Updated 4 weeks ago

Is PanelClaw racking right for you?

Written by Joe Dametto

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PanelClaw specializes in solar panel racking and mounting equipment for flat roofs. Image source: PanelClaw

When installing a photovoltaic (PV) solar system, most installers and consumers don’t give much thought to the type of racking they will use. That’s because most roofs are pitched, and the racking systems for pitched roofs are generally pretty similar.

However, things are a bit different when you’re installing solar PV on a flat roof. For one, there is room to adjust the angle of your solar panels. Furthermore, there are also several ways you can attach the panels to your roof. 

This is where PanelClaw comes in. They offer a flat roof racking product in several different options, to meet a variety of needs. In this blog, we’ll take a look at the company and its products so you can decide if it’s right for you.  

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Key takeaways

  • PanelClaw has over 15 years of experience in the solar industry.

  • Right now, PanelClaw only offers the clawFR platform System. This product replaces the Polar Bear III HD system, which was discontinued in 2019.

  • The cost of PanelClaw products is not advertised anywhere. Expect to pay more than you would for a pitched-roof racking, which typically costs $540 for a 6 kW system.

  • You cannot buy a PanelClaw system yourself unless you are a certified installer, registered solar contractor, or distributor.

  • PanelClaw's clawFR platform system has many unique features which make installation and maintenance quicker and easier.

PanelClaw company profile

With over 15 years of experience in the solar market providing flat roof racking systems, PanelClaw, Inc has been involved in over 10,000 projects totaling over 2GW, not just in North America, but in more than 35 countries across the world.  

Based in North Andover, Massachusetts, PanelClaw was founded in 2007. More recently, in 2020, it was acquired by the ESDEC Solar Group. Other companies in the North American arm of ESDEC include Quickmount PV, EcoFasten, and IronRidge. Collectively, these four companies combined to form the largest solar mounting and racking provider group in the U.S.

PanelClaw products

PanelClaw only offers one flat roof system, the clawFR platform. This new system replaced the Polar Bear III HD, which was phased out of production in 2019.

The new clawFR Platform system was designed to help reduce solar power life-cycle costs.

There are three separate versions of the clawFR:

  • 5-degree tilt

  • 10-degree tilt

  • 10-degree dual tilt

There are also three different types of mounting systems available:

  • Ballast only

  • Fully attached

  • Hybrid system (partially attached) 

The best combination for you will depend on your location, your roof, and your budget. A qualified solar installer can help you decide. 

Regardless of which configuration you choose, all systems come with a 25-year product warranty.

PanelClaw product features

Most flat roof PV racking systems offer the same features such as pre-attached roof mats and wire management kits. The PanelClaw clawFR platform, however, differentiates itself with some unique features geared towards making installation easier and faster.

Works with different panel brands: Their rail system is universal and able to accommodate many different brands of solar modules.

Fewer small parts: The entire racking system uses a single bolt kit, which means you only have one size bolt to deal with and no loose nuts. This speeds up the installation process.

Easy to attach: A tool-less module attachment system means no time wasted having to screw down each module individually. With this system, installers are able to install a module in around 12 seconds. With a 90-degree tilt-up feature for ease of module maintenance or replacement.

Space-saving: The CFR Platform has an under-module ballast system which makes the installation look neater, but more importantly, takes up less valuable space on your roof.

Allows for walkway: You can also have up to a 17-inch walkway between each row of solar panels without compromising the amount of solar energy your system produces. This gives you greater access to maintenance and repairs.   

Here is a video showing the different components in a PanelClaw system:

How much does it cost?

PanelClaw does not advertise any pricing on their webpage, in fact, you won’t find any pricing for their products anywhere online.

While we can’t give you an exact cost figure for PanelClaw, the cost of racking solar panels systems, in general, is around $0.09 per watt, according to NREL cost benchmarks. For a 6,000 watt (6 kW) system, that works out to $540 for racking.

The actual cost you would pay for PanelClaw - or any other flat-roof racking brand - will probably be a fair bit higher than this. This is because flat-roof racking solutions cost more than the equivalent for pitched roofs, mainly due to greater equipment requirements.  

However, your overall solar installation costs as a whole won’t increase by as much. A flat roof is easier and safer to install solar panels on, simply for the fact that an installer can walk around on a flat roof with ease, and without the need for any safety equipment. And if you choose a ballast system, there is no need to drill into your roof to fix the system down, making the installation even quicker and easier.

Learn more: Installing solar panels on a flat roof

Is it easy to install?

If you’re considering a DIY installation, this point is probably moot. This is because you won’t be able to purchase the PanelClaw system yourself. The system can only be purchased by a certified installer, registered solar contractor, or distributor.

Installers, on the other hand, should find the PanelClaw easy to work with. According to PanelClaw, the new clawFR Platform has been designed with ease of installation in mind, especially if the ballast system, which requires no roof penetration at all, is used.

Here is a short video highlighting the ease of a PanelClaw installation:

Where can you buy it?

You can buy the clawFR platform system directly from PanelClaw, or through the BayWa r.e network.

Unfortunately, as we have said previously, you cannot purchase the PanelClaw system yourself unless you are an installer or wholesaler. 

If you are interested in having a PanelClaw system installed on your flat roof, your best bet would be to contact solar installers in your area and ask whether they use the PanelClaw system.    

Is PanelClaw right for a home installation?

The majority of flat roof solar installations are for commercial rooftops, and this is the market that PanelClaw targets with their product. 

While homes with flat roofs are much less common, they can still benefit from solar. In fact, a flat roof can offer greater flexibility in how the solar array is laid out, as well as the ability to choose between angles.  

If you’re a homeowner with a flat roof, you should seek advice from a qualified solar installer. They can recommend the right brand of racking equipment for you based on your budget, your needs, and brand availability in your area. Find the best installers in your area. 

To learn more about installing solar panels on your home, use the solar calculator below. It can help you assess your solar needs and show you live solar panel prices. 

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Written by Joe Dametto Content specialist

Joe Dametto is a blog author at SolarReviews. Joe has a passion for solar and hopes to guide consumers to a more sustainable future....

Learn more about Joe Dametto