|Publication number||USRE38988 E1|
|Application number||US 10/414,347|
|Publication date||Feb 28, 2006|
|Filing date||Apr 15, 2003|
|Priority date||Apr 8, 1996|
|Also published as||CA2249350A1, CA2249350C, DE69736324D1, DE69736324T2, EP0892877A1, EP0892877A4, EP0892877B1, US5746839, WO1997038185A1|
|Publication number||10414347, 414347, US RE38988 E1, US RE38988E1, US-E1-RE38988, USRE38988 E1, USRE38988E1|
|Inventors||Thomas L. Dinwoodie|
|Original Assignee||Dinwoodie Thomas L|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (35), Non-Patent Citations (2), Referenced by (92), Classifications (23), Legal Events (4)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This invention was made with Government support under Agreement No. FG09-95EE15638 awarded by the Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in this invention.
This application is related to U.S. Pat. No. 5,316,592, issued May 31, 1994 to Dinwoodie, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,505,788, issued Apr. 9, 1996 to Dinwoodie, the disclosures of which are incorporated by reference.
This invention generally relates to a photovoltaic roofing assembly, and in particular to a lightweight photovoltaic roofing assembly requiring no roofing penetrations and which resists wind up-lift due to specialized component geometry and by acting as an integral assembly.
As the cost of solar cells declines, the non-solar cell components necessary for a functioning photovoltaic system begin to dominate the overall system costs. For this reason, there is a growing trend to develop photovoltaic assemblies which eliminate or reduce non-solar cell components, and where the photovoltaic cell displaces conventional building components. Special care must be taken to ensure that new products based on photovoltaic materials remain safe with respect to environmental factors such as wind-loading and environmental stresses.
A prior art photovoltaic roofing assembly is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,886,554 issued Dec. 12, 1989 to Woodring et al. Woodring's assembly includes a plurality of insulation blocks disposed as a layer on top of a roofing membrane, a plurality of concrete pavers disposed as a layer on top of the plurality of insulation blocks, and a plurality of photovoltaic cells, each supported on a respective paver. A key feature of Woodring's assembly is the attachment of the solar cell to the supporting paver. But such attachment suffers from several disadvantages:
a) by including a roofing paver, the assembly is more complicated than necessary and more costly to manufacture.
b) the assembly does not employ a method by which to limit the temperatures experienced by the solar cells and other components. Solar cells are known to decline in efficiency with increasing temperatures. Hence, by offering no mechanism for temperature abatement, the assembly will operate less efficiently, with unknown long-term effects due to high temperature exposure.
c) by placing both a concrete paver and photovoltaic module onto the insulation block, the insulation block is inhibited from ventilating and expiring moisture. As a result, upon exposure to moisture, the insulation block takes longer to dry out, thus reducing its insulating value and degrading the integrity of the insulation block over time.
d) the assembly has multiple modes of potential failure, which include the paver component and its means of bonding. These components will be subjected to 20-30 years of an exposed and harsh weather environment at elevated temperatures. Any form of delamination is unacceptable. Delamination would cause dislocation of solar cells due to wind loading, and potential exposure of the insulation and membrane layers below.
Another prior art solar roofing assembly is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,674,244 issued Jun. 23, 1987 to Francovitch. Frankovitch's assembly includes a roof substrate which is substantially flat, an insulation structure thereon having an inclined surface, an elastomeric membrane over the substrate and the structure, the membrane being applied to and supported by the substrate and structure, and supporting an array of photocells. A key feature of this assembly is the attachment of the solar cell directly to the roofing membrane. By such attachment, this assembly suffers from several disadvantages:
a) the assembly does not employ a method by which to limit the temperatures that will be experienced by the solar cells and roofing membrane, thus reducing the efficiency of the solar cells and reducing the life of the roofing membrane.
b) the assembly has multiple modes of potential failure, which include failure due to thermal stresses on the roofing membrane and its means of bonding.
c) the assembly requires roof fasteners which penetrate the protective roofing membrane, which make the installation much more complicated and more costly than is necessary. In addition, such penetrations increase the risk of water leakage, with consequent damage to the building and its contents.
Other patents related to a photovoltaic roofing assembly include U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,835,918 issued Jun. 6, 1989 to Dippel; 4,189,881 issued Feb. 26, 1980 to Hawley; 3,769,091 issued Oct. 30, 1973 to Leinkram et al; 4,040,867 issued Aug. 9, 1977 to Forestieri et al; 4,321,416 issued Mar. 23, 1982 to Tennant; 4,860,509 issued Aug. 29, 1989 to Laaly et al; 5,092,393 issued March, 1992 to Nath et al; 5,112,408 issued May, 1992 to Melchior, 4,389,533 issued Jun. 21, 1983 to Ames; 4,677,248 issued Jun. 30, 1987 to Lacey; 5,338,369 issued Aug. 16, 1994 to Rawlings; German patent No. DE 3611542 A1 issued Apr. 5, 1986 to Cohausz et al.; and Japanese patent No. 3-200376 issued Sep. 2, 1991.
According to the present invention, a lightweight, self-ballasting solar cell roofing assembly is preferably formed with two portions. One portion consists of a plurality of photovoltaic modules, together with spacers which rest on a conventional building rooftop. The spacers are preferably pre-formed and are sized and configured to provide passageways beneath the photovoltaic modules extending from at least two sides of the modules to reduce uplift forces on the modules. The photovoltaic modules with spacers preferably have interlocking edges or corners. The second portion is a means of perimeter securement which avoid roof membrane penetrations, such as the use of roofing pavers.
The photovoltaic module portion is situated over the building rooftop in a manner to be exposed to solar radiation and electrically connected for transport of electricity. The paver portion is situated over the same building and interlocks with the photovoltaic modules with spacers. Other means of perimeter securement are possible, including placing metal flashing along the edge of the perimeter modules and connecting the flashing end-to-end around the array perimeter, or adhering said flashing to the roofing membrane. The photovoltaic module performs the multiple functions normally provided by a roofing paver, including ballast, UV protection, and weather protection for the membrane and insulation layers below. Together the two portions serve the dual function of a self-ballasted protective roof covering and an assembly for the collection of radiant energy.
In an alternate embodiment, the solar cell roofing assembly is formed with three portions. The first portion consists of a plurality of insulation blocks which are situated on a conventional roofing membrane. The second portion consists of a plurality of photovoltaic modules, together with spacers which rests on the plurality of insulation blocks. The insulation blocks with photovoltaic modules and spacers have interlocking edges. The photovoltaic module performs multiple functions, including ballast, UV protection, and weather protection for the membrane and insulation layers below. A third portion is a means of perimeter securement, such as metal flashing or conventional roofing pavers, located at the perimeter of arrays of photovoltaic modules and tying the entire array together as an integral assembly. Other means of perimeter securement are also possible. Together the three portions serve the dual function of a protected membrane roofing system and an assembly for the collection of radiant energy.
Accordingly, the present invention provides several features and advantages:
a) a detailed geometry for lightweight photovoltaic roofing tiles and assemblies which ensure adequate resistance to wind uplift forces acting on a building rooftop while eliminating the need for roof membrane penetrations for holddown;
b) a roofing assembly which weighs roughly one-sixth to one-third that of conventional ballasted roofs, thus reducing or eliminating the need for added building structural support;
c) an assembly which works with virtually all built-up and single ply membranes, and an assembly which can be free of chlorinated fluorocarbon;
d) a simple and low-cost photovoltaic roofing assembly, where components within the product provide multiple functions as a roofing component, including ballast, weather protection, and UV protection for the insulation and waterproof membrane below;
e) a photovoltaic roofing assembly which enjoys ease of fabrication due to its simple construction;
f) a photovoltaic roofing assembly that displaces the costs of conventional roofing materials and their installation, thereby enhancing the value of the photovoltaic portion as a synergistic building component;
g) a product with minimal modes of potential failure;
h) a roofing assembly which yields social benefits by making photovoltaic technology more cost competitive. This facilitates transition to a clean, renewable energy economy, and helps to mitigate air pollution and global warming.
The foregoing and other features and advantages of the invention will be more fully apparent from the description of the preferred embodiments of the invention when read in connection with the accompanying drawings.
Description of FIGS. 1A-1D:
Spacer Geometry Directly on Roofing Membrane
Membrane 102 is supported on conventional roof framing (not shown), and may be attached thereto by conventional methods, such as fasteners or adhesives. Membrane 102 may also rest directly on an insulation block which is supported on conventional roof framing. Modules 104, 106, 108 are electrically connected using electrical conductors (not shown) and are arranged in an array of modules. Each of modules 104, 106, 108 has at least one photovoltaic cell. Examples of photovoltaic modules include those incorporating thin-film deposition onto glass, stainless steel or ceramic substrates and manufactured by such companies as Solarex Corporation, United Solar Systems Corporation, Energy Photovoltaics, Inc. and Astropower, Inc., and modules of single or polycrystalline silicon cells such as those manufactured by Astropower, Inc., Siemens Solar Industries, and Solarex Corporation.
The preferred method of manufacture of the solar roofing assembly is indicated as follows: Modules 104, 106, 108 are added to, bonded to, or otherwise attached to, respective spacers 112, 114, 116, 118, 120, 122, 124, 126 (or for sloped modules, spacers 130, 132, 134) in the manufacturing plant or in the field. A roofing membrane is placed on a roof. The modules and spacers are placed in arrays on top of the roof membrane. Roofing pavers are situated around the perimeter of photovoltaic modules and interlock at the perimeter of the modules. Such construction results in a simple, readily assembled roofing assembly which can be lightweight while resisting the forces of wind uplift.
The advantages of the foregoing assembly include:
1. The assembly is lightweight
(9.76-19.53 kg/sq. m or 2-4 pounds/sq. ft.) relative to conventional roofing ballast (48.8-73.2 kg/sq. m or 10-15 pounds/sq. ft.), relying on a combination of weight, edge to edge connection, and spacer geometry to resist the forces of wind uplift.
2. The photovoltaic roofing assembly, which can be used on a flat or mildly sloping roof, minimizes water leakage through the roof.
3. The photovoltaic module provides multiple functions as a roofing component, including ballast, weather protection, and UV protection for the membrane layer below.
4. By displacing roofing components and their installation, the value of the photovoltaic module is enhanced, thereby enhancing the cost-competitiveness of energy from a clean and renewable resource.
5. The cost of installation of the assembly is minimized due to ease of fabrication and simple construction. Quality control is maximized by using shop assembly.
6. The solar roofing modules are reusable. They can be readily disconnected and reassembled onto other rooftops. Spacers 112, 114, 116, 118, 120, 122 of the assembly can take several forms, but preferably follow the periphery of each of modules 104, 106, 108 while having openings that are between 5% to 50% of the edge length of the module. This geometry has been determined to be preferred as a result of extensive wind-tunnel testing, and results in near instantaneous and uniform equilibration of pressures at the top and bottom side of modules 104, 106, 108 under conditions of high windspeed, thus reducing net uplift forces due to wind-loads.
Description of FIGS. 2A-2D:
Spacers as Panelized System
Spacers 220, 222, 224 of the assembly can take several forms, including c-channels, plastic tube, or metal bar.
The advantages of the assembly of
1. Inclined photovoltaic modules 204, 206, 208, 210, 212 operate at a relatively high efficiency, due to their top surfaces being close to a plane normal to solar radiation.
2. By inclining the photovoltaic modules, natural convection using outside air as a convection fluid is enhanced, due to the facilitation of convective currents on the backside of a planar surface when that surface is inclined.
Description of FIGS. 3A-3D:
Spacer Geometry over Insulation Block
The advantages of the foregoing assembly include, in addition to the advantages of FIG. 1:
1. The spacer geometry serves to reduce to net forces of wind uplift, thus enabling the assembly to be lightweight (9.76-19.53 kg/sq. m or 2-4 pounds/sq. ft.) relative to conventional roofing ballast (48.8-73.2 kg/sq. m or 10-15 pounds/sq. ft).
2. The roofing tiles provide roofing insulation as well ballast, weather and UV protection for the membrane layer below.
Description of FIGS. 4A-4B:
Plan View of the Photovoltaic Roofing Assembly
While the invention has been described in its preferred embodiments, it is to be understood that the words which have been used are words of description rather than limitation and that changes may be made within the purview of the appended claims without departing from the true scope and spirit of the invention in its broader aspects.
The present invention provides a simple, efficient, quickly installed, reusable, and low-cost solar module assembly for roofs or other flat or mildly sloping surfaces whereby internal geometries of the roofing tile components minimize the net forces of wind uplift.
While the above description contains many specificities, these should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention, but rather as an exemplification of one preferred embodiment thereof. Many other variations are possible. For example, the integral solar module unit consisting of a solar module bonded to insulation block can be utilized independent of a roofing membrane. As a further example, the solar roofing assembly may include an additional layer consisting of fabric or other material disposed above the roofing membrane and below the photovoltaic module with spacers, which layer may provide an additional protective barrier for the roofing membrane and/or slipsheet.
As a further example, the solar modules with pedestals or spacers may include leveling plates placed under or over the pedestals or spacers for leveling the photovoltaic modules, or for achieving a pre-determined slope of the photovoltaic modules.
As a further example, the insulation block may be coated with an intumescent coating or other means of fireproofing in order to achieve a desired fire rating as a building roofing assembly.
As a further example, whereas the edge to edge connection between adjacent modules was often shown as a tongue and groove assembly, any means of edge connection is possible, including mechanical clips, adhesives, “skewer” inserts which penetrate the insulation block, and other means. In addition, the positive connection between modules may be accomplished as follows. The photovoltaic modules may rest on spacers which in turn rest on insulation board which is loose laid on the roofing membrane. The photovoltaic modules may then span and be bonded to adjacent insulation blocks which would provide a positive connection between adjacent insulation blocks and adjacent photovoltaic modules. The latter would assist the assembly in resisting the forces of wind uplift.
As a further example, the top of all insulation blocks may be painted with a paint which is opaque to ultraviolet radiation, thereby lengthening the life of the insulation block in applications where the photovoltaic module is not opaque to ultraviolet radiation.
As a further example, the spacers need not be made integral with the photovoltaic module in the shop, but may be laid in the field as stringers and the PV modules attached thereto in the field.
As a further example, the angle of the photovoltaic module can range from about 0°-30°, preferably about 5°-30°, and more preferably about 5°-12°.
Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined not by the embodiments illustrated, but by the appended claims and their legal equivalents.
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|U.S. Classification||136/251, 136/291, 52/173.3, 136/246|
|International Classification||H01L31/048, H01L31/042, E04D13/18, E04D13/00, F24J2/52|
|Cooperative Classification||Y02E10/47, F24J2002/467, F24J2/4638, F24J2/5239, Y02B10/20, Y02B10/12, H02S20/24, F24J2002/5292, F24J2/5237, F24J2002/4692, Y10S136/291|
|European Classification||F24J2/52A8F, F24J2/52A8E, H01L31/048B3|
|Jun 21, 2007||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: PLUTO ACQUISTION COMPANY LLC, DELAWARE
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:POWERLIGHT CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:019466/0015
Effective date: 20070110
Owner name: POWERLIGHT CORPORATION, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: CONTRIBUTION AND ASSUMPTION AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:PLUTO ACQUISTION COMPANY LLC;REEL/FRAME:019466/0001
Effective date: 20070110
Owner name: SUNPOWER CORPORATION, SYSTEMS, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:POWERLIGHT CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:019466/0061
Effective date: 20070613
|Nov 5, 2009||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 12
|Jun 29, 2012||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: SUNPOWER CORPORATION, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:SUNPOWER CORPORATION, SYSTEMS;REEL/FRAME:028486/0935
Effective date: 20120628
|Mar 4, 2014||IPR||Aia trial proceeding filed before the patent and appeal board: inter partes review|
Free format text: TRIAL NO: IPR2014-00388
Opponent name: PANELCLAW, INC.
Effective date: 20140128