A beginners guide to solar panel fixing methods

Solar panels on top of lamppostsSolar energy is beginning the garner favour with many people. Although investing in the panels along with installation can be expensive, many homeowners and businesses too, are realising that with the advances in technology, solar panels are an investment worth making.

Those people with a smattering of DIY skills are choosing to fit solar panels themselves. In many ways, it is not complex nor overly-complicated; with time, patience and a certain degree of know-how, it is possible to fit your own solar panels.

That said, many people are unsure as to what solar panel fixing methods they should use. Choose the right one and everything will be fine but, choose the wrong components or fix them incorrectly, and you could be inadvertently damaging your solar panels, the fixings and the roof etc., to which they are fixed to.

Solar panel fixing methods – what you need to know

Mounts and fixings for panels come in all shapes and sizes. Some are stand-alone fixings, others are designed to work a certain way in certain situation – pole mounts, for example, will allow the panel to move during the day to track the sun.

#1 Flush mounts

These are the simplest and cheapest of solar panel mounting solutions. It consists of placing a metal end bracket on each side of the panel and elevating it several inches from the surface on to which it is fixed.

These types of fixings and mounts are commonly used with small solar panels commonly seen on rooftops because these kinds of mounts do not have enough strength to support larger, heavier solar panels.

Bear in mind…

  • When using a flush mount, ensure that you leave plenty of clearance between the underside of the panel and the roof. This gap should be a minimum of 2 to 4 inches so that air can flow around the panel, keeping it cool. Many people fail to leave this gap which means the panel overheats which significantly reduces its lifespan.
  • Likewise, these simple fixings offer very little in the way of flexibility too in terms of how you fit your panel.
  • Always check the maximum loading capacity of a flush mount too and that your panel is not too heavy.

#2 Universal mounts

Also known as roof-ground mounts, these are typically used when fixing larger solar panel systems. They can be used for panels being fixed to both a roof and to the ground, commonly seen in solar panel farms.

They use a grid-like system of support and are, unfortunately, bulky and unsightly. For ground based system, they can often be elevated using poles or concrete blocks so that they are elevated above plants and vermin at ground level.

They are adjustable which makes them a favoured system as they allow panels to be tilted to theory optimal position for capturing and harvesting the sun’s energy.

Bear in mind…

  • Universal mounts are more expensive than their flush mounts counterparts
  • They can be difficult to install, especially when working at height on a roof etc.
  • They do provide, however, an excellent solution for large solar panel systems.

#3 Pole mounts

And finally, we look at pole mounts, instances of which you will have seen with individual solar panels at the rod side, providing power to certain features.

These Solar panel fixings come in three categories: top of pole mounts, side pole mounts, and tracking mounts.

  • Top of pole mounts consist of a metal rack and rail unit that is bolted to the top of the pole. To install this kind of mount, you will need a pole some 3 to 8 inches in diameter with a concrete base; you can, of course, construct this yourself. The mount simply slips over the top of the pole and can be either welded or bolted securely into place. Although sturdy and secure, these poles can face wind resistance so you will need to be confident the pole and concrete slipper and up to the job!
  • Side pole mounts are fastened to the side of Telegraph or utility poles. These mounts work well with smaller solar panels; anything larger should be mounted using a top of the pole mount
  • Tracking poles are top of the pole mounts but with an additional function – the track the sun through the sky through the course of the day, capturing as much solar energy as possible. This maximises operating efficiency.

Why is mounting system right for your solar panel system?

 

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