Types of Installs: When You Need Them & How They Work
Late Updated: March 1, 2021
This post explores the kinds of installs homeowners should consider when going solar. The functionality of the space often determines which installation type will work best.
PV systems installed on rooftops often use one of two installation types: systems integrated into the roof and systems mounted over the existing roofing material. Ground mounts work for those with unshaded land who either can’t install solar or don’t want it on the building.
Rooftop Solar Installation Options
Rooftop solar is the best option for most residential solar installs because it’s cheaper to install, you don’t need to clear space for it, and it doesn’t take up valuable real estate.
If your home gets a lot of sun and your trees don’t shade the roof, rooftop solar will most likely work. If you can pay with cash, you’re in an even better position to see enduring solar ROI for your home.
On-roof Solar Panel Installations
An on-roof solar PV system attaches to the roof either with or without a railing system. On-roof installations with railing have become the most common PV system type installed on homes today.
Railed installations use stainless steel or galvanized brackets, which attach to the roof battens or rafters, and an aluminum mounting rail system specifically designed to fit the PV panels. Clamps then fix the solar panels to the railing system.
Is Your Roof Up for the Task?
If you’re going solar, you’ll want to make sure your roof is in good condition so it can support the weight of the solar panels and mounting equipment. Below are three roof types that consistently support on-roof solar panel installations.
Asphalt Shingle – The Most Common for Residential Solar
A Metal Roof with Solar Panels
A Tile Roof with Solar Panels
In-roof Systems: Solar Shingles and Solar Panels
An in-roof PV system integrates with the roof. Solar shingles and solar panel in-roof installations have started gaining traction.
While more expensive than on-roof installs, they increase the visual appeal of residential solar. In-roof systems work best for new builds or homes that need reroofing.
Flat roof systems
A flat roof PV system can align for optimum sun orientation and tilt. However, the roof structure has to withstand the extra weight. The frames needed can also make them more expensive, and they require planning permission.
Ballasted Solar Arrays and Installs
Ballast arrays are panels held in place by concrete blocks instead of penetrating the roof. This type of installation works best for homes with flat roofs.
A ballast installation functions the same way as other rooftop installations. However, if the installer doesn’t use high-quality cement blocks, they could deteriorate faster. If the concrete breaks, the solar panels don’t have anything holding them down, resulting in other problems.
Ground Mounted Systems
A ground-mounted system doesn’t require a roof for the installation. It’s ideal for larger systems or homes with limited space.
This installation type mounts PV panels to frames on the ground. The system can align for optimum orientation and tilt angle. However, it costs more to install.
How Ground Mounts Work
Because the average ground mount is only two to three feet above the ground, installation isn’t the same. Ground mounts require cement foundations and trenches.
The installer will check before starting the project to ensure there isn’t anything important that might get hit. No one wants to run into a gas line or electric cable while digging ground mount supports.
Pole Mount Solar Panels
Although pole mounts are similar to ground mounts, they are a bit different in their purpose and application. Pole mounts are not typically seen in residential solar installs, but they do have a well-deserved purpose in the renewable energy world.
When You Need a Pole Mount
Pole mounts can tilt, making them easier to adjust for optimal sun exposure throughout the year with single or dual tracking. One pole usually supports multiple solar panels, which lifts them higher than a typical ground mount.
They work best with varied terrain because they aren’t configured in long rows, decreasing the space they need. However, one pole wouldn’t power a home.
Go Solar Group has experience with a variety of installation types. Get your free quote today and determine which will work best for your home.