Unirac, Inc. was founded in 1998 and is based in Albuquerque, NM. The company was acquired by Tenex Capital Management in 2016 and continues to operate under the Unirac name. Unirac recently completed the acquisition of Ecolibrium Solar, who was a solar racking manufacturer headquartered in Athens, Ohio. This merger will provide Unirac the opportunity to expand their product portfolio by adding Ecolibrium’s commercial flat roof and residential rail-less and metal roof products to its product line. Unirac offers a 25-year warranty across all of its products.
IronRidge was founded in the mid-1990s and is based in Hayward, CA. The company was acquired in September 2019 by Esdec, joining Quick Mount PV and EcoFasten, and continues to operate under the Ironridge name. Ironridge offers a 25-year warranty across all of its products.
As both companies have been in the industry for over 20 years, and both companies have been acquired by larger firms, you, as a customer, can have confidence in product performance and warranty. Here is a direct table-based comparison of roof-mounted and ground-mounted racking systems from both manufacturers, with major differences highlighted. Most components are also available in a dark finish.
All three of the above solutions are certified to meet the TAS-100 Wind Driven Rain Test and UL-441 Rain Test. In terms of price, the Flashloc Comp is the cheapest solution (least amount of hardware), followed by the Flashkit Pro, followed by the Flashfoot2. It’s not a bad idea to order a couple of extra kits, just in case you lose a bolt or two on-site.
Overall, you can’t go wrong with any of these fully certified attachment solutions. The decision may come down to watching installation videos to determine which method you are most comfortable with. If you’re a homeowner working with an installer, be sure to ask your installer what their preference is and why.
Both Unirac and Ironridge offer three flavors of rail corresponding to their cross-sectional size and load capacity. Each rail size is available in different lengths (typically 11 feet, 14 feet, 17 feet, or 20 feet), and these long rails can be attached together using proprietary rail splices from each manufacturer. The biggest difference between these side-mounted rails is the distinct curved-back profile featured with Ironridge. Ironridge also offers a quick selection guide on their datasheet showing which rail is appropriate under certain loading conditions and rail span.
We recommend using Renvu’s Solar Kit Guide to receive a conservative bill of materials, then fine-tuning quantities as necessary using either manufacturer’s design tool. With Renvu, the price per foot of Unirac rail is generally lower than the price of Ironridge. As mentioned before, each rail size is offered in multiple lengths, commonly 14 feet or 17 feet. Renvu may also include 11 feet or 20 feet lengths of rail when available.
In addition to the Pro Series universal mid clamp above, Unirac also offers an older style frame-specific clamp which features a narrower inter-module spacing of 1/4”. Limited quantities of these clamps are available from Renvu upon request. Note that higher inter-module spacing results in increased airflow underneath the array, which helps cool down electronics and improves solar panel performance. Unirac’s mid clamp is slightly less expensive compared to Ironridge’s universal fastening object (UFO).
Some customers prefer the aesthetics of a hidden end clamp that tucks underneath the edge of the array and is hidden from view. If you’re using a universal or hidden end clamp, be sure the solar panel you’re using has a flange that is large enough to accommodate the end clamp. A few modules are known to be incompatible with this style of end clamp, such as bifacial modules without flanges. End caps, which clip onto the ends of exposed rail, provide functionality by protecting the interior of the rail, and additional curb appeal.
If you have any questions about compatibility between a given end clamp and your specific PV module, it’s always a good idea to contact the manufacturer directly. They may be able to recommend an alternative product and/or solution for your specific use case.
Both Unirac and Ironridge offer fixed-tilt ground mounted racking solutions. When using standard 72-cell modules, the power density of Unirac and Ironridge in the 4-up configuration is identical. At Renvu, we find that generally, the Unirac solution is more cost-effective, while the Ironridge solution (in the 5-up configuration) offers the highest power density. Each manufacturer has developed their own free-to-use design tool for their ground mounted racking system, and has uploaded supporting documentation and drawings for ease of reference.
Whether designing a roof-mounted or ground mounted project, we recommend using Renvu’s Solar Kit Guide to receive a bill of materials, then fine-tuning quantities as necessary using either manufacturer’s design tool.