Well the final part of of our residential solar system course is construction. This is the part that we all look forward to on a project, getting past the planning and actually get your hands dirty.
After we received the materials (solar panels, posts, and metal frame) we began construction by digging the six post holes and setting the posts. We also dug a two foot deep trench from the panels to the house in which we buried the electrical wire as well as a network cable. The inverter sends data back to our computer so we can track it’s production. After completing the posts and trench we proceeded to construct the frame.
We used a metal u-channel product called Unistrut. After bolting the main supports to the posts we proceeded to attach cross bracing to further support and strengthen the structure. Since the project has been done we have seen the frame take some heavy wind with no cause for alarm.
Once the metal frame was constructed we began to attach the solar panels. We attached them using Unistrut clips. After doing one we realized the best method was to attach the clips to the panels with the bolts very loose. Then lift the panel onto the frame and turn the clips inside the channel and tighten the bolts. Also it is much easier if you install the panels in the order of bottom, top, bottom, top … We did all the bottom row panels first and then found it very tough to install the top ones with all the bottom panels installed.
Overall the installation went pretty good, a few hiccups here and there but altogether pretty good. Here are some pictures of the plans that we made: