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Panel mounting info

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by TnAndy, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Couple of good Home Power magazine PDF's on pole mounting panels.....includes some other aspects, such as the combiner box and all....worth a look if you're considering an install.



    Copy and paste in a browser.
  2. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    And if you install a standing seam type roof ( only kind of metal roof to use, IMHO ), then you can mount roof panels with zero penetration of the roof using S-5! clips, and the screw in panel clamps that go in them.

    The clip tightens right on the standing seam.

    I used them on this install.....and it gets a LOT of wind, being right on the crest of a ridge. They hold fine.

    S-5! clips ( and the mounting section above the clip shown )


  3. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Mornin' Andy. How about a couple of close up's of the mounts actually mounted to the propanel roof with no screws ? That would be an excellent pic for people like me who have never seen this type of mounting system. Our winds have been clocked at 112 mph. How would they hold on those ?
    larryinalabama and rsbhunter like this.
  4. rsbhunter

    rsbhunter Monkey+

    Homepower pdf.

    THAndy, those are awesome pdf. articles! That is EXACTLY the info i was needing, and covers every aspect. Not 100% sure whether i'm going steel, or multiple telephone pole mount, but that info will definitely help in making an informed decision. I will suscribe to that mag today...seems to have alot of really good info for "our type of people (solar, off grid) Thanks again, rsbhunter
    larryinalabama likes this.
  5. rsbhunter

    rsbhunter Monkey+

    copy and paste

    How do i paste to a browser....i REALLY want these saved for future use!!!Thanks, rsbhunter....P.S. Morning all
    larryinalabama likes this.
  6. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member


    Don't have any close ups of those on the roof....maybe I can get some sometime when I go back to visit the guy.

    The lower part ( which is actually the S-5 clip) goes over the standing seam, then the allen head screw runs in and clamps on the seam. The second, upper hole, a bolt with a wide flange, goes in so the allen screw can't be backed off without removing the bolt.

    The seem to hold real well. I used them on my last array to hold my panels....clamped them to Unistrut channel instead of a standing seam roof rib.....works the same.

    I can get some closeups of that, but not today....raining, with snow to follow.

    larryinalabama and Nadja like this.
  7. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    While you're out taking pix, how about a shot or two of how you lead the wiring back inside?
    larryinalabama likes this.
  8. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Ghrit, for about 16 years, my wiring going from the panels to inside are just hanging down the building and then into it via a hole. This spring, I will be putting a combiner box up on top, with two seperate pieces of 1" plastic conduit coming from the combiner box to no drip pvc pieces going into the building and then right into the approiate charge controllers.
    I am also going to be using #4 heavy wire to do this, as it needs to be the last time I will ever need to upgrade the size. I am using it because I have a complete spool of it.
    It really doesn't need to be quite that heavy , but it was free ! Best kind.
    larryinalabama likes this.
  9. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member


    I can get a shot, but there's not much to see. On the first two arrays, they are within 20' or so of the "power room", so I ran 1" sealtite flex conduit from the bottom of the combiner into the building and into a double pole disconnect.



    The disconnect is double pole, so I simply ran the feed of one array to one pole ( and fused it ) and the feed from the other to the other pole. The negatives simply pass thru the disconnect and on to the charge controllers.

    You can see the two 60amp Outback charge controllers below the disconnect.

    Also, a box for 24v to run BACK up the two conduits to power the actuators that make the arrays track. Tapped off the battery bank, and ran it thru that box, which has a fuse link in them, and on up.

    From the charge controllers, you'll notice a pc of flex conduit that runs to a small Square D panel tucked under the Outback AC Flex ware panel. That provides a way to isolate the battery bank from the charge controllers via single pole 60amp Square D breakers....yep....they make SINGLE POLE breakers up to 80amp in their SQ line, and they ARE rated for DC up to 48v.

    From that panel, the feeds from the Charge controllers run to the battery bank.

    Then, from the battery bank, a set of 4 cables (4/0 copper) runs up to that far DC twin 175amp disconnect (white box) on the right, then each 175breaker feeds one of two inverters ( Outback GTFX2524 )....2500w each @24v......the AC side is that Outback Flex ware panel on the left (grey). It holds two breakers....one to feed on back out to my grid tie meter, the other that feeds a transfer switch in my garage. When the grid goes down, the contacts in the inverters automatically open, and a second set closes, diverting power from the grid feed to that second breaker to the house transfer switch.

    House setup pic:


    The transfer switch is the large box on the right.....handle up is grid "on".....handle thrown to the bottom is when grid is off. Switch is a manual 100amp, Cutler Hammer.

    It feeds that 100amp subpanel in the middle (small grey panel) either grid up or down, and that contains all the circuits I consider critical....freezers, fridge, most lights, security systems, etc.

    The rest of the house is in the white 200amp main to the far left.
    larryinalabama and BTPost like this.
  10. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Few shots today of the S-5 mounting clip on Unistrut, not on a standing seam roof, but maybe give you the idea...


    Looking from the underside of the array, you can see how two panels sit on the same clip.


    What I used on the original two arrays was a local made aluminum angle clip 2" wide with a 3x2" 'L' bend. Drilled a 3/8 hole in the base, and used a standard Unistrut cam type nut with a short 3/8 bolt to attach to the Unistrut....then ran a couple of self tapping sheet metal screws into the upright leg and on into the panel side.


    Stuff mounted on the array pole:

    Right: 6 circuit Midnite combiner box, with Delta lightning arrestor mounted on the right side

    Middle: Small fused disconnect for the 24v power to run the tracker control/motors

    Left: Plastic box that houses the tracker control board


    1 1/4" conduit out of the bottom of the combiner box takes the PV power down to the power room, and a run of 24v comes back up the same conduit to operate the tracker.

    You can also see the toggle switch for the North/south tilt actuator.


    North/South tilt actuator. 24". This I control with a toggle switch on the side of the plastic box with the rest of the tracker control electronics. Simply bump the array up or down with this actuator. The pair of "MonroeMatic" shocks help support and dampen the entire array....I added these to this one since it's a dual axis mount, lot more panel area, and higher on the hill ( more wind ). I've got a mark on the shock for "Winter" ( shock fully closed ), Spring/Fall ( half extended ) and Summer, (full extended). My plan is to just hit them about 4 times a year on that axis.


    The main drive is a 36" linear actuator ( Venture products, Ohio) that drives the array east/west with the sun daily.

  11. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Very nice system Andy. Thanks for the pictures !
  12. rsbhunter

    rsbhunter Monkey+

    tracking system

    You're a magician.... i was thinking about using gate actuators for either tilt or E-W tracking, but it would be a manual switch that i would have to hit a couple times a day...That is an awesome set up!!!rsbhunter
  13. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Nope....just your run-of-the-mill farmer, logger, sawmiller, carpenter, mason, cabinet builder, electrician, plumber, welder, mechanic......nothing magic about it.

    I assume you mean like those "Mighty Mule" things ? Problem I'd see is not enough travel unless you come up with some kind of cam action linkage. The 36" gives enough travel to swing an array 45 degrees east to 45 west....a full 90 degree, which is plenty.

    And ONLY buy Venture brand.....there are cheap azz chinese made ones out there with plastic gear that last almost no time ( yeah...ASK me how I know...)...don't buy one. The Venture is a HEAVY made, all metal gear unit with built in limit switches ( important ). If you build a tracker, that's the only one to use IMHO.

    On the East/west, there are several decenter controllers out there for sale....figure on buying one if you really want to power track, or don't bother building trackers IMHO....simply pole mount.
    rsbhunter likes this.
  14. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Andy how much life can a person expect out of the actuators you mentioned. I see a lot of weight involved with the strut and panels being supported.
  15. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Can't say....but there is very little weight as such....the whole thing is well balanced, and you can move it with a finger.
  16. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    CC, about the only thing that wears out on those, are the Brushes in the DC Motor... The rest is usually just fine, if one constructs the moveable Solar Panel Frame so that it is balanced correctly. ...... YMMV....
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