Don’t ask

It has been over a month and the genset has not been used once!  Sally even twice ironed her quilt-in-the-making pieces, a previous hangin’ offense.  I figure we have saved at least $25.00 so far in fuel, maybe a few dollars in depreciation and wear on the genset and at least ten hours of noise.  So far, this solar thing is workin’ out.

A few days ago it blew a gale.  Maybe gusted to 30.  The array presents a lot of surface area to the wind.  And, as you know, I eschew proper engineering and opt, instead, to use what I have at hand.  Maybe doubling it all up if I have two of them.  Tripling if I am worried.  At first I wasn’t worried.  Not in the least.  “Let her blow!”

But then it did blow.  It howled.  And my confidence ebbed pretty quickly.  I went up to look at the array when it was blowing about 20.  It was fine.  Not a vibration.  But, at 30, I went back to worrying.  Which is silly.  ‘Cause, what are you gonna do at that point? Catch panels as they fly by?  What will be will be.

Everything held and there was not a hint or indication of a problem.

I am going to double up on a few things.

I blame my neighbour for this sense of worry.  He is the very good neighbour who is pretty knowledgeable about construction and all things woodsy.  I respect his opinion. But I don’t always follow it because if I over-engineer, he over-engineers what I would do.  If a 2 x 2 is strong enough, I might use a 4 x 4 but he would advise employing a 6 x 6 with steel reinforcement.  I exaggerate only a little.

“Geez, Dave.  I dunno,  I am not saying anything.  It’s your money.  But you think that will stand up to a good wind?  Well, good luck to you.  Glad you can afford to throw away money.”

“I can’t afford to throw away money ’cause I don’t have any to fling!  Do you think that is going to fall down?”

” I ain’t saying nothing.”

“Yes, you are.  You just said it!  You are scaring the hell out of me.  What do you know that I don’t?”

“Have you calculated the wind force per square inch for this area?  What kind of steel thickness and hardness did you use?  Do you know the breaking strength of those cables?  What kind of rock anchors did you use?  How deep did you drill into the rock?”

“Unh..well, the force is the same as a small jib.  So, there is lots.  I used to sail, so I know  there is lots. The steel was salvaged from an old storage rack and it was hard enough to require me hitting it strongly with a hammer and welding parts of it.  Then I jumped on it with a friend of mine.  A bunch of times.  It held.  The cables were shrouds off an old sailboat and I drilled about six inches into the rock.”

“Well, I am glad they didn’t build the Ironworker’s Memorial bridge like that.  But maybe this will become the Ironworkers Memorial solar array.  We’ll see.”

I really have to stop asking him about things.  I may just triple a few things while I am at it.

7 thoughts on “Don’t ask

  1. When I saw your array I immediately though of the surface area.
    I was up in the Queen Charlottes a few years back doing some repair work at a Fishing Lodge and noticed the metal roof on the main lodge had major “crinkles” in the roof all along one side. I asked the caretaker what had happened and he replied ” Winter storm 2 years back….110 mile an hour winds….peeled it like a banana…..
    I guess you can buttress the scaffold with more wire “tie downs” but ultimately the screws or bolts that hold the panels to the scaffold are going to take the brunt.
    After a major wind storm in Vancouver about 15 years ago I went up to the roof of a 20 story office building I was in charge of ( maintenance) . Everything was ok until I checked the washroom exhaust fan. The top “cap” was gone( visualize a 3 ft diameter aluminum mushroom cap). The only thing that was left were the 4 screws that held it in place and tiny ,ripped pieces of aluminum from the actual cap. I seached for blocks for the top……….never found it.

    You can never have too many tie downs and extra clamps :)-

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    • Actually, that is the way I see it – the weakest part is the panel itself. Aluminum frames. And there ain’t much I can do about that. And, anyway, the old panels held up pretty good and we had a few 90kmh winds during that time. Still, what with him and you, I am definitely going to add some more clamps and cables. Sheeesh.

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  2. Congratulations Dave! Not much sense in over building. Freak and rogue stuff might happen but only god can say when. Coulda, shoulda, only causes grief.

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    • THANKYOU!! Whew. Now I have an excuse. “It was a freak, rogue wind that toppled my array!”
      I may as well write that entry now……………..
      Actually, the photo does not show the cables. The cables give it stability and strength. My biggest concern is NOT the design but my own amateurish welding. It may not take a rogue or a freak if the weld fails….

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    • Definitely something I can relate to. But we are a smidge luckier – my site has no trees around it that can cause any shade whatsoever. Seems shade has a negative effect on solar panels that is much greater than you’d expect by looking. 20% shade cover practically eliminates all the power from that panel – not just 20%. Still, I understand the ‘movement’ through different sizes, locations and such. This is an evolving science and, for the owner, a learning curve.

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