Racking and Mounting are Just as Important as Panels

Solar panel bracket

While selecting the correct solar paneling for your system is of prime importance, the most intrinsically important part of any solar system is the racking and mounting equipment. Fixed racks hold modules stationary while the sun moves across the sky, setting the angle at which the modules are held. Roof-mounted solar systems operate with solar modules that are held in place by racks (or frames) attached to roof-based mounting supports. Reliable, durable and efficient solar panel mounting and racking equipment has a direct impact on the lifespan of your system, while potentially saving you added expense and aggravation.
Some California-based solar experts published a study not long ago, looking to determine best practices for solar panel mounting and racking. The team examined a pool of 20 “rooftop PV” solar systems in the San Francisco area, together averaging about a decade old.
The report’s Executive Summary relayed that, generally, the most reliable systems of the 20 surveyed exhibited three common characteristics:

  • they followed best installation practices known at the time
  • they used solar-specific components
  • they were installed by “conscientious contractors”
    The study, which was entitled “The Importance of Reliable Solar Mounting Systems”, revealed a go-to list of best practices that can ensure the reliability and cost effectiveness of rooftop PV systems:

  • Mounting systems must be designed for rooftop solar installations, not general equipment installations
  • Components must be listed to the appropriate standards
  • Components must be compatible with the equipment being installed
  • All structural components must be stainless steel or aluminum
  • Only use well-designed and tested solar mounting flashings
  • Use wiring and grounding components designed and UL-listed for hot and wet rooftop conditions
  • Use micro-inverters to avoid high DC voltages that could cause arc faults
    To follow these best practices means to positively impact the liability and cost effectiveness of your system. The best (and simplest) way to ensure your system meets all of these requirements is to use an integrated solar panel mounting and solar racking system.

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