Which PV Racking Material is Better for Your Project?

When designing and implementing a solar power system, choosing the right racking material is critical to ensuring the long-term performance and durability of the system. Aluminum, steel and galvanized magnesium-aluminum are three commonly used mounting materials, each with their own unique properties, advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the characteristics of these three materials to help you make the best choice for your project’s specific needs.

Comprehensive Analysis of Aluminum PV Racking:

Lightweight: One of the significant advantages of aluminum is its lightweight properties. The lightweight material makes aluminum mounts easier to handle and install, especially on hard-to-reach roofs or when they need to be lifted from the ground. The lighter bracket structure is also less taxing on the building structure, reducing the requirement for strength in the original building.

Excellent corrosion resistance: Aluminum has a naturally occurring oxide film, which provides excellent corrosion resistance. Whether in the high salt spray environment of coastal areas or the highly polluted environment of industrial zones, aluminum maintains good stability and a long service life, reducing the need for long-term maintenance.

Strong recyclability: Aluminum’s recyclability is in line with current environmental trends. It can be recycled an unlimited number of times without losing its inherent physical and chemical properties like other materials. For projects pursuing green building certification, aluminum brackets are an environmentally friendly choice.

Coefficient of Thermal Expansion: Aluminum has a high coefficient of thermal expansion, which means that in environments with large temperature fluctuations, aluminum brackets may expand and contract more. This requires adequate clearance to be considered during design to avoid structural stresses caused by temperature differences.

Relatively high cost:The cost of aluminum is usually higher compared to steel, which may increase the initial investment in the project.

Detailed examination of steel PV mounts:

Extremely high load-bearing capacity: steel is best known for its excellent load-bearing capacity. For larger ground-mounted systems or installation environments with high wind and snow loads, steel mounts provide the required durability and stability.

Economic Cost: In most cases, steel costs less than aluminum, making steel brackets an attractive option when budgets are limited. Although steel brackets may require more maintenance to prevent rust and corrosion, their low initial investment is a non-negligible advantage for cost-sensitive projects.

Temperature Adaptability: While the thermal conductivity of steel may lead to a greater thermal bridging effect, in cold climates this property of steel mounts can actually facilitate snow melting, preventing snow from covering the solar panels and affecting their power generation efficiency.

Maintenance Requirements: Steel requires periodic corrosion protection, such as painting or galvanizing, to prevent rust and corrosion. This increases maintenance costs and may affect the long-term durability of the mount.

Heavier weight: Compared to aluminum, steel is heavier, which can add to the structural burden, especially in roof-mounted systems.

Unique advantages of galvanized magnesium aluminum PV mounts:

Excellent corrosion resistance: galvanized magnesium-aluminum is an emerging bracket material with excellent corrosion resistance, even exceeding that of traditional aluminum and steel. This material is particularly suitable for use in extreme environments, such as high salt spray or highly polluted areas.

Combination of high strength and lightness: Galvanized magnesium-aluminum combines the lightness of aluminum with the high strength properties of steel to provide excellent structural performance. This makes it suitable for solar projects of all sizes, especially large ground-mounted systems.

Pre-coated protection: Galvanized Mg-Al is often pre-coated, which reduces the need for post-installation maintenance and provides a longer-lasting solution for corrosion protection.

Cost Factors: Although galvanized magnesium aluminum offers many advantages, its cost can be higher than traditional materials, which may affect budgetary considerations for some projects.

Market Penetration: as a newer material, galvanized magnesium aluminum may have less penetration and acceptance in the marketplace than traditional aluminum and steel, which may impact supply chain stability and accessibility.

Decision Factors:

When deciding on PV mounting materials, it is critical to consider the following key factors:

The specific location of the project: the corrosive nature of the environment, local climatic conditions (e.g. average wind speed, snow load and temperature range) are important factors that influence the choice of material.

Size and type of project: Roof-mounted systems may prefer lightweight aluminum or galvanized magnesium aluminum due to accessibility and safety concerns. Large ground mounted systems, on the other hand, may utilize the high load-bearing capacity of steel.

BUDGET & LONG-TERM MAINTENANCE CONSIDERATIONS: Despite the lower initial cost of steel, the long-term durability and low-maintenance requirements of aluminum and galvanized magnesium-aluminum may provide better value throughout the life of the project.

Conclusion:

Aluminum, steel, and galvanized magnesium-aluminum all play important roles in PV racking systems. Each material has its own unique advantages and best suited application scenarios. By carefully evaluating your project needs and environmental conditions, you can select the optimal material for your solar project, ensuring a reliable and economically efficient system.

SOEASY offers a wide range of mounting solutions in a variety of materials designed to meet the needs of your project, ensuring optimal performance and return on investment. Feel free to contact our sales team for in-depth information on the specifics of aluminum, steel, and galvanized magnesium-aluminum photovoltaic mounts and which material is best suited for your next solar project. Our team of experts will provide you with personalized advice to ensure the success of your project.

You can tell us what you need, such as tilt angle, planned panel layout.
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You can tell us what you need, such as tilt angle, planned panel layout.
File Upload