Boosting solar roofing growth with the DecoTech is the mandate of GAF Energy, a new company formed under the Standard Industries wing. The new entity will assist customers with planning, financing, permitting with utilities, and installation in a streamlined approach, the company says.
“As the largest global player in roofing and waterproofing, we will reshape the way clean solar energy becomes a reality for everyone,” said David Millstone, co-CEO of Standard Industries. The new unit will help focus on the DecoTech product, which GAF began developing in 2008 and first installed in 2017.
The DecoTech is a product midway between a very low-profile Tesla solar shingle and a mounting-bracket supported add-on system. The DecoTech is installed at the same time as a home is partially re-roofed, so that the new roofing helps hide the solar panel. The patented installation process renders the roof watertight.
Unlike Tesla or RGS shingles that are integrated components, the DecoTech system relies on off-the-shelf 60-cell solar panels, to avoid the cost of proprietary manufacturing, the company says. The DecoTech carries a 25-year warranty. An additional lifetime guarantee also is available, which offers extended coverage for labor.
“Our unique design does allow for module level power electronics and we have installs already with MIs and DC optimizers. We will standardize on a power electronics solution but all options are available to us based on our superior engineering,” says Martin DeBono, president of GAF Energy. .
The cost of the DecoTech roof is expected to be on par with standalone solar. “Our unique technology that allows solar to be sold and installed by roofers enables cost savings in sales and install that offsets the increased costs of a solar roof,” says DeBono. That cost is expected to decline with volume to parity, the company suggests.
The cost may also be defrayed with additional offerings from the company, such as monitoring, EV connections, and energy management. “Distributed generation of the future will require seamless integration across storage and EVs and we will have an offering to satisfy that requirement,” says DeBono.
The system will be sold through networks of certified roofers. “We are best positioned to accelerate the growth of residential solar with over a century of waterproofing experience and the largest network of roofing distributors and contractors in the world,” said David Winter, co-CEO of Standard Industries in a January 10 statement.
Using roofers to offer solar will tap the large annual US market for new roofs, a potential pool of 5 million roofs, according to one industry estimate. Of this number only about 300,000 customers opt for solar as well, according to Energy Sage. The US demand for roofing was projected to amount to 268 million squares (a 10 foot by 10 foot area) in 2017, valued at $27.2 billion,” said the Freedonia Group in a 2017 study.
Sageworks, a financial information company, was cited by Forbes recently as saying sales among privately held roofing contractors have increased, on average, 14% in the 12 months ended May 1, 2018.
“The scale of the roofing industry is an order of magnitude greater than the solar industry,” says DeBono. “GAF Energy can now give those customers a simple option: a roof or a solar roof.” While the dollar amount of the roofing market is greater than solar, it also is growing faster; the growth of solar was flat during 2018, although recovery is widely anticipated.
“GAF Energy capitalizes on the historic challenges facing the rooftop solar industry – acquisition and installation costs – and turns them into demonstrable strengths – making it easy for customers to say ‘yes’ to solar rooftops,” said DeBono, in the statement.
The DecoTech system should help retrofit part of the US historic stock of homes roofed with sub-standard roofing material. “The US experienced a number of severe weather events in 2016 that caused extensive roof damage in many parts of the country, necessitating the repair and replacement of thousands of roofs. This surge in re-roofing jobs was in large part due to the fact that many structures are outfitted with roofing materials that do not meet modern building codes for storm resistance,” says a July market analysis of US residential roofing by Research and Markets.
“Going forward, home and business owners will undertake roof renovation projects to replace these older products with more durable materials – such as laminated asphalt shingles, metal roofing, and polymer-modified bituminous membranes – that can better withstand high winds and heavy precipitation,” the study says.
GAF began operations in 1886 and has a network of 5,000 certified contractors. The company manufactures well over 1 million roofs annually in North America. GAF Energy works in partnership with North America’s largest roofing and waterproofing manufacturer, GAF, offering affordable, integrated and aesthetic rooftop solar options to residential and commercial customers.