Solar Ballast Mounting

If you’re installing a new set of solar panels for your home you’ll likely have to think through mounting options.  A professional solar installer can help you understand what the best mounting type is for your roof. In most cases, it will come down to the pitch of the roof and where you get the most sun. If your roof can’t sustain solar panels then a ground-mounting option is available as well.

If you’re not comfortable with your roof being cut into or you have a flat roof, then a solar ballast may be right for you. A solar ballast is a special-purpose concrete block that is used to help install solar panels either on the roof or ground. The panels are then attached to the concrete block itself.

Solar Ballast Mounting for Roofs

A roof-mounted solar system requires either being tied into the roof itself or weighed down with concrete. If you have a flat roof or a very small pitch then it’s likely you will need to do a “roof ballast mount” for your panels.

In the racking system there are trays below the panels which allow you to put heavy concrete blocks. The weight from these blocks will keep the panels in place on a flatter roof.

The solar panels will not be flat against the roof and will still be angled to make sure they can capture as much energy from the sun as possible. This angle will also make it easier for rain and snow to slide off instead of accumulating on the panel itself.

Solar Ballast Mounting for the Ground

A ground-mounted solar system requires a sturdy base to ensure that the array is secured for decades to come. If you don’t have the ability to penetrate the ground for concrete-secured racking, a solar ballast can be a good alternative.

A concrete pad can provide the base for the poles to connect to that would otherwise be set in the ground. It requires a hefty amount of concrete but allows the array to sit on a slab as opposed to deep concrete-filled holes.

Preparing for a Ballast Mount

The preparation for a ballast mounted solar system requires identifying the best placement for the solar panels to get the most value out of them. Once the location is determined you can then figure out the number of posts needed and how many ballast blocks to support a solar energy system that fits your needs.

It’s best to work with an installation company to ensure the proper amount of concrete is used to ensure your posts are safe and secure to protect your panels from falling over or the weather, such as high winds.

Before you put any concrete block down you will want to make sure all of your paperwork is complete. You will need to have a permit to install solar, such as a building and zoning permit. It is very important to get the right permit for ground-mounted solar arrays.

Installing Solar Panels with a Ballast Mount

After you have the racking in place and the rails set up it’s time to mount the panels. If you’re not a master electrician then we suggest you consult one as you will have to string the panels together and wire it to the inverter.

In order to connect your solar array to the grid you will have to work with a licensed electrician to avoid fees or building code violations.

A professional solar installation company, such as Peninsula Solar, will employ master electricians for this very reason. These companies will also back a 25 year lifespan warranty on the products they use, almost making it a no brainer to work with them and protect your investment for decades.

Maintenance of a Ballast Mounted System

A ballasted solar system is very low maintenance. The solar panels are mounted at a tilt and allow for seasonal tilt changes to make sure they are capturing the most energy from the sun. This tilt also makes them super easy to clean and maintain as most debris or snow falls right off.

You should occasionally inspect your array for the unusual elements, like a bird's nest, but a ballasted system typically requires zero maintenance. The upfront cost of a solar system can be a considerable financial decision, the long-term payoff makes it an extremely savvy investment.

Pros of a Solar Ballast Installation

The main benefit of this type of mounting is that you don’t have to drill holes in your roof. Normally, solar panels will require long mounting screws that go all the way to the rafters.

This installation is typically a much faster and easier installation process since the panels are attached to the roof, or ground, with cement. It will also be less risky to damage your roof and not voiding any warranties you may have on it.

If you have a flat roof or a roof with a very low pitch, this is the best option for you to install solar panels and there is virtually no danger of the blocks sliding out of place.

Cons of a Solar Ballast Installation

The main disadvantage to this mounting system is the sheer amount of weight it adds onto your roof as you’re not just putting up panels but thick blocks of cement. The weight, if installed by a professional, is usually evenly distributed and isn’t a concern.

If your roof is old or has structural issues before you install solar panels you may cause more issues that cost you money down the road, such as having to fix any framing issues that come up.

Why Is It Important to Work with a Professional?

A professional installer will know how to calculate the right measurements to balance the weight of the panels. This is very important for roof mounted ballast systems to ensure that your roof doesn’t cave in.

The same professionals will be able to not only make sure your ballast mounted solar system works but looks aesthetically pleasing as well. This is very important for ground mounted systems and can have an impact on your home value.

Peninsula Solar has decades of experience building solar arrays of varying sizes and mounting types. We have a track record of perfect installations when it comes to a ballasted system. Talk to our team today for any questions you may have on your next installation.