PanelClaw: Flat roof solar racking company overview

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One essential component of a solar panel system is racking. In this article, learn about PanelClaw, a racking manufacturer specializing in flat-roof solar setups.

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Based in Andover, Massachusetts, PanelClaw is a flat roof solar racking provider with more than 1.75 gigawatts (GW) of solar projects deployed worldwide, spread over 10,000 individual projects. They have completed solar installations ranging from 5 kilowatts (kW) to 20 megawatts (MW).

Importantly, properties that are typically good candidates for PanelClaw's equipment are commercial buildings. While some residential properties have flat roofs, it is more common to find flat roof space in large commercial areas that house large and small businesses. Standard rooftop racking is likely the best solution for most residential solar panel installations for safely mounting rooftop solar panels.

PanelClaw offers one racking system: the clawFR Platform. The clawFR Platform replaced the Polar Bear III HD, which was phased out in 2019.

PanelClaw's most recent product, the clawFR platform, is designed to be easier and quicker to install than their classic racking product, the Polar Bear III HD. Panels can be single- or double-tilted at 10 degrees, and a 5-degree option is in the works. The system is available in ballast only, fully attached, or hybrid configurations. All clawFR configurations come with a 25-year product warranty.

One of the main selling points of the clawFR system is the design considerations for simplified operations and maintenance (O&M) procedures. With walkway access between rows of panels and a simple single-panel replacement process, PanelClaw makes it easy to effectively and efficiently monitor and service flat roof solar installations racked with the clawFR system.

Many commercial properties have flat roofs that don't seem ideal for solar panel installations at first glance. Flat roofs are a great place for solar panels with the help of racking products like those from PanelClaw.

Why do flat roof solar installations need these unique racking setups? When you install a solar array on a slanted residential rooftop, the panels are already tilted more directly towards the sun, allowing for more solar electricity production than if they were lying flat. Additionally, mounting solar panels at an angle is especially important in areas where it snows for all or part of the year. This is because snow can block sunlight from hitting solar panels; with tilted solar installations, snow will naturally slide off the panels, re-exposing the solar cells to sunlight.

Flat roofs can even offer some benefits over tilted roofs for solar panel installations.

Lower labor costs

First, labor costs can be competitive with or lower than the installation pricing for slanted roofs. This is due to the ease of movement for solar installers - on a flat roof, workers can walk around and place components where they need to be. Tilted roofs require extra safety equipment and logistical considerations, adding time and complexity to an installation.

No roof penetrations

Second, many solar panel installations on flat roofs typically don't require any roof penetrations. Instead, panels can be mounted using a weighted racking system called a ballast system. Rather than using drilled holes in the roof to secure the equipment, a ballast system uses heavy weights and gravity to keep panels from moving.

Optimized angle

And third, a flat roof allows for more choice when choosing the angle you want to install your solar panels. On a slanted roof, the angle of your roof restricts the tilt of your solar panel system. Conversely, flat roofs allow installers to design racking systems tilted to exactly the right angle for maximum energy production. As a rough guideline, the optimal angle for a solar panel installation in the U.S. is approximately equal to the property's latitude.

Whether you have a flat roof, sloped roof, or no roof space at all for solar panels, solar can work for you. By registering on the EnergySage Marketplace, you can receive quotes tailored for your property from qualified, pre-vetted installers near you. Get started today with an instant estimate of your solar potential and estimated savings!

Find out what solar panels cost in your area in 2024
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