Analyzing the Energy Performance, Wind Loading, and Costs of Photovoltaic Slat Modules on Commercial Rooftops

Otto Van Geet, Ran Fu, Kelsey Horowitz, Parthiv Kurup, Timothy Silverman

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


NREL studied a new type of photovoltaic (PV) module configuration wherein multiple narrow, tilted slats are mounted in a single frame. Each slat of the PV slat module contains a single row of cells and is made using ordinary crystalline silicon PV module materials and processes, including a glass front sheet and weatherproof polymer encapsulation. Compared to a conventional ballasted system, a system using slat modules offer higher energy production and lower weight at lower LCOE. The key benefits of slat modules are reduced wind loading, improved capacity factor and reduced installation cost. First, the individual slats allow air to flow through, which reduce wind loading. Using PV performance modeling software, we compared the performance of an optimized installation of slats modules to a typical installation of conventional modules in a ballasted rack mounting system. Based on the results of the performance modeling two different row tilt and spacing were tested in a wind tunnel. Scaled models of the PV Slat modules were wind tunnel tested to quantify the wind loading of a slat module system on a commercial rooftop, comparing the results to conventional ballasted rack mounted PV modules. Some commercial roofs do not have sufficient reserve dead load capacity to accommodate a ballasted system. A reduced ballast system design could make PV system installation on these roofs feasible for the first time without accepting the disadvantages of penetrating mounts. Finally, technoeconomic analysis was conducted to enable an economic comparison between a conventional commercial rooftop system and a reduced-ballast slat module installation.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages21
StatePublished - 2018

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-7A40-70681


  • photovoltaic module configuration
  • PV
  • slat modules


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