A guide to Solar Racking and Mounts

Solar Racking and mounts are an important part of a solar energy system. At a glance, you may think they aren’t as important as your panels and inverter. However, they are necessary to keep your panels in place, capture sunlight, and potentially avoid any damage.

The difference between Roof Racks and Ground Mounts

Whether your solar panels are going on your rooftop or open ground, they will require the appropriate mounting products to keep them in place. Rooftop installations tend to favor racks, where the solar panels are placed on rails that are mounted on your roof. Ground-mounted solar panels differ in that they require a foundation at ground level. The solar panel mounts can utilize either a racking or tracking system for the panels.

Racking Components

Racking systems are made up of different components that altogether secure your solar panels in place. We’ll explain some common components that go into a racking system and how they work. Keep in mind racking systems can vary between installations.

Flashings

We will have to drill into your roof as part of the installation process. Although to prevent any leaks coming through your roof, flashings are installed with the mounting. Flashings come in different form factors to fit your roof’s material and shape.

Mounts

We will have to drill into your roof as part of the installation process. Although to prevent any leaks coming through your roof, flashings are installed with the mounting. Flashings come in different form factors to fit your roof’s material and shape.

Rails

The rails are what your solar panels will be sitting on. They are long tracks that run horizontally or vertically along your roof plane and are held in place by the mounts. They also function as channels for wiring that connects all of your solar panels. Keeping them tidy and avoiding exposure to the elements.

Clamps

Clamps are what hold your solar panels in place on the racking. These come in either the form of mid-clamps or end-clamps. Mid-clamps are fitted between panels, while end-clamps are fitted on the ends of rails.

Solar Generation

Ground-mounts

Ground-mounted systems mostly need a foundation. These often require preparation with a soil survey, construction, and trenching. Foundations can be made with either steel beams driven into the ground, or anchor systems if the soil isn’t suitable for steel beams.

Ground-Racking

Racking systems are also an option to hold your solar panels in place. They function like rooftop-mounted installations, although they are mounted on the steel beams in the foundation. Ground racking generally needs the foundation to be flat and constructed to fit the racking system. These racking solutions are also implemented with solar carports and canopies. These are mostly used for commercial settings such as schools and business campuses. Although they are constructed in such a way to hold up a greater amount of solar panels and can span larger areas.

Tracking Systems

Tracking systems are a step up from standard racking mounts. They use motors to tilt your panels and keep them facing the sun. The solar panels are attached with bolts or clamps onto the motorized racks. Tracking systems have two main classifications:

  • Single-axis tracking systems are where the panels are fitted onto long rows which follow the sun from east to west.
  • Dual-axis tracking systems are different, they separate the solar panels into tables that rotate to follow the sun’s path.

The way motors are used in tracking systems can differ as well. Some tracking systems can use a centralized tracker which can move entire rows of panels. While distributed tracking systems have individual motors that either manage their row or table of panels.

Ballasts

If drilling into the soil or building a foundation isn’t an option, there is another way to secure your solar panels in place. Solar panels can be ballasted onto the ground with concrete blocks that hold the system in place. If your ground is solid enough, cast-in-place blocks can also be used.

What solar panel racking products do we use?

We here at Elite Solar Energy are a certified Unirac installer and are ranked in the top tier for our expertise and excellent service. Unirac offers a range of product lines that cover residential and commercial solar panel installations. Unirac is one of the longest-running and most experienced manufacturers of solar PV mounting systems in the U.S.

A quality solar panel system for you

If you are looking to start your transition to solar energy, we are here to help. Our website also has a free online estimate tool that generates a personalized report for you from a simplified questionnaire. That report will contain the potential savings you can net, and the cost of a solar energy system installed on your property. You can also contact us directly via phone at +1 (602) 363-8919 or via email at Scott@elitesolarenergy.org for more information regarding solar energy for your property.