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Do I Really Need Special Fasteners for My Solar Panels?

Source: http://www.sxc.hu/profile- /hovard

 

Do you really need a lock on your door? Statistically speaking, depending on where you live, your lock may never be tested by a burglar. It may never serve its created purpose.  The greatest accomplishment it may boast is that it kept practical jokesters, like your fraternity brothers, at arm’s length. But should a thief or criminal try to open your door, whether or not you are at home, you will be glad the lock is there. The peace of mind is worth far more than the cost of the lock.  Some people go so far as to install an alarm system in their home, just on the chance somebody might break-in. They are not paranoid; they are protecting their investment. The same could be said of solar panel fasteners.

Solar panels provide a great return on the investment, but the initial cost can be sizeable. What if somebody decided to climb up on top of your roof and help themselves to your solar panels? In a day and age when thieves are brazen enough to steal copper tubing from church properties, it is not farfetched to think solar panels could be the next hot underground market item. If all it takes to protect your investment (and your peace of mind) is a specialty fastener, it makes no sense to use anything else. There are no guarantees in life, but you might as well make it more difficult for someone to take what rightfully belongs to you.

EJOT 3130851905 Solar Fastening System

Secure solar panel installation involves more than simply securing the panels to your roof. Truly secure installation includes methods that keep your property safe from thieves, too. Basic solar panel rack systems use regular, commercial hardware to fasten the panels to the racks. This means that anyone with a wrench the proper size could remove them. Security fasteners, on the other hand, require a special tool, making it more difficult for the average person to remove them without using something drastic like a grinding wheel to detach the panels. And any resident is sure to hear a grinding wheel being used on the roof.

When the philosopher, Socrates, was asked a question by one of his students, he typically responded with another question. The method came to be known as the Socratic method and is still used in educational circles today. So, to answer the question, “Do I really need special fasteners for my solar panels?” consider the following questions:

  • Does an automobile need a car alarm in order to function?
  • Does a house need dead bolts in order to be structurally sound?
  • Does your Wi-Fi need a password in order to connect to the Internet?

The answer, of course, is no. Your solar panels will collect solar energy whether or not they are installed with security fasteners. However, when you consider how the fasteners protect your investment, you quickly realize what a wise decision it would be to insist on them.

Benefits of Solar Panels

Solar panel. Source: sxc.hu

If you have been considering making the switch to solar energy but need just a bit more of a nudge, keep reading. There are numerous reasons to add solar panels to your home or business. Here are just a few of them.

Environmentally friendly

Using solar energy reduces the carbon footprint you leave on the planet. It means you no longer have to rely on electricity or natural gas to power your home. The sun will shine whether inhabitants of the earth use its energy or not, and it doesn’t cost a cent to collect its energy. Additionally, solar panels on your structure can also contribute energy to the surrounding community when you sell the excess solar energy to the local power company.

Save money/make money

Because you no longer need the services of the local energy companies, you save the funds you otherwise would have spent paying bills to those organizations. The other monetary benefit is that you will likely gather more energy than you can use, and you can sell the excess energy to the local company, reducing their dependence on other energy resources as well. In essence, you can save the planet and some cash at the same time.

Source: sxc.hu

Quiet energy

Generators, certain windmills and digging for natural gas all have something in common: they produce power… and noise. Another benefit of solar energy is that it provides energy without producing noise as a side effect. The sun makes no noise as it heats or lights, neither does it make noise when it provides energy for your home or business.

Increase property value

All the benefits of solar energy do require the installation of solar panels. Calculations reveal that it takes approximately 10 years for the panels to pay for themselves. Some argue that the investment is not worth it unless you plan to remain at the same residence for at least that period of time. However, what those individuals fail to mention is that the solar panels actually add to the property value of your home. So even if you don’t remain in the same location for 10 years, you still have the opportunity to recoup your expenses. All the while, the benefit to the environment is priceless.

Unlimited resource

The sun is in no danger of burning out. As long as it shines, it will continue to be a resource for power. Natural gas and fossil fuels can be depleted. There are very few resources that promise an endless supply. The sun is one.

Stable cost

Because the supply of other energy resources fluctuates, so does the price of those resources. This can most easily be seen at the gas pump. Since you don’t pay for the use of the sun, the price does not change. Its energy will be just as free today as it will be in 50 years.

Whether it’s solar panel mounting systems for your solar energy purposes or premium United Abrasives cutting wheels, Tanner Bolt has the supplies to help you get the job done.

It’s Not Rocket Science… But It Is Science

Those of us who work in construction may be respected for our ability to withstand weather and do manual labor hours on end, but rarely do you hear somebody reference our intellect. However, there is a science to what we do. It may not be rocket science, but it is science nonetheless, and the amount of science being implemented in the industry is steadily increasing. Consider what we’ve learned from past experiences with asbestos, lead paint and black mold. Degrees given in construction science are legitimate science degrees and should not be confused with engineering or architecture. Here are some other sciences you may encounter at the work site on any given day.

Geology

There is an old story that talks about a wise man building on rock, while a foolish man builds on sand. Geology matters because foundations matter. If the ground shifts, the structure of the building on top of it is compromised. Understanding different soil materials helps to plan a better foundation.

Construction Site. Source: http://www.stockfreeimages.com/

Physics

A construction site is a virtual laboratory for physics “experiments”. Hard hats are worn because gravity exists. Pulleys make for easier lifting. Just because the crane stops doesn’t mean the item it’s carrying does. Making allotments for buildings and pavement to expand and contract with temperature changes is also physics. Even construction fasteners have scientific merit. Because nails are smooth, there is less friction to hold them in place. Screws, on the other hand, create friction with well-made threads. If the threads crumble, so does the added friction.

Environmental

As we learn more and more about our impact on the environment, there are more and more requests for energy efficient building, solar installations and recycled building materials. This comes in addition to ensuring the construction site does not clog nearby drainage systems or inadvertently rupture a gas line.

Biology

Biology is the study of living things. Like it or not, living things include pests like termites. Knowing which locations are most susceptible and using building supplies and treatments to prevent future problems as much as possible will endear you to the building’s occupants.

Meteorology

Solar panel. Source: http://www.stockfreeimages.com/

You don’t have to know how to predict the weather to understand the damage it can do. Down burst winds, heavy snows, excessive rain, hurricanes and tornados may not be in the seven day forecast while you’re building, but there is a strong possibility any one of those events could occur in the future. To be a quality builder or contractor, you want your work to stand strong against whatever nature throws at you. When you choose solar panel mounting hardware, you want to select hardware that will secure the panels at the proper angles rather than settling for “good enough” and seeing your client’s solar panels fly across the road in a strong windstorm.

You may or may not have excelled at science when you were in school, but on the job, you understand the importance of scientific factors (even if you don’t call them scientific). Choosing the best fasteners is just part of your job.

Specialty Fasteners Simplify Difficult Installations

Flat Head Trim Fit UltraCon with White Stalgard Finish

When the industrial revolution transformed industry, manufacturers quickly designed universal fasteners which were suited for virtually every applications. A simple wood screw was used through the furniture industry, while fine threaded bolts and screws were used in metal product fabrication. Not until the end of the 20th century did manufacturers re-examine their approach to fastener design. Maybe it was advanced manufacturing methods or maybe someone in the field looked at a problem and designed a new, better mousetrap to solve an old problem. In any case, one of the most significant improvements in concrete fasteners in the last century is the concrete screw, or Tapcon screw.

Tapcon screws allow installers to drill smaller pilot holes than traditional shielded anchors. A Tapcon screw is manufactured from hardened steel, and features an abrasive, aggressive thread. Once a pilot hole is drilled, the concrete screw is screwed into the concrete with a power drill in much the same way a wood screw is fastened into wood. Quick and efficient, contractors use the tapcons to install low-load fixtures to concrete and cement block walls.

Installers must be careful with Tapcons, or they will create problems for themselves. First the tapcon hole must be drilled to the proper depth. If the end of the screw hits the bottom of the hole before it is screwed all the way in, the screw will likely ream the hole out, and not be able to grip the concrete.  Secondly, installers must use the correct diameter drill bit. If the hole is too large, the tapcon won’t grip the walls. If the hole is too small, the screw will bind as it enters the hole. In this case, a powerful drill will strip the head completely off the screw in just seconds, thus complicating the installation.

Solar panel mounting hardware – JA3 thread for wood substructure

Another application using specialty hardware is solar panel installation. With our nation’s push toward more green energy solutions, solar panels are being designed into new building energy systems, and are typically mounted in multi-panel arrays on the building wall or roof planes. The individual panels are held into the arrays via custom solar panel mounting hardware. When mounting a solar panel array, the fastener needs to create a ridged structure, but also allow for the panel to be installed and removed for inspection, maintenance and repair. For new buildings, or retrofit installations, the solar panel mounting hardware is designed as a single fastener that screws or threads into the building’s structural shell and then allows the solar panel to be mounted to the end of the fastener which is still exposed to the exterior.

When solar panels are mounted to a building’s roof, these specialty fasteners firmly attach the panels to the roofing system and allow for quick and seamless installation of the panels at a later date. For new buildings, specialty fasteners are recommended which fasten the metal roofing systems to the building’s framework and at the same time provide the studs to which the solar panels mount.

When designing a solar panel installation, make sure to research the installation options ahead of time.  A proper installation requires the right fastener and proper preparation and planning.

Specialty Mounting Hardware

Security screws are designed for installations where the fasteners are visible to the public, and the installer, manufacturer or owner want to ensure their equipment isn’t tampered with, damaged or removed. In a setting such as a public restroom, tamper proof fasteners are used to mount the stalls to the walls. These fasteners are installed with fastener specific tools. Some of the fasteners have a unique shaped slotted head. A traditional Phillips or straight screwdriver won’t fit into the head, and the fastener is installed and removed by a tool that only a the installation contractor would carry. Other security fasteners have a traditional shaped slotted head, like a Torx or Square drive. These fasteners have a small pin in the middle of the slot. A standard tool won’t fit into the fastener’s head. Installing or removing the fasteners requires a special tool that features a dimple in the tip which allows the tip to fit over the pin. These fasteners are called Pin-Head fasteners.
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