Solar Eichler and Cool Foam Roofing System Video
Produced by Dura-Foam Roofing & SanJoseGreenHome.com. With Tadas Narauskas (Realtor) interviewing Jarom Feriante (Civil Engineer) on foam roofing and solar power.
- Jarom Feriante: Dura-Foam Roofing & Solar
- Tadas Narauskas: SanJoseGreenHome.com
- Art by Harriet: AcrylicandClay.com
Cool Foam Roof and Solar Video
About the Foam Roofing & Solar Video
Foam roofing combined with solar power is an excellent way to “go green”. SPF foam with solar can improve the comfort of your home, save money on long-term heating, cooling and electricity costs, and greatly reduce your carbon footprint (foam both insulates and makes roofs leak-proof).
Your local power plant generates energy (usually) based on fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, gasoline, etc. The harmful by-products of fossil fuels pollute our atmosphere and may be one of the reasons why health problems, such as cancer rates tend to be higher in industrialized countries than non-industrialized nations, worldwide.
Using an electric car, recycling, or getting a foam roof, or installing solar panels on your home are just a few examples of ways you can help preserve our environment. At the same time, you’re reducing Americas dependency on fossil fuels.
In this video, Tadas Narauskas, a local realtor interviews Jarom Feriante, a masters in Civil Engineering from Stanford University about the benefits of installing solar power and foam roofing on an Eichler (or any flat roof) home. Jarom has spent over a decade working for Dura-Foam, and is an expert in both foam roofing and solar power.
(The camera displays Jarom and Tadas standing on an Eichler style flat roof home. The flat, white foam roof has a large array of blue solar panels with brushed steel edges. A large open-air atrium can be seen near the roof.)
Tadas: Hello, I am Tadas, a Local San Jose realtor. I’m here today on top of a green foam and solar roof because I love researching green homes. Standing next to me here is Jarom Feriante, an Engineer, from Dura-Foam Solar Center. You are not going to believe this but we are standing on the roof of an Eichler foam roof with solar panels, constructed by Dura-Foam Solar Center. Jarom, take over and tell us what Dura-Foam Roofing has done here.
Jarom: First, I want to point out that we are standing on a foam roofing system. Often people ask if you can walk on a foam roof, and here we are, walking on a foam roof.
Tadas: (Looking down at his feet while standing on the foam roof) Yes, it seems sturdy and solid.
Jarom: This is a very good roof for a solar installation since there are excellent levels of (direct) sunlight up here. Normally I would wear sunglasses up here [since it is extremely bright]. The low profile solar array here was used to keep consistent with the look and style of this Eichler. Later on we will get a street view to show how well the solar array and foam roof go with the architecture (camera cuts to street view). We took [aesthetics] into consideration when designing the layout. The [solar array on this Eichler] generates 7.5 kilowatts (a substantial amount of power) and right now it is running the meter backwards. It has Enphase micro-inverters and solar panels by “Trina Solar”. When designing the solar panel layout we took the atrium into consideration and left space so that the atrium cover could slide back and forth without obstruction (camera pans to display atrium).
Tadas: So this thing actually slides back and forth? (Tadas looks at the large open atrium with a giant sliding panel about 15’ by 20’)
Jarom: That’s right.
Tadas: To open up for the breeze and natural cooling.
Jarom: That’s right there are a lot of doorways in the home that open up to the atrium area, which allows a lot of air- fresh air to cycle through the house.
(Jarom and Tadas are now standing with the solar panel array in the background)
Tadas: Jarom, people always want to ask, “what’s my bottom line, why should I put this on my roof?”. Tell me a little about what their needs were in the first place. I understand that the owners of this Eichler are artists and they do a lot of pottery (ceramics) which was resulting in very high energy bills. Tell me more about why they needed solar panels, what their reasoning was, and how did all of this effect their bottom line.
(The camera displays compressors, kilns, ceramic ovens and other equipment which cause the high kilowatt usage)
Jarom: This home has relatively high energy usage for a few reasons. There is a ceramics workshop in the garage with 2 kilns, compressors, a paint booth, and all sorts of electrical equipment. Overall, this home uses over 1,000 Kilowatt hours a month of electricity
Tadas: What kind of bill is that? That sounds huge!
(The video displays some paintings and ceramics work; “Art by Harriet www.AcrylicandClay.com”)
Jarom: Overall they were paying about $300-$400 (USD) per month in electricity (due to the use of 1,000+ Kilowatts per month usage). This solar panel system generates 900 kilowatt hours a month. It does not cover all of their electricity usage (1000+ Kilowatts) but it has cut down their electrical bills to less than $40 a month.
Tadas: So $40 dollars (per month) in contrast to $400 before (per month)!
Jarom: That’s right; it may be well under 100 kilowatt hours (per month). That would only cost about $15 dollars (per month).
Tadas: How long do you think it will take to pay this off (the solar panel installation) and basically get free electricity from the sun?
Jarom: This system will pay for itself in about six or seven years.
Tadas: Six or seven years, yeah!
(Camera now displays Jarom and Tadas behind the home next to an electric meter and a few electrical boxes.)
Jarom: Since this system has micro inverters it has relatively less equipment on the wall. Usually there would be a big inverter next to the main electrical panel, but here we have just a disconnect and a sub panel. All the individual micro-inverters generate AC power from each individual solar panel and they are wired into this box right here (Jarom points at the sub-panel). The shut-off is here (Jarom points to the disconnect box with a small shut-off level). Over here (Jarom points to the main electric panel) we have all kinds of safety labels telling us about the system on the main panel. As you can see [the electric meter] is running backwards at a really good pace right now. Normally [the electric meter] would be going the other way!
(The meter is running backwards due to the photovoltaic reaction in the solar panels which converts sunlight into electrical energy and then the wiring directs the energy back into the solar grid, creating electricity instead of using it. This is why the electrical meter is running the wrong way!).
Tadas: (Tadas points to a neighboring eichler with a tar and gravel roof system) Jarom, these Eichler neighbors have a traditional tar and gravel roof. You were saying those types of roofs can really heat up which basically puts a big cooling demand on the house. (Traditional dark roofing membranes like tar and gravel can reach surface temperatures up to 190 degrees Fahrenheit) Now you mentioned foam roofs are lightweight, durable, cool roof systems. Can you explain what the benefits [of a foam roof system] are?
Jarom: For one thing, [with a foam roof system], you don’t have a few thousand pounds of gravel on your roof. Also [dark roof membranes] get really hot during the summer and surface temperatures can reach well over 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tadas: That’s really heating up the home!
Jarom: Yes it is. Now, first we get rid of all that gravel, and we replace it with a thick layer of (SPF) sprayed polyurethane foam (the best insulator ever invented). Sprayed foam roofing is also waterproof and lightweight; and it allows us to fix just about any problem. For example, if you have any pools of water on your roof, we can use [leak-proof] foam to build up the area correct the drainage problem. (In contrast, other roof systems would require a lot of expensive construction work to correct the problem) Overall, it really makes the home more comfortable because you have a thick blanket of insulation on the roof which doesn’t absorb heat.
Tadas: How much does a sprayed foam roof cost? For example, what would it cost to replace that neighbors tar and gravel roof with SPF foam?
Jarom: Usually SPF foam roofs cost around $6 per square foot. So a 2,000 square foot roof, like that neighbors home might cost around $12,000 USD to replace.
Tadas: That’s not bad.
(Sidenote: Factors such as dry-rot, penetrations, skylights, obstructions, pipes, and severely worn membranes that need to be torn off can substantially increase the cost of any replacement roof. Further cost variances may also be caused by varying city, state, and county regulations.)
Jarom: The cost is very reasonable. Adding a foam roof system is probably one of the best upgrades you can make to a home.
Tadas: Let me guess it’s not one of those things that not necessarily more expensive, but it is a smarter design, right? It’s just a matter of choosing one different element but it makes a huge difference.
Jarom: Some people still don’t know what foam roofing is, and they are often shocked to find out we have been in business over 30 years (in the California Bay Area). It’s really not a new product. In fact, anyone who has seen a space shuttle launch, has seen polyurethane foam. The giant fuel tanks are always insulated with sprayed polyurethane foam to protect them from heating up too much. You can recognize the foam due to its yellow or brownish color. (Note, different types of foam tend to have distinct colors; styrofoam is white, polystyrene is blue, and polyurethane foam is yellow.)
Tadas: So you can say this is NASA technology right here!
Jarom: Yes, this is the future… right here.
Tadas: I’m thinking normally you guys put solar panels on [sloped roofs], right? What should you keep in mind when putting solar panels on a flat roof (e.g. Eichler)? What do property owners need to know?
Jarom: One of the huge advantages (pros) of solar power is that you can point the solar panels in any direction you want. This home-owner wanted the panels to face westward so they could get peak electricity production in the afternoon, which was best for maximizing their payback.
Tadas: What about the duration of foam roof systems? How many years do [foam roofs] last?
Jarom: Underneath a solar panel array you really want a roof system that is going to last you at least thirty years. The reason is, pulling down a solar power system to allow for roof replacement costs at least one dollar per watt. For example, removing this 7,500 watt solar power system then re-installing it again (to allow roof replacement) would cost around $7,500 dollars. To be cost efficient, you really need a roof system under your solar panels that will last a minimum of 30 years.
Tadas: How long is [foam roof system] going to last?
Jarom: This foam roof will last the life of the house. This house now is 50 to 60 years old. The foam roof system will last at least another fifty to sixty years.
Tadas: (whistles)… That’s awesome.
Jarom: The thing you have to do to make sure this roof lasts the life of the house is keep the coating in good shape. This means a recoat needs to be completed at least every 20 years.
Tadas: So you don’t need to be out here every weekend.
Jarom: No, spray polyurethane foam is inert and doesn’t degrade. The only thing that can wear this roof down out are UV rays (from the sun). The coatings we put on every 20 years acts like sunscreen, extending the life of the roof.
Tadas: Jarom thanks for meeting us here today and showing us this house. I think this is reall awesome! There are two things I learned here today: 1-The foam roofing system, makes the house much more comfortable [than a traditional roof system] and 2-solar panels, can off-set the costs of any high energy demand hobby, such as kiln pottery. So what motivates you to do this work? What’s your message to the community?
Jarom: It feels great to do this type of work, because 1-We are making homes more comfortable and more energy efficient and 2-We are also helping customers save a lot money by off-setting their electricity usage. They can feel good about making ceramics, they can feel good about using their air-conditioning, or just watching TV. (Because they are using zero pollution, non fossil-fuel energy to enjoy these activities)
Tadas: And you are a nature guy, so this is right up your alley.
Jarom: I sure am. I love spending time up in the Sierras, climbing places like half-dome. The outdoors is really a great place to be.
Tadas: Thanks Jarom.
Jarom: Thanks Tadas.