Solar panel racking systems like IronRidge and Unirac PV mounting apparatus are critically important but lesser known components of a solar panel system. When it comes to installing solar on your roof, there’s plenty of information available to help you compare solar panel options and inverter technologies. Some solar installers are even starting to offer different options for solar-plus-storage products that include a home battery. However, not much has been written about the various solar panel rack options available to mount the system on your roof. While these items don’t typically have a significant impact on your solar system’s performance, solar panel mounts are still an important part of the installation process. Read on to learn more about the top solar panel mounts from Unirac, IronRidge, and SnapNrack, as well as specialized products from Quick Mount PV, Ecofasten, and AllEarth Renewables.
Unirac vs. IronRidge: solar panel mounting systems for your roof
Unirac, IronRidge, and SnapNrack are three of the top manufacturers of PV mounting products. All three companies make products that can mount panels on your roof and additionally manufacture ground mount solar equipment. Home solar energy systems are usually installed on the roof, although you may choose to install a ground mount system if your roof isn’t ideal for solar.
Most of the practical differences between solar panel racking manufacturers have to do with the installation process. Unirac, IronRidge, and SnapNrack all make standard “penetrating” rooftop racking, which means that your solar installer will make hole in your roof to affix the mounting system. Once the racking is attached, your solar company will install your solar panels. Penetrating mounts are most commonly used on clay tile, asphalt, and composite roofs.
Most solar installers will have a preference for certain solar panel mounts depending on the ease of installation and the material of your roof. Some solar panel rack manufacturers also offer product-specific design tools that can help your solar installer during the design and installation process. If you’re curious about solar panel mounts or related equipment for your upcoming installation then ask a solar installer for further details – they should be able to explain the specific benefits of every product that they carry and propose to include in your solar PV system.
Quick Mount PV and Ecofasten: mounting to make solar on metal and tile roofs easier than ever
You can install solar on most roof types, but penetrating roof mounts aren’t the best option for every roof material. Quick Mount PV and Ecofasten are two solar panel rack manufacturers that have developed more specialized products for specific roof types, including both standing seam metal roofs and clay & Spanish tile roofs.
Standing seam metal roofs – Both Quick Mount PV and Ecofasten have products designed specifically for metal roofs with standing seams. If you have a standing seam metal roof, your installer can attach panels using a mounting system that clamps onto the seams of the roof without having to make any holes. Drilling holes in the roof is a time-consuming process that has to be done carefully so your roof is still watertight after installation. By using Quick Mount PV or Ecofasten racking on standing seam metal roofs, your installer can speed up the installation.
Clay and Spanish tile roofs – You can use penetrating mounts to install solar on a tile roof. However, clay and Spanish tiles are more brittle and easier to break than asphalt, composite, or metal roofs. Quick Mount PV has developed a Tile Replacement Mount to make installing solar on clay and Spanish tile easier. Tile Replacement Mount products are shaped like roof tiles and can be swapped out with existing tiles on your roof. In addition to making the installation process easier, they have the added bonus of ensuring that your solar installation is completely watertight since your installer isn’t making holes in your roof to mount your panels.
AllEarth Renewables: dual-tracking PV mounts to maximize solar production
Not every roof can support a solar panel installation. Some roofs don’t get enough sun over the course of the day. Others face the wrong direction or simply don’t have enough space for a solar energy system. In those cases, some solar shoppers with room elsewhere on their property decide to install ground mounted solar panel systems.
As mentioned above, many of the solar panel rack manufacturers produce mounts for both rooftop and ground mount systems. However, if you want to take your solar PV installation a step further, you can actually install a mounting system that contains a tracker. AllEarth Renewables makes one of the most popular solar tracker products in the country.
Solar panels mounted with tracker systems will actually follow the sun throughout the day as it moves across the sky. Some trackers also adjust throughout the year as the seasons change to ensure that your solar panels are capturing every possible second of sunshine. Tracking mounts are more expensive than stationary ground mounts or rooftop mounting systems, but if your primary goal is to maximize your energy production they can be a good investment.
Finding the right mounts for your solar panel installation
Whether you already know exactly what racking product you want for your system or you’re still exploring your options, you should review multiple offers from different solar installers before you make your final decision. The easiest way to connect with solar companies that can design systems to your specifications: join the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, where 350+ qualified pre-vetted installers are preparing quotes for property owners across the country. You can easily specify the particular equipment you’re seeking during the registration process.