One Year Later - Product Development Going Strong
By Mikey Wiener, Marketing Manager, QuickBOLT
COVID-19 has surprised us all with labor shortages, material shortages and unprecedented shipping delays—but what is one aspect of the industry that hasn't slowed down at all? Product development. In the past year-and-a-half we've seen continuous innovation in the solar mounting side of the industry.
QuickBOLT is no stranger to innovation; the company firmly established itself as an innovator in the solar mounting space with their wildly unique QuickBOLT over 10 years ago. In fact, the company released another update last year—the QB2—as an improvement on their second generation QuickBOLT, the Low Profile QB1. By moving from the hanger bolt to the patented lag bolt design, they were able to lower the profile even further, decrease the number of parts, and increase the ease of use for rooftop installers.
QuickBOLT was one of many companies in the mounting space to add a new asphalt shingle top mount solution to their product line. Top mounted products are meant to be installed over asphalt shingle, bucking the long-held tradition of lifting shingles to install flashing.
We can attribute this new era of solar mounting methodology to early innovators like QuickBOLT with microflashing. From incremental improvements to vast evolutions in form, we've seen incredible progress over the last year for mounting options.
Combine Top Mounts for the Ultimate Configuration - the Rise of the Deck Mount
With the blurring of lines between commercial and residential mounting methods, we have seen a variety of deck mounted solutions come onto the market. Many companies hopped onto the trend to release a rafter-mounted and deck-mounted alternative to their newest products.
QuickBOLT's Deck Mount offers a no-frills solution for scenarios that make mounting to the rafter not possible or preferred. They teased out this product later in 2020 with a preorder option on their website and knew they had a hit by selling out within days of officially making it available for purchase.
What are the benefits to the installer? Mount this solution anywhere on the deck and skip locating tricky rafters.
The flexibility of deck mounting has its tradeoffs, though, because deck-mounted products cannot achieve as high of an uplift rating as rafter-mounted solutions. This means that if an installer wants to use only deck mounts they will need a higher quantity to complete their array.
Rick Gentry, Vice-President of Sales at QuickBOLT, offered this bit of wisdom into the marketplace:
"We've found that installers are more interested in using a combination of the QuickBOLTs with the Direct-to-Decks rather than a full conversion to deck-mounted arrays. This way, they can maintain the superior uplift strength of the rafter-mounted products, and add some flexibility in placement with the deck-mounted solutions. We expect to see this type of combined configuration become very popular."
New mounting solutions that allow installers to choose which structural member to mount to has only been one kind of innovation we've seen across the industry. Aesthetics has jumped to the forefront for manufacturers, installers, and homeowners as well.
Install with Style
Though most mounting solutions are sold in the stainless steel color we're all familiar with, aesthetics have come to the forefront of the mounting industry. To follow the trend, we've seen an increase in black-finished mounts. Some companies chose to lean into the aesthetic by offering a single option, while QuickBOLT prefers to leave the choice up to installers by having two finishes (black or stainless steel).
What we do know for sure is that whatever the offering, style has made its way onto the scene. Homeowners want to know they'll have the best looking solar array on the block, and the supply chain is happy to deliver.
Demand for solar installs has not slowed, so as many companies aim to keep up, they've been forced to explore new ideas. Product development has been particularly beneficial to the industry. Top mounts, deck mounts, new flashing-free solutions and mounts that don't even need sealant to be code-compliant—it's a brave new world in solar.
It's such an exciting time to see innovations come to market, especially while supply chains are so terribly disrupted. Who doesn't love a bit of fresh gear when we can't have what we normally want? As an installer, it's the perfect time to trade up or crossgrade to a more effective mounting solution to improve your methods. As a distributor, it's the perfect time to listen to your customers and see what their needs are.
Are they looking for something they can place anywhere on the roof deck? Bingo! There are plenty of deck mount options available. How about something they could install in under 30 seconds? No problem, that speed can be easily achieved by the best top mount solutions these days.
We look forward to the years ahead as the Wild West of solar continues to bring us exciting new ways to put renewable energy on more roofs across the land.