Sometimes the range of solar photovoltaic module installations can be confusing when it comes to tackling a project that requires these characteristics. After deciding to invest in a more sustainable and efficient future by installing solar panels and using solar energy, now it’s time to resolve all your doubts and make a decision. Today’s article will talk about the dilemma of choosing the type of panel and the different types of structures (coplanar and inclined) to help you choose the best structure to suit your energy improvement project’s needs. We will also talk at when it is better to install one or the other, explain the differences, as well as information regarding the assembly process: what is needed to assemble them or how they should be assembled.

What factors should be considered before installing a photovoltaic solar system?

Before choosing a structure for solar panels – coplanar or inclined – we must consider several factors that will help us to make the decision to install one or the other.

We must first identify the period of the year in which we will consume the most energy. If our factory, warehouse or offices tend to consume energy occasionally in the summer months, the photovoltaic installation will be more efficient if it is oriented to the south and with a slight inclination. Were the consumption regular throughout the year, we would also orientate our installation towards the south, but with a greater inclination due to the fact that the sun’s path is lower in the autumn and winter months than in the spring and summer months. The geographical location is also relevant, i.e., being closer to the south of the Spanish mainland, we will have more hours of natural light per day than a location further north.

Another highly important factor is the type of roof on which the solar panels will be installed. It is important whether the surface on which we are going to install the panels is flat or pitched. This will help us to detect whether a coplanar structure or another type is best suited to what we need.

On flat roofs, the best option is to install solar panels at an incline, with structures that allow the inclination of the solar panels to be regulated, as they can be fixed directly to the surface and the photovoltaic modules maximise their performance with a small adjustment.

If, on the other hand, the roof is inclined, we will opt for solar panels in a coplanar structure, as this will allow us to fix them directly to the surface and maintain the same inclination with a greater grip. Coplanar structures are generally less expensive and simpler. In this case, the performance of the solar panels is determined by the orientation of the roof itself.

What is the difference between a coplanar and an inclined structure?

As in the previous question, the main difference between a coplanar and an inclined structure is quite obvious: their degree of inclination. The choice between the two largely depends on the location of the installation. But this isn’t all you should consider when making a new photovoltaic installation.

In terms of materials, both are manufactured from aluminium, which means that both are equally strong and durable. In this regard, there are no differences.

Let’s now look at assembly, a key factor in deciding between one structure or the other: coplanar are simpler as they only consist of a rail profile and the anchoring to the roof, which will benefit from a quicker and easier assembly, while the inclined ones will take more time and effort.

In terms of strength, there is no difference. As mentioned in the first point, as they are made of the same material, both have the same durability and strength.

Finally, one of the most obvious differences is the height of the structures. Inclined structures have a greater height as they need a structure to raise them to achieve the inclination and improve the efficiency of energy generation. With coplanar structures, they are installed directly taking advantage of the inclination of the structure.

How is a PV structure assembled and what materials are needed to assemble coplanar and inclined PV structures?

After looking at the differences between the two types of structure, it’s now time to determine which elements are necessary for their installation. These are essential in the installation process:

  • Purlins or rail profile: these will function as the base structure where the photovoltaic modules – of one type or another – will be installed.
  • Purlin joints: these will be necessary to correctly join two different parts of the profile.
  • Screws: we will look for stainless steel screws, resistant to outdoor conditions.
  • Intermediate and end clamps: we will need them to fix the photovoltaic panels to the purlins.
  • Anchors: depending on whether the installation is on concrete, sheet metal roof, sandwich panel, etc., we will use a certain type.

Which is the best option? Inclined or coplanar structure?

In general, after having seen all the characteristics of both structures, we could conclude that opting for one or the other depends on the type of installation and its location. Generally speaking, if you want to take advantage of the incline of the existing structure, you will install a coplanar structure, while if you need an ‘extra’ incline, it would be better to opt for an inclined structure.

If you still have doubts about the best structure for your photovoltaic installation on a roof, you can contact us. SOLASOL Energy has a wide range of structures for solar panels. You can contact us without obligation to explain the installation you want to do and we will help you choose the structure that best suits your needs, offering different solutions and also help to provide a good landscape integration.