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All You Need To Know About Solar Panel Mounting System and Its Components

Solar Panel Mounting System

Solar panels have become much more popular in the past few years. Getting solar panels is simple, but understanding the solar mounting structure is a tough challenge. The efficiency of your solar system mainly depends on the solar mounting system you choose. Generally, solar panels are installed on rooftops and grounds using solar mounts.

The photovoltaic industry is growing rapidly to meet the increasing demands of the market. This industry also manufactures PV mounting kits that include various equipment for mounting solar panels. Here in this article, you’ll learn about different solar panel mounting structures and components. So, let’s dive into the details!

 

What is a Solar Panel Mounting System?

A solar panel mounting system allows you to secure the solar panels on different surfaces safely. This method adjusts panels at a specific angle from which maximum solar energy production can occur.

However, solar panel mounts refer to the equipment used to install solar modules. Primarily, PV brackets are an ideal choice for mounting solar panels. Moreover, you’ll learn about other parts of the solar panel mounting system in the article.

 

Components Included In the Solar Panel Mounting Kit

A variety of components and hardware tools are used to mount solar panels. Each component plays a specific role in adjusting the PV modules to ensure maximum exposure to sunlight. The following are some major components included in a solar panel mounting kit:

1. Solar Panel Mounting Brackets

Photovoltaic brackets are critical to solar panel mounting systems. These brackets account for almost 10% to 20% of the solar system cost. The brackets are typically designed to install and fix solar panels. They consist of columns, purlins, beams, foundations, welding parts, etc.

The solar panel mounting brackets are divided into two types based on the angle adjustment:

  • Fixed Brackets
  • Tracking Brackets

1) Fixed Brackets

Fixed Brackets

As the name implies, fixed brackets cannot rotate at various angles. Its inclination angle is set at which the PV module obtains maximum sunlight. However, in the case of a fixed inclination adjustable bracket, you may adjust the inclination angle manually a limited number of times.

Fixed brackets are mostly preferred for their simple structure, good stability, easy operation, simple maintenance, and lower cost.

2) Tracking Brackets

 

Tracking Brackets

Nowadays, fixed brackets are massively replaced by global tracking brackets for their remarkable features. The tracking bracket is composed of three parts:

  • Rotatable bracket
  • Drive system
  • The Control system comprises a sensor, cloud platform, communication, electric control box, etc.

The plus point of tracking brackets is that they can rotate with the sunlight, which helps generate maximum power compared to fixed brackets. Moreover, additional software, hardware, and maintenance make the tracking brackets more valuable than fixed brackets.

Furthermore, PV mounting brackets can be Z-shaped and L-shaped, referred to as Z brackets and L brackets, respectively. Usually, mounting brackets are made from aluminum or stainless steel to offer better module mounting.

 

2. Mounting Clamps

 

Solar Panel Mounting Clamps

Mounting clamps are designed to anchor the roof attachments to the mounting rails. There are two main types of solar mounting clamps, i.e., mid-clamps and end-clamps. Both types of clamps have almost the same applications.

  • Mid Clamps

The mid-clamps are usually used to anchor the two solar panels to the rails. Thus, the mid-clamp is fixed in between both solar panels during installation.

  • End Clamps

End clamps are mainly used to fix the edges of the solar panel to the rail during installation. Hence, they are positioned on the first and last of the solar panels.

 

3. Mounting Rails and Roof Attachments

Solar panel mounting rails

Certain solar mounting structures require rails for adjusting the PV modules. Primarily, the rails are long tracks made of steel or aluminum. Typically, rooftop mounting systems use rails that offer support to the solar panels. The roof attachments are anchored to these rails with the help of mounting clamps.

When it comes to roof attachments, these are referred to as fasteners drilled into the roof to fix the solar modules. The drilled holes are often covered by plastic or metal shields in order to prevent water. The shield here is commonly known as flashing.

 

4. Other Components

Apart from the equipment mentioned above, some other tools for solar panel mounting systems are as follows:

  • Various types of bolts as fasteners, such as hanger bolts and T slot bolts.
  • Stainless steel zip ties.
  • Wire clips and hangers for managing the wires.
  • Nuts and screws.

 

What are the Types of Solar Mounting Structures?

1. Roof-Mounted Racks

Generally, people prefer installing rooftop mounting systems on residential buildings. It is a safer and cost-effective option. Several solar mounting structures adjust the solar panels on the rooftop. Let’s discuss them below.

  • Railed Mounting System

Railed mounting is the standard solar mounting structure that uses a set of rails to support the solar panels. The rails are attached to the rooftop with the help of different fasteners, such as screws and bolts. Later, the solar panel is fixed to the rail through mounting clamps.

  • Rail-less Mounting System

Besides using rails, you can also install solar panels directly on the roof. You can simply use bolts and screws to mount the solar plates to your roof. Undoubtedly, doing so reduces your expenses, but this system may result in holes in your roof. Also, only professionals should install panels using a rail-less mounting system as the installation curve is to be maintained.

  • Shared-Rail Mounting System

The Shared-rail mounting system is quite similar to the railed mounting system as both use rails for installation. Yet, the number of rails differs in both systems. If a railed mounting system uses four rails for adjusting two solar panels, the shared rail mounting system will only use three. The two rails are used on the edges, while one in the middle shares the two rows.

  • Flat Roof Ballasted Racking System

There are many residential and commercial buildings that have flat roofs. On such roofs, you can use a flat roof ballasted racking system. Typically, ballasted blocks play a vital role in tilting solar plates. The Solar panels adjust on these ballasted blocks using different clips and clamps.

2. Ground Mounts

As the name suggests, in-ground mounts and solar panels are fixed on the ground. The following are some options you may use for adopting ground mounts:

  • Foundation Mounts

Foundation mounts use vertical pipes or mechanical tubes to hold the solar panels. Before installation, the geotechnical analysis of the soil is essential to know whether the ground is capable of holding the mounting structure or not. The vertical tubes supported by concrete foundations are inserted inside the ground by land excavation. Hence, with the help of ground screws, you can anchor the solar system.

  • Ballasted Footing Mounts

Sometimes, the soil is unsuitable for excavation, so you may go for ballasted footing mounts. This system consists of precast concrete blocks attached to the ground surface. The rod-like structures attached to these blocks support the solar plates.

  • Pole Mounting System

Pole mounts are simple to deal with as they don’t require great foundations or leveled lands. Instead, only a simple steel pole anchored to the ground is needed, and the solar panels are installed on this pole using U-bolts and L-brackets. However, pole mounts can be divided into two categories: side pole mounts and top pole mounts.

Top-pole mounts carry the solar module on top of the mounting poles, whereas side-pole mounts support PV modules along the side of the bar. Most commonly, side-pole mounting systems support fewer panels than top-pole mounting systems.

You may use more than one pole to get a single extended horizontal line of solar panels.

3. Tracking System Mounted Racks

Tracking system-mounted racks are trendy in hot regions because solar trackers in this system track the sun’s path for the maximum collection of solar energy. Two types of mounted structures for tracking systems are probably used, i.e., one-axis and two-axis trackers.

The one-axis trackers track the sun’s path from the east to the west. On the other hand, two-axis trackers are employed with a PV concentrator system to follow the sun’s daily or seasonal path.

 

How to Select the Best Solar Mounts for a Project?

Solar mounts are made of different materials; each has its own properties and benefits. Therefore, you must be pretty picky while selecting the perfect material according to your requirements. The following are some characteristics of mounting materials that may help you in making a better decision:

  • Aluminum

Aluminum is one of the strongest, lightweight, and corrosion-resistant metals. It is favorable for most solar panel framing; therefore, you may consider aluminum rails for your solar module mounting project.

  • Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is expensive, yet you can’t question its durability. The stainless steel mounts last for decades, so they should be preferred in salt spray environments. You may go for stainless steel PV brackets.

  • Angle Iron

It’s quite an easy task to work with angle iron, but it may rust in no time. Even if galvanized, the bolts and mounting brackets will still corrode. However, you can easily weld the angle iron mounts.

  • Wood

No doubt, wood is the most inexpensive and readily available material, but wood mounts cannot resist harsh weather conditions for extended periods. Still, if you want to use wooden frames, you’ll need battens or clips to hold the solar panels on them.

 

Conclusion

Finally, you are introduced to the different solar panel mounting structures and equipment used to mount the solar modules. Now, it’s on you to choose the best mounting system for yourself. Hopefully, this guide will help you make a better decision; otherwise, you may consult your professional solar panel installer to make a feasible choice.

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