From a materials perspective, racking represents roughly 5-10% of the system cost. That said, the labor required to install the modules on the racking system costs twice as much as the racking material involved and can account for up to 66% of the total installed cost of a system. According to expert industry analysts, the speed and ease of installation for the racking system can directly impact roughly 40% of the total installed cost.

Solar System Racking Systems

Interview with Marcelo Gomez | Unirac

What makes Unirac an innovator in solar infrastructure?


Unirac innovates by reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) for solar installations through something we call Performance Engineering. Performance Engineering results in the removal of unnecessary material, it substantially reduces labor requirements and it increases the overall strength and reliability of solar infrastructure over the long term.


How is Unirac aligning itself with changes in the solar market space?

Unirac partners with premier solar distributors across North America, working together to create solutions and processes that drive down total installed costs. Unirac is also active on the standards and compliance front and our technical team is always watching the horizon for new solar technologies so that our solar infrastructure solutions stay at the forefront of the industry.


What are the most important factors to consider with a solar mounting system?

The most important things to consider when purchasing a solar mounting system are longevity and total installed cost. Other factors that should be considered include safety and the ability to pass code inspections the first time around.


Are local bylaws and regulations a factor or are the mounting standards fairly universal?

Solar installations are still relatively new so there has not yet been a uniform standard developed for solar installations that is applied across the board. While there are standards that apply, they are applied inconsistently at best.  From the perspective of the construction industry, building codes and inspectors, solar is unknown and without established standards.  This relative lack of expertise in the solar industry has resulted, especially on the part of some racking vendors, in some very questionable installations. Unirac is the industry expert in the interpretation and application of codes up to the latest standards in safety, construction and engineering.


How does Unirac’s engineering differ from those of their competitors?

Unirac engineers its products with two to three times more rigor than anyone in the industry.  We have the largest and most experienced engineering team in the industry and we collaborate closely with engineers who consult with organizations like NASA and the US Airforce. Solar installations are not just about the sun. They must successfully be able to address wind, rain, ice and snow as well.  Our competitors say they are ASCE 7 compliant.  That's a good start, but ASCE 7 is just one of the standards that need to be applied to solar infrastructure. Good engineering means more than sand bag testing.


Roughly what percentage of the total cost of an average installation is the racking system?

From a materials perspective, racking represents roughly 5-10% of the system cost. That said, the labor required to install the modules on the racking system costs twice as much as the racking material involved  and can account for up to 66% of the total  installed cost of a system. According to expert industry analysts, the speed and ease of installation for the racking system can directly impact roughly 40% of the total installed cost.


How does SolarMount-I affect the TCO of a solar installation?

The rails, or beams in Unirac’s case, can constitute roughly 70% of the material cost for flush mount racking systems. SolarMount-I is an efficient, high-strength I-beam, demonstrating an excellent strength-to-weight ratio while providing click attachment features that speed the installation process. (In essence, Unirac puts the technology into the connections’ attachments.) We have an unprecedented number of attachments for tile and shingle roofs and the system as a whole requires no drilling but rather “click and secure” connections which eliminate the need for nuts and bolts. These combined features enable a quicker, hassle-free installation, and reduce the amount of labor required to install a system.


What makes SolarMount-I stand out from competitive offerings on the market?

Three major things set SolarMount-I apart from the competition: 

  1. Best Tools and Support — Unirac makes extensive documentation and easy-to-use engineering reports available online. With these installation reports, you can figure out exactly what materials and systems are needed prior to installation based on the exact location and details of the install site. Unirac also provides specification tools, webinars, a mobile application and installation videos that help make the installation process as fast and easy as possible. 
  2. Speed of Installation — SolarMount-I was engineered to install quickly. In fact, third-party installation time trials have proven that SolarMount-I installs faster than any competitive product on the market. 
  3. Flexibility — SolarMount-I is ideal for a vast array of installations because it can accommodate any PV module and is so easy to install.

 What is Unirac’s vision for the future of solar infrastructure?

Innovation is the key to lowering costs, not at the component level, but at the system level. Unirac sees innovation as the driving factor in infrastructure to make installations safer, more effective, more affordable and faster to install. Additionally, codes and standards are required to minimize both risk and ensure safety over time. Unirac is leading the way in this area and would like to see codes become uniform and broadly applied so that solar can reach its potential.

Marcelo Gomez serves as Unirac¹s director of marketing and is responsible for driving Unirac¹s overall brand and communication strategies. He brings to Unirac more than 10 years of marketing experience and specializes in building brand identities, websites and award-winning logo designs.

Prior to Unirac, Gomez was a marketing specialist and creative designer for the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging where he helped grow the brand into one of the nation¹s most recognized sponsorship organizations.

Gomez also spent 3 years as a freelance graphic designer and marketing consultant and co-owned a graphic design agency in Belize. He holds a degree in Mass Communications from Benedictine College in Atchison, KS.

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