How long does solar racking and railing last?

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Solar racking and railing are essential components that support the stability of your solar panels on the roof. High-quality racking, designed to meet international engineering standards, can endure extreme conditions like heavy snow, wind, and corrosive elements. It's vital to confirm product certifications with your solar company to ensure they fit your specific needs.

Although racking is exposed to harsh conditions, using top-quality materials helps them resist damage. Typically, racking warranties last 10 to 20 years due to their low failure rate. The longevity of racking depends on the manufacturer's quality; issues arise when fewer clamps are used or when cheap racking undergoes minimal anodization, leading to corrosion.

For best results, purchase from reputable manufacturers and consult with trusted local suppliers or installers before making any solar-related investments.

Will your solar racking and railing break early?

Quality-designed, engineered and manufactured solar racking, railing, and mounting systems should last the life of the solar systems, particularly the panels. 

Solar racking is designed to meet or exceed international engineering standards for their applications with a range of solutions for residential installations up to commercial and utility-based solutions. They are tested for extreme conditions, from heavy snow loads to winds and corrosive elements like salt mist/ fog, ammonia, etc. 

You should confirm the certifications and testing for each manufacturer. Your solar company should provide this information to ensure the products suit your home or business, considering the situation and environment. Some racking manufacturers even offer 25 years + life expectancy with a lifetime warranty on their products to support the installation’s security and the solution’s quality and durability.

As the racking is both on your roof and holds your solar panel. They must last a long time. If they deteriorate before your solar panels do, your panels will be sitting on your roof unstable. So how long should you expect your racking to last?

solar panel clamps
Plenty of tile feets are essential when it comes to installing a solar array on metal roofs

Warranty

The most common warranty for racking is for 10 years. Some manufacturers do also offer a warranty for 20 years as well. This is because racking has a very low failure and defect rate. While racking faces the warm Australian climate 24/7, using high-quality materials ensures they will likely resist damage. If you purchase your solar system equipment from a local quality installer. You should expect your racking and railing to last the same amount of type as your panels.

What can cause damage to racking?

Clamps

Similar to most components of a solar system, the manufacturer’s product quality determines how long your racking will last. The most common reason racking may not last as long as promised is due to cheaper systems sparing on the number of clamps used. The role of clamps is to fasten the racking to the roof, and most racking systems recommend how many are required. This is essential to solidify the racking, which subsequently solidifies the panel on your roof.

If a manufacturer or installer decides to use fewer clamps than recommended, your racking and panels are put at risk. For example, during times of extreme winds, the clamps may not be able to withstand them. This can cause the racking to begin to move or come loose, which can then cause damage to your roof and the panel itself.

On average, you should expect a minimum of four clamps on your panels, installed symmetrically, unless you are in an area with severe wind conditions. You should also educate yourself about the clamping zones for your panels, as different solar panels have ‘no clamp’ zones. Furthermore, understanding these zones will allow you to question your installer. Identifying whether or not your installer really knows what they are doing.

solar mounting system
Tilt frames, while they do cost a little more, will ensure the panels are tilted in the ideal position to gain maximum output

Anodisation

Another issue that is common with cheap racking is minimal anodisation. Anodisation is an electrochemical process that can occur with metal surfaces that create a durable and corrosion-resistant coated finish. Cheap racking having minimal anodisation means that the racking becomes extremely vulnerable to corroding.

If the racking corrodes it means that the screws that hold the racking onto the roof, hold the clamps in and that hold the panel in become weaker. This is a concern as once corroded, it becomes a costly process to maintain or replace. A professional would have to grind the racking to be able to get the screws out. Then have to take the racking, clamps and panel apart to redo. If you commit to a replacement, you must also hope that the manufacturer has the same parts available for a swap to make the same racking work. From an aesthetic standpoint, this corrosion also makes the racking become unsightly.

While these two issues may raise concerns, please do not worry. In general, most racking systems undergo testing and last for over 10 years in many circumstances. In fact, your racking should be lasting as long as your entire solar system. We recommend always ensuring you buy your racking from a trustworthy and high-quality manufacturer, so you do not run into any of these issues.

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