Year round panel solution

rp3703rp3703 Posts: 101Registered Users ✭✭

For a recap, My family has a place in Ontario Canada that we visit at most from June through August each year. The rest of the year, the place stays vacant and cold. I have six 3x5, 310W solar panels that I, until recently, had planned on attaching to the roof. Due to the amount snowfall in the winter, I was advised to leave the panels at or near a 45 degree angle to shed snow but during the summer they should be pretty much flat. My plan was to mount the panels on brackets that can be tilted down when we arrive and back up when we leave. That was my plan at least before I started thinking about the fact  that this place is shared amongst quite a few family members who visit at different times during those three summer months. Now I have no problem jumping up on the roof and tilting the panels when we arrive and depart, my issue is relying on other family members to do the same when I am not the last one to leave for the year. Given that neglecting to properly tilt the panels could be quite the disappointment the following season, my new goal is to come up with an idiot(not naming anyone) proof setup that works both during the summer and keeps the batteries alive through the winter. 

So my options as I see them are to find an angle that works year round with the panels mounted on the roof(oh yeah, it's a 2 pitch at best) or put together a stand alone rack somewhere on the ground that allows for easy angle adjustment from the ground. I should mention that the ground up there is pretty much just rock, so digging a hole to mount any poles could be pretty difficult. Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


  • EstragonEstragon Posts: 2,458Registered Users ✭✭✭✭
    If you have a spot with solid rock outcrop, that could work well for a pole. In most of Ontario, that kind of rock tends to be much harder and denser than concrete. You would hammer-drill some holes, epoxy in rebar, and make an above-ground concrete pole base. The end result can be much more robust than a buried concrete pier.

    45° may not be enough to reliably shed snow. My main arrays (NW Ont) are set to ~65° and still don't slways shed the snow.
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • NANOcontrolNANOcontrol Posts: 54Registered Users ✭✭
    "during the summer they should be pretty much flat"

    Interesting that you should say that.  I'm just a little south of you and my ground mount system is almost flat so the view is not obstructed.  The big bonus is I get more even power throughout the day which is preferable to me because battery storage is limited. Is a 60/60 East West array possible, possible in a ground mount?  More panels, but less mechanicals to deal with.  What is your reason for having them so shallow?  I have less solar power than that and after running everything, the excess PV heats water for my showers.  And they say flat panels only produce half as much power.
  • 706jim706jim Posts: 206Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Leave the panels at whatever angle is convenient for the summer. Your batteries will stay charged throughout the summer and will not be damaged when the panels are snow covered as there will be zero load on them during the winter months. My 12 GC's survived 19 winters this way with panels snow covered for about three months of the winter. I recently installed 3 320 watt panels that sound similar to what you have. I mounted them on the ground at a 60 degree angle where they catch the afternoon sun and will most likely shed snow during the winter. When i update my roof, I plan to put the existing panels on the ground so I never have to climb up there again.
    Island cottage solar system with 1400 watts of panels, Trace DR1524 MSW inverter, Trace C40 PWM controller 8 Trojan L16's. My 25th year.
  • rp3703rp3703 Posts: 101Registered Users ✭✭

    Sounds like ground mounting will be the way to go here. I guess I need to start looking into what that will take. We had an issue in the past where panels got covered in snow during the winter and it ended up killing two Trojans so I want to do all I can to make sure our batteries(soon to be 12GC’s as well) will make it through the winter. What’s a 60/60 EW?

  • mike95490mike95490 Posts: 7,714Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Elevated ground mount, so snow can slide off and you can use a blower to disperse it
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    gen: ,

  • NANOcontrolNANOcontrol Posts: 54Registered Users ✭✭
    What’s a 60/60 EW? One panel faces east and the other faces west, both at a 60 degree angle.  This gives you a flatter power profile all day. Much like a totally flat panel I use.  I'm not battery centric like everyone else.  I use power when it is generated so this works well for me. I only have a small battery and can power everything.  Best camp system ever.
  • rp3703rp3703 Posts: 101Registered Users ✭✭
    Using 4 out our 6 panels last season, we hit float by about 9 AM everyday but we had next to no loads on the system. I was looking at making a DIY 6" pole mount array that would have the ability to swivel just incase we need more sunlight. I'd also like for it to tilt at the center of the panels to reduce the weight(360lbs + rack) when adjusting them up and down. There are plenty of "C" channel options at Home Depot but it's looking like I may have to get someone to manufacture the tilt bracket. Surely it can't cost any more than a comparable Tamarack setup.
  • ramlouiramloui Posts: 103Solar Expert ✭✭
    edited December 2017 #9

    Here is what I did for my installation. The 2 panels are on adjustable mounts. They can be tilted from the edge of the shed. If I ever did a version 2.0, I would still do this.


    Louis R.

    Off-grid cabin in northern Quebec: 6 x 250 W Conergy panels, FM80, 4 x 6V CR430 in series (24V nominal), Magnum MS4024-PAE
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