what I believe is little more than fear and ignorance as the cause of the price differential.

                            Rant mode off.
                            Take what you want of the above. Scrap the rest.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post

                              $4,000 to $7,000. What unmitigated H.S.

                              Well, to attempt an answer to your question: Since this comp. out B.S. scam has been specifically disallowed by my HOA's CC & R's, for about the last 10 years or so, I don't specifically remember any price adders/deducts for that comp. scam from back in the day. But I do remember only 3 or 4 were attempted (and not approved) before the comp. scam was disallowed by the CC & R change. I did kept a pretty close eye on the CSI initiative data until it closed up shop in 2016 and at that time it didn't seem that systems in my HOA were much more expensive per STC W than other systems around San Diego county, if at all.

                              But - and a bit off topic - and while I'm on my soapbox - in general, the more gullible and mentally slothful homeowners who seem to be chronically running in near panic from self induced high electric bills, and who refuse to educate themselves about either conservation measures or alternate energy limitations, generally pay more per STC W of PV system than those who take the time and make the effort to get informed. Ignorance costs money and adds to poor system quality. Hell, since PV systems seem to run in monkey see - monkey do fashion in neighborhoods in my HOA, I've seen owners of similar homes on the same street pay more for comparable size and make systems FROM THE SAME VENDOR with what I believe is little more than fear and ignorance as the cause of the price differential.

                              Rant mode off.
                              Take what you want of the above. Scrap the rest.
                              What stinks about this whole thing is that I've literally only found one company even willing to do the post/double flash mount method of installation. Nearly every other company out there says comp out is the only way they'll do it.
                              And what I'm even more confused by is my own roofer, who advised against going solar in the first place, telling me that if I must do it then comp out. But then i just sent him the quick mount video and he goes "yea that seems fine, as long as they do it right".... Lol thanks Sherlock

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