Solaflex Laminates Solutions
Solaflex Laminates (CIGS)
A truly integrated solution
Solaflex is a range of flexible Solar strips with an adhesive backing that bonds directly to the surface of a long run steel roof, rendering it virtually invisible when installed.
We are one of the only suppliers in New Zealand that stock this innovative product range, which presents what is easily the most integrated Solar solution in the market.
For many people the aesthetic impact of conventional Solar modules that are mounted on rails as an appendage to the roof can compromise the overall design value of their home. Solaflex provides an integrated alternative that provides the benefits of generating your own energy that complements, rather than compromises the overall look and feel of your home.
This product type utilises an alternative from of energy generation technology to Photovoltaic (PV) which is most common among conventional Solar modules. Instead, Solaflex use CIGS (Copper indium gallium selenide). Solar cells made of this material is deposited as a very thin layer on the flexible backing strip which then a coating of adhesive applied. Because the material has a high absorption coefficient and strongly absorbs sunlight, a much thinner film is required than of other semiconductor materials.
The efficiency of Solar Laminates is between 16-17% (depending on the product), whereas conventional panels are around 18-20%. However, CIGS technology is known to be more effective in flat pitch conditions, and in vertical application such as wall cladding.
Solaflex Product Range
We carry the recently released Third Generation of this product range, which includes a 290Watt module, and a 125Watt module. Both options are 348mm in width, however there is variation in the length.
The 290Watt option is 5,910mm in length, but requires 100mm clearance from eave line, so 6000mm roof sheet length is the minimum required to be suitable for this product.
The alternative option is 2,585mm in length, and 125Watts per strip. Although it is a lesser wattage, homes with shorter roof sheet lengths that are becoming increasingly more common are now also suitable for this Solar solution.
NB: these products are stocked by us in NZ, and not ordered in on a job by job basis, so we can provide a rapid turnaround from quote acceptance to installation.
It is also possible to ‘mix and match’ on roofs that could accommodate both lengths in different areas. There are some technical limitations to this however, so we recommend a consultation with one of our team to discuss the options.
However, there are some limitations with this product. They are primarily designed for use with long run flat tray roof profiles, and so are not compatible with profiles such as Corrugated iron and conventional trapezoid type roof profiles.
We can also offer a larger product best suited for commercial scale application. These are 500Watts each and are physically larger than our standard range, being 2583 x 1292mm (L x W). This product is typically used on a flat smooth membrane surface, however this may not suit every situation, so they can alternatively be adhered to a customised aluminium plate mounted to the roof.
Please note that these are not a stocked product and so incur a lead time for supply.
Solaflex strips are primarily designed for use with long run steel roofing profiles with a flat pan wide enough accommodate the 348mm strip width.
For best adhesion, we highly recommend a flat surface, rather than one with swages. There is variability in the dimensions of such profiles from other manufacturers, so bearing in mind the strip width is 348mm, the greater the sheet width, the better to minimise the impact of shading in mornings and afternoons.
Solaflex 125W & 290W are best suited to (but not limited to), the following roof profiles:
- Metalcraft Roofing – espan470 https://www.metalcraftgroup.co.nz/products/metal-roofing-and-cladding/products/espan-470/
- Dimond Roofing – Solar-Rib https://www.dimond.co.nz/products/solar-rib
- Roofing Industries – Eurostyle Range http://www.roof.co.nz/products/
- The Roofing Store – Standing Seam https://www.theroofingstore.co.nz/trs-standing-seam-steel-roofing-cladding-new-zealand
As well as metal roofing substrates, it is also possible to apply these Strips to a membrane roof surface. They are commonly applied to smooth surfaced membrane roofs overseas, and we have worked with a major membrane roof manufacturer to develop solutions for compatibility with textured finish membrane roofing also. It is important to note that CIGS technology is less pitch sensitive so has greater performance properties in flat or low pitch conditions than conventional PV panels.
Features & Benefits
The height of the solar cell portion of a strip is only 2.5mm (junction box is 17mm but concealed), and is adhered directly to the pan of the roof sheet, and is therefore one of the few truly Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) solutions available in the NZ market today. However, it also offers significant advantages in terms of its weight saving, wind resistance, and maintenance properties.
- Aesthetic benefits
This technology offers significant as the array becomes virtually invisible on the roof in contrast to conventional solar modules that are mounted on a rail system atop the highest point of the roof profile. On a dark coloured roof, they are usually very hard to spot from the ground at all because the vertical ribs of flat pan roof profiles conceal them from a lateral point of view; yet there is sufficient clearance from the ribs to minimise the risk of shade affecting output. On a low pitch roof, they are usually invisible from the ground, and even on a steeper pitch roof they can be hard to notice when used on a dark coloured roof.
The installation system also conceals all cabling beneath the ridge or head barge flashings, so there is no cabling visible which complements the integrated aspect of the product.
Furthermore, standing seam roof profiles are fast becoming the most desirable roof option among discerning architects and developers looking to add a design difference with a defined look. By integrating a Solaflex array with such a roof, the outcome is a stunning roof with the added advantage of an integrated renewable energy source that does not compromise, but rather complements, the overall aesthetics of the project.
- Weight saving
Another significant advantage of Solar Laminate strips is that they are significantly lighter than conventional Solar panel options (2.09kg/m2 vs. 11.36kg/m2). This means any new or existing roof structure can easily handle the weight of even a significant array size.
This can be particularly relevant when retro fitting to commercial premises, that in the case of conventional panels may struggle to accommodate the far greater weight that an equivalent sized array may add to the building. Int the case of older buildings additional costs may be incurred in reinforcing necessary to bear the weight of conventional Solar panels.
- Less pitch sensitive
Although Laminate strips are slightly less efficient than Solar panels in most cases, the alternative CIGS technology employed by Solar Laminates is less sensitive to variations in pitch. Therefore, they are in fact comparatively more productive in low pitch conditions. Equally they perform better in steep pitch conditions and have been commonly used in wall cladding application overseas, which expands the scope for creative applications for designers.
- Weather resistance
Because the strips are completely flush with the roof surface, they offer superior wind resistance properties. Conventional Solar panels are bracket mounted above the roof and so allow wind to get underneath and exert upwards pressure on the underside of the panels, which are over 1.7m long and 1.6m2 each.
As the strips do not require the multiple penetrations necessary for the conventional panel mounting method, this means there is no risk of water ingress associated with the solar element of the roof when using Laminates. Furthermore, all related cabling is concealed and protected by being run under the ridge or head barge flashings.
The DC cable entry point to the structure is also under the flashings, and does not rely on a boot seal flashing and silicone, so there is literally no penetration required in the roof which is typical of conventional panel installation. This weather protection extends to the junction box on each strip which is also protected from water and UV exposure by the flashings.
The use of Laminate strips also eliminates any complications arising from validating roofing material warranty cover, which requires ‘unwashed areas’ to be cleaned regularly. Access to do so with conventional Solar panels can be tricky at best.
Because there are no metal parts to the Laminate strip system, in terms of mounting hardware and the frames of panels that can accumulate debris, there is far less risk of corrosion occurring over time. This means they are advantageous in areas of high salt exposure.
Cleaning Laminate strips simply involves a wash with fresh water and a soft brush periodically.
The strips have no effect on the potability of water collection from the roof and the strips themselves are durable enough to walk on, although as a precaution we do advise keeping this to a minimum , and to wear only soft soled shoes that are checked to make sure no gravel etc is caught in the soles. However, if you are concerned about this, the ribs of of standing seam profiles are typically strong enough to be walked on without causing any damage to the roof.
This product is supported by our standard 2-year workmanship warranty, and also a 10/25-year output warranty which means 90% output after 10 years and 80% output for the following 15 years which is in line with warranty cover of conventional modules.
PV Laminates can be fitted to both NZ Steel COLORSTEEL ENDURA or MAXX paint grade coating systems without compromising the NZ Steel material warranty.
- The strips cannot be modified/shortened, and cannot be draped over a ridge.
- They are incompatible with Micro inverters.