Pole mounts are divided into 3 subcategories: top of pole mounts, side of pole mounts, and poll tracking mounts. These pole mounts are differentiated by how they are positioned on the pole.
Top of Pole Mounts
This type of mount are comprised of a metal rack and rail unit that is bolted to a large sleeve that rests on top of the pole. In order to install a top of pole mount, you will need to use an existing pole at least 3-8 inches wide with a concrete base, or construct one yourself. The mount simply slips over the top of the pole, and you can bolt (or weld) your solar panel unit into place.
Large Top of Pole Mounts can encounter a substantial measure of wind resistance and can be very heavy, so you may need a small crane or several able-bodied men at hand in order to install a large top-of-pole system.
Side of Pole Mounts
This type of pole Mounts are typically fastened and bolted to the side of telephone or utility poles. Side of pole solar panel mounts typically involve small solar panels, for larger units, it is recommended that you use a top of pole solar panel mount.
Tracking pole mounts
This type of pole mount are top of pole mounts with a special function – tracking pole mounts track the motion of the sun in the sky throughout the course of the day. This maximizes the operating efficiency of the solar panel unit.
In cases where there is not sufficient roof space, solar modules can also be mounted on the grounds of your property. The most common type of ground mount is a wedge structure constructed from steel supports anchored in concrete footings. The remainder of the structure is built from aluminum or galvanized steel.
Roof mounts are more difficult to install and maintain, particularly if the roof orientation and angle are not compatible with the optimum solar array tilt angle. Penetrating the roof seal is inevitable and leaks may occur. Also, it is important to achieve a firm and secure attachment of the array mounting brackets to the roof. Attaching the mounting brackets to the rafters will provide the best foundation, but this may be difficult because module size and rafter spacing are usually not compatible. If there is access to the underside of the roof, 2 x 6-inch blocks can be inserted between the rafters and the attachment made to the blocks. Attaching the array to the plywood sheathing of the roof may result in roof damage, particularly if high winds are likely.
This first mounting type is for a roof which faces close to due south. This can be done on any slope (at least 18.4 pitch) of roof but performs best on a steeply pitched roof.
This type of mounting is typically done on a roof with a lower pitch where the owners do not mind having the panels stick up and away from the roof. This type of mount will result in more efficiency for the PV system. This is also used for ground mounts.
This mounting system is for homes with shallow roof pitches where the roofs slope to the east and to the west. It is the most obtrusive of the mounting styles but is sometimes the only option available. These systems will be fairly efficient, but will need more roof area than the others.
There are few mounting techniques you can choose from when racking a PV array on a flat roof: Attached, Ballasted and Hybrid technique which uses both ballast and structural attachments. Installing a system on a flat roof does not require a reroof, it is naturally ventilated and it can be aligned for optimum orientation and tilt. At the same time, mounting a system on a flat roof requires very carefully designing due to extra weight on building from the frame and additional materials like pavers when using ballasted mounting technique. Also, it must be designed carefully so PV panels do not shade one another. With any ballasted system it maybe necessary to have the strength of the roof checked by a structural engineer.
This type of installation require penetration and connection to the framing.
Ballasted mounting of systems for flat roofs require no penetration and can withstand winds up to 90 mph. Ballasts mounts rely solely on the weight of the array, racking system and additional material, like concrete paver, to hold the array to the roof.
Hybrid installation is a combination of ballasted and structural attachments. A minimally attached, or hybrid, system takes advantage of both attached and ballasted features. A hybrid racking system will require minimum number of penetrations and some level of ballasting. The concept for the hybrid system is rather simple: the fewer penetration used, the more ballasting required and vice-versa.
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