Solar panel installation on Spanish clay tile roof - floating tile hook vs comp out?

Hi all,

I’m in a bit of dilemma trying to figure out which way to go (and company to go with) for a solar panel install. I’ve gotten close to a dozen quotes/opinions from solar installers and roofers. Only two of those contractors have suggested the tile hook method (not the kind where the hooks would be mounted to the tiles but rather the kind where the hooks are mounted to the decking/rafters). The rest have all been adamant that comp out inlay is the best way to do it. Even my own roofer, who did an underlayment & membrane repair for the prior owners a couple years ago AND replaced a bunch of broken Spanish clay tiles, advised that I should just do a comp out.

It seems there are very obviously two camps and drastically different opinions on either method - I’ve heard some pros and cons to both.

At the end of the day, I just don’t want for there to be any leaks in the roof!

What would you guys suggest in this case?

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Could you define “comp out” for us dummies?..

“Comp out” from what I am told is where they remove the section of the tiles where the panels will go (some companies will opt to do the entire side of the roof that the panels are on even if the panels are on only a specific area/section/portion of the roof), then they install composite shingles, mount the panels directly on top of the composite shingles, and then reinstall all the clay tiles back on the roof and bordering the panels (but not under them). The end result is that the panels sit closer to, inlaid, and more ‘flush’ to the roof itself.

I can see this being appealing because it means the roofers and installers have the freedom to move around freely on the roof when installing the panels and connecting everything. But it definitely costs more to do it this way and I question the integrity of the roof afterwards (guess it depends on who’s doing the install).

So one could assume that because most roofers and installers recommend doing it this way, they might have figured something out?
But on the other hand: what about the installation/addition of things like roof vent caps? Surely those are double flashed and they didn’t “comp out” the area of roof around all these fixtures when installing them! I can’t imagine the hook method would be all that different then and any less viable…

There are tile experts on this site. Any time you attempt to integrate different roof assemblies//materials there is room for error. That said, anyone unfamiliar with tile shouldn’t attempt servicing the roof. Personally, I’d pass on it …

Yea, it doesn’t seem like the greatest idea to mix and match roof types - I’d be concerned with the transition points. Of course my roofer says “that’s why you get a competent roofer” haha. The one company that is recommending doing the tile hook method seems to know what they’re doing. This also seems like a more ‘old school’ way of doing it.

When you say you’d pass on it are you saying you’d pass on the comp out in favor of the tile hook? Or are you saying to pass on the solar install completely? If the latter, I don’t know that we can afford to with the current electric rates as well as the rate they keep going up. We live in an area and under a utility that charges some of the highest electric rates in the nation (after all is said and done with generation/distribution fees/taxes/etc), we’re talking like $2+ per kwh on average!!! It’s insane… we would remiss not to at least research and seriously consider solar where we are. It’s an unfortunate reality. I’d go for a ground mount but we don’t have the space for that

I’ve labored on a couple tile jobs, but don’t have enough experience to consider myself proficient. Wouldn’t take the job.

I would definitely recommend the comp strip, although I hate trading long lasting tile for comp, especially on a southern exposure. If it was flat tile there are better attachments but it’s just too dicey with profile tile. We always had comp strips in California, where HVAC units were frequently roof mounted. If done properly it is easy to flash intersection between different roof systems. If panels take up majority of that section you’re better off just converting the whole side to comp, but metal would be much better if you can swing it.

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We do have a neighbor up the hill and behind us that converted their roof to metal and installed solar - it looks sleek but completely out of place in a neighborhood full of Spanish clay tile roofs lol. Looks like a pricey thing to do as well. One company was suggesting to comp out the entire side to be most thorough. This would obviously be the most expensive option. Most other companies want to only comp out the section that’s needed. They were describing as what I think you mean by “comp strip” where the comp runs from the roof line down to the edge (?).

What is the concern with the hooks attached to the decking/rafters as long as all the mount points are properly double flashed? The foreman for this company was telling me that they will definitely be breaking tiles but part of the quote is to replace whatever tiles are broken too. If the hooks are attached to the decking then the weight of the panels will be on the decking/rafters and not the tiles right? I’m just trying to understand what the concerns are going this route - I would imagine this company has done enough of these installs to be comfortable with preferring them. They are a roofing first company btw and happen to have a solar ‘division’ - good reviews on Yelp as well.

Yelp, Angies list, et al are NOT reliable. Talk to previous customers.

This particular contractor I found through the GAF website as well (Top Residential Roofers Near Me | GAF Roofing). They come highly regarded in general. But yea I suppose I could ask for customer references from them?

Sign up with a reference company and write all the praises you’d about your business. GAF sells shingles. crappy ones at that, but they’ll reference one of their installers…

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The only requirement to get on Gaf referral list is to sell lots of their product. You do know Gaf doesn’t have anything to do with concrete tile right? I repeat; I would not install solar on a Spanish tile roof.

Okay, so this is a video of how the installation would roughly go per my understanding:

I shouldn’t have used the term “tile hook” as I understand that can be misleading. In this case it’s a post/double-flash mount method of installation.

If/when someone installs a new roof penetration on their Spanish clay tile roofs, like roof vents/caps, etc, how do they go about it? I would imagine it being somewhat similar when installing these solar mounts no?