Which Solar Panel Mounting Brackets Should You Use?

Solar panels are becoming increasingly popular and with good reason. Ever more sophisticated, they can provide a high level of ‘free’ electricity even when the sunshine is not shining.

With more home and business owners choosing to mount solar panels on their roofs, it is important that you get the right fixing system. This means choosing the right solar panel mounting brackets.

The importance of using the correct solar panel mounting bracket

There are two reasons why getting the right solar panel bracket is important:

  • Secure attachment – firstly, the panel must be securely attached. Solar panels although not overly heavy could obviously cause harm to someone should they suddenly fall from a roof. Getting the right bracket means the weight of the panel is supported and is less likely to work lose in poor weather.
  • Overheating – some types of solar panels need to be raised from the surface of the roof or to whatever they are attached to so that air can circulate beneath them. This is so that the panel can work correctly; a panel that is too hot is not as efficient at capturing the sun’s energy.

solar panels being fitted

The roof type

The biggest factor in choosing the right bracket is dependent on the roof type and the roofing material too.

Most people will have a pitched roof that is tiled thus they will need a certain type of fixing kit. This fixing system consists of a bracket that has a hook shape at one end. There is a brace for the rail and at the other end a plate with holes, through which you will use screws to fix to the beams within the roof space.

Installers will mark out the sizes and dimensions on your roof of your chosen system and then will mark out where the roof beams are. This is so they can attach the fixing system into them.

These rails will then be fixed as a run of and can be referred to a railing system in some cases. There will be two runs of rails for each panel, one at the top and one at the bottom as you would expect. These are incredibly strong fixing systems and are considered by many to be ‘over-engineered’ for the role that they play; each panel weighs between 12 and 20kg and at their heaviest, this is a weight these rails can hold.

These rails are also favoured because once the panel is attached with clips, the clips will not allow the panel to become loose or detach from the rail itself. The panels slide along into position and only when the installer is confident it is in the right place will they clip them into place.

Some solar thermal panels are fixed flush to the roof

In some cases, your installer will suggest not leaving a gap between the roof and the panel. This is more than likely to be the case when solar thermal panels are being fitted as opposed to solar PV. Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are more likely to overheat without air circulating beneath them. This is why they are commonly fixed to rails.

If this is the case, a tile may be removed so that the thermal panel can be fixed directly to the beam but you will need to ask about how the installer will waterproof this section of the roof.

Flat roof fixing system

The flat roof bracket is another consideration if you are fitting solar panels to a flat area of the roof. There are many different brackets on offer but it is important to understand that the solar panels need to angled upwards, towards the sun.

The optimum angle for a solar panel to perform at its optimum is a 30° angle. If space is tight, it may be possible to angle them between 15 and 20°. This lower angle means that more than one panel can be used in a small space but without casting shadow over one another.

With flat roofs, there is sometimes not the internal structure with enough strength into which the solar panels can be drilled. This means that wind especially, could lift the panels and not only damage them, but damage the top layer of the flat roof too.

Installers will use a variety of methods to ensure that there is enough weight in the panels and the roof, as well as in the fixing system. They may, for example, use concrete plinths into which using various heavy duty glue and screws the solar panel mounting brackets will be fixed.

If you are unsure about which solar panel mounting bracket is right for the panel and roof, call us for more help.

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