It can be a very advantageous business decision to offer your customers solar solutions that use a variety of racking systems, such as ground, pole and roof mounts. In addition to providing the systems themselves, you can add more value by becoming a trusted source for input when it comes to choosing the right system for the right property.
To help you sell solar and meet your clients' needs, here are aspects of three types of racking systems to consider.
Roof-mounted systems are the most common form of solar. They can be very suitable if you have a large, south-facing roof with a typical minimum area of at least 250 uninterrupted square feet. This means no sewer-vent pipes, skylights, chimneys or other objects that infringe on the area or affect the flow of the panels. If you have that sort of space available and your roof faces the right direction, roof-mount systems can be cost-effective, as they often require the smallest upfront cost per panel and the racking system is built in. In essence, roof-mount systems are solar's low-hanging fruit.
On the other hand, you may advise your clients to choose another racking system due to a number of reasons, the most evident being if their roofs face east, west or north. Because of the path of the sun over the course of the day, panels simply won't be as efficient in their production if they face any direction other than south. There's also the chance that your clients' insurance costs might rise (along with yours), since you'll be putting holes in their roofs.
You also have to consider the quality of the roof itself. For example, an older roof may not be able to support the weight of a roof-mounted system, or the installation could otherwise impair the structural integrity of the house. Certain roofs may also have to be reshingled following the removal of solar panels, as they could tear up older shingles. Finally, because they're smaller, rooftop panels typically don't produce the same amount of energy as ground-mount or tracker solutions. So if your clients are seeking the most bang for their buck over time, you might suggest a different model.
A ground-mounted system can be a savvy choice to those who have lots of yard space with a view. Just as with roof-mounted systems, your clients need uninterrupted space with a south-facing orientation. Ground-mounted panels are also typically less expensive to your customers upon initial purchase than a dual-axis tracker, though they have a lower ROI (more on that below).
While your clients will receive more power per panel than a roof-mounted system, they'll still receive less than a tracker system, which means they have a larger footprint. Typically, ground-mounted panels create a much longer structure, all of which usually has dead space beneath it, as the panels are low enough to the ground that they inhibit the growth of grass or flowers.
If your clients have the room for them, dual-axis trackers are a no-brainer when it comes to energy production. With efficiency gains of up to 30 percent from ground-mounted systems and 45 percent from roof-mounted systems, trackers may cost more upfront per unit but they produce a much greater ROI over time. This is because the trackers move to catch the sun's rays throughout the day in the same way a sunflower would. Also due to the added energy efficiency, your client will have to purchase fewer panels than with a ground- or roof-mounted system, potentially minimizing the additional expense.
Because trackers are mounted on poles rather than on the ground, there is less disturbed ground space beneath them, which can be used to grow flowers or other plants. There is elegance in their design as well, especially if your client has an interest in technology.
From an installer's perspective, there are added benefits to offering dual-axis trackers. For one thing, you won't have to deal with the danger of going on a roof, nor will you have to pour the many footings that a ground-mount system requires. The time it takes to conduct these tasks increases your labor costs because you have to spend more days onsite. Also, with a ground or roof system you will have to wait for your distributor to assemble the system parts based on the design. This can result in more lag time from the design phase to implementation. If you partner with the right tracker solution, on the other hand, you can have everything sent to you in a single pallet, so you can see them running in minimal time.
Looking for more selling points regarding solar tracker solutions? Download our complimentary guide and share it with your clients.