What is solar mounting structure?
Photovoltaic mounting systems (also called solar module racking) are used to fix solar panels on surfaces like roofs, building facades, or the ground. These mounting systems generally enable retrofitting of solar panels on roofs or as part of the structure of the building (called BIPV).
Mounting as a shade structure
Solar panels can also be mounted as shade structures where the solar panels can provide shade instead of patio covers. The cost of such shading systems are generally different from standard patio covers, especially in cases where the entire shade required is provided by the panels. The support structure for the shading systems can be normal systems as the weight of a standard PV array is between 3 and 5 pounds/ft2. If the panels are mounted at an angle steeper than normal patio covers, the support structures may require additional strengthening. Other issues that are considered include:
Simplified array access for maintenance.
Module wiring may be concealed to maintain the aesthetics of the shading structure.
Growing vines around the structure must be avoided as they may come in contact with the wiring
The solar array of a PV system can be mounted on rooftops, generally with a few inches gap and parallel to the surface of the roof. If the rooftop is horizontal, the array is mounted with each panel aligned at an angle. If the panels are planned to be mounted before the construction of the roof, the roof can be designed accordingly by installing support brackets for the panels before the materials for the roof are installed. The installation of the solar panels can be undertaken by the crew responsible for installing the roof. If the roof is already constructed, it is relatively easy to retrofit panels directly on top of existing roofing structures. For a small minority of roofs (often not built to code) that are designed so that it is capable of bearing only the weight of the roof, installing solar panels demands that the roof structure must be strengthened before-hand.
Ground-mounted PV systems are usually large, utility-scale photovoltaic power stations. The PV array consist of solar modules held in place by racks or frames that are attached to ground-based mounting supports.
Ground-based mounting supports include:
Pole mounts, which are driven directly into the ground or embedded in concrete.
Foundation mounts, such as concrete slabs or poured footings
Ballasted footing mounts, such as concrete or steel bases that use weight to secure the solar module system in position and do not require ground penetration. This type of mounting system is well suited for sites where excavation is not possible such as capped landfills and simplifies decommissioning or relocation of solar module systems.