Working Big old Dish..Use it for Solar Panels?

BilljustBillBilljustBill Solar Expert Posts: 212 ✭✭✭
I believe I have a shot at an old 8' diameter sat. dish, rotor, and mounting pole. The owner just wants it removed and has said the control box for the alignment control still works....

How would you use it for mounting several panels?

Thanks for the help,

Bill
Bill

Comments

  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Working Big old Dish..Use it for Solar Panels?

    it is feasible to use such an aiming device, but you need to rework a (or the) frame to accommodate the pvs and if it is to be a tracker then some way to automatically activate the controls to move it the desired amount at the right time. that gets quite involved in working with it and some have utilized these, but it may also be an elaborate way to make seasonal adjustments or make them much easier.
  • Ralph DayRalph Day Solar Expert Posts: 913 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Working Big old Dish..Use it for Solar Panels?

    I have an old General Instruments tracking setup. It is only one axis but the seasonal change is quite easy. The regular tracking was controlled by the Mk 1 eyeball for 4 years, the got a Redrock sensor and it was hands off. Just be sure to set the microswitch cutoffs on the actuator arm or you'll cook the delicate electronics.

    Not sure what WIndsun carries in this line, must be something.

    Ralph
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,400 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Working Big old Dish..Use it for Solar Panels?

    Personally, aside from the fun of tinkering, I think it a solution in search of a problem. Do a quick calc and see what you are likely to gain in net PV harvest. Estimate what it is going to cost to build and what it will cost to run. You may find that you are way further ahead by buying another panel or two, especially since they are so cheap right now.

    Tony
  • PhilSPhilS Solar Expert Posts: 370 ✭✭✭
    Re: Working Big old Dish..Use it for Solar Panels?

    As far as using the assembly....

    ... maybe the tracking could be set where some mounted solar panels could be aimed according to the season. It'll take some engineering and manufacturing to make it work well. Not impossible, maybe not even difficult.

    ... the dish would be best used by mounting it on three or four poles, upside down, as a pergola or shade for a bench. Grow some ivy over it and it even looks nice.

    JMHO Phil
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Working Big old Dish..Use it for Solar Panels?

    As to Tonys comment, there is also a thread here, somewhere, about the gain to be had or not from a tracker.(?do trackers make sense?) depends where you are, here at 52* N it doesn't make sense for a powered system.

    where are you sited Billjustbill?

    Eric
     
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  • BilljustBillBilljustBill Solar Expert Posts: 212 ✭✭✭
    Re: Working Big old Dish..Use it for Solar Panels?
    westbranch wrote: »
    As to Tonys comment, there is also a thread here, somewhere, about the gain to be had or not from a tracker.(?do trackers make sense?) depends where you are, here at 52* N it doesn't make sense for a powered system.

    where are you sited Billjustbill?

    Eric

    I'm between Ft. Worth and Abilene Texas, about 32 degrees. ;>)
    Bill
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Working Big old Dish..Use it for Solar Panels?

    Panels weigh a lot. They could overwhelm the motor, causing it to burn out. Probably not at first, but after a while. The dish itself is probably no place near as heavy as roughly the same equivalent area in PV's.
  • dlenoxdlenox Solar Expert Posts: 42
    Re: Working Big old Dish..Use it for Solar Panels?

    Bill,

    The actuator is about the only thing that may be useful, you can find them selling for new for < $100 on eBay so you may not be saving that much...

    As Neil said you will have to make up your own framework

    here is how I built my own tracker in case you want to do similar

    Dan Lenox
  • TnAndyTnAndy Solar Expert Posts: 249 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Working Big old Dish..Use it for Solar Panels?

    As delenox said, about the only thing you could use is the actuator(s) if they have a long enough stroke. The control box for aligning a sat dish is about useless in operating a solar tracker, unless you did a bunch of modification.

    The most dependable and simple controller is one made by http://theanalogguy.com/ .....I tried Redrock ( PcOfS*** ) and another one, but neither worked well......Analog guy's works, and even then, I ended up running it thru a pair of relays so the board output doesn't feed directly out to the actuator motors...because if a limit switch on the actuator motor sticks, you burn out the control board ( yeah....ask me how I know )

    I looked at a couple of sat dish tracker that were adapted to solar tracking, but they simply didn't look "beefy" enough for me....so I welded up my own.

    Mine are single axis trackers...and by the way, using the relay setup like I did, you can control several trackers with a single control unit....you're only limited by the amp rating on the relays/actuator motors.


    I bought a 21' joint of schedule 40 6" pipe, cut it in half at 37 degrees, and welded a 4' length of 8" wide channel at the 37 degree angle....then mounted two 2" pillow block bearings with a 4'4" length of 2" round shaft steel in it....that sticks out 2" on each end of the channel, then welded an "H" frame ( painted black ) centered up on the shaft, so the whole thing rotates east-west. Then welded electrical Unistrut on the "H" frame to mount the panels, then used an aluminum "L" clip ( obtained from a local metal shop ) to the Unistrut with the bolts/nuts that fit Unistrut stuff, and self tapping screws in the sided of the panel frames.

    Originally, I made it for 6 panels each, but then I went to 10 on one, and 8 on the other, maxing out my two charge controllers ( one for each MX60 )......actually 9 is 'supposed' to be the max, but I'm trying 10 on one, as these Solarworld panels never hit over about 150watts compared to the 175 rating....yeah....I know it's pushing things, but I'm an envelope pusher......ahahhaaaaaa......assuming all goes well for another year ( I added the additional ones about 6 months after the initial install last December ), I'll add two more to the array of 8.

    I figure I've got about 600 bucks in each tracker....which was less than the price of a single SW175 ( at the time ), so the increase in performance, which seems to be about 25-28% for a single axis ( I've played around cutting one off at the "noon" position, and running one to compare ) justifies the cost IMHO....your mileage may vary......plus I just like the look on people's faces when the see them move..( they will jog a degree or two every 15min or so ) .."hey....those things just move ? "....."Yeah....I don't know WHAT causes that"......ahahahahaaa


    My one BIG screwup was I set the arrays too close together....I get some late afternoon shading in the winter on the east array as the west one tilts to max....but that's OK.....I'm thinking I'll put a MONSTER single array up on the hill above these two.....like 8" pipe with 20 panels by itself on it down the road ( when I get done with my wife's house remodeling list ).....I'd like to have about a 6kw system when I'm done.....that should have the local electric company sending me a check, the first one of which I assure ya'll I'll post a copy of ;)

    7882_p125114.jpeg




    7882_p124855.jpeg

    7882_p125116.jpeg



    This is the control box....the Analog guy's board is on the right ( and there is a sun sensor up on the top of the top panel row ), a single and double pole relay on the left I added ( I can post the wiring diagram if you want )

    7882_p125115.jpeg
  • wild01wild01 Solar Expert Posts: 97 ✭✭✭
    Re: Working Big old Dish..Use it for Solar Panels?

    the best solar use for a satellite dish is a parabolic reflector set up. You have to be an extremely hardcore diy-er but the dish can be coated with a reflective surface, and you can set up a solar concentrator. you can potentially get a LOT more power out of a small panel, but it is very technical, and usually has to include heat sinks on the panel and special cells, different encapsulate, and sometimes water cooling depending on how concentrated you get.
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