Solar Panel Mounting Systems For Roof, Ground, Pole, And Carports

There are mainly two solar panel mounting systems known in the industry; roof and ground mounting. Since solar became the center of sustainable energy, experts have been exploring these two methods and improving on them to ensure that a solar panel is able to collect as much solar energy as possible during peak hours.

Roof Mounting a Solar Panel System

This method was the most preferred from the get-go, and it is still the most popular to date. The three different types of roof mounting are:

  • Sloped Roof mounting
  • Flat-Roof Mounting
  • Non-Penetrating Mounting

While sloped and flat-roof mounting are the most popular mounting styles, non-penetrating mounts are an idea that could gain popularity in the near future.   

Types of Sloped Roof Mounting

Most residential properties utilize the sloped roof mounting system. Because all these systems require some penetration into the roof, installation should be done by an expert to prevent damaging the roof. These systems are:

  • Railed System- a rail is attached to the house using solar panel mounting hardware, sealed tightly, and the supports a row of solar panels.
  • Rail-less System- The panels are attached directly to the roof of a house. Reduces the installation time and cost.
  • Shared Rail System- Two solar panels are hoisted on four rails, then one rail is removed and the panels then share a rail. This is beneficial in large installation projects.

Regardless of which system you chose, Arrow Solar will deliver and install your solar mount in an expert, efficient manner.

Breakthrough in Solar Panel Mounting Systems

Although non-penetrating mounting has only been a thought, it is gaining traction and may soon become the preferred mounting method when perfected. Essentially, a row of solar panels will be draped over the roof at the peak to distribute the weight evenly.

Ballast (small concrete pavers) will be necessary to prevent the panels from slipping but there will be zero penetration. This concept is going to be good for roofs and installation is going to be quite fast. Cost will also go down considerably.

Flat Roof-Mounting System

Most commercial and industrial buildings will utilize the flat roof mounting system, thanks mostly to their design. This system has less roof penetration so the overall time and cost of installation is reduced significantly.

When installing solar panels on a flat roof, a piece of hardware shaped like a tray is placed at the bottom to hold the panels. It will be tilted to an angle – between 5 and 15 degrees – to make the most of the sun. The amount of ballast used depends on the amount of weight the roof can hold. If the roof cannot comfortably hold the weight of the panels, there will be a little penetration.

Because flat-roof mounted solar panels could easily miss the sun, most installations have dual trackers to reduce the angle of incidence.

Growing Popularity with Ground Solar Panel Mounting

Another growing area for solar panel mounting is ground mounting systems. Rather than being on the roof of a home or business, these panels are found mounted on the ground or in the water. The four types of ground mounting systems are:

  • Traditional grounding system
  • Tracking systems
  • Solar carports and canopies
  • Floating solar systems

Ground mount systems can be a great idea because they are very easy to install and they are placed at the perfect angle to maximize the amount of sunlight they take in.

Traditional Grounding Systems

Traditionally, rails are installed on the ground and held together using clamps and bolts to hold a row of solar panels together. For this to be possible, there has to be ample support and so anchoring the beams to the ground is the most time-consuming part of this process.

If the ground is easy to drive a steel beam in, meaning that there are no rocks underneath, then installation would be quite easy. If the ground is rocky, then helical piles and ground screws may be necessary to ensure the ideal anchoring of the beam that will hold the racking system in place.

Ground mounting does not necessitate the drilling of the ground if a concrete base can hold the weight of the panels to be installed.

Tracking Systems

Being as these solar panels may not be in the best position to capture all rays of the sun, trackers are used to move the panels in the sun’s direction. There are a few types of trackers:

  • Single-axis- trackers move east to west to follow the sun and maximize power generation
  • Dual-axis- trackers follow the sun on a more circular path.

Tracking systems are distinct in these two ways: distributed trackers that move a table of panels at a time and centralized trackers move several rows of panels at a time with a single motor. Just to note that trackers are also used on roof mounts.

Solar Carports and Canopies

These are popular in institutions and business campuses where tall, strong beams are raised up off the ground to hold rows of solar panels high up. They are becoming quite popular in commercial parking lots.

Floating Solar Systems

Many reservoirs are seeing the benefit in leasing their spaces to organizations that produce solar power. This system mounts solar panels on water surfaces using a type of plastic that is spread on water like a mat. The entire assembly is initially done on the ground before being mounted on water. Later, more panels can be added to the mat.

The panels are tilted to the side just as they would be on a flat roof to take in all the sun. They are then anchored to the shore by the use of floating anchors. It has been a hit in Asia and parts of Europe, and only now gaining some attention in the US.

Choosing The Right Solar Mounting System

The method you choose will mostly depend on three things: The type of project – commercial or residential; nature of structure you want to mount on – is if flat-roofed or sloped; and available space – is there a water body around you that could be put into better use?

The system of choice should maximize collection of solar energy and if possible, minimize the cost of installation and material.

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