Mar 31, 2015

Solar Support Structure in NE DC

Location: 611 Massachusetts Avenue Northeast, Washington, DC 20002, USA
Solar_Framing_NE_DC
Top: View looking north of the Imani Temple
Middle Left: Framing above a chimney
Middle Right: Perilous Ladder
Bottom: The two frames with Atta texting
This was my scariest climb to date but check out the view in this video. In order to get on the roof, I had to climb an extension ladder that went up 3 stories and was perched on a slippery metal step (see photo).

What made this installation unique was the support frame. Most other jobs I've seen so far have been solar panels laid flat or mounted on pre-made solar racks. Once installed, this group of panels will be mounted on a custom-made, light aluminum structure that tilts them toward the sun and puts them above vents and other obstructions.

This custom-made structure takes a lot more work for an installer like Atta at Solar Solutions. They have to purchase the aluminum (probably from Schletter), measure and cut it, screw it to the roof, and then seal the holes in the roof. It's a lot more time but it's necessary for slanted roofs. Lying panels flat or using pre-made solar racks that don't penetrate the roof won't hold.

The final thing I learned is that every installer has a unique signature. From this roof top in northeast DC, Atta was able to identify which nearby project his team had done and which ones were done by others. Solar Solutions likes to leave excess framing and space around panels for easy accessibility after the install. Other companies, like Standard Solar, prefer to minimize extra space for a sharp look.