There are many reviews that compare solar panels and solar installers, making it easier to make an informed purchase decision. Unfortunately, it is not that easy to learn more about the product that holds it all together and secures it on your roof, being the racking. Racking refers to the rails, brackets and clamps that fasten your solar panels onto the roof.
When it comes to racking there are two key product ranges. There is rooftop racking for most residential and small to medium commercial solar, and ground mount racking for off-grid and large commercial.
Clenergy racking is the right product for this area's salty air
It’s common for customers to spend hours looking at inverters and panels when researching a solar system for your rooftop. We believe that one of the most important aspects of a solar system is also the racking. Your roof panels are held in place by the racking. If they fall off during a storm, (which we have seen happen quite a few times), it’s not worth having the best panels.
Then there is the additional corrosion risk on the Sunshine Coast making racking research a must when designing a quality solar system.
Rackings importance in creating a high quality customised solar system is often underestimated. At SolarWide we use the Clenergy racking, which is the leading racking with the highest volume of racking sold in Australia. One of the reasons we like this particular brand is that the rails are made in Australia, providing local employment, but also meaning they are build for our tough environment.
We’ve tried many different racking brands over the past decade, and we have settled on the Clenergy range which is Australian-founded and partly Australian-made, with the rails being manufactured in Ipswich, Queensland. .
Their racking is thicker than competitors and has more structural support, making it stronger and better protected against weather conditions. The racking also features innovations and minor improvements that make installation easier and faster.
Although it is slightly more costly than the Chinese basic options of many competitors, it is a worthwhile investment considering that this is what will keep your roof’s solar system in place for decades.
The Clenergy racking also provides a wide range of options.There are roof-mount options for Kliplok, tile and tin roofs. They also offer black versions for the aesthetically focused customer. There are many ground-mount options available if you don’t have a roof but still want solar. They also offer carpark and carport options if your car needs to be protected while you generate solar, where the panels create the roof of the carport.
Clenergy racking range includes tilt legs and also black rails
What are solar mounting systems and how do they work?
Prices can vary depending on the racking style you choose, the equipment needed, and labour costs. For example, a ground mount racking system with foundations will obviously cost more per panel installed, than a straightforward roof-mounted system on a standard 25 degree pitched roof.
On a residential roof, the solar mounting system is typically made up of three key parts, the brackets to screw the system onto the roof, the rails to support the panels and the panel clamps to hold the solar panels in place. There are different brackets for metal or tile roofs, but rails and panel clamps are identical for both roof types.
Why is the mounting system quality and the way of installation important?
For example, one will not be able to tell easily how many brackets were installed to hold the PV system after the panels are screwed in. From the ground, it will look all the same. But at the next 150km an hour wind, the quality installation will obviously survive better, than the install where someone saved a bit of time and material costs, by supplying fewer brackets and fixings.
SolarWide regularly gets called out for system expansions or repairs and finds that the mounting frame connection points have seized up, or the manufacturer disappeared, so that the whole framing structure has to be replaced. In many such cases, especially if the panels and inverter were of the lower quality variety, the system repair is economically not worth it.
What is special about the Clenergy racking?
From its early days in Australia, Clenergy has grown from being a boutique solar racking solutions provider into a passionate, globally renowned renewable energy company with nearly 500 employees and offices in 3 continents.
Clenergy is a premium supplier that provides a 10 years product warranty. The warranty is not just on the component level but on the structural integrity of the assembly, as outlined in the install manuals. Clenergy has an excellent warranty record.
Local R&D, engineering and testing ensure that the Clenergy products are designed for the harsh Australian conditions. Clenergy also supports local manufacturing by sourcing and utilising Australian suppliers for rails. The company is an advocate for improving the quality of installations nationwide by providing support to local associations and training for installers.
How are panels fastened?
These are what are called end-clamps and also mid-clamps. As the name suggests, end-clamps get installed at the end of a row of panels usually two per panel on the outside and then for the rest of the row T-shaped mid-clamps get installed. Panels in the middle of the row will have 4 mid-clamps, two on each side to hold the panels. The end of a row panel will have 2 end clamps and 2 mid-clamps to hold the panel in place.
There is also a mounting system for freestanding solar systems. They consist of foundation leg, rails and clamps. The most common reason that solar panels get installed in a separate structure are:
- There is not enough roof space
- The roof of their building is shaded, which is bad for the panel output and longevity.
- They want their systems to run at maximum performance, which means facing the panels North.