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20 ft Shipping Container Solar Array Mount

MidwestBest

Redneck Engineer
Joined
Aug 9, 2021
Messages
68
Location
Missouri
Trying to find the best way to mount 20 panels on a 20ft container and not be worried wind load will be to much to tip it over... wanting to mount 2 rows of 10 at about 45 degrees. was planning on using Unistrut and welding brackets to the top of the container (unless someone knows of a better way to mount them that would save me a lot of welding/time). i have cs3w-400pb-ag Canadian solar bifacials (89.2"x44.6"x1.38") so i will have some overhang which is fine with me mostly worried aboutwind load tipping he container. its never empty but if it were and a good gust came through would it tip? also is there a mounting system i could use/modify to put on top of the container?
Thanks
 
I don't think the container will tip. They're kind of light but not that light.

These guys on youtube did it with welded steel and Ironridge rails. Doesn't look easy to me compared to a brightmount ground mount, but that's probably cause I don't know how to weld.


 
I don't think the container will tip. They're kind of light but not that light.

These guys on youtube did it with welded steel and Ironridge rails. Doesn't look easy to me compared to a brightmount ground mount, but that's probably cause I don't know how to weld.


ill check those out after im off work but i have no issue welding at all. kind of enjoy it myself. but if i do unistrut it will be galvanized and welding galvanized isnt fun and the fumes arent good at all. thank you though hope this video gives me some insight
 
I used a small custom welded aluminum mounting structure then ironridge rails on top of that. 5 panels though. I didn't want to push it for wind loading, etc. I think 10 would be doable. For the winds on my rather exposed location, 20 was not an option.

If you 45 from the corner of the container and put some panels below that and some above, that seems to allow for the most panels, and the least wind loading.
 
Why put panels all on top?
Sticking out from the side reduces leverage.

If you're still worried with some on top as well as some on side, put triangular struts out the other side. (for South facing.)
If facing East/West, the angled mounts on each side serve that purpose.
 
Trying to find the best way to mount 20 panels on a 20ft container and not be worried wind load will be to much to tip it over... wanting to mount 2 rows of 10 at about 45 degrees. was planning on using Unistrut and welding brackets to the top of the container (unless someone knows of a better way to mount them that would save me a lot of welding/time). i have cs3w-400pb-ag Canadian solar bifacials (89.2"x44.6"x1.38") so i will have some overhang which is fine with me mostly worried aboutwind load tipping he container. its never empty but if it were and a good gust came through would it tip? also is there a mounting system i could use/modify to put on top of the container?
Thanks
It would take some massive winds to tip one of those containers. I live out on the pawnee Grassland and have some 70-80 MPH winds and the containers didn't even notice.
 
i was worried id get mixed reviews lol sorry i took so long to reply. but i think it could definitely tip for sure with a 30x14 ft sail ... thats an insane amount of wind load. even with some stuff inside. i live in missouri and it might not be super common but we get winds up to 80 or 90 mph as well and we also tend to have a lot of tornadoes where i live that get very close and cause a lot of things to not stay where they should... if anyone has pics that would be very helpful. iv looked on google as best i can trying to get ideas.
 
Why put panels all on top?
Sticking out from the side reduces leverage.

If you're still worried with some on top as well as some on side, put triangular struts out the other side. (for South facing.)
If facing East/West, the angled mounts on each side serve that purpose.
this was actually my original idea and to have it pivot and be adjustable but trying to optimize my bifacials i wanted to have the most open space behind them as possible for the winter snows to reflect onto the back side the best. maybe im over thinking it though.
 
I think the Ambition Strikes folks have the best overall approach I've seen. I just don't know that I'd want three rows of panels for my location, and would probably go with two, to keep the wind load down. I'm also guessing that they get almost all their wind from the front side, against the hill, rather than as downdrafts coming down the hill, which makes it all but impossible to have the container move. If the frame and panels hold, it goes nowhere. Need to go back and see if they have some closeups in their videos.
 
I think the Ambition Strikes folks have the best overall approach I've seen. I just don't know that I'd want three rows of panels for my location, and would probably go with two, to keep the wind load down. I'm also guessing that they get almost all their wind from the front side, against the hill, rather than as downdrafts coming down the hill, which makes it all but impossible to have the container move. If the frame and panels hold, it goes nowhere. Need to go back and see if they have some closeups in their videos.
yes iv seen their video when i was trying to think of ways to do mine and had similar thoughts. i am in the middle of a big wide open field with wind from all directions which is what worries me. might just go with a ground mount instead. or modify the ground mount on signature solars sight (not the bright whatever one)
 
Maybe four poured concrete pads at the corners with embedded container twist locks to secure the container down?
even a couple duck-bill anchors at each corner to hold the container down if required.
Any time I have a container, it seems to quickly fill itself with "stuff" to the point it is never moving...maybe that is just me.
 
I use Seacan's for various things at various sites and so have experience with them and have shed my fair share of "Blood" sweat & tears.
YET not ONE SINGLE MENTION - These are made from CORTEN STEEL and they are a royal PITA to weld onto... Sorry that little MIG or OXY kit won't do it ! Welding CORTEN Steel info

My Main array is off the side of a seacan. The Rack is built with 2x6 Pressure Treated wood and is attached to the container with Heavy Galvanized Hinges (Actually Marine Dock Hinges) as I planned to make them adjustable (the weight is more than I planned on). Redoing it in Spring 2024 as a roof & more will be added to that SeaCan along with a 2nd array.
 
I use Seacan's for various things at various sites and so have experience with them and have shed my fair share of "Blood" sweat & tears.
YET not ONE SINGLE MENTION - These are made from CORTEN STEEL and they are a royal PITA to weld onto... Sorry that little MIG or OXY kit won't do it ! Welding CORTEN Steel info

My Main array is off the side of a seacan. The Rack is built with 2x6 Pressure Treated wood and is attached to the container with Heavy Galvanized Hinges (Actually Marine Dock Hinges) as I planned to make them adjustable (the weight is more than I planned on). Redoing it in Spring 2024 as a roof & more will be added to that SeaCan along with a 2nd array.
I'd have to disagree with you here. I've welded plenty on my shipping container and, while it may not meet some code or another because of my improper choice of filler material, my welds are holding just fine. I didn't have any difficulties laying a good bead with my MIG using flux core mild steel wire.
In fact, the video link posted above even shows Riley from Ambition Strikes welding on his container with a MIG welder without issue. I dunno, maybe it's the welder.....?
 
Hi Midwest best. This is how I mounted mine. Crude drawing, but you can get the idea. The item mounted to the container does not contain the panels or rails in this picture. Just the mount that the Iron ridge rails attached to horizontally.

The thinner plates mounted to the container are 1/4 to 3/8 aluminum, and the rest is all aluminum square tube with the nice plastic insert ends to cap them off. We made the mounting plates wide enough to catch two ribs since the ribs on the roof and sides don't line up. I mounted 3 of these, about 7ft apart each, then the iron ridge rails, then the panels.
1708188408807.png
 
The roof of a seacan is flimsy low profile stuff.
The roof transitions to a heavier plate near each end that is better stiffness, but really only the ends/corners of the seacan is rigid.
Standing on the centre of the roof you will feel it sag under your weight.
I have a lot of experience with shipping containers - in Arctic Mine sites these are basically abuntant portable boxes and they often have hundreds or even thousands of them.
We built everything from electrical rooms, corridors offices portable washrooms out of them.
Stacking a couple 40' or 53' far enough apart for some trusses to span and you have a decent garage in short order.
 
even a couple duck-bill anchors at each corner to hold the container down if required.
Any time I have a container, it seems to quickly fill itself with "stuff" to the point it is never moving...maybe that is just me.
i have the same problem but also considered filling the floor in with concrete.. then it really wont ever move
 

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