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Posted On: August 27, 2020

Different Types Of Solar Panel Mounts

Solar Panel Mounts

Solar mounting systems are an essential part of the system’s design and function. Solar panel mounts provide support to the structure in order for panels to achieve optimum tilt. Mounts also affect the overall temperature of your solar power system. 

The cooling mechanism for your solar power system also depends on which type of solar mounting structure you choose. Roof-mounted panels don’t cool as quickly as ground-mounted solar panels. Roof mounts may require a cooling system that can handle the overall temperature and maintain the efficiency of the panels. The type of solar mounting system you choose also affects total output throughout the year. 

Which type of mounting is best for your residential solar system? In this article, let’s explore each available option. Once you understand the different types of mounting systems and how the installation is done, you can choose the best option for your project.

Sloped Roof Mounting Systems

Many homeowners choose a roof-mounted solar system because they cost less than ground mounts. This is because the roof serves as the support structure, and ground mounts would require you to provide that structure.

Most homes have a sloped roof, so the solar panel mounting structure must adjust the panels to an inclined roofline. Lately, manufacturers have created lots of options. These are the most common:

Solar Panel Mounts - rails

Railed Mounting Systems

These solar panel mounts consist of attaching a set of rails to the rooftop. Then, panels, positioned vertically, are attached to the rails with clamps. The rails themselves are secured to the roof with screws and bolts. Flashing is installed around the hole to create a watertight seal.

Railless Mounting Systems

Instead of attaching to rails on the roof, these systems attach the panels directly to hardware (connected to bolts and screws) going into the roof. The panels frame functions as the rail. Contrary to popular belief, railless systems have just as many attachments to the roof. 

What’s the benefit of a railless system? Fewer components mean less cost and less time spent on installation. Also, panels using this type of solar mount can be positioned in any orientation to gather as much sunlight as possible. 

Shared Rail Mounting Systems

This solar mounting system is very similar to the railed solar mount system. You will only need to install three rails. By using two rails on the edges and one in the middle to “share,” these systems can cut down on the number of rails that need to be installed. The result is less cost and fewer holes in your roof. 

Flat Roof Solar Panel Mounts

If you’re installing a solar system on a commercial or industrial building, you will probably want to consider a flat roof mounting system. The roofs on these types of buildings do sometimes have a slight tilt but aren’t as steep as residential roofs. 

Flat roof solar mounts are generally positioned over a large level surface so they’re usually easy to install. They’re often assembled before installation. 

Flat roof mounting systems come in many configurations. Plastic and polymer-based solar panel mounts are very popular for flat roof systems. Although aluminum and stainless steel systems can still be an option, most prefer the plastic mounts due to their lightweight.

Ballasted Solar Panel Mounts

Solar mounting systems for flat roofs are commonly ballasted with few penetrations. Since they’re positioned on a large, level surface, flat roof mounting systems can install relatively easily and benefit from pre-assembly. Most ballasted mounting systems for flat roofs use a tray-like piece of hardware with a tilt that rests on the roof, holding ballast blocks in the bottom and panels along the edges. 

Panels are tilted at the best angle to capture the most sunlight. The amount of ballast used depends on how much weight the roof can support. When a roof can’t support a lot of extra weight, penetration may be required. As with other solar mounts, panels attach to the ballasted mounting system through clamps or clips.

On large flat roofs, panels are best positioned facing south, but power can still be generated in other configurations. Many flat roof mounting systems also have dual-tilt systems. 

BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaics)

As consumers become more and more interested in ways to make solar systems and panels aesthetically pleasing, builders are creating new and exciting building-integrated options (BIPV), some with their own unique solar mounts. Here are some of the more popular BIPV options:

Solar Shingles

As solar systems gain popularity, more and more unique configuration options are appearing every day. Currently, solar shingles are gaining popularity due to their aesthetic appeal. Solar shingles are built into the structure. Therefore, no solar mounts are needed. 

Solar Facades

In recent years, solar facades have become another popular option. Panels can be installed not only on the roof but on the Building facades, too. 

The integration of panels is also possible in the glass-interspaces of doors and window fronts. However, the electricity yield is lower than that of the PV modules, which face the sun directly.

Solar Panel Mounts

Ground Solar Panel Mounts

If your roof isn’t ideal for mounting solar panels, you might want to consider ground-mounts. Ground-mounted panels are perfect for those who do not have space restrictions to worry about. There are two different types of ground mounts and multiple foundation options available. The most common is the standard ground mount, but pole mount solar panels are also available for consumers who need something different. Solar homes with pole-mounted solar panels provide increased productivity in colder climates with less sun exposure.

Integrated Modules in Roofing Membranes

Another new BIPV invention: thin solar film panels which are light and bendable. These panels are integrated into roll-off roofing membranes for complex roof shapes. The cost of these BIPV systems is high, so they aren’t often seen in family homes. However, these new solar options offer a chance for everyone to go solar.

Now that you know about a wide range of solar mount types and techniques, which mounting system would be best for your own rooftop solar system? To learn more about what type of solar panel mounts might work for your solar system project, contact an expert from Harness Power for a consultation today to get the answers to all your solar power questions and quotes for your upcoming solar project.

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