Top-mounted solar attachments gain more traction
Back in 2012, solar mount manufacturer QuickBOLT developed an attachment for PV projects on shingle roofs that did not require the conventional metal sheet for the flashing. While not the first roof mount to do this, QuickBOLT minimally popularized flashing and fixing right through asphalt shingles rather than prying them up and sliding metal flash plates underneath.
In the years since its release, other manufacturers in the solar mount market have released their own versions of top mount attachments using different methods of flashing, such as chemical sealants and rubber pucks. Until 2021, top mounts continued to rise in popularity.
Solar Mount & Rack Manufacturer SunModo had to double the production capacity of its NanoMount attachment three times in the past year. The company has sold 750,000 units of NanoMount since its debut in 2020, and CEO Steve Mumma said it is significantly faster than SunModo’s traditional flash attachments for composite shingle roofs.
“The biggest problem we’ve had with them all year is that we’re getting enough of it,” he said. “We just keep increasing production capacity and the market is catching up. In that respect it has been a difficult year as we think we will be overtaken next month but by the time we are overtaken we will be behind again.”
The appeal of top mounts is that they remove a time consuming aspect of installation on composite shingle roofs. Each clapboard is attached to the roof with multiple nails, leaving installers responsible for prying it free to slide metal underneath. Depending on the condition of the roof, shingles can break in the pry.
With top mounts, installers generally locate a truss, drill a pilot hole, fill it with sealant, and fix the lag and flash—no shingle removal necessary. Certain manufacturers have developed top mounts that also work on the roofing, reducing the risk of missed pilot holes. Although installers drill through shingles, manufacturers believe there is less risk of damage to the roof using top mounts.
The smaller overall footprint and fewer components in top assemblies mean lower shipping costs and fewer trips up the ladder to the roof for installers. Manufacturers expect more installers to continue to switch to top-mounted solar accessories.
“I think the trend would definitely indicate the market is moving in that direction,” Mumma said. “I wouldn’t say we would ever see traditional full-size flashing go away as there will probably be some jurisdictions that require it and there will always be some installers who prefer it. But in terms of market share, I think we will see the market move towards a product like NanoMount.”