Solar Collector Mounting

Techniques & Basic Considerations

The correct type of solar collector mounting will ensure maximum energy is harvested throughout the year. The collectors may also be mounted depending on application and season. There are three basic types of mounting: roof-mount, ground-mount, and awning-mount.

Roof-Mount: Here, collectors are usually mounted parallel to the roof. This is known as on-roof solar collector mounting. New building projects profit from the in-roof solar collector mounting, where the collectors are integrated into the roof structure.

Ground-Mount: These mounts are generally structured with four posts whose lengths are adjusted to provide the best tilt.

Awning-mount: For an awning-mount, collectors are mounted against a vertical wall on one side with the other side having supports to position the lower part of the collector outward at the required tilt.

Example: Installation Of Solar Thermal Collectors & PV Modules

Solar Collector Orientation & Tilt Angle

Proper solar collector mounting should be done with the collector facing due south for optimum performance. If a different orientation must be used, say due to roof lines, then the collector area may have to be increased to increase solar collector efficiency. However, shifting the orientation by 30-45 degrees reduces performance only by about 10 percent.

The ideal tilt angle for solar collector mounting will depend on seasonal function and geographical location. For solar water heaters, it is important to generate heat throughout the year. To achieve this, collectors should be mounted at angles equal to the respective latitudes.

Fifteen degrees more than latitude is recommended for energy production during winter while fifteen degrees less than latitude is ideal for summer uses. It may be necessary to mount the collector at a different angle than the roof, although this is only necessary if the performance penalty is over 30 percent. In all circumstances, the tilt angle may be determined with the use of an inexpensive tool called an inclinometer.

Solar collector mounting for water heating purposes in residential areas is usually designed to maximize energy during winter when the demand for hot water is highest. It is therefore important to plan for the lengthening winter shadows due to changes in the sun's path.

Piping

The total piping length between collector and hot water storage should not exceed 100 feet in order to minimize heat loss. If the length must exceed this threshold, then either the size of the pump or the diameter of the pipes must be increased.

Solar Collector Mounting - Special Considerations

For solar collector mounting on the roof, the installation must not prevent the flow of rain water or block drainage. The collector should be slightly raised to leave some space between it and the roof. Irrespective of the site chosen for solar collector mounting, the system must be fixed strongly enough to withstand prevailing winds in the area.

The right solar collector mounting does not only involve the collector itself. Different regulations must be considered, including sub-division covenants, zoning ordinances, and local building codes. Contact solar professionals in your area to assist in the solar collector mounting.