Alpine SnowGuards in 2020: A first-of-its-kind research facility

Since the early 1990’s, Alpine has spent a great deal of time and money on structural testing of snow guards. Some of these results are now 20 years old. As we begin a new year, we’ll begin the process of completely retesting every product we offer. Our first-of-its-kind research facility will allow us to start the process of testing our products for performance – not just for strength. Structural testing is important, but on its own, it doesn’t answer the questions that are really asked.

Retesting Snow Guards as a Result of Roofing Material Changes

Just like the passing of the years changes things, materials can and do change, specifically (but not exclusively) in the metal roofing business. Material thicknesses will vary, coatings will vary and sometimes, substitutes are used on projects in order to save money. Slate thicknesses vary also, synthetics sometimes change formulations and tile is all over the map. In addition, installation techniques have evolved. Natural slate, for example, has at least three new, less expensive installation methods due to the use of less material. Some synthetic slate is installed in interlocking tile configurations instead of a typical overlapping slate style, etc. For this reason, January is the month we’ll start to retest every product that we offer. As the owner of Alpine SnowGuards, I believe that product testing is essential. If a manufacturer cannot provide structural testing values that are less than 10 years old, those values should be questioned.

Performance Testing

Our customers, building owners, architects and engineers want to know how these products perform. So, we began to performance test in Toronto, Canada (a few photos from the initial tests are below).

A First-of-its-Kind Research Facility

One of the ways we’ll continue to stay on top of research and snow guard performance is by using the new building that we’ve recently constructed at our facility in Vermont. The sole purpose of this building is to study and monitor snow guard performance. This is the first and only project of its kind that we’re aware of.

The building is a salt box configuration. One side is 7/12 pitch and the other side is a 12/12 pitch. The roof is divided into 3 separate roof sections. Section one is metal, section two is composition shingles and section three is synthetic slate. This allows us to monitor each roof type, on different roof pitches, side by side with other common roofing materials so that we aren’t just monitoring snow guard performance, we’re simultaneously monitoring snow guard performance on different roofing materials.

We’ve also constructed a roof with natural slate next to clay tile, a membrane mock up and a solar panel mock up. All of these mock ups are monitored by 16 cameras operating on a 24/7 basis. One of the cameras captures images of our factory roof which has a 3/12 pitch standing seam metal roof, both with and without snow guards.

This ongoing, multi-year study (which will evolve and change as we document data) will be the topic of many future blogs as winter conditions in Vermont allow us to capture data. We’ll begin posting video clips soon to show our customers how our products perform in varying conditions.

Online Project Calculator Certified by Structural Engineering Firm

Alpine SnowGuards tests every product line that we produce and sell with the exception of custom “one-off” products. Those are tested upon request, sometimes by the customer with a specialized application – cost is often shared.

We’ve conducted product structural testing since the early 1990’s, with the results incorporated into our design tool, the Online Project Calculator (sign up at this link, or contact the Alpine staff if you would like more details). The calculator is certified by a structural engineering firm who’s licensed in all 50 states. A certified or “stamped” calculation for all projects that utilize the calculator is available at no charge. Project-specific structural engineering stamps are available – if you’d like more details, please give us a call at 888.766.4273.

We’re both optimistic and enthusiastic about 2020. We continue to lead the snow guard industry with up to date structural snow guard testing. That combined with the first of its kind performance studies will help answer questions no other firm has the will, or ability, to tackle.

Until next time,

Brian Stearns

President & Founder, Alpine SnowGuards

We keep snow in its place


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Alpine SnowGuards designs, engineers, and manufactures snow management systems from our facility in Morrisville, VT. We work closely with leading roofing contractors, engineering firms, developers, solar installers and roofing manufacturers to ensure we deliver quality products that do what we say they’ll do. Alpine SnowGuards can help a building qualify for LEED® credits.