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Is there a reliable stud finder for locating Rafters?

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  • Is there a reliable stud finder for locating Rafters?

    Hi, new to the forum but have been installing solar PV systems for the last 18 months in the UK. I have just recently moved to Canada and I have been fitting systems here for the last 5 months. The installation techniques are different here due to the plywood over rafters roofing structure with shingles as the roof covering.
    In the UK you can simply remove the roof tiles to locate the rafters whereas here you need to measure the rafters from inside the attic and drill a hole next to a rafter as a point of reference on the roof.
    My employer whilst he understands this technique is concerned about the roof leaking in the future due to the winter climate we have here in Canada and the hot summer causing the sealant we use to crack and eventually fail.
    Sooo my long winded question(s) are, has any installers on here managed to find a stud finder that can locate the rafters through the shingles consistantly as I have found stud finders unrelaible on dry wall let alone through 3/4" plywood and shingle. If you guys have please can you recommend one, also any experience of how better to seal these roofs if you have a hole to fill.
    Thanks in advance for any replies

  • #2
    Stud finders won't work. Shingles are to heavily insulated. I've tried it all. Tack 3 hours onto initial bids to compensate for the time spent in the attic. You are going to need it.

    If you are popping holes in the roof I can only recommend Henrys 208R caulking tar for holes smaller than 1/4".

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    • #3
      Originally posted by vinniethePVtech View Post
      Stud finders won't work. Shingles are to heavily insulated. I've tried it all. Tack 3 hours onto initial bids to compensate for the time spent in the attic. You are going to need it.
      Thanks Vinnie, that confirms what I already thought. The current project is a large triangular roof where the rafters change half way up, Ive had to drill more holes than I wanted to to locate the position of the rafter changes as there is datum edge to measure from being triangular. Just trying to find a better method than having to drill holes in the roof, it makes customers nervous.

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      • #4
        On shingle roofs with asphalt shingles I just use a hammer to locate the rafters. Works every time. Cedar or tile roofs are a different story however.
        There is one stud finder made for this purpose and will locate them under up to about 6" of foam etc. I have heard of this but do not own one I have been told they are expensive.

        Craftsman makes one that will scan 1 1/2" deep for $20.00
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        • #5
          Bosch makes a tool called the D-tect 150 that I have heard good things about. I have no personal experience with it, but our customers are always looking for a way to find rafters consistently.
          Until recently it was not available in the states, but at the solar show last week in Dallas Bosch was showing the product and giving one away, and a google search yields American retailers.
          It is expensive, somewhere in the $800 range, but it could pay for itself fairly quickly with time savings.
          The German site for the product is here:
          http://www.wallscanner.de/gb/en/index.htm
          Committed to the support of renewable energy.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Chris @ EcoFasten Solar View Post
            Bosch makes a tool called the D-tect 150 that I have heard good things about. I have no personal experience with it, but our customers are always looking for a way to find rafters consistently.
            Until recently it was not available in the states, but at the solar show last week in Dallas Bosch was showing the product and giving one away, and a google search yields American retailers.
            It is expensive, somewhere in the $800 range, but it could pay for itself fairly quickly with time savings.
            The German site for the product is here:
            http://www.wallscanner.de/gb/en/index.htm
            It wont pay for itself quickly because of the rarity of its use, and time for assessing during its use. Hilti makes one very similar to the bosch that is a little over a grand. If thebosch does become available it would be better to rent than to own, and tack 10% of rental price to the customer. A delicate tool of that nature is not something you want to own.

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            • #7
              I would imagine a strong magnet....I mean REAL strong magnet would work. It would be a two person job, but you should be able to mark them out fairly quickly.

              Hold the magnet to the inside edge of the rafter and move some metal around on the roof. You should be able to get very close.

              Although.... I'm sure it's been tried before!

              I use some safety switches that will "mate up" through about 3/16" thick stainless steel but they ain't cheap either!
              10Kw solar PV
              GSHP (6-2011)
              Solar hot water 2x SPP-30
              Meter has been going backwards since May 20th :julie:
              Anyone wanna buy some SREC credits? (cheap!):Cry:

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              • #8
                Hammer time.

                I use a hammer to locate the studs. You can hear the difference, and you can feel the difference too, without gloves that is!!!!

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                • #9
                  We have the Bosch Dtech. It works fairly well but I still miss sometimes. I cant imagine finding rafters any other way. Buy one, you are not in business for one day.

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                  • #10
                    Look for a Zircon i520
                    MSEE, PE

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                    • #11
                      I just bought the Zircon i520

                      Originally posted by Sunking View Post
                      Look for a Zircon i520
                      I just bought the Zircon i520, and when I did a trial run on shingles, it located the rafters at totally different places every time I tried it. Therefore, I returned the product to Home Depot from whence I had purchased it.

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                      • #12
                        Bosch D-Tect 150 Seems to Be Best Answer

                        The Bosch D-Tect 150 (Available for about $720 from Engineer Supply) seems to be the best answer. They said that that is the main product used by solar installers to detect rafters.

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                        • #13
                          I did my own 30 panel installation and a friends also, in the process I struggled over finding the center of the rafters. I designed a tool that attaches to the rafter in the attic and a "window" that floats on the roof showing the exact center of the rafter. The process takes two people about 15 seconds per rafter. I did 40 penetrations on my install and 30 on his with no misses. It does require attic access so it is not for every situation but on the positive side it is extremely accurate and there are no potential leaks. It would be inexpensive, I estimate under $50.00. I have no time to produce and market the design and was wondering where to find a tool, solar, racking company that might be interested.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by centerfind View Post
                            I did my own 30 panel installation and a friends also, in the process I struggled over finding the center of the rafters. I designed a tool that attaches to the rafter in the attic and a "window" that floats on the roof showing the exact center of the rafter. The process takes two people about 15 seconds per rafter. I did 40 penetrations on my install and 30 on his with no misses. It does require attic access so it is not for every situation but on the positive side it is extremely accurate and there are no potential leaks. It would be inexpensive, I estimate under $50.00. I have no time to produce and market the design and was wondering where to find a tool, solar, racking company that might be interested.
                            Nice to see invention is still happening!
                            Did you end up using an electronic signal or just a great strong magnet?
                            I have no idea where you might find someone interested in developing it commercially though.

                            PS: Welcome to Solar Panel Talk!
                            SunnyBoy 3000 US, 18 BP Solar 175B panels.

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                            • #15
                              bump for 2016 answers. any better stud finders out there?


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