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Solar Panel Mounts Explained

Published by Jason Koffler on 25 July 2010

*Solar Panel Mounts installation guide"

Mounts for your solar photovoltaic system can come in all shapes and sizes; some are stand-alone, others are designed for special situations, such as pole mounts designed to track the sun in the sky for optimal power generation.

Special attention must be made to minimise shading of your solar panels in order to reduce solar panel system loss

Please read the whole of this article as we will cover the most common types of solar panel mounts, and you will discover which mount or solar panel rack is best for your photovoltaic system. Considerations that will be addressed include size, affordablility, utility, and convienience.

Types of Solar Panel Mounts

Solar Panel Mounts are available in three primary categories: flush mounts, roof/ground (or universal) mounts, and pole mounts. Each type of solar panel mount has its own benefits and drawbacks, and if you are installing a solar panel mount you should weight in these factors when making your final descision.

Flush Mounts

Flush mounts are the simples and cheapest solar panel mounting solution available, and are achieved by placing a metal end bracket on each side of the solar panel, elevating it several inches from the surface. Flush Mounts are typically used with small solar arrays on rooftops and RVs, because the structural design of a flush mount cannot support large solar panels. When installing a flush mount with your solar panel, be sure that you have ample clearance between the surface of the roof and the underside of your solar panel. This distance should be at a minimum of 2-4 inches, so that air can flow under the unit and keep it cool. This is vitally important for your flush mount system: if you do not allow clearance, your solar unit will rapidly overheat and the functional lifespan will be significantly reduced.
Photovoltaic Solar Panels

Although flush mounts are simple and cheap to install, they offer no flexibility in the orientation of your solar panel, and they can only support small photovoltaic units.

(Roof-Ground (Universal) Mounts*

Roof-Ground solar panel mounts are typically used with larger solar panel systems, or in areas away from the city electric grid. Roof-Ground mounts are called by that name because they can be installed both on the ground and on rooftops. Roof-Ground mounts are typically constructed by a grid-like system of supports, and are typically bulky and unsightly, and many cities and neighborhoods have shamefully passed ordinances against them for asthetic reasons. You would be wise to consult with your residential director before installing a roof-ground solar panel mount.

There are many ways to install custom roof-ground mounts or increase the heights of your system by adding poles or concrete blocks to elevate your system above plants and vermin on the ground.

Many Roof-ground mounts are adjustable, and if you change the tilt of your solar panel at the prescribed 1/4 year interval, your system will produce a little more power than a standard unit. Remember to also read how to reduce solar panel system loss

Roof-ground systems are more expensive than flush mounts, and they may be difficult to install on rooftops due to heavy wind resistance or city ordinances, but they may be your only solution if you have a paticularly large solar panel system.

Pole Mounts

Pole mounts are divided into 3 subcategories: top of pole mounts, side of pole mounts, and poll tracking mounts. These poll mounts are differentiated by how they are positioned on the pole.

Top of Pole Mounts are comprised of a metal rack and rail unit that is bolted to a large sleeve that rests on top of the pole. In order to install a top of pole mount, you will need to use an existing pole at least 3-8 inches wide with a concrete base, or construct one yourself. The mount simply slips over the top of the pole, and you can bolt (or weld) your solar panel unit into place.

Large Top of pole mounts can encounter a substantial measure of wind resistance and can be very heavy, so you may need a small crane or several able-bodied men at hand in order to install a large top-of-pole system.

Side of Pole Mounts are typically fastened and bolted to the side of telephone or utility poles. Side of pole solar panel mounts typically involve small solar panels, for larger units, it is reccomended that you use a top of pole solar panel mount.

Tracking pole mounts are top of pole mounts with a special function – tracking pole mounts track the motion of the sun in the sky throughout the course of the day. This maximizes the operating efficiency of the solar panel unit.

If you would like additional information on Solar Panel installation please contact us or request a call back.