Using Unistrut racking railing on a 10KW Grid Tie system like www.mysolarpod.com

rollandelliottrollandelliott Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭

Unistrut is available at many big hardware stores and also electrical wholesale places for $20 to $30 a 10' length. 
Unirac and other proprietary solar racking systems have rails that cost about the same, HOWEVER, SHIPING IS $300 TO $400 FREIGHT TO MOST east coast locations.

www.mysolarpod.com is a commercially made system made out of Unistrut. They also sell a counter/torque system for standard residential homes with no holes needed.
It appears that the ONLY proprietary parts are the end clamps and mid clamps to hold the solar panels onto the Unistrut as the crown brace if installing on a standard gable roof. 

I know many off grid panels use Unistrut as the racking support. However I have never heard of any grid tie applications. You dont' have to be an engineer to see that Unistrut is perfectly capable of holding a solar panel in place safetly. do city permit offices frown upon it for some reason? Maybe www.mysolarpod.com is the only company who has spent money on a professional engineer to stamp their plans? 

Comments

  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 5,022 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Unistrut is a poor way to install solar panels long term. I have seen most all of the bad ways people have installed panels over the decades. Unistrut is right up there. There are at least 2 companies here at the store that are excellent and a few more that I use for clients.
    All are built here or in Canada and simple to use.

    The good racking companies all have wind, snow, and salt air specs for meeting code and longevity. Engineering stamps for the AHJ and installation help for someone who has never done this.

    Unistrut for solar,  will void your panel warranty also.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
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  • rollandelliottrollandelliott Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    The company called me and said they only sell complete solar systems, not racking only for about $1.90 a watt.  They went through the trouble to get their racking UL approved and also pro engineered stamped for permitting.
  • rollandelliottrollandelliott Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    Unistrut is a poor way to install solar panels long term. I have seen most all of the bad ways people have installed panels over the decades. Unistrut is right up there...…..   The good racking companies all have wind, snow, and salt air specs for meeting code and longevity. Engineering stamps for the AHJ and installation help for someone who has never done this.
    Care to mention specific reasons? rust? fittings coming loose? not stiff?

    First install I did I used Schletter and the ground mount system came 50% assembled and also cost over $3000 if I remember correctly. the custom "t" slot aluminum extrusions and mid clamps took seconds to install. the whole kit was impressive.  

    2nd install I used plain aluminum square tube, took much longer for me to put together, local AHF did not care if the racking was UL certified or wind load stamped and it has lasted for 5 years no issues, do not expect any issues in the future either. Probably cost a few hundred dollars in materials and about $1000 in my own labor.  I'd prefer the 2nd way.

    The problem with having the solar industry over regulated is that instead of being able to use off the shelf aluminum square tube as a racking material. One has to get  "special proprietary" extrusions that use a $1500 extrusion die, pay for over engineering, perimits , etc. Easily adds 15 to 20% or more to a solar install. 

    solarpod has support, windloads and engineering stamps, not sure why you don't 'think that. And they have a product that is superiorly engineered with zero hole sin the roof. got to give them credit for that. simply brilliant. 

  • rollandelliottrollandelliott Solar Expert Posts: 834 ✭✭
    I believe one can get Unistrut in aluminum and stainless special order as well, not sure what material is used by solar pod. 
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 4,451 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Most unistrut I'm familiar with is CR steel, sometimes galvanized.  Longer term, connection with AL frames and CU wire can eat the steel.  It will happen faster in a coastal environment, but it will likely happen.  It can be worked around, but I doubt many AHJs really care.  The neighbour might care 10yrs on when the strut fails though.

    Done right, it could probably work well.  Done 1/2 right is asking for an epic fail.
    Off-grid.  
    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
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