Residential Mounting and Racking Buyer’s Guide 2020: The How-To Edition

For this year’s Residential Mounting and Racking Buyer’s Guide, we asked residential rooftop mounting and rail system providers to tell us exactly how one of their systems installs and what the advantages might be for certain roofs and solar installation companies. Here is what they had to say.

SunModo’s NanoMount

sunmodoNanoMount - Decking

Material: Aluminum mount, stainless steel hardware
Number of pieces: 2
Tools needed: 4
Certifications: Passed TAS 100 (a) wind-driven rain test.
Estimated time of install: 30 seconds

Install: Apply a circular bead of composite roof sealant around the bottom of the NanoMount. For NanoMount rafter version, Locate the center of the rafter in the desired roof location and drill a 7/32 in. [6mm] pilot hole. Add composite roof sealant into the hole before installing the 5/16 in. [M8] lag screw. For the deck version: Locate the desired roof location and install the 4X Self-Drilling Screws with Sealing Washers. Use the rail attachment hardware (not supplied) to attach the rail to the NanoMount’s integrated L-Foot. Torque to 15 ft-lbs.

Advantages: Damaging roof shingles used to be one of a solar installers’ worst challenges. With NanoMount, the need for lifting shingles is eliminated, which cuts down the installation time. This versatile mounting system includes a direct-to-deck option. All materials are compatible with pitched roof shingles and flat roof coverings.

sunmofoNanoMount - Rafter

Advice: The NanoMount has been engineered to handle wind loads in zones 1, 2 or 3 on the roof, and the unibody construction of the NanoMount ensures it can standup to the heaviest snow loads. The NanoMount can be mounted anywhere on the roof; apply additional sealant to the roof if needed to seal gaps between shingles or to smooth uneven surfaces.

Learn more here.

Roof Tech RT APEX

apex 3d

Material: Aluminum, stainless steel, butyl
Number of pieces: 5
Tools needed: 2
Certifications: UL 2703, ICC ESR 3575
Estimated time of install: N/A

Install: Designed to be fastened to rafters or direct to the roof deck (7/16 OSB minimum). Chalk lines are needed to plot the location of the bases. Eliminates the need to break the seal of asphalt shingles as it is a self-flashing system certified by the International Code Council. Can also be installed on EPDM, TPO and metal roofs. Since 5mm diameter mounting screws are used when fastened to a rafter, it eliminates the need for a pilot hole and the RT Butyl is self-sealing creating a waterproof mounting system.

Advantages: The self-flashing mounting made of proprietary butyl rubber (RT Butyl) has a service temperature between -40 F to 250 F, which surpasses common sealants used for roofing. In the case of an asphalt roofing (shingles) install, this method speeds up the installation time since it eliminates the need to undo the seal of existing shingles. Because RT Apex is fastened with stainless wood screws, it is not necessary to drill pilot holes

Advice: Read the installation manual for both mounting system and PV module being installed. RT Apex offers an option for splicing two PV modules at the corner, however not all PV module manufacturers allow for this option or provide structural values for a corner to corner mounting. Allow for three installs to master the product.

Learn more here.



Material: Stainless Steel and EPDM
Number of pieces: 3
Tools needed: 1
Certifications: UL Certified, PE Tested
Estimated time of install: <30 seconds

Install: After finding the rafter, the QB2 is installed by placing the Microflashing over the shingle and driving the Dual Drive Shoulder Screw until the L-Foot is secured. Once the L-Foot is secured, the Microflashing is compressed and has sealed the penetration.

Advantages: With only three components, the QB2 is installed in less than 30 seconds and cuts down the typical installation time by one-third. Unlike bulky sheets of flashing, Microflashing is installed without lifting shingles or removing nails. Because of this, the QB2 can be installed on a variety of asphalt shingle, EPDM and TPO roofs that other flashing cannot. It can also be installed without sealant, saving installers time and money.

Advice: There isn’t anything complicated about the QB2 installation process. Simply locate the rafter and drive the Dual Drive Shoulder Screw until the L-Foot is secure and the Microflashing is compressed.

Learn more here.

[button link=”” bg_color=”#ffad08″ text=”dark”]Solar’s Fastest Attachment
Damaging roof shingles used to be one of solar installers’ worst challenges. Now, the easy, affordable solution is NanoMount™, SunModo’s newest solar mounting innovation. Learn more here. [/button]


uni Product Installed

Material: Aluminum
Number of pieces: 5
Tools needed: 2
Certifications: TAS-100, UL441
Estimated time of install: 40 seconds to 1 minute

Install: Place FLASHLOC over pilot hole with lag on down-slope side. Align indicator marks on sides of mount with chalk line. Pass included lag bolt and sealing washer through FLASHLOC into pilot hole. Drive lag bolt until mount is held firmly in place. NOTE: The EPDM in the sealing washer will expand beyond the edge of the metal washer when proper torque is applied. Insert the tip of UNIRAC provided sealant into port. Inject until sealant exits both vents. Continue array installation, attaching rails to mounts with provided T-bolts.

Advantages: FLASHLOC is an all-in-one mount for composition shingle and rolled comp roofs. It installs fast — no kneeling on hot roofs to install flashing, no prying or cutting shingles, no pulling nails. Simply drive the lag bolt and inject sealant into the base. FLASHLOC’s patented Triple Seal technology preserves the roof and protects the penetration with a permanent pressure seal.

Advice: When FLASHLOC is installed over gap between shingle tabs or vertical joints, fill gap/joint with sealant between mount and upslope edge of shingle course. Also, use only UNIRAC approved sealants, such as Chemlink Duralink 50 (included in kit) or Chemlink M-1.

Learn more here.

Ecolibrium’s EcoX Universal Rail-less

Ecolibrium Solar

Material: Aluminum with stainless hardware
Number of pieces: 6
Tools needed: 1
Certifications: UL 2703, Fire Resistance UL2703/1703 Certified, Class A, Type 1 and 2 Modules; ICC-ES AC286/UL441
Estimated time of install: 3 people complete 2 jobs a day.

Install: Layout and install EcoX Universal roof attachments while a crew member on the ground secures MLPEs to the module. Install EcoX Universal Skirt along south array’s south edge. Drop modules into EcoX Universal Clamps and Couplings along the skirt. Install clamps and couplings along the top edge of the modules. Drop the next row of modules in and install clamps and couplings along the top edge of the new row. Repeat.

Advantages: Eliminates the need for 20-ft rails and the cost, risks and unsightliness of rails. It enables 33 percent fewer attachments and 65 percent less aluminum to secure the array. No reach-over panel drop-in is a key feature, particularly on steep roofs. Components are universal to fit any module frame-size, which enables installation to continue even if the module is changed. Project design is highly flexible.

Advice: When installers master the organized workflow, installation of EcoX Universal takes half the time. Best practice is to have a ground team prepping and wiring modules with MLPEs while the roof team installs attachments on the roof.

Learn more here.

SnapNrack Ultra Rail

SnapNrack_Ultra Rail 01

Material: Aluminum and stainless steel
Number of pieces: 5
Tools needed: 1
Certifications: UL 2703, Class A Fire Rating Type 1, Type 2 Modules, UL Certified Modules, Stamped structural engineering reports
Estimated time of install: 2-3 installs per day

Install: After the array is marked in accordance with the design plans, Umbrella L-Feet lag into rafters with patented flashing. Rails snap into mounts with spring-loaded features to allow the rail to easily slide and be adjusted to the desired location and height. Finally, panels are placed on the rails, secured using SnapNrack’s proprietary mid and end clamps as wires are nestled securely into the rail channel.

Advantages: The Ultra Rail profile creates a channel for wires, unobstructed by splices or mounts. It doesn’t rely on zip ties. Spring-loaded brackets allow the rail to snap into place and be released, without tools, and easily slide prior to leveling and tightening. SnapNrack doesn’t rely on T-Bolts either. Roof penetrations are protected with a patented cone flashing feature that extends above the base of the roof attachment and is sealed under a proprietary Umbrella Lag.

Advice: SnapNrack offers optional wire clips and clamps that snap into the rail channel to hold wires in place. Junction boxes, MLPE attachments, and other accessories are also available to aid in wire management.

Everest’s Yeti Hidden End Clamp

yeti Finished install

Material: Aluminum, stainless steel
Number of pieces: 1
Tools needed: 1
Estimated time of install: 30 seconds

Install: Once the array layout is marked on the roof and all mounts are installed, you can begin installing rails by starting from one side of the array with the rails flush to the edge of the array mark. Then at the end of the array, on the opposite side, cut the rail flush to the outside array mark on the roof. Lift the module to cut the rail, then slip in the Yeti hidden end clamp into the CrossRail channel under the module. Seat module into place, then pull the Yeti Clamp back over the module frame underside flange (by hand or with the optional zip tie). Tighten Yeti Clamp with a 13-mm socket to 12 ft-lbs.

YETI Install with Zip_Quality Unknown

Advantages: Using impact drills on clamps can result in over tightening and potentially cracking the glass that is sandwiched within the module frame. The Yeti Clamp allows for interior clamping, which secures the module to the racking by clamping down onto the inside of the module frame. Clamps avoid coming into contact with the module glass and allows more forgiveness when tightening.

Advice: To keep the clamp in position while tightening down you can simply use one finger to push onto the back to keep it from moving, or it has a clever hook that allows you to use a zip tie as a leash to pull it forward as you tighten.

Learn more here.

[button link=”” bg_color=”#ffad08″ text=”dark”]Solar’s Fastest Attachment
Damaging roof shingles used to be one of solar installers’ worst challenges. Now, the easy, affordable solution is NanoMount™, SunModo’s newest solar mounting innovation. Learn more here. [/button]

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