Solar panel mounting systems serve an important purpose in a solar power setup. They hold the panels in place, protect them from the elements, keep them far enough off the surface to remain cool, and even track the position of the sun. There is a mount for almost any situation, and despite claims to the contrary, there is no “best” mount.
Each type of mount lends itself to different situations. A static mount is most suitable for a roof mounted solar system, whereas a pole mount is better for the yard, or outdoor space. It’s also possible to mount panels on the ground, using a fixed array or tracking mount.
Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Solar panel mounting systems are as varied as the types of panel or brand of inverter. There is truly something for every situation.
A roof mounting system is great for those who have a large roof space that faces south. Roof mounting keeps the panels out of harm’s way, directed at the sun and harvesting energy all day long. They provide a very secure mount and allow air to circulate underneath to keep things cool.
The downside is they are harder to clean and maintain. They are also more expensive to fit as it involves messing around with the roof structure. As far as solar panel mounting systems go, this method is the most prolific.
Pole mounts are becoming increasingly popular. They offer many benefits for relatively few downsides. You might see them on the side of the road above road signs, street lights, bus shelters or powering warning signs.
The pole supports the sign, then has a small solar panel on top facing south. Built in to that panel is a small battery, either mounted underneath, or down on the ground. The same principle is used in home versions. A pole is secured into the ground with concrete. The solar panel mounting system is then either bolted on to the pole, or secured on top.
The advantages of a pole mount is that it doesn’t take up much space, needs far less work than a roof mount, works well with a tracker, and keeps the panels out of harm’s way on the ground. They are also considerably cheaper to use than roof mounts.
The downsides are that they can be an eyesore. They are also susceptible to wind, so if you live in a tornado zone, you’re going to need a very strong pole, with very strong footings.
Ground mounting uses a similar technique to mounting on the roof. An A-frame is secured on the ground and the panels sit on top. In the most basic, the panels remain static and point optimum south. In more advanced, they mount trackers and orient themselves as the sun move.
The advantages of these solar panel mounting systems is that they are simple to build, install and use. The downside is they use a lot of real estate. Their footprint is quite large, so those with a small yard may need to look elsewhere.