Solar tracker mounts.

Discussion in 'Solar Power' started by Tuicemen, Sep 7, 2016.


Would you like to see tracker mount plans posted?

  1. Yes just the detailed plans.

    0 vote(s)
  2. No I'm not interested in a tracker I have enough free power.

    0 vote(s)
  3. Yes please, with muti view pic of final tracker and a detailed post.

  4. No! I spent time making my own and don't wish to share.

    0 vote(s)
  1. Tuicemen

    Tuicemen Solar Guru

    So every one knows trackers make a big difference in the amount off power you can get from an array.
    The solar guy I deal with thinks these are way to expensive and not reliable,:confused: cheaper to get more panels.
    Maybe a DIY tracker is the way to go.:rolleyes:

    So I finally broke down and bought a dual axis kit from Windy Nation.
    Problem is they have no official mounts available (yet)
    Pictures I've seen are usually of a single view or show little detail.
    If all those that build a tracker can share their design and state how long it has been operational I'd be Most thankful.
    It may even lead to a very reliable and durable tracker if a couple of designs were merged.;)
  2. Tuicemen

    Tuicemen Solar Guru

    I found a design by Mark Macdonald
    Unfortunately his go fund me was canceled.
    His design is simular to my manual tracking mount at least for the east/west movement.

    I've modified my pole mount to enable an actuator for east west movement based from this.

    However the 24" stroke length he references using in his YouTube video doesn't supply the movement I require for summer sun. A longer stoke length appears to be needed.:(
    If I'm able to locate a bigger actuator I may revisit this.:rolleyes:
    Although this design (with the 24" actuator) doesn't suit my location (for the summer) it may work for others.;)
  3. Tuicemen

    Tuicemen Solar Guru

    With winter fast approaching I decided to get my existing pole mount fitted with a E/W single axis tracker.
    I've used the 24 inch actuator as the price for any 36 inch one I found was more then a complete dual axis kit from windynation.
    I still have some minor adjustments to make in order to get the maximum rotation but so far it is more then I need for the winter months.
    Since this is on a 4 inch pole any measurements will have to be adjusted for a larger 6 inch pole which the new array will utilize.
    I haven't figured out the N/S actuator mounting as yet without having to rebuild the mount. I'm hoping to come up with a bolt on configuration which will work.
    I'm hoping to get a sunny day soon so I can fine tune things, Oct-Dec are bad for solar here as over cast days are the norm then.
  4. Tuicemen

    Tuicemen Solar Guru

    Ok I believe I have a north south actuator mount figured out but with the weather man calling for snow I doubt I'll get it installed anytime soon.:eek:
    Also it maybe better to rebuild the mount so I can get the most out of the tracker.
    The SunTura Series looks like it was designed more for a mount where both actuators moved up and down.
    My east west actuator needs to be mounted so it pushes and pulls side to side with my current mount.
    This isn't a big deal to make it work I was just hoping to make my current mount work without to much of a rebuild.:rolleyes:
  5. Tuicemen

    Tuicemen Solar Guru

  6. Tuicemen

    Tuicemen Solar Guru

    Finally got the N/S actuator mounted(been in operation all summer with few issues)
    I had to perform a few tweaks with the wire run to the actuator and extra bracket to reduce side to side movement.

    My original pole mount array is made of 95% recycled material so cost was minimal.
    The only things purchased for the mount were 2 8ft 2 inch aluminum tubing,cement and fasteners.
    Pole was an old cloths line pole.
    Crossers which panels eventually fastened to were from old aluminum patio doors
    The crosser pole was an old jack post
    the bracket to hold the crosser pole (allowing tilt) was from an old skid plate from and old 4X4 Pickup which I cut two pieces from.

    Modifying this for the Suntura tracker was also done with recycled parts.
    Angle iron was used from old bed frames and an old steel window lintel.

    The array isn't much to look at but works well. I'm sure a paint job would improve looks (but not performance) Tracker.jpg
  7. Tuicemen

    Tuicemen Solar Guru

    Playing with the SunTura on my old array gave me confidence to modify my Grid tie panel array to accept at least a single axis (E/W) tracker.
    The array mount was store bought which fit on a 6 inch schedule 40 pipe with a 6 1/2 pipe which slid over top and had 4 bolts to lock into the E/W position.
    listening up the bolts allowed you to turn the array E/W.
    There is also an adjustment for N/S however I don't plan to incorporate that as yet ( or possibly ever)
    The size of this array required me to look else where for an actuator which can handle almost twice the static load.
    This took several months and a fight with UPS to finally get.:rolleyes:
    This actuator also required 24 volts to operate and since I currently had the old one configured to use 12 I had to come up with either a conversion or a new battery controller setup.
    I originally ordered a inexpensive 24 volt charger but then found a 12-24 volt step up converter for under $25.
    This allowed me to utilize the same dog house battery box setup with a 12 volt panel.
    I've now had this working for about a month and a half. However with sun now limited the panel isn't charging my dog house control box enough to maintain enough power to run both trackers.:eek::(
    Since I have the 12-24 volt step up wire so power is going to it 24 hours a day I suspect that may be the issue.
    The tracker only needs to work during sunny hours so I'll rewire the step up converter so it is only powered during those times.
    I'll also wire in a kill switch at the step up converter though I'm not sure how often that will get used.:rolleyes:

    During the months Nov-Jan I get very little sun (5 hours on a good day) so a tracker doesn't actually move much.
    For these months I may kill the power to the trackers and have them fixed in the optimum position during that time.
    This should prevent the battery which powers them from getting killed.:rolleyes:

    I'll get a few close up pics of this array posted over the next few weeks.

    I've also started working on another tracker mount (very simular design) so I can get panels off my deck though I don't expect this to get fully operational till next spring/summer.:(
  8. Tuicemen

    Tuicemen Solar Guru

    Large tracker details.
    For this tracker I started off with a universal top of pole mount for 8 type G modules.
    This required a 6 in sch 40 or 80 pipe. Top.jpg there is a piece of steel with various holes to adjust till so I may add a N/S actuator down the road to make this a dual axis tracker.
    Since I wanted the Suntura to be easily reachable I extended the cap with a piece of 3 ft X 3 inch X 1/4 angle iron down to another piece 20 inches long mounted at 90 Degs.
    On this I drilled a hole for the actuator arm at 12 in from pole. HD Actuator mount 1.jpg
    On the poll I welded a 2 ft piece of steel window sill plate and drilled a hole close to the end for the actuator (motor end) I held this sill plate in place with a bracket using 6 1/2 in bolts so I could level it prior to welding.
    The sill plate is 3 in below actuator arm mount, this distance may vary slightly depending on actuator make.
    to keep the actuator from pushing the arm mount out of alinement I bent a piece of metal to fit snug to pipe and mounted it to bottom of cap extension angle iron. HD actuator2.jpg I drilled a hole to allow a grease nipple for easy lubrication. the bolts on the end cap can be removed to lubricate the very top.
    The actuator is a 36 in so I'm not using the full actuators possible extension yet. It looks like I need to play with actuator mount locations to enable the full capacity of the actuators travel extension.
    TomT likes this.

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