What are the different types of solar mounting systems?
By now you have a good understanding of what a solar panel is and how a solar photovoltaic system functions. We’ve seen solar panels mounted on roofs, but may wonder how the systems are mounted.
Before solar panels can be installed onto your rooftop, you will need to know what the available solar mounting options are.
A solar mounting system is a component that secures solar panels to your roof and holds them in place. Let’s discover the different solar racking systems available and how to choose the right mounting system for your solar installation.
We can differentiate options based on the roof type. Let’s take a look at some of the options for flat rooftops.
Rail-based mounting system
Firstly, a rail-based mounting system is used for flat roofs. The rails are secured to the roof using a bolt or screw with flashing installed. Each solar panel is then attached to the rail.
At KB Racking, we offer AeroRack 2.0 as a rail-based mounting solution. The AeroRack 2.0 system provides customers with core elements of integrated wire management and simple installation, at a more economical price. Our rail-based design provides stiffness, reducing ballast requirements and roof loads. The system offers customizable solutions with its flexibility in panel orientation, row spacing, and tilt angle.
Ballasted mounting system
Secondly, this system is mainly used for flat-roof mounting systems and is the most common, and widely used system. Using weights i.e. ballasts, on top of the mounting system acts as a support and holds the solar panels in place, which makes it very efficient and easy to install.
Our most popular system, EkonoRack 2.0 is a non-penetrating solar mounting solution that uses ballasts. The EkonoRack 2.0’s innovative design acts as a tray for the ballasts, ensuring the ballasts stay in place. The advantages of this system are that you don’t need penetrations, requirements minimal components and are cost-effective.
Silverback® Solar Racking
Engineered solar mounting systems by people who understand structures and waterproofing.
R-Series Racking System 01
Our most versatile Solar Racking System. Allows for many different configurations, heights and spacing. Mounted with Round Post Supports.
S-Series Racking System 02
Big, strong and capable of spanning long distances between attachment points. A heavy-duty solar racking system on Square Base Supports.
This Is No Tinker Toy Racking System
It’s not one of those roof-compromising ballasted systems either.
It’s a heavy duty, serious PV racking system developed by people who understand structures and waterproofing. That’s why we named it Silverback: big, strong, sturdy.
Whether your roof is wide open without obstructions, or cluttered with all kinds of equipment, Silverback Solar® Racking is a great choice. Our high-strength designs allow you to put solar on commercial roofs most people would walk away from. High parapet walls, HVAC equipment and other roof clutter won’t kill your project if you use Silverback. Elevated frames that span over equipment and get above shadows make it possible. Our specially designed roof attachment system makes it watertight.
1×3 Ballasted Flat Roof Mounting Kits
Ballast based solar mounting structure is one kind of non-penetrate solution for concrete flat roofing.
Solar mounting design for flat roofs with our ballasted type PM module installing is available for power plant project.
The wind defectors on back of each row can help reduce wind loads.
Ballasted Flat Roof Mounting Kits 1×3
Features of our Ballasted Flat Roof Mounting Kits for 3 PV modules :
– Light in weight ; – Quick to assembling ; – Universal solar panels compatible ; – Fit for both home or business rooftops ; – Versatile and mounted without penetrating the roof surface ;
Following is one of our full BOM details for 1×3 kits, Landscape orientation :
Ballasted mounting system is a kind of non-penetrating installing solution for flat roofs.
Flat roof PV module mounting with ballast is suitable for both framed or frameless solar panels.
Benefits of this solar panel mounting system :
– Landscape or Portrait module array suitable ; – Save transport and storage cost for pre-assemblling ; – Accordance with national standard of wind loads and snow loads ; – Professional design for project are available ;
Components of Ballasted Flat Roof Solar Mounting System :
Delta triangle brackets, rails, connectors, end / mid clamps, wind shield …
Welcome to know more details of our Flat Roof Ballasted Racking System.
Ballasted Flat Roof Mounting System
Ballasted Flat Roof Mounting Systems 1×3
Welcome to choose ballasted mounting kits to install solar panels on flat roof top.
Ballasted mounting type is popular for flat concrete rooftops.
I am hoping you can assist me with a couple of questions relating to your ballasted flat roof solar rack mounting systems. I am working for a company in Ireland, Ethos engineering and we are working on a project which will consist of a number of apartment blocks with flat roofs. We have taken all shading calculations into account and would like to know if we were to use your system how are the concrete ballast blocks fixed to the flat roof and what would be the minimum distance from the bottom of the solar panel when fixed to the rack system and the flat roof surface. I have taken a snip of the system in question about Ballasted Flat Roof Solar Mounting Racking. The panel we are hoping to use is 2.1m in length x 1.05m in width.
One thing though, can this 100mm ballast be used with the particular system shown in snip (see below), the reason being is that this one in snip seems like it can be adjusted to an angle of no more than 10 degrees, as this is what is shown in the data sheet you sent in previous email. We are looking to install a flat roof mounted system which cannot protrude over a 1.1m parapet wall. The panel we intend to use are Canadian Solar 2.1m length x 1.05 width in portrait dimension. We have taken shading factor into account for our latitude in Dublin (53 degrees N). We have calculated that the panels can be tilted to a maximum 30 degrees before the panel height goes over parapet but that is before a ballast and frame is taken into account which we know will decrease the PV panel tilt to keep it within the height of parapet wall. This was the reason for the enquiry and hope this can clarify my question further. I will link a snip of the drawing also and maybe you can suggest a frame system that will use a ballast support but get us the maximum tilt possible. Kind regards and see below the 2 snips, 1 of the system your company supplies which seems more than a 10 degree tilt and one of the drawing I am working on.
Anthony Clarke Intern Engineer
Appreciated for your inquiry about our ballasted solar mounting system.
The minimum distance is 100mm from bottom to solar panels.
We can do 30 degree tilt for our ballasted mounting system.
You can send me your roof sketch with sizes, I can let our engineer assit with you.
Please refer to our design base on your requirements.
Ballasted Mounting System 30D
Do contact me if you need more assists.
Ballasted Flat Roof Solar Mounting System Factory
Types of Mounts
On a roof, most mounts consist of a frame that is fastened to the structure of the roof’s beams and rafters. If a roof-penetrating system is undesirable, such as on clay tile roofs, metal roofs, or a flat roof where water may pool, racking systems can be free-standing and ballasted.
Ground-mounted racking systems are either metal frames secured to a cement slab or are mounted on poles to allow for easier clearance below, such as in areas with heavy snow or in dual-purpose systems such as agrivoltaics, which integrate farming with solar panels.
Most racking components in both rooftop and ground-mounted systems are made of high-grade aluminum and stainless steel. An important consideration is the strength of the racking, which needs to support snow and high winds in many areas. A strong racking system might support up to 90 pounds per square foot snow load and 190 mph winds.
The three main components of a roof-mounted solar system are:
- Roof attachments, which are fastened to the roof structure
- Mounting rails, upon which the solar panels are mounted
- Clamps, which attach the mounting rails to the roof attachments and the panels to the rails.
Roof attachments may vary, depending on the kind of roof. The most common roof attachments, used in shingle roofs, are drilled into the load-bearing beams and rafters of the roof, then sealed with flashing and sealant. On a seamed metal roof, roof clamps or brackets attached to the metal sheeting support the mounting rails.
A ballasted rooftop system consists of a rail-and-clamp frame except for the roof attachments, which are replaced with concrete blocks to hold the frame down. Some commercial frames come with ballasting components built into them. Because of their weight, ballasted systems only work on low-slope roofs, and many older roofs may not be able to support the extra weight.
Other components common to rooftop systems are conduit mounts, which lift the wiring off the roof to protect it from overheating.
Ground-mounted systems that use frames are similar to rooftop systems, except that the frames are set into a concrete slab, which requires the extra steps of excavating, setting footings, and pouring cement. Many ground-mounted frames can be manually adjusted to maximize exposure to the sun.
A pole-mounted system uses a pole that is secured into a concrete-filled hole about half the length of the pole. Pole-mounted systems can either come with an automatic solar tracker or be manually adjusted. These systems may use multiple poles, which can support a larger panel array with a lower footprint than when attaching the frame directly into a concrete slab.
For rooftop systems, the cost of a tracker is usually prohibitive, and it’s likely to be cheaper to install a few extra panels instead.
Components Common to All Racking Systems
Solar racking systems come with inverters that convert the direct current (DC) electricity that solar photovoltaic systems produce into the alternating current (AC) that residential and commercial buildings run on. Those inverters are sometimes built directly into the racking system, but in most systems, they are attached with clips.
Wiring runs through a solar array within the mounting rails, connecting the electrical junction box attached to the back of the solar panel with the system junction box.
Lugs, bolts, end caps, end clamps, wire clips, brackets, and various other mounting hardware are also common elements of any racking system.
Finding the Right Tilt
On a rooftop or ground-mounted frame that is not ideally angled for getting the most sun exposure possible, tilt legs can adjust the panels so that they are slanted at ideal angles to the sun, both horizontally and vertically.
The tilt angle is the vertical angle while the azimuth angle is the horizontal angle in relation to the equator. Setting the title angle is easy: Set it to your latitude. Finding the azimuth angle is somewhat more difficult.
In the Northern Hemisphere, panels should (almost always) face true south rather than the magnetic south, which can vary depending on Earth’s magnetic field. You can find true south if you have a compass and factor in magnetic declination with NOAA’s magnetic field calculator.
Rooftop racking can account for 10% of the total cost of an average rooftop solar system, or roughly 40 to 80 per panel, not including installation. By contrast, racking hardware for a ground-mounted frame system can cost 60 to 100 per panel. Since additional piping and concrete are required for a ground-mounted system, however, those costs can double.
A pole-mounted system with trackers is the most expensive option, costing up to twice as much as a ground-mounted frame system. The increased efficiency of solar panels using a tracker may make the extra upfront cost worth it, however.