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Listen Up: The Ins and Outs of Solar Racking

Solar modules — and to a lesser degree solar inverters —are what people usually think about when considering a rooftop solar power system. But for many installers, it's what's under the panels that they worry about the most...especially after it rains. Solar racking or mounting systems are essentially the "glue" that holds the modules to the roof for 25+ years. And this "glue" has to be pretty strong to withstand the substantial wind loads that may systems experience, as well as periodic heat waves and freezing conditions. So it's no surprise that for many installers, racking and mounting systems are where they spend the majority of their engineering, procurement and installation time.

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he solar industry has evolved quite far from the crude galvanized steel struts that were directly screwed to the roof, to which solar modules were bolted. Current best practices call for all aluminum and stainless steel mounting systems, carefully lagged to the roof support structure. Moreover, these new systems have fewer components, are easier to install, and sometimes include integrated wire management and grounding features. Specialized roof attachment components designed for almost every conceivable roof type are commonplace, and many of these components have integrated flashings to prevent leaks.

In this week's Energy Show, David Briggs, VP of Marketing for IronRidge, talks about the importance of reliable, durable, and safe solar panel racking systems. He'll start out with the basics of racking systems, and then dive into the details of waterproof roof penetrations, electrical safety, corrosion resistance and ease of installation. If you want your rooftop system to last as long as your solar panels without leaks, don't miss this week's Energy Show on Renewable Energy World.

Find more episodes of The Energy Show here.

About The Energy Show

As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don't have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.

The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we'll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices. 

About Your Host

Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.

His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.

Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies.  He's been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.

Read more renewable energy news here.

Lead image: Green microphone via Shutterstock

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