In September 2022, Hurricane Ian devastated areas of Florida when it swept through the state, causing catastrophic flooding, storm surges, and wind damage. “There has been a lot of general damage. It’s heartbreaking,” lamented Jason Szumlanski, Principal Solar Designer at Florida Solar Design Group.
The harbor city of Cortez, Florida, found itself in Hurricane Ian’s direct path—feeling the brunt force of the Category 4 storm. Ian had maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, with spurts of even higher gusts, according to the National Hurricane Center. Szumlanski continued, “We have roughly 100-plus homes that we have installed [on] between Sarasota and Cape Coral and have seen no real issues.” said Szumlanski after conducting post-storm, on-site visits to assess the aftermath.
Szumlanski continued, “By and large it seems like things worked out reasonably well considering the general devastation. The number one lesson learned is that when installed properly, the mounting systems to the roof do not fail. We’re using quality products from IronRidge and QuickMount, and we had no mounts that came out of roofs.” Considering the strength of the storm and the widespread damage caused to the region, it has been encouraging to see so many solar systems able to withstand such intense pummeling.
Ben Millar, Chief Executive Officer of Sun Harvest Energy, reported that “the Port Charlotte area had 12 hours of category four and five hurricane winds and overall, we saw that the systems performed really well.” Millar brings up the concerns most contractors have, revealing “one of them is, do manufacturers do a good job with their product, and the ease of install. Meaning, can we trust the product. The other concern is what the homeowners think.”
Florida homeowners are aware of the necessity for taking precautionary measures when adding updates to their residence. Millar also states, “We cannot control the weather, but being able to say that all of our employees are IronRidge-certified is a big deal. It’s another box ticked that reassures homeowners in their decision to install solar.” Homeowners installing solar want confidence that their roofs will remain intact and undamaged.
Additionally, Florida homeowners want the added reliance that the systems installed are up-to-code for High-Velocity Hurricane Zones (HVHZ) and extreme winds. Peace of mind in both the manufacturing and installation of the roof mounting system is of the upmost importance. “That’s the consumers number one fear: that the solar panels come off their roof, and they leave a big hole that causes the roof to leak,” concludes Szumlanski.
Approved Solar Racking in Florida Hurricane Zones & Training Courses
IronRidge designs and manufactures pitched roof racking systems that are Florida-approved, in accordance with ASCE 7-16 building code. IronRidge is also the first solar racking to be approved in High Velocity Hurricane Zones (HVHZ). The Florida Product Approval (FL#29843) covers Flush Mount components installed in all regions of Florida, with up to 100 PSF of wind pressure.
To ensure the proper installation of their roof systems, IronRidge hosts a free Installer Certification Program with on-demand online training and hand-on training events. Millar proudly expresses, “We make sure that all our installers go through this certification program. We feel that’s very important.” The IronRidge field training team has trained thousands of installers over the past decade, and has created a no-nonsense, on-demand course designed to increase Installer confidence in using the tools of the trade—while ensuring a clean, quality install.