Mounting structures, made of steel or aluminum, support PV modules on the ground or roof and allow modules to be mounted at a precise tilt angle to receive maximum sunlight. Hence, choosing the right material for the structure is one of the most critical steps when installing a Solar PV system. Beneath, let’s look at the structures that are durable, cost-effective and adaptable to most terrains.
Hot-dip Galvanized Steel Structures
Hot-dip galvanized steel structures are made with fabricated steel sheets that are coated in zinc to keep them corrosion free. While regular steel is composed of iron which rusts to the point of disintegration on prolonged exposure to moisture, galvanized steel structures ensure structural durability by creating a physical barrier that prevents water from reacting with iron.
This method of galvanization is two to three times more expensive than pre-galvanized mounting structures. However, while pre-galvanized structures may be fairly popular among Solar Plant Installers due to their cost advantage, they are not sustainable in the longer run and could rust, corrode and crumble when exposed to rain, humidity, etc in access.
Anodized Aluminum Structures
Anodized aluminum is extruded through designed molds to develop durable finish. Anodizing is an electrochemical process where the metal is immersed, for an acid electrolyte bath, in a tank that passes an electric current through it causing an anodic layer to grow from aluminum itself.
Standard aluminum is a durable material, and once anodized the surface becomes three times tougher and more versatile than standard aluminum. Furthermore, anodized aluminum does not rust, peel, flake or chip and is 60% lighter than copper and stainless steel. All told, anodized aluminum is a fairly expensive mounting option.
Typically, Solar mounting structures require minimum maintenance unless they come along with solar trackers. Mounting structures could be galvanized steel or aluminum; however, it’s difficult to say which one is better. It is better to choose the mounting structures, for factors such as weight or durability, based on the type of roof or land space.