Lumeta Solar, BIPV

One thing we know about students who have gone through our training courses is that they’re always looking for the best products. At Heatspring, we want to keep you abreast of the best products in the solar and geothermal industry. Since we always strive to be 100% transparent, we assure you that we were not paid by Lumeta Solar to provide this review; it’s based on the innovation of the product, and we feel Lumeta panels can truly help you with your business.

At PV America I sat down with Nico Johnson, who is heading up Lumeta’s North American sales effort, to discuss the product.

NOTE: If you’re an experienced solar contractor and are interested in getting more information about the product or working with Lumeta, fill out the simple form below and we’ll provide you with information.

Q: What is the history of the product? How was it developed and why?

A: The product was developed by roofers for rooftops. We didn’t have a need to be innovative and on the edge of technology–we simply identified flaws in the existing mounting methodology for certain rooftop applications. There is not a lot of diversity in the building integrated solar photovoltaic (BIPV) market. The panels were developed specifically to address the needs of large customers who wanted a better solar product offering, one that is elegant, has high power density, and which does not compromise the roof integrity or structural load. In the past, there have been few choices which meet these requirements. The first, was to have hundreds of penetrations on the roof, which increases the need for maintenance. Alternatively we had contractors lugging a ton of ballasts on the roof, which most roofing manufacturers are now beginning to acknowledge raises concerns about long-term warranty coverage. This is where we saw the gap for a product that would address the need for zero roof penetrations and for light-weight roof structures.

Because they’ve come directly out of the roofing industry, the founders of Lumeta really
understand the need for and importance of simplifying integration. They wanted a product that any contractor could wrap his mind around, as well as the crew. They also wanted a product that would decrease the balance of system costs–as silicon prices have dropped, balance of system (BOS) costs have increased as a percentage of total costs.

Q: What are some of the key points about the product?

A: – Lumeta is the lightest crystalline silicon module available, weighing in at only 1.8 lbs/square foot – 50% less than traditional racking systems

– It can reduce installation costs by 40-50% thanks to the following advantages: (These can be huge in large commercial projects that require prevailing wage for labor)

  • No racking
  • No ballast
  • No grounding clips
  • No grounding wire
  • Faster layout
  • Fewer components [to install, or lose]
  • Faster load-in time

– It can reduce installation time by as much as 60% (for many of the same reasons) but it
depends on size of job and the skill of the crew
– Designed for low slope roof applications 2:12 (10 degrees or less)
– Finally, Lumeta PowerPly is wind-tested up to 190mph wind uplift, the highest wind rating we
know of for any solar module or mounting system.

Q: What are the applicable roofs?

A: Lumeta is perfect in these applications:

  • If your roof has structural loading problem issues –If the structural loading limit is 2.5 – 3lb/square foot, or less, and the standard racking system will not work
  • If the customer has specific concerns about penetrations
  • If your customer has high wind issues or category C and D wind requirements (the Lumeta panel has been tested to 190mph)
  • If the roof has less than a 10% tilt

Some restrictions include:

  • The Lumeta panels should be installed on new or less than 3-year membrane roofs. This is not specific to Lumeta, it’s just good practice.
  • Compatible roofs are single ply membranes (PVC, TPO, EPDM), modified bitumen, and some metal. The applicability and methodology on specific roof types may vary by manufacturer – Contact Lumeta for details.
  • The roof cannot have any granular deposit on it, tar and gravel, green roof etc, as the modules must adhere to a fixed surface.

Q: Where can customers buy the product?

A: For companies that have an annual install capacity of 1MW or more, we’re happy to discuss direct purchase.

For smaller projects (under 250kw), we’d prefer for customers to go through our channel
partners. See the Lumeta website for further info.

HeatSpring’s Take

Lumeta is targeted for commercial applications so its viability for residential applications is limited. However, if you’re bidding on jobs in the light commercial or large-built environment, you should take a look. With such potential significant savings, if you’re an early adopter, it could give you a significant advantage over other companies using traditional, more expensive, racking. Similarly, if you’re new to the industry and looking to make your crews faster or utilize less expensive labor for the install, their product could be right or you.

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