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Question for MountainGirl

This is a discussion on Question for MountainGirl within the Alternative Energy (Wind, Solar, Hydro etc) forums, part of the Off-Grid Lifestyle category; Hello I was reading your other thread that I guess got hijacked and closed but I have a question. Early on in the thread you ...

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  1. #1
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    Question for MountainGirl

    Hello

    I was reading your other thread that I guess got hijacked and closed but I have a question.

    Early on in the thread you posted a pic of the building of the solar panel mounting system. built with 6 x 6 lumber. I noticed that it looks like the base of these 6 x 6's are deck piers. Are they like the ones in the image below or do they go down below the frost line. If they are the surface type is the structure secured in some way for wind.

    Question for MountainGirl-deck-block.jpg

    Secondly how are the panels attached to the structure?

    Thanks

    Al
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  2. #2
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    @agmccall

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    Hi Al -
    Yes, we used deck piers like the one in your post, on the surface and not attached to the ground in any manner. That spot is basically a granite knob, and rather than attaching it to the ground we designed the structure with a very wide base to hold up against the wind...with the hopes that if they were 'blown' they'd scoot backwards a bit, where there's still some level ground. We also laid them back a little more than the 'correct' angle should have been, for more stability, even though it might have given us reduced charging. We've gotten some 70+ gusts and so far it hasn't moved at all. You might be able to tell from that first pic that it drops off pretty fast to the south...and that's where the prevailing winds come from, lol. They hit the side of the mountain and flow up and right over the array. At least that's what I like to think.

    All the lumber was treated, 4x4s for the structure, 2x4s for the bracing, 2x6s for the horizontals that the panels attach to. You can get mounting rails (that fit the panels you buy) and those are mounted horizontally on the 2x6s. It would have been impossible for the structure to be 'level' - so we saved that requirement for the 2x6s. As it was, the 'flat enough' area was also almost not 'wide enough' - with the west side going up the mountain, and the east side dropping off over the edge. That's why that third section of panels is angled a little bit. As it still is - the east pier blocks are kinda just hanging on LOL This spring, I might go build up some rock under that area... even though it probably doesn't need it.

    The whole set up is very rugged, and we've had no problems with it other than keeping the snow from building up below the panels after sliding off them. There's only 30" clearance, and it would have been nice to go higher, but hunkering them as much as possible seems to have worked out.

    Do you have solar?
    Last edited by MountainGirl; 02-16-2020 at 10:02 AM.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by MountainGirl View Post
    @agmccall

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    Do you have solar?
    We have the setup with 2 fork lift batteries. we charge with generator. gave us decent power but can not move them. I am going to have to buy a hoist from harbor freight and lift the individual cells out, then build a wooden battery box. some of the cells have gone bad. I have 12 panels in the garage each about 300 watts and chargers to hook up.

    Do you have any pics of how the panels are attached to the structure

    al
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  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by agmccall View Post
    We have the setup with 2 fork lift batteries. we charge with generator. gave us decent power but can not move them. I am going to have to buy a hoist from harbor freight and lift the individual cells out, then build a wooden battery box. some of the cells have gone bad. I have 12 panels in the garage each about 300 watts and chargers to hook up.

    Do you have any pics of how the panels are attached to the structure

    al
    Our 9 panels are 235watt each. Fork lift batts were suggested to us as well - and we rejected them because of the weight/footprint.
    I dont have any pics but I'll snowshoe up there in a day or two, or maybe later today, & take some closeups for you. You get the general idea though, yes? Long rails were mounted full length on the horizontal 2x6s - and then the panels were attached to the rails.
    Are you going to hook your panels up this year?
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  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MountainGirl View Post
    Our 9 panels are 235watt each. Fork lift batts were suggested to us as well - and we rejected them because of the weight/footprint.
    I dont have any pics but I'll snowshoe up there in a day or two, or maybe later today, & take some closeups for you. You get the general idea though, yes? Long rails were mounted full length on the horizontal 2x6s - and then the panels were attached to the rails.
    Are you going to hook your panels up this year?
    Boy, was I wrong. That ^^ isn't the way they are attached at all. I wasn't up there for the install 3 yrs ago, so not sure why the method was changed out on the spot, but I like the way it was done - and actually it's probably stronger than the panels 'clipped' into rails would have been. I took pics, will edit them into this post soon.
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    I'd be more worried about a gust from the back, toppling them over face-first.
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  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Back Pack Hack View Post
    I'd be more worried about a gust from the back, toppling them over face-first.
    If they were just 'clipped' in, that could happen with that kind of set-up; good news for us is the back (north) side is very sheltered, no winds coming that way at all, even snow doesn't blow in underneath from behind..and they're not 'clipped' on. They're bolted. Time for pics.
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  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by MountainGirl View Post
    Are you going to hook your panels up this year?
    We hope, that is the plan. I need to get a sectioned leveled. either rent a dozer for a day or just pay someone. I am at top of a "Mountain" 2500 elevation and hope to also add a wind turbine into the mix

    al

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MountainGirl View Post
    Boy, was I wrong. That ^^ isn't the way they are attached at all. I wasn't up there for the install 3 yrs ago, so not sure why the method was changed out on the spot, but I like the way it was done - and actually it's probably stronger than the panels 'clipped' into rails would have been. I took pics, will edit them into this post soon.
    I look forward to that. My Wife and I have been struggling with the mounting of these. Mostly the cost. Life will be so much better once these are installed and hooked up to the system

    al
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  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by agmccall View Post
    Do you have any pics of how the panels are attached to the structure
    Ok, forget everything I said about rails.

    The inner side flanges of each panel have factory mounting holes, spaced here and there, for different racks used in different applications. I recall now, while designing the structure, asking if there were any requirements for the 2x6s; there were. The tops needed to be exactly 41" apart from each other. Ah, right. To line up with the panel's holes. The panels were mounted with L brackets and bolts. The close-up pic shows how. Each panel is bolted in 4 places: on the edges, 2 near the top, 2 very near the bottom

    Farthest west edge, also shows ground wire
    Question for MountainGirl-array7.jpg

    Two panels bolted side by side to the 2x6
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    Close up
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    This shows two panels, bolted to the top and bottom 2x6s
    Question for MountainGirl-array6.jpg
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