No, we have many years of installing solar systems, and use two leak proof systems. For new roofs, lead flashings can be built in during the construction process, for retrofits, with older roofs, abs plastic gasket filled with elastomeric roofing mastic (rubberized tar) is used.
Yes, it is possible, but overall, the systems are different and serve different purposes. Using photovoltaic systems to heat water will require much more solar panels, either increasing the cost of the photovoltaic system or decreasing its efficiency.
Yes, a bill is a bill, with the savings a solar thermal system provides, your reduced gas utility bill will help you to pay your electric bill. This will also reduce burnt gases that release into the atmosphere causing global warming. We are always encouraging burning less gas!
Besides the cost, the main difference is that a solar thermal hot water system does what it says. It provides hot water through solar energy. The panels and equipment needed is also much different than a photovoltaic system. In general, the photovoltaic system is used to convert solar energy to usable electricity, and help you to make your own electricity to use and reduce your electric bill.
It depends on who installs it. I think some solar companies do fast and sloppy work, and don’t care if it looks good. With Affordable Solar Contracting, we take every measure we can to ensure a quality, professional installation is done right and looks good. For new construction, pipes and conduits can be built in. However, for existing homes, these sometimes must be run up the exterior wall. This may be unavoidable. We do not cut corners or do things ‘cheaply’. Our reputation has been built on quality installations at affordable prices.
Standing seam aluminum roofing. See it at s-5.com, as it says, you can attach anything to this roof using a clamp system. Thus no penetration into the roof is made and possibility of leaks is zero. We have been working with and recommending this roofing material for years. It is not a cheap roofing material, but it is the best.