Best Solar Panel Racking
Understanding your Solar Racking Options: The Basics
Racking is an important part of your solar set-up even though it might not be what you think about first when considering going solar. No matter what other choices you make about going solar, racking holds it all together and keeps it safe and secure on your roof.
Most of the solar system design is determined on a case-by-case basis but knowing the fundamentals can help you ask the right questions. Most people who go solar will use a rail mounted roof-top system. The major components of this type of system are:
Solar Racking Parts:
- Holds the panels in place
- Most often made of steel or aluminum
- Used to be predominantly silver but are now usually black for aesthetic reasons
- The material used to prevent water from passing through the outer layer of your roof
- Can be thought of as a shield covering the area around the penetration
- The "feet" of the system
- Secured with a bolt passing through the flashing and into a rafter
- Holds the panels to the rails
- In some cases, as with a standing steel roof, roof penetrations aren't advisable so a clamping method is used and some types of roofs use a ballast (a weight) to secure the panels.
- It's also helpful to know the major manufacturers of racking systems as not all racking systems work best for every install.
Top Solar Panel Racking System Manufacturers In North America
- Speedy install - which can help keep costs low as it keeps the amount of labor needed for install to a minimum
- 25 year product warranty
- Founded in 2007 - Based in San Luis California
- Manufactured in USA
- Manufactured in USA and Canada
- Supplies 30% of the North American residential racking
- 90% of their supply chain is based in the US, headquartered in Albuquerque, NM
- Founded in 1998
- Their mission is to “Make Solar Stronger” with a focus on being weather tough and long lasting
- Founded mid 1990s and are one of the only companies to be around longer than their warranty
- Based in Hayward, CA they specialize in residential applications
- 20 manufacturing locations plants in US to reduce shipping costs and C02
- Founded in 2007 by solar installers to meet challenges of installing PV while maintaining roof integrity
- Offer four levels of water protection in each install with patented water tight technology
- Work directly with solar installers to get feedback and continually improve
There are also companies that produce their own proprietary racking system to be used with their panels only, like SunPower's Invisimount racking system. Systems like this offer a high level of protection for the customer because any potential issues can be brought up with SunPower directly.
While racking is often left out of the conversation when looking at solar installs, it's important to ask questions so you can be sure the solar installer you are working with has access to the best solar mounting system for you instead of a "one size fits all" approach. The more you know the better you will be able to compare your options and make the best choice for your home.