In our last solar tracker installation tip, we discussed installing the mast on the base and landing the can assembly. If you have planned appropriately, you will want to finish the frame/rail assembly just prior to finishing the mast/can installation. Once the machine lands the can it can immediately hook up to the frame assembly. The slings should be ready to go as part of the frame build.
Landing the Frame & Rail Assembly
Landing the frame and rail assembly is very important. Once this step is completed, our crew is usually ready for lunch, but more importantly, you’re about halfway to completing the install. At this point you’re also finished with the machine, or at least you will not need it for panel installation, and it is now free to finish ground work if necessary. Remember, your objective is to install an AllEarth Solar Tracker in one day!
Previously, your crew should have made the decision as to what type of lift and landing orientation will be used. The two options are North landing (machine approaches from the top of array) or South landing (machine approaches from the bottom of array). Refer to the installation manual for appropriate slinging procedures. The geography of the site and other obstacles will determine direction from which you land the array.
Safety of all involved is paramount during this process if the terrain is uneven or sloped in any way!
It is important to work with the machine operator via hand signals as you remove the array from the jig and land it on the can assembly. The operator’s knowledge of lining up the center of the array with the center of the can assembly will help provide a smooth and safe landing of the array. As the array is being lifted off the jig, moved to the can/mast assembly, and landed on the can, anyone helping to steady the array needs to stay to the side and be wearing a hard hat.
Place the ladder on the appropriate side of the can/mast based on the type of landing. Place the ladder on the North side for a standard South landing, or the opposite for a North landing. The crew member on the ladder will lead the landing (communicating with the operator and crew), have all tools and parts needed for attaching the frame to the mast, and be responsible for aligning the axle to the can. Just prior to landing the array on the can you will want to spin the axle perpendicular to the cradle on top of the can. The better this alignment, the easier the axle will slip into the can cradle. Secure the axle to the can (using 12 bolts and nuts) before unhooking from the machine.
Note: If you are installing an L20 Solar Tracker, remember that it is top-heavy and needs to be manually held into place prior to unhooking from the machine.
Securing the Frame to the Mast
Securing the frame to the mast is the last step. There are multiple options here based on which model tracker is being installed. The main point I want to make is that the Series 20/24 trackers are bottom-heavy and the L20 is top-heavy. Safely secure the array using two chain falls pulling in opposite directions (L20) or ratchet strap the array to the mast (S20/24) using the 9x9 block, as explained in the installation manuals.
Remember: your objective is to install an AllEarth Solar Tracker in one day!
I hope that Hoppers Handy Tracker Hints were helpful.
Next month’s Hint: PAnel Installation and Safety when flipping the array.