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The Powerful Energy-Saving Potential of Solar Panels and Foam Roofing

24 Jan 2018 | Under Energy Efficiency, Roofing | Posted by | 0 Comments
SPF Solar Energy R&A Contracting

Saving money, increasing your building’s longevity, and using less energy is the trifecta of savings and efficiency for any business owner or facilities manager. SPF roofing can dramatically increase a facility’s energy efficiency as well as the longevity of almost any roof. Coupling SPF roofing with solar power could lead to major wins for you and your organization.

In 2015, we briefly touched upon combining solar power with polyurethane foam. This time around, we are going to dive deeper and explain how these technologies come together to form the Holy Grail of energy efficiency for business owners, factory owners, warehouse owners, or facility managers.

The Basics of Foam Roofing

SPF foam, or spray polyurethane foam, is a mixture created from two different compounds, which form a foam with a shaving cream-like texture when mixed together. When the foam dries it creates an excellent barrier for air and moisture.

Even though polyurethane foam is a complex substance, the process for applying SPF foam to a roof is very much straightforward. The foam compound is sprayed on the roof through a nozzle, which is part of a large spray gun. The compounds that spray out of the gun are kept in two separate tanks. They only mix together once the installer starts the process of applying the foam to the roof.

To get a better understanding of the installation process, think about The typical pressure washer that many homeowners use to clean their deck or siding.The equipment used to apply the foam is similar to a pressure washer, except instead of spraying water at high pressure it sprays foam.. For a more in-depth explanation of how spray foam works check out our blog article on how spray foam strengthens commercial buildings.

The Basics of Solar Power

Solar power is an extremely complex technology that can be explained very simply. A typical solar panel is comprised of multiple photovoltaic or PV cells. The PV cells capture energy from the photons that are carried in a beam of sunlight. The energy from the sunlight is converted into direct current (DC) and the solar panels are connected to a converter that transforms DC to alternating current (AC). The electricity is then passed to your electrical breaker box where it can power your business.

What Each Technology Brings to the Table

Deciding to attach solar panels to your roof and install a foam membrane is a big decision, no matter which way you slice it. You should fully understand how each technology is going to impact your building’s energy efficiency.

Primary Energy-Efficiency Benefits of Spray Foam Roofing

When all is said and done, SPF foam hardens into a very dense and durable foam membrane. It is a phenomenal roof covering for a variety of reasons. Polyurethane foam does a fantastic job of resisting airflow. This means very little air is able to make its way through the material. As a result, the air inside your building stays inside and the air on the outside stays on the outside. During the winter the warm air will stay inside and the cool air will be kept out. On the opposite side of the coin, a foam roof will keep the heat of summer out and contain the cool air from your air conditioning.

SPF foam is also what is known as a cool roofing technology. Cool roofing technology is basically any roofing substance that allows a roof to maintain a cooler temperature than it would with a traditional roof covering.

In terms of cool roofing, SPF foam provides several benefits that can add up to big increases in energy efficiency. SPF foam is typically light in color. And, if we think back on some basic science principles, we remember light colors reflect heat while dark colors absorb heat. The more heat your roof absorbs, the more heat will be transferred into the building. Because foam roofing does a great job of reflecting sunlight, building managers are able to maintain the building’s temperature using much less energy.

Any HVAC technician worth his salt will tell you air leaks in buildings are a major cause of inefficiency as far as HVAC units are concerned. Air expands to fill whatever it is contained in, so naturally, if there are cracks and crevices in a building, it will find them and escape through them. Most conventional roofs are prime targets for escaping air. Not only do the roofs have seams, but there are also gaps and openings for items like vents and other HVAC equipment. These gaps and openings lead to air loss and a big decrease in energy efficiency.

Foam roofing is the perfect antidote for decreases in energy efficiency through escaping air. If properly installed, SPF foam covers all of a roof’s seams, gaps, cracks, and crevices. It is self flashing. It will automatically fill around any object that protrudes from or goes through the roof. After SPF foam is applied, you are left with a roof covering that is entirely one piece with no seams or gaps. This provides a tremendous boost in energy efficiency by reducing heating and cooling costs.

Secondary Benefits of Spray Foam Roofing

In addition to being extraordinarily energy-efficient, foam roofing provides business owners and property managers with many other advantages. The longevity of a foam roof is unmatched. A foam roof can easily last for 30 years. Most of the roofs are virtually maintenance-free, as well.

The ruggedness of foam roofing is second to none. A foam roof will easily stand up to the most catastrophic weather conditions. In fact, the Superdome was covered with foam roofing before Hurricane Katrina struck. The roof weathered the fury of the hurricane. It only needed to be replaced because a large piece of industrial HVAC equipment fell during the storms and caused a huge gash in the roof. In a testament to the durability of a foam roof, polyurethane foam was the roof covering of choice when the roof of the Superdome was rebuilt.

Primary Energy Efficiency Benefits of Solar Power

Many business owners may think about upgrading to solar power and are wary of the cost. The great thing about solar power is you only have one significant expense to account for: the initial installation. After the initial installation there are rarely other costs associated with solar power. You can pay a little more upfront for solar power or continue paying for high-priced utilities month after month. It’s the financial question of whether you want to make a large investment upfront or smaller investments over a period of time.

Expected Cost of Solar Power

Energy savings from solar power can be a gigantic boost to the financial bottom line of any organization. According to a study by Energy Sage, firms with commercial solar power configurations were able to decrease their overall energy expenditures by about 75%. Those types of savings will make even the most stubborn of business owners take notice.

The average electric bill for a business owner in the study was $1,950. After going with solar power, the electric bill became $500. That is a savings of $1,450 per month. If we extend this trend, we see that the average business owner is able to save $17,400 a year. Over a five-year term the business owner is boosting his bottom line by over $87,000.

Many small businesses may be resistant to investigating solar power because of the initial expense. A Power Purchase Agreement may be just the thing to open the door for small businesses. Power purchase agreements involve no cost to the business. In this agreement the installer of the solar panels agrees to provide power to the business owner at a specified rate for a specific amount of time.

The Cost of Solar Panels

The cost of a solar panel varies depending on the make and model of the equipment as well as the solar panel installer. However, typically businesses are able to pay off their initial investment in three to seven years. The lifespan of a solar panel is 25 to 35 years. Realistically ,a business could expect to receive free electricity for 20 to 30 years.

Cost-Saving Opportunities

We covered the environmental benefits of solar power. By now, you should have no doubt that reducing your reliance on fossil fuels and the amount of greenhouse gases your organization puts into the air is a good thing that will not only benefit your organization but society as a whole. If this wasn’t enough to cause you to get serious about solar, there are many rebates and incentives available to business owners who step up and make the switch to solar.

Through 2018 the federal government will be offering a 30% tax credit for business owners who purchase solar fuel cells. A 30% rebate may seem too good to be true, but this is one example where the old adage falls short. Businesses who invest in solar will indeed be eligible for a 30% rebate. However, the rebate will gradually decline from 2020 through 2022. Waiting just a few years could cause your business to miss out on a 20% savings.

Click here for more info on solar incentives and saving opportunities.

The Typical Weight of a Solar Setup

In our post back in 2015, we mentioned that weight is one of the few issues business owners or facility managers have to worry about when deciding if solar panels are a good choice for their building. It comes as no surprise that the weight of a solar panel is directly linked to the number of solar cells in the panel. Most commercial solar panels consist of 72 cells and are about 78 inches in length.

With mounting equipment and panels the average weight of a solar panel installation is in the ballpark of three to four pounds per square foot. Most new roofs should easily be able to support such a load.

If you have an older roof, and you are uncertain if it will be up to the challenge of shouldering the increased weight, give us a call. With a basic roof inspection we will be able to tell you if your roof is up to snuff for solar power. We will also be able to help you if changes need to be made for your roof to handle the increased load.

The Secondary Benefits of Solar Power

When you opt for solar power, you are not only making a decision about your company. You are making a decision about the future of your community and the future of our planet. The corporate responsibility that comes with making the decision to rely on solar power can be a truly tremendous benefit for many organizations.

There is a vast amount of data showing that organizations who embrace social responsibility often see increased revenue, employee morale, brand equity and many more benefits. For example, according to the Network for Business Sustainability, “Improving environmental practices such as reducing pollution and improving waste management can lead to better financial performance through both increased revenues (e.g., enhanced brand equity) and lower costs (e.g., operational efficiencies).”

Don’t Hesitate to Reach out

If you want to start taking steps to increase your company’s bottom line through energy efficiency, drop us a line or give us a shout. We can guide you through the process of installing SPF roofing. We will also be there to answer any questions you may have about installing solar panels on your roof.

We are proud to be owned and operated right here in St. Louis. Rest assured that when you contact us you will get wonderful customer service. Every customer is important to us, and we want each of our customers to feel as if they are our most important customer.

I’d be an idiot if I did not take this opportunity to communicate to you how much we appreciate the way in which you conduct business and take care of our facility. In my experience you, and your team, are at the top of the list of all the roofing companies I’ve dealt with over the years. Thank you!

Jim Lowry - Bissinger's Handcrafted Chocolatier

Eric and crew were really nice to have around. They were courteous, careful and caused little if any disruption. Their work looks good too! To be honest… a good experience with a product that I initially had misgivings about. I’m a convert because of Bubba, Sam and Eric. Thank you.

Jim Lowry - Bissinger's Handcrafted Chocolatier

“I want to thank the crew at R&A for a job well done on our very leaky roof at the shop. It is certainly nice to have the drips and rivers gone from the shop when it is raining. I also wanted you to know how much we appreciated that the guys were able to stay out of our way and allowed us to do business as usual without any problems or interruptions. The roof looks great and the clean-up after the job made it so we couldn’t even tell you’d been here. Thanks for doing what you do so well!”

Jay Moore, President of Safe Way Tire and Auto Center

“My wife and I were on vacation when water pipes burst in our house. We got a hold of Craig and the R&A crew was able to start evacuating the water immediately. The best part was that they were able to start work before we even returned home. It was a very fast turnaround considering the extensive amount of water damage.”

Will from Dardenne Prairie, MO

“Craig and Mike came out in a timely fashion when we needed the work done. They did a reliable and quality job.”

Jerry from SLR Properties

“Craig helped us out tremendously with the insurance process. Timely and very professional.”

Lindell from Greater Missouri Builders (GMB)

“We purchased a house and there was some damage to the roof. Very impressed with the thoroughness of Mike’s inspection. Very comfortable with their explanation of what needed to be fixed. Most impressive was the way they protected our landscaping. Really liked the way they treated me as a valued customer, even though it was only a small project.”

Ross from Troy, MO

“I use R&A Contracting when my commercial roofs receive storm damage. They work on our behalf through every step of the insurance claim process. They perform all of the work and complete the insurance process, making our roofs better than they were before the storm.”

Director of Facilities for a large Property Management Company

“The team at R & A Contracting responded immediately when notified of our water disaster. They removed water-damaged materials and property quickly and restored our home even before the final settlement from our insurance company. They minimized how long our family had to live in a hotel and got us back to normal as fast as possible.”

Will from O'Fallon, MO