Roughly 2400 megawatts of new residential solar was deployed last year, the equivalent of 7.5 million 320-watt modules. That’s a big investment. Ever wonder what prevents all those panels from blowing away in a stiff breeze?
Solar mounting hardware—the racks, clips, and bolts that keep solar modules in place—is a world all but invisible once the panels are installed. With any luck, homeowners will never have to worry about, or even see, the equipment over the 25-year-plus lifespan of their solar arrays. That’s what manufacturers and installers are banking on.
To that end, the industry has developed a variety of mounting systems that keep modules in place on virtually any type of roof, even in high-wind regions like south Florida. When a rooftop arrays isn’t feasible, a ground-mounted array is another option.
Hardware represents an estimated 3% of the overall cost of a residential solar array, according to data cited by EnergySage, a Boston-based firm that connects customers with solar installers. Hardware is the essential foundation of any installation, even if most homeowners are blissfully unaware of it.
“In our experience, most people don’t really want to know or need to know about that,” says Thomas Tutor, a branch manager for Maine-based Revision Energy. “They trust us to install it well and use high quality equipment that we’re going to stand behind regardless. So we make sure we choose equipment we believe in.”
Here’s a rundown on the variety of mounting options installers have to choose from.
Most residential solar arrays go on the roof where they’re safely out of harm’s way. The Solar Energy Industry Association, a trade group, lists a dozen and a half manufacturers of solar mounting hardware at its website, so installers have lots of options when it comes to choosing…