Author Topic: Adjustable Solar Frame  (Read 3673 times)

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Offline rossw

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Adjustable Solar Frame
« on: January 17, 2012, 04:57:29 pm »
Living off-grid in a modern domestic (and home business) environment requires more than a couple of candles and a deep cycle battery to keep a miniature fridge cold. So it was for me, when we couldn't practically get a grid connection here. Our propane powered generator kept the batteries charged, but with propane costs going up all the time, it was getting to the point I had to put on more solar than the small, token effort I had (4 x 75W panels). So, with some trepidation, I researched, ordered and paid for some 100W PV modules from a supplier in China. (Less than 1/4 the price per watt - including freight - than the local thieves wanted).

I was somewhat worried when they brought them out for me (I had to drive to the big smoke to pick them up from the wharf)


When I got home, I had to unpack one to check they were intact. Phew! They were packed well and all were fine.


Now that I had the panels, I needed something to hold them. I designed up a "stackable" linear array that I could put some panels on straight away and extend later as I could afford more. I decided to make it so I could "re-use" one of the posts from a previous project. (I should write up about the Traxle, too!)
So here I've dug the holes and just setting out the 4 posts


I drilled holes in the posts for the support rail to go through, and took some care to make sure they would all line up


I welded mounting tabs on one end of each rail


All the bits layed out on the ground. Everything measured and pre-drilled so it should just go together. I HOPE!


Next morning carted everything up the top and assembled.


The linear actuator that sets the angle (seasonal adjustment) went on next.


The rails earlier mentioned mount to the frame and just "sit" in the posts. The end two sit in the post, the middle two go right through.




Then it's time to start putting the panels on.


Finished. Who's for a beer?



Offline WooferHound

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Re: Adjustable Solar Frame
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2012, 05:04:28 pm »
Nice setup you got there.
I also just have vertical seasonal adjustment for my panels.
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Offline rossw

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Re: Adjustable Solar Frame
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2012, 05:17:33 pm »
Thanks, Woof.

When I got the next lot of panels, I decided against extending this frame, and built these trackers instead.

Offline klsmurf

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Re: Adjustable Solar Frame
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2012, 08:09:03 pm »
Hey Ross,

Enjoying reading your stories again, over here.

I noticed a small battery in the pics. Is that just brought along with you when you do your seasonal adjustments?

IIRC, your tracking arrays are all run off of 1 tracker. Do you have individual power runs to each for the actuators? 
"A man's got to know his limitations" ---- Harry Callahan

Offline rossw

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Re: Adjustable Solar Frame
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2012, 08:30:28 pm »
Hey Ross,

Enjoying reading your stories again, over here.

I noticed a small battery in the pics. Is that just brought along with you when you do your seasonal adjustments?

IIRC, your tracking arrays are all run off of 1 tracker. Do you have individual power runs to each for the actuators?

Thanks mate. Several posts have had private replies saying thanks for one thing or another, it's solved someone elses problem so that's all great.

Yes, there was a small 12V SLA I just used to position the array while I was building it.
It will have (soon! honest!) a switch inside so I can set its position in relative comfort. I'll just tweek for maximum power out.

The other arrays are a mixture. They were intended to have sun-tracking, but I didn't get to it at the time, so they were all just time based movement. It's worked far better than I expected it would. After discussion last year on the other forum, DavidHK sent me one of his trackers for evaluation, feedback and comment. It's running one of the arrays now, side-by-side with the time based tracking, so I can see exactly how one performs against the other.

I have one feed from inside out to the arrays, then it splits and goes to each array. The sun-tracking has its own continuously powered feed.