PV Panel Mounting


Photovoltaic power installations are becoming more popular today because the price of energy is on the rise and the PV industry is becoming more competitive and the incentives to create green jobs are becoming more attractive. The cost of solar panels or PV panels has been hovering around $5/watt for the last 5 years. Shipping and installations expenses account for about half the expense of an installed system and it is possible to save a little money by installing your own system.   HOWEVER you may need a special permits to mount panels on a roof in your area. If you intend on connecting your array to the grid you will definitely need a permit from your town and also from your power company. Normally a qualified electrician would have to approve of the installation in order to qualify for federal and state tax rebates as well as the incentive package associated with the local power authorities. To cash in on the rebate incentive you may need to hire a certified licensed electrician.

If you are thinking of becoming an installer this article will give you a taste of what is involved, but you'll still have plenty to learn.  There are many job opportunities associated with PV installers, but you may have to go through an apprentice training program under the guidance of a qualified electrician to secure your standing in the business. This article is only intended to cover the basic steps involved with the PV mounting process.

STEP 1 Choose a practical mounting site... The optimal orientation in the Northern hemisphere is South with a pitch normally equal to the latitude of the location. This orientation normally receives the maximum amount of sunlight throughout the year. Unfortunately flush mounting on a roof is often preferred and there will be times when a choice must be made between mounting panels on the East or West slope of a roof. Since the amount of radiant energy available is an important concern   Measuring Sunshine may be your next step..  

STEP 2 Use a stud finder to find roof rafters. Mark the rafter positions on the roof with a chalk line. Install the mounting plates on the guide lines, about 4 feet apart. Use 3/8" stainless steel lag bolts to attach the mounting plates to the rafters, but be sure to drill pilot holes into the rafters first so the wood does not split. Silicone calking may be used to waterproof the area around the mounting plates.

STEP 3 Secure the mounting post to the mounting plate.

STEP 4  Secure the rails to the mounting posts. 

STEP 5  Attach the panels to the rails. The bottom of the panel should be spaced about 5" from the roof.

STEP 6  Connect the conduit wires from the panel array to the inverter.


Most large solar panel arrays use 8 gauge wire that can easily carry more than 60 Amps of current. If you are not an experienced electrician get help before making the final connections. Installing panels on a ceramic tile roof is difficult. As a matter of fact most contractors will not attempt a tile roof installation. Instead they will remove the tiles and install a more conventional asphalt roof first.

There will be times when a flush mounted array will not be practical and you'll be forced to attach the mounting rails to long mounting posts.PV installations as of 2010 are designed to pay for themselves between 5 and 10 years and they are expected to become more cost effective in the future, but they will never generate savings until they are installed.



What does the book say about mounting photo-voltaic panels on the roof of a vehicle?

Your guess is as good as mine on this one...