Solar Panels on Privacy Fence

JoshKJoshK Solar Expert Posts: 232 ✭✭
So I figure if I mount solar panels at 22° from VERTICAL, that gives maximum performance during the winter. In the summer, It seems the loss from them still being mounted at the same 22° from vertical is about perfectly offset by the stronger summer sun. Therefore mounting the solar array to a privacy fence would pretty much give the same power output all year long. And they should stay really clean! Panels could be either inside or outside the property depending on if you chose the north fence or the south fence. Heck, they could be on both if you are installing lots of panels.
I used some online tools to come to this conclusion a while back, and tonight I though I would share the idea.

This simple location change (vs rooftop) would solve the "winter slump" and cleaning issues.


  • pleppikpleppik Solar Expert Posts: 62 ✭✭✭✭
    The optimal angle and power output are going to depend on where you live. But in general putting solar panels on a privacy fence seems like a good idea, as long as the fence is strong enough. You might need something stronger than your basic fence.

    Another idea would be to use a ground-mounted array as a privacy screen. Kill two birds with one stone.
  • Mustang65Mustang65 Solar Expert Posts: 42 ✭✭
    Here is a post I put up in 2013 regarding mounting solar panels on my privacy 120' fence. There are a few that have already accomplished this and are up and running.

    Since then, I have designed the concrete fence/solar mounting posts using 5"x5"x120" PVC fence posts for the forms with a 3/8" 120" steel rebar down the center. Each will be sitting on a 12"x24" in diameter concrete base. I have finished the design of the post brackets that will mount the 2" horizontal pipes (top panel mount). The concrete posts will have the bolts in the forms when the concrete is poured, and the brackets will also be mounted to the PVC at that time. The bottom of the panels will also have a 2" horizontal steel pipe, that will be adjustable using the 12VDC motor/screw assemblies from RV slide outs (capable of moving 600 lbs each), mounted to the concrete fence post lower brackets. I am about 1/2 way finished with the script for the micro-controllers that will adjust the vertical angle of the panels for max power, will lower them over night or when there is an electrical storm and will set them up in the morning based on the light sensors output. Last week I received a lightning strike sensor chip from the mfr and now I plan to incorporate that into the design, to automatically lower the panels should the lightning sensor be activated. A good addition since I do live in Florida's "Lightning Alley". I still need to send a copy of the fence posts to the city engineer, for approval.

    The back side of the fence will be the overlapping vertical wood panels that you can not see through.

    The longer than expected delay is because I have been spending tooooooo much time adding and modifying our RV's solar setup, and of course a lot of time away from home. October is the expected ground breaking for the project.


    OK, here is a question for the PRO's... should I weld a ground rod (in concrete form) between the solar mounting brackets and the rebar in the center of the post? The rebar will extend below the base into the ground.
  • JoshKJoshK Solar Expert Posts: 232 ✭✭
    Good to hear guys. Yea Pleppik, the two birds with one stone is a good idea and would be good for the budget too. It may not be wife-friendly though to see them from the house. It's great to hear, Mustang65, that you have tried this and it works. If you want a ground rod attached to your rebar, it should probably be stainless steel. Otherwise rust will follow it inward. I was told that by a cement pro over a decade ago. While you're at it, I would connect it to an anchor bolt too. It would save the external cable to the frame.
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 6,403 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Sanyo use to have some really beautiful fences with their bifacial panels for 10 years or so. There is a new manufacture Prism now and a link below.
    These folks have some pictures of awnings but I could not find fences. Pricey but really beautiful.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Nevada mountain area
    E-mail [email protected]

  • JoshKJoshK Solar Expert Posts: 232 ✭✭
    Very cool Dave! They look awesome, and claim high efficiency. And having one side Air Conditioned in the summer is also great. I didn't know anything like that existed. Very cool.
  • pleppikpleppik Solar Expert Posts: 62 ✭✭✭✭
    Pricey but really beautiful.

    When thinking about the price in a product like this, you have to take into account that it's an upgrade to something the buyer probably would have bought.

    So the question isn't, "how expensive is this compared to a PV module?" but rather, "How much does the PV add to the cost of the greenhouse/solarium?"

    Since the PV is replacing the windows of the greenhouse/solarium, and those windows would have been bought anyway (assuming this is new construction), it's OK for them to be pricier than plan PV modules.

    But I agree that they look pretty sharp.
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 6,403 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Looking at them on the internet and sitting under them day or night are two different levels of "sharp". They were three times the price when I first used the Sanyo models. The Prism model also is great in very hot places like the Sanyo/Sun models. They just seem to keep up their output better than most all other brands when the needle hit 100F. I have a 2KW Sanyo/Panasonic array that daily peaks over 2KW if the sky is right. The other array is the same make BP as the moderator Bill has and never comes close.

    Nice that they are built in the US as there are more failure rate issues with having twice the glass. They tried in space and had to do a few space walks. A friend told me that Grumman is using them on a satellite in production. They really do look nice on rails laying on a natural wood finished structure.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Nevada mountain area
    E-mail [email protected]

  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 3,689 ✭✭✭✭
    I think birds can somehow crap on vertical surfaces. Found four fresh stains on my steel shed door - apparently placed over the week by a pair of nesting birds. With nothing to stand on, I don't know how they do it. Actually the bird poo produces a longer streak when the surface is closer to vertical.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • JoshKJoshK Solar Expert Posts: 232 ✭✭
    Birds don't control when they poop, they don't have that muscle. So it just comes out whenever. I did read about an interesting product called "TangleFoot" that is a sticky goo you can put on surfaces they like to perch on. Like the top edge of a solar panel. They learn fast not to try landing there ever again. Since they aren't harmed there is not a pile of bodies laying around either.
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