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Ground Based Solar Array

130driver | Posted in Green Building Techniques on

First time on the forum here and still reading quite a bit of information concerning solar arrays.  I recently had to replace my well pump and as a result I have about 950′ of  1.5″ schedule 40 galvanized pipe.  Since I have the room on my property, I am now designing a ground based array for solar panels.  The main problem I am trying to solve is how to build a structure with the 1.5″ pipe which will allow me to adjust the angle of the panels twice per year on a single axis.  The adjustable systems for sale all seem to revolve around a single post, center mounted on the horizontal axis of the array.  However, with my desire to use my 1.5″ pipe, I don’t believe my pipes could support the load, no matter how close I place the posts.  Based on my pipe size (strength), I think I have to go with a parallel design with two horizontal supports (picture the uneven bars in gymnastics).   The total array is 60′, so I am considering breaking the mounting system into multiple smaller arrays.  I am looking for any suggestions or ideas for building this mounting system using my 1.5″ pipe that would still allow me to adjust the angle of the PV panels.

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  1. Expert Member
    Akos | | #1

    When I was building my ground mount, I started out with wanting to do seasonal adjust and built the first array to be able to do it. After the first, it become obvious that it is just too fussy to build and built the rest as fixed. Even if you do build seasonal adjustment in, are you willing to adjust them twice a year? Just keeping the shrubs at bay around it is enough work for me.

    For the roughly 10% increase in winter production, you can just buy a couple of extra panels and have the array fixed and not worry about it. You can run your two array orientations through PvWatts and see if it makes sense in your location.

    Around me there are a number of DIY pole mount with seasonal adjust and some of them have been converted to fixed as the structure tended to move too much in the wind. For this to work, you not only need a stiff base but also a stiff array. Lot of extra metal to do that. Extra metal adds weight which makes adjustment even harder.

  2. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #2

    Look at the third page of this for some ideas:

    This is an antenna array, but it’s a similar structure to what you’d use for a large solar array that needs to rotate about an axis without the central point having to take all of the load.

    That said, it’s easier to just add some panels like Akos mentioned. Find the best average orientation for your area and keep the panels fixed in that position. This is a much simpler, and far more durable, way to mount your solar panels.


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