Is it important to worry about which mounting frames I use for my solar system?

Fast read

Selecting the right solar panel mounting frames is crucial for a successful solar energy system. Often overshadowed by the focus on panels and inverters, these frames play a pivotal role in ensuring system stability, efficiency, and durability.

Compliance with standards such as AS/NZ1170.2:2011 and AS/NZS1164.1:1997 is vital, especially in coastal areas where corrosion resistance matters. Considerations include optimizing panel angles and orientation, aesthetics, ensuring structural integrity to withstand weather conditions, and compatibility with your roof type.

While tilt frames can enhance energy generation, they may limit usable space and add costs. Your choice should align with your specific needs, budget, and roof characteristics.

Choosing the right solar panel mounts for you

When it comes to harnessing the power of the sun with solar panels, many homeowners focus on the solar panels themselves and the accompanying inverters. However, one critical aspect that often gets overlooked but should never be underestimated is the solar panel mounting system. The mounting frames that secure your solar panels to the roof are a structural fixture of your solar system, and they play a crucial role in ensuring the system’s stability, efficiency, and longevity. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the regulations, considerations, and benefits associated with choosing the right mounting frames for your solar panels.

Regulations and standards

Before we dive into the various considerations for selecting the appropriate mounting frames, it’s essential to understand the regulations and standards that apply to these crucial components. Mounting frames must meet specific standards to ensure they can securely hold the panels against high wind forces and other loads throughout their lifespan.

In Australia and New Zealand, several standards apply to mounting systems, including:

  1. AS/NZ1170.2:2011 – Wind Loads: This standard defines the wind load requirements that mounting frames must withstand to ensure the panels remain secure in windy conditions.
  2. AS/NZS1664.1:1997 – Aluminium Structure Design: This standard outlines the design criteria for aluminium structures, which often make up the framing of solar panel mounting systems.
  3. AS1720, 2010 – Timber Structures: These standards provide guidelines for calculating the fixing capacities of timber roof screws, which are commonly used in solar panel installations.
  4. AS/NZS4600:2005 – Cold-Formed Steel Structures: These standards specify the fixing capacities for steel roof screws used in solar panel mounting systems.

It is the responsibility of the installer to ensure that the chosen mounting system complies with these standards. Additionally, if you live in a coastal area, corrosion resistance is essential, and you should verify that the mounting system is treated and warranted for corrosion resistance.

solar panel being installed

Considerations for choosing the right mounting frames

  1. Angles and Orientation

The angle and orientation of your solar panels can significantly impact their energy production. Mounting frames allow you to position your panels at the optimal angle and direction to maximise solar energy absorption throughout the day. A properly aligned solar system produces more energy and operates more efficiently.

Different mounting frames offer various tilt and racking options, enabling you to tailor the positioning based on your location and energy requirements. By optimising the angle and orientation, you can enhance your solar system’s overall performance.

  1. Aesthetics

The visual impact of your solar panel installation is an important consideration, especially if your panels are visible from the street or if you have specific architectural constraints. Some mounting frames are designed to be sleek and low-profile, blending seamlessly with the overall appearance of your solar system.

Choosing aesthetically pleasing mounting frames can help maintain the visual harmony of your property while harnessing solar energy. It’s a balance between functionality and aesthetics.

  1. Structural Integrity

Solar panels can be heavy, especially when multiple panels are installed. The mounting frames must be robust enough to support the weight of the panels and endure adverse weather conditions, such as wind, snow, and rain. Selecting strong and durable mounting frames is essential to ensure the structural integrity of your solar system.

  1. Roofing Style

The type of roof you have plays a significant role in determining the suitable mounting frames for your solar panel installation. The frames must be compatible with your roof design to securely fasten the panels without compromising the roof’s structural integrity.

Different roofing styles may require specific mounting options, such as flush mounts, ballasted systems, or roof-integrated solutions. Assess your roof type and select the appropriate mounting frames accordingly.

Tilt frames: to tilt or not to tilt?

One common consideration when choosing mounting frames is whether to opt for tilt frames. Tilt frames allow you to angle your solar panels for better sun exposure. However, the decision to use tilt frames should be based on various factors, including roof pitch, available space, and cost-effectiveness.

Benefits of tilt frames:

  1. Improved Energy Generation: Tilt frames can optimise the generation of your solar panels by angling them to capture more sunlight, particularly during the winter months when the sun is lower in the sky.
  2. Self-Cleaning: Tilted panels are more effective at self-cleaning when it rains, as the rainwater helps wash away dirt and debris, maintaining higher energy production.

Considerations against tilt frames:

  1. Reduced Usable Space: Tilt frames may reduce the usable space on your roof, limiting the number of panels you can install. This could result in lower total capacity and energy generation compared to flush-mounted panels on a low-pitch roof.
  2. Cost: Tilt frames come with additional costs for materials and installation. You should weigh the potential increase in energy generation against the upfront expenses.

In many cases, it may be more prudent to install solar panels flush with a low-pitch roof and increase the number of panels to achieve higher total capacity and energy generation. Your decision should align with your specific energy goals, available roof space, and budget.

solar panel mounting

Conclusion

Choosing the right mounting frames for your solar panel system is a critical decision that impacts your investment’s stability, efficiency, and durability. By considering factors such as structural integrity, optimal positioning, roof compatibility, aesthetics, and ease of installation and maintenance, you can make an informed choice that ensures the long-term success of your solar energy project.

It’s important to work with a reputable installer who understands the regulations and standards governing solar panel mounting systems and can help you select the most suitable frames for your unique needs. With the right mounting frames in place, you can harness the full potential of solar energy while enhancing your solar system’s visual appeal and longevity.

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