The photovoltaic panels — also known as PV panels — and inverters used for residential solar power systems must be mounted on a structure that is durable and stable, capable of withstanding exposure to the elements for decades.
Homeowners have three options for mounting photovoltaic systems: the roof, the ground or on solar trackers.
Each approach offers specific benefits, but which one is right for you?
Rooftop Residential Solar Installations
Most residential photovoltaic systems are mounted on rooftop racks. Rack mounts tilt the solar array to the optimal angle for capturing the most energy from the sun. Often, rooftop placement is the ideal choice because it provides the best access to sunlight.
Rooftop rack mounting is strong and easy to install, but it isn’t right for every homeowner. Some roofs may not have the space or sufficient support for photovoltaic panels, for example. Others may be poorly angled or shaded by nearby buildings or trees.
In that case, you may want to consider a ground-mounted system.
Ground-Mounted Residential Solar Systems
If rooftop mounting isn’t practical, ground mounting can provide an ideal solution.
Residential photovoltaic systems can be installed in any yard area that gets a good amount of direct sunlight throughout the day. Depending upon the placement and configuration of your yard, photovoltaic panels can be mounted flush to the ground or on specially designed poles.
Some ground mounts are fixed in one position, angled to face the sun, but many have tilting or adjustable legs.
Ground-mounted residential solar systems can be highly efficient, as they usually have sufficient air flow to keep the photovoltaic cells cool, which can lead to increased energy output from the solar panels. Mounting at ground level also allows homeowners to easily make adjustments and keep a better eye on their systems for any issues that may develop.
Residential Solar Tracking Systems
Rooftop and ground-mounted photovoltaic systems can be placed on solar trackers, rather than at a fixed angle on racks or poles.
Tracking systems move the photovoltaic panels throughout the day as the sun moves through the sky, to maximize the amount of energy they produce. Single-axis trackers follow the sun from east to west, but dual-axis systems also change the tilt of the photovoltaic panels.
Mounting photovoltaic panels on trackers can boost the energy output of a residential solar system by up to 40 percent over a fixed-tilt array. But solar tracking systems are typically more expensive than fixed-tilt racks. In addition, installation is more complicated. Also, over time, the motorized components may require repairs.
Consequently, it may be cheaper to increase solar energy production by installing a larger photovoltaic array, rather than opting for trackers.
Which type of mount makes sense for your photovoltaic system? The experienced professionals at Intermountain Wind & Solar can recommend the optimal placement and design for your residential solar power system. This ensures that you enjoy the maximum cost savings from your photovoltaic panels.
We serve business and residential customers throughout the Intermountain West region, including Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming. Contact us today to learn more about how residential solar can benefit you.