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Solar Mounting Systems: Understanding the Basics

Solar panels are for more than just standard residential buildings. They can provide green energy via photovoltaic cells to whoever needs them. Mounting systems can help you to have concentrated systems by having solar panels closely attached together. 

About Mounting Systems

Solar mounting systems are used to install solar panels onto a variety of surfaces. Residential ones are most often placed on roofs, but they can also be put on places like open land or even parking lots. 

Most of these mounting systems are made from aluminum or steel. They are made to handle extreme temperatures and elements, including heavy rain, wind, or snow. 

solar panels

Since solar panels can be mounted anywhere, there are different types of mounting systems to fit every location better. Some common examples are pole, ground, and carport mounts. 

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Types of Racking Systems

Solar Panel Pole Mounting Systems

Pole mounting systems are used when the roof isn’t ideal for placing solar panels, but there isn’t a lot of ground space, either, or there is a lot of shade on the ground and you need the panels a little higher. They can also be inclined, so they aren’t sitting at a flat angle, no matter what angle they are put on the mount at. 

It can still take up a lot of space and tends to be used for ranches, farms, and large private properties more than the average residential house. 

Usually, these systems have automatic tracking integrated to adjust the solar panels so they get the maximum amount of light and power throughout the day. 

Though it takes up space, they are considered a straightforward installation. Since you don’t have to pick panels based on your roof size or angle, you can get more solar panels, and they move with the sun, instead of being angled in one direction. 

Studies have shown as well that the airflow associated with pole mounts allows for better performance of solar panels, and cleanup and maintenance are also much easier than on a roof. Since solar panels don’t do anything with heating, they don’t use the thermal energy, and heat can actually damage them, so the airflow is beneficial. 

Solar Panel Ground Mounting Systems

These systems are designed to work at any angle or direction. They can also be easily installed and maintained. Usually, they are made up of a metal frame that is driven or screwed into the ground so that the panels are put in at the correct angle. 

There are even low penetration options, so you don’t have to install them deeply in the soil. Some of the panels are set so that the angle can’t move, but many more of them have adjustable angles that are anywhere between 0 and 55 degrees. 

This is to help your solar panels adjust to get the most sun throughout the year. 

Ecological green energy solar panels plant mounted on the ground

If you live in an area where there is a lot of strong weather, some ground mounting systems come with added strength, like concrete or steel to help the mounts and solar panels stand up no matter what comes their way. 

These mounting systems are most often used with larger solar panel arrays, such as for large commercial buildings, industrial buildings, or a city grid where there is a lot of space available. 

Solar Carport Mounting Systems

These are systems used in carports that have roofs over the top of them. They can work with single and double-row carports or any configuration. These are ideal for places with EV charging stations, as it provides a way to offer power easily. 

Additionally, some people use solar panels in place of the roof so that less material is used, and the coverings for the cars also provide a service. 

Key Components of a Racking System

Roof Attachments

The roof attachments are usually just a bolt or a screw that goes into the roof. The hole and area where the screw enters are then covered and surrounded with flashing. This allows for a water-tight seal so that water doesn’t get into the roof and damage it. 

Mounting Rails

The rails are where the solar panels sit on top of them. They provide structure and support to the panels for increased sturdiness. Usually, the panels are made from aluminum and can be faced horizontally or vertically. 

Large solar panel and three wind turbines in a sunny field

Module Clamps

The module clamps are what secure the panels onto the rails. There are usually two kinds of clamps used, which are end-clamps and mid-clamps. Mid-clamps are usually placed between solar panels to hold both sets in place, while end-clamps are at all ends of the solar arrays. 

Mounting System Installation

Solar mounting systems are usually installed by a company. Many of them have a design that works better for certain products and mountings, so it is best to let the installers do the job. For example, some mounting systems work on rooftops and specifically for a flat roof, while other equipment works better for a ground mount.

Mounting System Maintenance & Repair

Solar mounting systems don’t need a lot of maintenance and repair. Sometimes, severe weather can cause damage, but it isn’t likely. Occasional lubing up to prevent rust and brittleness can be done by the maintenance person that comes to look at your solar panels. 

Occasionally, you may just want to wipe down the system to prevent any build-up. If mounted on a roof, you can also check that no leaks are happening and the flashing is still secure. 

FAQ

How much do solar mounting systems cost?

Solar mounting systems are usually not priced separately from the solar system itself, as they are just considered materials for the installation. For a pole-mounted system, you can expect to pay about $100 to $200 per pole. However, these poles are usually for a single panel, so if you are looking to install an array, the cost may be higher. 

What are the long-term performance expectations for solar mounting systems?

Solar mounts are expected to last as long as, if not longer, than your solar system. Most people choose to change them at the same time for ease, but if taken care of well and not damaged due to harsh weather, the mounting systems can last longer. 

Are solar mounting systems eligible for government incentives?

Since both installation and the parts for solar panels are both covered, it stands to reason that the solar panel mounting systems are incentivized by the government. It is unclear if they will cover solar mounting systems if solar panels aren’t purchased with them, but the mounting, wiring, inverters, and more are all incentivized.