Is my DIY ground mound idea stupid?

beckkl

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Jun 9, 2020
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So, I'm planning on building my own ground solar racking, as I am fairly handy and a cheapskate. I also really want to be able to adjust the tilt during the winter (Upper Peninsula of MI). I was thinking of doing something where I would bury a single row of 4x6 posts every 6-8 feet or so or , with the idea of drilling a 3" hole through them and threading a pipe through them. I'd also do the same through a sub structure of 2x8 lumber, which would be the base of the mounting. The idea then would be to lay purlins on top (maybe unistrut) for mounting the panels. I would mount the panels horizontally (2), which would mean for a long footprint but hopefully the weight would be well distributed. Just wanted to hear any feedback before I waste any time on a silly idea.
 

wiseacre

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I have something similar. Instead of a pipe going through the 4x4s I have a bolt.
I framed a pair of panels between each post (since I'm using a 2s string)
PVC pipe for levers to make tilt adjustment, Bolt through the pipe into hole in the 2x4 to lock in place

solar mount 1.jpgsolar mount 2.jpgsolar mount 3.jpgsolar mount 4.jpg

PS:
The panels in the back are on a temporary mount until I get the ideal winter alignment. It too is adjustable using hinges.
 

Supervstech

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So, I'm planning on building my own ground solar racking, as I am fairly handy and a cheapskate. I also really want to be able to adjust the tilt during the winter (Upper Peninsula of MI). I was thinking of doing something where I would bury a single row of 4x6 posts every 6-8 feet or so or , with the idea of drilling a 3" hole through them and threading a pipe through them. I'd also do the same through a sub structure of 2x8 lumber, which would be the base of the mounting. The idea then would be to lay purlins on top (maybe unistrut) for mounting the panels. I would mount the panels horizontally (2), which would mean for a long footprint but hopefully the weight would be well distributed. Just wanted to hear any feedback before I waste any time on a silly idea.
A 3" hole through a 4x6 won't leave much wood... weather will rot the remaining material in very short order.
 

beckkl

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A 3" hole through a 4x6 won't leave much wood... weather will rot the remaining material in very short order.
Nice. Yeah, the more I think of it I am thinking I would put a post in between each set of panels. Way more up front work, but I worry about the stability of 200lbs of panels (+ lumber) sitting primarily on a single pipe span 12' long. Thanks for the pics!
 

wiseacre

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IMO and experience, 4x4 posts are more than enough (with braces like mine) and a good sized bolt is plenty to hold the weight of the wooden frame and panels. Getting the posts set perfectly spaced is not really a problem, just make the frame's upright pieces to fit between the posts.
I!<----->!I
 

beckkl

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Jun 9, 2020
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143
So, I've been thinking on this more. My main concern with this system is having consistent power throughout the year. This means enough solar capacity to generate 5 or so KWH a day . The other concern is snow on the panels. I may go many weeks without being up there to clean them. I am seriously considering just buying a few more panels, and mounting the panels at 90deg. This would greatly simplify the racking, and still produce more than enough power in the summer months. Sounds kind of dumb but I am increasingly liking the "set it and forget it" aspect. I know the sail effect is real, so that would be a consideration. I would think if I made a big 'ol frame out of 4x4s that would be enough to handle the wind load. I dunno.
 

sunshine

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Apr 24, 2020
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I am seriously considering just buying a few more panels, and mounting the panels at 90deg. This would greatly simplify the racking, and still produce more than enough power in the summer months. Sounds kind of dumb but I am increasingly liking the "set it and forget it" aspect.
There were earlier posts from extreme cold northern regions where vertical was the preferred method. Probably the only method!

Perpendicular to the equinox would be my preferred setting for any areas outside extreme north or south if a choice is available,
 

Kevcando

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Oct 24, 2020
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I have something similar. Instead of a pipe going through the 4x4s I have a bolt.
I framed a pair of panels between each post (since I'm using a 2s string)
PVC pipe for levers to make tilt adjustment, Bolt through the pipe into hole in the 2x4 to lock in place

View attachment 65493View attachment 65494View attachment 65495View attachment 65496

PS:
The panels in the back are on a temporary mount until I get the ideal winter alignment. It too is adjustable using hinges.

Yours is kinda built like mine, no problems with my setup either.
 

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Skipr

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Sep 10, 2021
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I have been looking a similar designs, but more than a little concerned about getting them past a permit stage. Has anyone had experience with getting a signed permit for this type of structure?
 

rippersoftware

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Dec 5, 2020
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I have a similar design where I hinge the framework carrying the panels at the top if the post about 4 inches down with 1" bolts and pivot the frame up to the angle I want. I use a couple of notched 2x4 to lock the frame at the angle and and when storms are coming I can remove the 2x4 braces and put the frame at vertical.

Right now I have 6 panels for 2 strings and I want to add some panels to each side at an angle to capture early and late sun. Not sure how to mount that yet.
 

upnorthandpersonal

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Dec 25, 2019
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63 degrees North, Finland
So, I've been thinking on this more. My main concern with this system is having consistent power throughout the year. This means enough solar capacity to generate 5 or so KWH a day . The other concern is snow on the panels. I may go many weeks without being up there to clean them. I am seriously considering just buying a few more panels, and mounting the panels at 90deg. This would greatly simplify the racking, and still produce more than enough power in the summer months. Sounds kind of dumb but I am increasingly liking the "set it and forget it" aspect. I know the sail effect is real, so that would be a consideration. I would think if I made a big 'ol frame out of 4x4s that would be enough to handle the wind load. I dunno.

These are my DIY mounts; I'm at 63 degrees north:


Not 90°, but around 70° or so if I remember correctly. It's a fixed angle, optimized for late autumn/early spring. I don't care for winter since there isn't enough sun anyway, and on a sunny winter day the snow reflects a ton of light to get the most out of it. Snow generally doesn't collect on these even at this angle. In summer, I produce more than I can use (10kW of panels).

Personally in your case, I wouldn't bother with adjustable angles. Keep it simple, and just add more panels if you need it.
 
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