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How to check that a mounting system is safe to use

October 11 , 2016
One of the first things to check with a mounting system supplier is that the supplier will provide a structural certificate for its product to the customer (these certificates demonstrate that a mounting system will help prevent damage to a solar installation and safeguard it in the event of a wind-induced failure) – and that the product is accredited to the latest wind code, Australian Standard (AS) 1170.2. At a minimum, installation documents provided by a mounting system supplier will cover certain limits and parameters, and set out the maximum fixing centres and other specifics for a job; these should be carefully to ensure obligations are met. Other project and product parameters to check include:

This determines the basic wind speed for the installation. If the site is within 100 km of the coast in Queensland, the Northern Territory or Western Australia, the chances are that it will be in an elevated wind zone. Some mounting systems exclude cyclone regions or other wind zones.

Building height
All solar panel mounting systems will have a limit of building height – typically 10 m, but sometimes 20 m.

Panel size
Always check the maximum panel size the solar mounting system is rated to.

Roof zones
Some wind-induced failures can be due to panels installed too close to the edge or ridge of the roof.

Roof frame and fixing specification
The roof frame material, thickness and type of roof screw must be assessed.

Testing results
Suppliers of quality framing systems invest in testing for their products. For example, cyclonic regions are exposed to low-high-low (LHL) cyclic loading, where the modules, frame and fixings are exposed to rapidly oscillating up-and-down forces. Centres such as the Cyclone Testing Station at James Cook University conduct LHL testing, and a range of Australian and international testing centres and firms can certify mounting products.


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