Solar Panels need to be mounted on firm and stable surfaces that have the most exposure to direct sunlight. For most homeowners, that surface is the roof of their homes; but, solar panels can also be mounted on the roofs of garages, carports, patios, or other architecturally sound surfaces. With new solar technologies, solar collecting devices, in general, can be mounted on almost any surface, including walls and windows and come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and color.
Mounting solar panels on the roof is the most common. The roof needs to be in sound condition with respect to structure, material, age, and wear. If needed, this would be the best time to repair or replace the roof since the cost may be eligible for the Federal Tax Incentive program.
Although there are different roof designs, construction, and covering methods we are interested in ensuring that the solar mounts are securely fastened to the rafters, through the underlayment (usually roofing paper) and the sheathing. Since holes will need to be drilled and lag screws inserted, it is important that the fewest number of roof penetrations are made while ensuring that proper waterproofing methods are employed to prevent roof leaks where penetrations are made. It is important to note that having the fewest roof penetrations is not the goal of the design since having too few roof mounts increases the loading and stress on the few rafters mounted to. Some mounts are secured to the rafter using one lag screw while others employ two or more.
Roofs are covered using a variety of materials: asphalt shingles, metal, wood shake, concrete tiles, and other materials. Solar panel roof mounts are available for each of these roof covering types to enable a secure mounting to the underlying rafters, per code and roofing best practices, while not voiding roofing warranties, as well as minimizing the material impact to the roof and its aesthetics.
The important aspects of choosing the right solar mounts are: attachment type (post or cantilever design), material (high quality aluminum), lag screw type (non-rusting, of the required length and width), water proofing method (sealant and flashing – single or double), quantity of lag screws per mount (two recommended), and design (fewest joints, raised insertion point of lag screw into the mount).