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Solar Mounting is Going Off the Rails

Solar mounting S-5!
June 1, 2022 at 9:00 a.m.

By Cass Jacoby, RCS Reporter. 

Learn the advantages of rail-less solar mounting and discover why homeowners and contractors alike are choosing to mount directly to their metal roofs. 

Rails have been the conventional choice when it comes to attaching solar modules to metal rooftops. When interest in mounting solar PV on rooftops first began, the use of continuous aluminum rails to mount PV modules was the most practical application for solar on all rooftops. However, in a rapidly evolving industry, better ways of mounting and installing solar have come to light. 

Solar mounting methods have innovated towards sleeker, more discrete styles. Using hardware to secure each module to a metal roof, a new strategy was created that could completely bypass the need for rails when mounting a solar panel on a metal roof. Read on to learn why more homeowners are choosing to go rail-less when mounting solar to their metal roofs. 

1 — Rail-less is more resourceful 

Did you know there are already inherent rails on a metal roof? Seams on a standing seam roof and trapezoidal ribs, or corrugations, on an exposed-fastened roof are cost-free and work just as well for solar mounting. According to S-5!, rail-less solutions save both the homeowner and contractor the unnecessary redundancy and cost of rails by leveraging the roof's existing construction. 

2 – Rail-less is lighter 

You use fewer materials when you go rail-less. Rail-less products tend to be much lighter, which reduces the loads to the building structure. In fact, properly engineered rail-less components weigh 85 percent less than most railed systems, and because every point of attachment touches your roof, rail-less offers a 25 percent better load distribution across the roof.  

3 – Rail-less means less stress with shipping and storage 

Rid yourself of the logistical nightmare of railed systems. Shipping, storage and transport alone become far more simple and less expensive when a rail-less system is chosen. Because rail-less attachments are 15 percent of the weight of solar racking systems, you save more than 60 percent in shipping costs. 

Plus, rail-less systems don’t take up as much space in a warehouse, meaning rail-less can eliminate the need for a large storage area or cranes and forklifts, not to mention how mobile this system can be. The components for a 500kW PV system weigh 1,500 pounds and easily fit in the back of your short-bed pickup truck, with smaller models taking up such little space, you can tuck them into the front seat of a Mini-Cooper. 

4 – Rail-less is easy to install 

With 70 percent fewer components and 90% less volume than traditional systems, rail-less solutions make it simple and quick to get all the components up on the roof. Further, the mounting system is light enough to carry up a ladder to the roof in a bucket or tote bag along with all tools needed for the install — just a gun and one or two driver bits.   

Rail-less solutions allow you to easily mount around obstacles, removing the awkward field-cutting of rails. Plus, “on-the-fly” changes in the install area are possible if you need to make them. Since the “rails” (ribs of the roof) are abundant, you have greater flexibility available to you, making it easy to move components around during your install. 

State-of-the-art rail-less solutions also give you tie-slots and other tricks for wire management to help organize this critical part of your system’s performance. Some kits, like the S-5! PVKIT ® only need one tool to fully install. 

5 – Rail-less means less time on the roof 

Thanks to the streamlined system and smooth installation process of rail-less solar mounting, you can serve more customers by quickly completing installs. Rail-less solutions are pre-assembled, so you have fewer parts to manage. Installers report installation times of less than 90 seconds per module, meaning you can save an average of 35 percent or more on labor. 

6 – Rail-less means good ROI 

Metal roofs are a popular choice because of their durability, often lasting up to 60 years, so it makes sense that any roofing attachment needs to be able to match the longevity of the roof. When you pair a rail-less solution like the direct-attach PVKIT with a non-penetrating S-5! clamp on a standing seam roof, you get the added benefit of a penetration-free mounting system designed to protect your roof’s warranty and integrity. 

7 – Rail-less is aesthetically pleasing 

Sporting a low-profile, rail-less solutions offer a sleeker visual, letting the beauty of a metal roof shine. 


As the advantages of rail-less mounting become more well known, it becomes increasingly clear that the future of metal rooftop solar mounting is rail-less. With an easy, smooth and efficient installation of a product that promises to safeguard durability, warranties and aesthetic of the roof, it is no wonder why contractors and homeowners alike are turning to rail-less solar mounting on metal roofing. 

Learn more about S-5! in their directory or visit www.S-5.com

Photo credit: S-5! 

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November 23, 2023

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