Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
I am looking to build my own pole mount for some additional panels I will be acquiring in the next month or two. Does anyone know where to find a piece like this found in the picture? It is a very general "T" piece and I was hoping to not have to spend ~$300 or so for a kit when all I really need is this piece. I have tried searching all over, checking out fencing supply companies, etc. and I can't find anything like it.

suntron1xtopofpolemount.jpg

Any ideas? Thanks!
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Comments

  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    Here is something thats similar. These are Aluminum, you might find them in something else, I didn't look.

    http://www.hollaender.com/?page=sliponfittings15

    http://www.hollaender.com/files/1%5CTech_Data/Part_Drawings/5SR.pdf
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,013 admin
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    It looks like bleacher/grandstand/safety railing hardware... Perhaps contact somebody like this:

    http://www.safetyrailsource.com/

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    Interesting, thank you for the links. I was hoping to find something that could take 3" or greater for the horizontal pole to add strength and steel would be helpful. My only alternative is to have a local welder make one -- but I figured I would try this first.

    EDIT: P.S. How did you find that? I thought I tried every Google search term known to man.
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,913 ✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    I have two ideas.

    1) You can use galvanized pipe (or black pipe painted later). You can buy them in Home Depot. The T will be threaded so you screw the pipe into it. You can also buy caps to screw on the ends of the pipe. These are very cheap.

    2) Find a place that sells chain link fence parts (hardware store or farm supply store). They should have almost exactly what you have on the picture. These will be less sturdy and more expensive.
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?
    Interesting, thank you for the links. I was hoping to find something that could take 3" or greater for the horizontal pole to add strength and steel would be helpful. My only alternative is to have a local welder make one -- but I figured I would try this first.

    EDIT: P.S. How did you find that? I thought I tried every Google search term known to man.
    lol..... 1 1/2 Rail Tee with Stainless set screws.... Personally I'd probably have them welded, you have the adjustment in the U-bolt's you need. Cut the post pipe with a hole saw if you want a nice job, then weld.
  • PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    NorthGuy -- thanks for the advice. I am trying to mount 6 240W panels, so I don't think that will give me the strength I need.

    Blackcherry -- I think that is what I need to do. I need to source the pipe for the post, the pipe for the horizontal member, and then I will know how big to make this adapter. I want it to sit on top of the post so I can rotate it.
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?
    NorthGuy -- thanks for the advice. I am trying to mount 6 240W panels, so I don't think that will give me the strength I need.

    Blackcherry -- I think that is what I need to do. I need to source the pipe for the post, the pipe for the horizontal member, and then I will know how big to make this adapter. I want it to sit on top of the post so I can rotate it.
    That you need to make, talk to your welder, you don't need " pipe " you need " tube " where you can make it rotate and a way to lock it. That rail fitting would never hold more than one panel. You need at least schedule 80 or 1/4 " or more in thickness. Tube will slip inside the next size up or down.
  • PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    Thanks Blackcherry. I will start looking around for someone to build that for me. I haven't heard of the industry term "tube" before -- makes sense.
  • ARTsolarARTsolar Registered Users Posts: 14 ✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    This is another source for the "T" fittings. I use them in my Snap-N-Rack ground mount systems.

    http://www.simplifiedbuilding.com/projects/solar-panel-support-system/
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?
    I haven't heard of the industry term "tube" before -- makes sense.
    Engineers seem to use it a lot (that and tubular beam) since they figure that a pipe is there to contain something. :-)
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • sunbunnysunbunny Solar Expert Posts: 59 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    I'm in the planning stages of something very similar. I decided to use a square or rectangular upright pole so I can bolt angle iron on the sides to hold a flat top plate and the larger size tube will be U bolted to the flat plate. I might weld the flat plate on... haven't decided....
  • Blackcherry04Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    Well, 6 , 240 watt panels are going to take some heavy duty metal to support them. You also have to think of the wind loading, you have a large frontal area. I'd start looking at some commercial pole mounts and see how they are made or your going to find them bent over on the ground. Maybe someone with experience could chime in, I know some have built trackers before. You really need some specification's for a welder to follow ( material and design ). If you build some thing wrong, you'll pay the price.

    Here is some Information.

    http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?10866-Tips-and-tricks-for-pole-mounts&highlight=ground+mount+pole
    .
  • PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    Thanks guys. I have tried to research this a lot. The downside with commercial pole mounts, for my location, is they only tilt to 65 degrees. At least the ones I have seen (like IronRidge, etc.). I live where we receive quite a lot of snow and need the panels to shed it -- so around 80+ degrees or so. If I can just find these T mounts (in large 'tubing' sizes) than I think I would be set. Looks like I will need to have someone fab these up. Hopefully I will make 2 mounts -- one for the 6 panels I have now and one for the 6 additional panels I plan to get next month.
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,913 ✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?
    Thanks guys. I have tried to research this a lot. The downside with commercial pole mounts, for my location, is they only tilt to 65 degrees. At least the ones I have seen (like IronRidge, etc.). I live where we receive quite a lot of snow and need the panels to shed it -- so around 80+ degrees or so. If I can just find these T mounts (in large 'tubing' sizes) than I think I would be set. Looks like I will need to have someone fab these up. Hopefully I will make 2 mounts -- one for the 6 panels I have now and one for the 6 additional panels I plan to get next month.

    With 80 degrees tilt, it may be a good idea, instead of mounting at the center, connect both top and bottom rails to the pole.

    If it is more than 80 degrees, then you can go with pure vertical, which makes mounting much easier. You can use U-bolts to connect top and bottom rails directly to the post and use some stop on the top so that it doesn't slide down if U-bolts loosen.

    When you increase the tilt, the horisontal wind force increases.
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,739 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?
    The downside with commercial pole mounts, for my location, is they only tilt to 65 degrees. At least the ones I have seen (like IronRidge, etc.). I live where we receive quite a lot of snow and need the panels to shed it -- so around 80+ degrees or so.

    I too have failed (in my research) to find a top-of-pole mount that could go vertical. I agree that a 65° tilt is not optimal in snow country. I will be watching this forum for reports of success with your fabrication.

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    My plan is to use an adjustable arm to extend from the bottom of the solar array down to the support pole. Something like the picture below -- just the lower arm. That way I can *not* rely on just set screws and the arm should provide plenty of strength in windy conditions if I build it strong enough. Also, this will be up against a forest of trees and wind at this location is minimal -- it won't be out in the middle of a field or anything.

    y250

    I called a buddy today and he told me to call local metal fab shops. He just had to price a similar 5" pole and he said he is paying $0.60 a lb -- so that is something to reference.

    I also found this picture on our forum. I think I would want a bigger horizontal pole but the idea is the same.

    DSCN0011.jpg
  • peakbaggerpeakbagger Solar Expert Posts: 341 ✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    Attachment not found.

    I went a different way. The support colums are 3 by 6 1/4" wall tube. It helps with resisting twisting loads. I can swing it down to just about vertical but my flex cable is not set up for that wide range of travel but could be. There is over 2 KW of panels on it. The local electrical supplier wiill not give me a discount so I used standard strut from Home Depot. I could have made it considerably less complex if I had ordered custom double depth unistrut. It takes me about 5 minutes to change angles. I did add a couple of diagonal struts down to the base for winter time bracing as I am in high wind area. You can see one of them at the bottom of the panel. The entie assembly pivots on a 3/4" ss rod. I installed everything you see solo including the panels by flipping the array from one side to the other and adding one panel at a time.
  • northernernortherner Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    Another idea to consider is to use 2 poles instead of 1 to mount the array? This will potentially allow for a larger array size, and will be much sturdier than on a single pole. There wouldn't be as big a concern with rotational force with a single pole design.

    I have a tiltable array on a roof, which I'm thankful I built very sturdy and mounted it securely. We recently had near hurricane force wind gusts, and it survived without a problem. Did plenty of damage in town, including blowing over an RV trailer, and breaking car windows from stones picked up off the ground. Ironically, there were 2 portable shelters that wound up in the power lines, shutting down power for the whole afternoon and evening. I hadn't even noticed that the power went out.;)
  • PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    peakbagger -- awesome set up. Looks like you put a lot of thought into it. Does the mount only tilt or can you rotate it side to side? I really want my proposed mount to swivel since we get sunlight in Michigan from about 5 PM to 9:30PM or so in the summer that is almost straight west. It will still be very bright outside at night now but my panels aren't pulling anything in. I figure with a swivel mount I can rotate one every now and again to face the sun when I am working outside.
  • peakbaggerpeakbagger Solar Expert Posts: 341 ✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    Nope, unfortunately not. I am at 44.5 degrees from the equator and in summer the panels are at 30 degrees. This time of year the sun is rising from the North north east so I know what you mean. Adding another degree of freedom to the system makes things a lot more complicated especially in a high wind zone . I have looked at it tracking side to side but putting the array inline with the local prevailing westerly or northwesterly wind is asking for trouble. This set up is actually reworked from a prior smaller arrayAttachment not found.. It was more rigid with the smaller array.

    Unless you are getting feed in tariffs, most folks just install more panels rather than move the panels. I expect if I had a vertical tracker, I would park it near horizontal at night and would catch the suns rays a bit earlier due to the summer sun angle in northern NH. I could track it but havent found a good option to protect the actuators from wind buffeting.

    VT had a generous subsidies basically written by the supplier of trackers so there are many being installed over there.
  • PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    I am offgrid and so any power I can get out my setup helps. We use quite a bit of power at night (washing dishes, giving kids baths, etc.) and having the panels still gathering sun would help. I figure if I am building a pole mount I can try and get it to rotate as well, especially since this is in a low wind area. Thanks for the help.

    Can you provide more info on your support post? It is actually 3 pieces?
  • peakbaggerpeakbagger Solar Expert Posts: 341 ✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    Attachment not found.This is rough drawing of the set up. It actually has the original array and the current array on it but lacks a lot of the structural bracing. I dont know your specifc site conditions so what works for me may not work for you so iyou use it at your own risk.

    The two structural steel tubes at 3 x6 by 1/4 in wall.
  • PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    peakbagger -- thanks for the drawing. Looks like you put a lot of thought into it!

    I am going to contact some local metal fab places today. I really want to get going on this because I plan on picking up 6 more panels in early July. I still haven't found a lock on the mount pre-made. The closest thing I have found is this one from eBay and I figure I could use a 3" schedule 80 pole -- but I don't think it would be strong enough ~6 feet http://www.ebay.com/itm/SOLAR-PANEL-TRACKER-BOOSTER-POLE-MOUNT-SUPPORT-BRACKET-H-DUTY-INCREASES-POWER-/190842017764?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2c6f1217e4

    $(KGrHqR,!ooE9kcqW+RiBPdPi8R7!g~~60_58.JPG
  • PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    Think I found what I am looking for... ironically on eBay.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Solar-panel-pole-mount-holds-6-large-panels-fits-a-6-pipe-Adjustable-bracket-/181149724964?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a2d5d7124

    This mount will fit a 6" pole -- a size that meets my needs a whole lot more than other 3" mounts I saw and would allow me to only use schedule 40. Says he will sell the mounts itself with u-bolts (no aluminum rails) for $125 + shipping. That is the cheapest I have found for a 6" pole mount and I figure I will use unistrut or similar to hold the panels.

    $T2eC16VHJGYFFlJv5gbCBRpm!+dC2w~~60_12.JPG
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    If you have hi wind in your area, It seems like that mount will need a few more cross pieces of strut to stabilize it , and possibly a cross (diagonal) piece or 2 too.
    Question, what will keep the strut pieces from 'spinning ' on the main pipe? those muffler clamp type U bolts will probably slip when torqued by stiff wind. Probably a welding tack or 2 would work...

    hth
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,013 admin
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    I would be very tempted to run an angle brace from the bottom of the array to the pole and use that for the adjustment/fixed attach point (or the top, which ever works best).

    The farther you get from the pivot point, the more leverage you have (and less stresses).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • PorkChopsMmmPorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    westbranch -- thank you for the recommendations. I will mount an adjustable 'arm' at the bottom of the array that I will mount to the bottom of the pole to help me adjust the tilt angle. I am not in a high wind area but I think that it will help with any wind issues. Good idea on the welds -- will definitely look into doing that.

    Quick gut check -- with the additional adjustable arm at the bottom of the array and tac welds on the ubolts and some additional strengthening would you put more than six 240 watt panels on this mount -- say 12? I already have 6 panels and will buy 6 more. Instead of going through the hassle of mounting 2 poles, with 6 on each, I figured I would strengthen this one and go for 12. This area is protected from high winds and would maybe be 10 feet off of the ground at the pivot point.

    BB -- just saw your post -- great minds thing alike!
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?

    240W = ~ 5'x5' = ~ 25Sq. ft. x 6 = 150 Sq. ft. & x2 = 300 Sq. ft. more or less

    I am no engineer but that is starting to be a big sail area for that design, IMHO, even with additional bracing. Best ask an engineer if you know one. Also have a look at some of the manufactured ones as to how they are constructed and braced. Lots of pics out there.

    hth
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,913 ✭✭
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?
    This mount will fit a 6" pole -- a size that meets my needs a whole lot more than other 3" mounts

    Any construction is only as strong as its weakest part. The aluminum railing mounted at a single point looks weak. It's hard to tell without detailed analysis by an engineer, but it looks like it would give in first even if you had a 3" post.
  • OldManOwenOldManOwen Solar Expert Posts: 25
    Re: Trying to source pole mount piece -- any ideas?
    Think I found what I am looking for... ironically on eBay.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Solar-panel-pole-mount-holds-6-large-panels-fits-a-6-pipe-Adjustable-bracket-/181149724964?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a2d5d7124

    This mount will fit a 6" pole -- a size that meets my needs a whole lot more than other 3" mounts I saw and would allow me to only use schedule 40. Says he will sell the mounts itself with u-bolts (no aluminum rails) for $125 + shipping. That is the cheapest I have found for a 6" pole mount and I figure I will use unistrut or similar to hold the panels.

    $T2eC16VHJGYFFlJv5gbCBRpm!+dC2w~~60_12.JPG

    PorkChopsMmm,

    Let me start by saying I am new to Solar, having said that what you have shown in the picture is the equivalent of a basketball hoop "Pole". It is my opinion that would be a very bad way to go, it will be weak and it will sway around in the wind allot. For the price of just that bracket (witch you could make out of a piece of mild steel, just drill 4 holes in it and source the U-Bolts at any hardware/automotive store online) you could go to a local Metal Yard (think Lumber Yard for metal) and buy a 3" diameter mild steel TUBING not pipe. Have any welding shop put one notch in it and weld the top in place. It will look like you first post and be several times stronger. The only thing you will have to do is wipe the pipe down and paint it before you install. Remember pipe was never meant to be structural, Tubing IS! Think roll-cage in an off road racer or Jeep if that helps, that's where my ability to notch/weld comes from. I hope that was of some help.
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