Mechanized pole mount


New Member
Aug 15, 2021
Hi! I just now joined this forum as i want to get serious about planning a solar system for our home here in the mountains around Lake Tahoe. Our next vehicles will be electric and we're interested in being part of the climate solution versus the problem. So putting some $ and area to generate power makes sense. We're on the grid so whatever we do will contribute rather than power all our needs (unless we can). I'm a retired design engineer and a project guy so putting together something like this just sounds fun!

Our situation is less than ideal for mounting: pine trees, snow 1/3 the year, an unfriendly house roof. Hence am thinking of a top-of-pole design in our side yard that would be designed for optimum efficiency.

As a senior project towards my electrical engineering degree a million years ago i designed and built a solar tracker using simple digital electronics, a solar cell and a window motor out of a junked Cadillac.

So I'm wondering about building a mechanized pole mount system that would automatically tilt and rotate to keep panels at 90deg to sun. Something like a 16 X 96 C system. So my questions to the forum are:

1) Has anyone built such a system that could provide some guidance?
2) Can such a system be purchased in part or in whole rather than going from scratch?
3) I'm also not sure the added efficiency would be worth the effort, so wondering if there is data out there on optimized panel positioning?



Photon Sorcerer
Mar 21, 2020
What I've read is that the consensus is that it's not worth the added effort, and you get as much power just by adding additional panels.

That being said, I myself built these manually adjustable array frames that have worked well for me. Though adjustable for both azimuth and latitude, I basically don't bother changing the latitude more than twice a year. I just rotate East to West over the course of the day.

I find that I really only need to make three or so corrections over the course of the day, just SE around 8am, S at 11 or so, and SW around 2pm.
It works.


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Solar Enthusiast
Sep 9, 2021
You are most likely not going to benefit the environment by a lot by doing this. You have to consider the dirty power used to mine the materials, make the panels, transport them e.t.c. Also the materials that goes into the frame and tracker. Then we have the inverter, same issue, with the added problem that it probably won¨t last more than 10-15 years, if you´re lucky. Then if you choose to add batteries, it´s even worse, lead-acid/AGM will have to be changed something like every 5 years or so, how is that for the environment? Do you need to buy additional tools, then it adds a bit too. Even small things like your own driving around for this system, spareparts, cleaning materials e.t.c.

It probably also won´t pay for itself, unless it´s Chinese and you´re lucky with the quality/price.

I think a much better scenario for installing solar panels is a combination of advantages like disaster preparedness, unstable electrical grid e.t.c. You can see it as a big UPS, that will partly pay for itself.

When that is said, on study came to the conclusion that a two axis tracker will improve the efficiency of the panels by a bit more than 40% relative to a fixed installation. And how stable will this tracker be in a storm relative to a fixed mount? So this would have to be taken into consideration in your calculations.