Solar Panel mounting Systems
PV mounting systems are used to hold your solar panels in place,
secure them from wind damage, and lift them enough of the surface that
air circulates underneath them to keep them cool. There are
mounting systems for just about any potential installation scenario
from roof mounting systems, pole mounting systems, RV mounting systems
and even boat mounting systems. Many of the pole mounted systems can
also be modified to support both active and passive modules that allow
the panels to more closely follow the sun.
Fixed Roof Mounts
Mounting solar panels on a roof is a fairly straightforward process. The most traditional approach is to mount light aluminum rails on top of the roof tiles to serve as the base for the solar panels. Depending upon the roof pitch and roofing type these rails can be attached just to the tile themselves or to the rafters.
On most systems the legs of the rails can telescope up or down so the
panels can be positioned at the optimal angle to the sun, usually
around 30 degrees. These racks are designed to withstand wind
velocities up to 100 miles an hour and will do a good job of holding
everything in place.
Fixed roof mounts are inexpensive and simple to install. Unlike
pole mounts they do not allow for tracking of the sun, but from an
economic point of view their low cost and simplicity more than
compensates for that, which is why this is the most common approach
taken to mounting solar panels. Most roof mount systems use a type of
extruded aluminum railing specifically designed for solar systems
called Solar Mount rails. The rails are designed so that the panels can
slide back and forth along the rails in order to establish the proper
Pole mounted systems are just what they sound like, frames which
mount the solar panel at the top of a pole. They tend to be used in
smaller more remote systems where roof mounting is not an option.
One advantage of pole mounting systems is that they allow the panels
to be directed and pitched in order to catch the most sunlight.
These can be further enhanced with tracking systems which follow the
natural track of the sun (see Tracking Systems).
The pole is typically a 40 gage steel pipe which is cemented in the
ground. Usually about one third of the pipe is below the surface
to ensure strength and stability against high winds. Most pole
mounted systems can withstand 80 to 120 mile per hour winds. Usually a
10 foot length of pole is sufficient.
Recreation Vehicle Mounts
Recreation vehicles often travel to spots where hookups are not
possible but solar is. A simple set of solar panels mounted on
the roof can usually provide the minimal electricity needed to provide
basic lighting and even run the TV set. Because of wind resistance the
panels are usually mounted flat on the roof of the RV but raised about
an inch off of the metal so that air circulates underneath to keep
them cool. Depending upon the size of your vehicles it is usually
possible to get one or two full size panels on the roof.