MT Solar 12 top of pole mount. A great idea (and time saver)

showme
showme Registered Users Posts: 92 ✭✭

I've recently completed erecting the first of two of MT (Montana) Solar's  top of pole mounts, and I'd like to say what a great design it is. This is my first solar set up, and I wanted something I could do myself (hopefully), and also not worry about the quality of the product. I bought 2 of these through the Alt E Store (NWASW doesn't offer them) for $2,660 each plus shipping from Maine to Missouri (about @6k, total. They included Iron Ridge rails and UFO bolts. They came in pallets about 8' x 2' x 2', weigh about 400# each and are made of heavy duty materials. I was able to put one up alone in one day, although I did use my tractor's front loader to pick up the two biggest beams to get the first bolt in. The concept of this system is a steel 'collar' that is bolted on the pipe in 2 pieces, then is hooked on to a chain fall by a lifting lug that sets into an insert on the top of the pipe. If you don't have a chain fall or can't borrow/rent one, they have 3 different falls you can buy from them. They also sell the lifting lugs, but I had some steel laying around (retired ironworker) and welded an eye onto a piece of 2x2 square tube, and it's working great for about 1/3 of the price of theirs.  You basically build it at a waist high level, add the modules, wire it up, then raise it up the pole, then secure it with the hardware that's included. The pole and lifting lug run through the space left by leaving one module out, then when it's anchored at the top of the pole, you pull the chain fall and lifting lug off, leave the insert for the lug in the pipe, and cap the hole for the lifting lug/square tube with the included cap.

One of the features that sold me on these was the screw type adjusting handle on the back of the array that lets you set the inclination angle at any time. I'll be able to go out each month and turn the handle a few times to get the correct degree slope for maximum light that month. It's easy to turn, is at about waist level, and stays on permanently. And it's made in America!

They also have information on their site for pipe installation, down to soil types and either square or round foundations. I used a 36" wide sonotube 6' deep in the ground. I also added a rebar mat and slab at the bottom and tied it to the rebar cage in the sonotube cylinder, since I hit rock at 4.5' and 5', with the remainder of the 6' sonotube above ground, to give it a better footing.

I can't say enough about how happy I am with these racks. I guess being an Ironworker for 30 years helped, but if you're in fairly good physical condition and not broken down too much (I'm 63), it can actually be fun. It has been for me, anyway. Better than renting a crane and operator. And as far as working off a ladder, the only time that is necessary is to set the last panel where the chain fall, lug an pole are used to raise it. My wife thought it was too much to spend for array racks- until she saw what could be done in one day by an old man.

"Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do."   Goethe

2006 Trace Xantrex power panel, (3) SW5548 inverters- 2 NOS Trace's (1999) and 1 Trace/Xantrex 2006 for back up (came with power panel. et al), Xantrex DC/disconnect, Xantrex AC disconnect/bypass, (3) C40 PWM charge controllers- 2 NOS, one used. (8)Evergreen  Solar 120w (960w),  8k LG Neon 2, (25) 320w, Bergey XL.1 1.5k genny, Air X 400 genny (came with used system), 48v Interstate Workman batts (now frozen/toast), (2) Montana Solar adjustable Top of Pole 12 array racks, (2) Midnite Solar MSPV 4 combiner boxes, (2) Midnite Solar Classic 150's (one an SL), SOK LiFePo stack of 500ah and one nice Ozark hilltop to set them all on.


Comments

  • Photowhit
    Photowhit Solar Expert Posts: 6,001 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I can see it as a time saver and less 'squirrely' than putting up my mount, at 62 Not sure I'd want to do the wood mount I did 9 years ago. 

    As others worried about mine, I would worry about being only 4' down with such a masive sail. We do get 60+mph straight line winds from time to time in Mid Missouri. Though if you are in a 'pocket of trees' perhaps you would never see that at ground level. Both of my home installs have been near the peak of hills.

    When building, plan ahead for any tree removal. Had a tree trimmed drop a branch on my array earler this year.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • showme
    showme Registered Users Posts: 92 ✭✭
    Yeah, we're on a pine ridge with a south facing hillside and opening that will be my wife's quarter acre garden. I've noticed with the tall pines that surround the two field openings on our property that even on windy days, the breeze is always much lower or non-existent there. I was down there yesterday running the positive wires on this array and the wind was in the low 20mph range, but was gusting to the mid 30mph's all day long. All I felt was a pleasant breeze, sometimes nothing. Per the trees and branches falling, I'm going to erect a steel "guard" behind the arrays to deflect anything that may fall. Was planning on making it out of an arch of 2" handrail pipe, but now I'm leaning toward 2 standing H-beam columns with a beam running across the top of them. That and good insurance. I recently saw a picture of a big aspen laying across someone's MT Solar array. Took out 3 panels and bent a few pieces of the rack steel. MT Solar sold them the pieces that were damaged separately to get the array back together. I planned the guard before that, but after seeing that photo, I'll definitely build something behind it to protect it from those pines. Also, I used a Solar Pathfinder beforehand, and have already planned to either cut or top a few trees that will be periodically shading them. I have to open up a line of trees to the east or we won't get sun till 10 or 11.

    "Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do."   Goethe

    2006 Trace Xantrex power panel, (3) SW5548 inverters- 2 NOS Trace's (1999) and 1 Trace/Xantrex 2006 for back up (came with power panel. et al), Xantrex DC/disconnect, Xantrex AC disconnect/bypass, (3) C40 PWM charge controllers- 2 NOS, one used. (8)Evergreen  Solar 120w (960w),  8k LG Neon 2, (25) 320w, Bergey XL.1 1.5k genny, Air X 400 genny (came with used system), 48v Interstate Workman batts (now frozen/toast), (2) Montana Solar adjustable Top of Pole 12 array racks, (2) Midnite Solar MSPV 4 combiner boxes, (2) Midnite Solar Classic 150's (one an SL), SOK LiFePo stack of 500ah and one nice Ozark hilltop to set them all on.