Monday, January 4, 2010

Homemade solar panel mounting frames

We hadn’t planned on going off the grid while we live in our current home. As I said before, going off the grid was a future endeavor. Moving the time for doing so up, I still hesitated to install it for our mobile home because that would require it to be disassembled and moved to the new house later. However, we decided to go ahead now. So, I’ll be moving it whenever the house is finished.

As I considered how to set up and install a system, I had wanted to build a metal framework to mount the panels on. However, I decided later to build the framework out of wood for now and construct a metal framework later for the new house. I do want the panels to be adjustable on one axis to face the sun more directly in the seasons rather than to be a fixed mount. six panel frameworkThey need to be laid back during summer and raised closer to vertical in the winter – a thirty degree swing of movement.

For the current framework, I’m using 2x4s and 1x4s. I designed and have built two frames. The first one (photo at the left) will hold six 100 watt panels, other panel frameworkand the second one (photo on the right) will hold four 100 watt panels and five 50 watt panels. The 50 watt panels are half the size of the 100 watt panels and will be installed on the left of the framework (one sticks out to the left of the others).

Both panel mounting frames will be attached securely to the roof of our back porch which faces south. To adjust the tilt of the panels, I will have to physically go up on the roof. I plan on having five set positions for them to adjust the tilt every month and a half. It would be nice to have a mechanical means of adjusting them so that I didn’t have to climb up on the roof and do it manually, but I’m still working on a design for that. adjusting feetHopefully, I’ll incorporate it into the more permanent mounting frame on the new house. As it is, the porch on this home is not very high.

In the photo to the right, you can see the part of the framework that allows the tilt to be adjusted. There will be rails on the roof on which the feet will run with set points for the different angles desired. When in position, these feet will be bolted to the rails. The feet on the front, bottom of the frameworks will pivot on a bolt through another rail bolted securely to the porch roof. To change the angle of the panels, I will have to take out the securing bolts on the rear feet, lift the frame a little, slide the adjusting feet to the desired position, and reinsert the bolts through the feet.

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