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How to Install Dual Axis-solar Tracking Units (DAT's)

This page is updated as new information is added.

Installing a DAT unit is basically a six stage process;

  1. Decide on Solar Panel Ground Clearance & Ground Usage.
  2. Where the best place Locate a DAT Unit.
  3. Selecting the correct Foundation Type dictated by the Ground Type & Condition.
  4. Geo-Teck Survey if Digging for a Commercial installation or Urban location.
  5. The basic rules when Digging a Trench for Conduit and Cabling.
  6. Testing & Setting the DAT Tracking Controller.

1) Ground Usage & Panel Ground Clearance:

For Ground Mounted Solar Racking, Solar Panel Ground Clearance is often Overlooked & illy advised by Installers, this is what installers needs to explain, as selling low mounted Solar Racking is the easiest, quickest & most Profitable Racking to Install

As Low Ground Mounted Racking compromises "Profit" above the Solar Farm Owners "Lower Long Term Maintenance Cost", Remembering Maintenance will be for the Next 25~30+ years of operation!

The Lowest Ongoing Maintenance Cost is Provided when the Racking is Higher off the Ground, Dual Axis-solar Tracking (DAT) Racking and also provide a Shorter Return-On-Investment (ROI) time frame, DAT Racking provides the Best Daily Energy Generating!

DATs are installed a Foundation, a 200cm (2mt) Panel Ground Clearance at Full Tilt, there is No Requirement to Fence the Area (Fences are for Security, to slow Thieves so you can Shoot them ), and the Most important thing that should be, you may only need to Mow or Maintain the Ground each 3~6 Months, dependent on Ground Cover.

So, basically the Higher the Panel ground Clearance, the easier to Maintain the ground, especially around the DAT's Arrays for the Next 30+Years.

NB: We estimate it Costs the Solar Farm Owner 10 Times more to Mow, Spray & Maintain the Ground Beneath & Around low mounted Solar Racking, this is where DAT Racking is Superior, yes the DAT Racking Costs more to Install !

The Big win is DAT's Generate Substantially more Energy, and requires a lot less Maintenance, with the Slew Bearing Greased every 6~12 months, Inspections & Mowing every 3~6months, the added bonus of having High Mounted Racking makes Ground maintenance a lot easier, and it keeps the Panels Cooler, and that assists better Energy Generation.

Agri-PV: Is Solar installed High above any Agricultural Crop or Area that is ideal for most crops, there are Horizontal DAT that provide up to 7mt High pivot point, taller is possible.

Agri-PV is beneficial to most Crops and also reduces the Need/Use of Water, largely due to the partial Shading & movement over the ground, that in turn reduces evaporation beneath & around the Solar Racking.

Ground Maintenance in a wild Fields may only be needed once a Year to maintain the Ground around DAT Poles, instead of Every Moth or so for Fixed Tilted (Cave-Man) Racking, as these are commonly installed Far to Close to the Ground, and useless for most Stock other than old sheep.

2) Installation Location:

The ideal installation location is in an area that captures the most amount of the Sun's rays, preferably an area without shading from Trees, Buildings & Terrain etc.

If there happens to be some partial shading, consider using half-cell Solar Module technology, as they are designed to improve Generation in areas with partial shading.   Click-Here to see other Solar module types.

In the Sydney region a DAT installed in a clear area free of shading, will Generate approx. 11 hours of Peak Sunlight per day, and the further South (or North) of the Equator you live, the more energy a DAT will generate, due to the axis of the sun through the sky!

This is the main reasons Fixed Tilted Solar ONLY capture 4~5 hours Peak sunlight per day, as the obscure angle of the sun on the panels greatly reduces the amounts of energy generated, where this image shows the difference a DAT unit Generates an additional 5+ hours of sunlight per day.

3) DAT Foundation Type:

Installing the foundation for DATs is considered the second most difficult part of the installation, after digging the Trench for the Electrical Conduit.

There are Three main types of DAT Foundations as follows;

  1. Pole Foundation Concreted-in:
    Is the simplest & easiest Foundation to install;
    1. DAT-4 unit requires a 90cm~130cm Foundation Pole, using 50~60cm x 110~150cm deep hole.
    2. DAT-8 unit requires 130cm~230cm Foundation Pole, using 50~60cm x 150cm~250cm deep hole.
    3. DAT-15 unit requires 230cm~300cm Foundation Pole, using 60~90cm x 250cm~330cm deep hole.

    All Foundation Poles are designed for Firm Ground or Firmer Clay at worst, and should have minimum 30cm Concrete beneath the bottom Flange to take the vertical load, if unsure of the Ground Stability, you can add install a Tripod Loading Arms or make your own X shaped Load Stabilising Arms, using Re-Bars simply laid horizontally at Ground level in a 30cm X Trench.  A 30cm float will stop potential sinking over time.  Keep in mind, the higher the Main Mast the higher the solar panel ground clearance will be, and this creates more force in high wind conditions, so the deeper the Foundation Pole the better.

    NB: If required a foundation pole can be cemented into a free-standing Cement block, for easy re-location of a DAT if required.

  2. 6 Arm Spider Foundation, using up to 13x Ground Screw:
    Is the latest & greatest foundation technology, as it acts like the roots on a Tree, spreading the load across a larger area, and this foundation type does NOT require any Cement, obviously the Ground Screws hold the DAT unit in place, ground screws are manufactured for Sand, Soil, Clay & even Rock.   The Ground Screws are screwed into the ground with either a Portable geared, High-Torque electric drill or a commercial Hydraulic driver mounted on a Excavator/Tractor, make the job a lot Easier, Quicker, Better than a Concrete foundation block, and ground screw foundations use less resources & can be operational on the same day!
  3. Concrete Pylon Casings or Block Foundation:
    A Concrete Pylon Foundation or Cement & Pylon Block or Pylon are the traditional method used for to hold up commercial buildings, these can also be used for DAT larger than a DAT-15 unit, as they requires a hole drilled & the insertion of a Caged Re-bar, or a heavier Caged Concrete foundation is commonly used, remembering Cement needs to cure for 7~14 days before assembling the weight of the DAT unit.
  4. Pile Foundations:
    These are similar to Pylon & Ground-screws and commonly just single large diameter & stronger Steel Cylinder, as these can drill themselves into ground that varies from Soil to Sandstone & Remains installed there after drilling.  
    Structural engineer grade Steel varying from 450 grade steel for High pressure loads, all depending on the Application and loads that will be placed on the Piles by the DATs above ground Structure.
    For Ground with Rocks & Sandstone, special Piles are used that have the Tips of the Pile welded with Tungsten Teeth, much like a Concrete drill bit, as obviously they will need to be able to penetrate the Rock to secure the Pile.   Rock Piles obviously costs more and will range from $1500~$5'000 each, the outside Diameter can range from 20cm~150cm, the Drilling Rig hire costs starts from $200 hour to Drill/screw them into the ground.

4) Geo-Tech Engineering:

On Rural land it's not as dangerous as most Farmers know what's buried underground, however it is advisable to obtain a Geo-Tech report of what lays below the Ground in an populated environment.

The main reason being the remote possibility of interfering with buried infrastructure and unknown Geology, this is commonly done by Drilling a 100mm pilot holes, cost will be upwards of $500 per 5mt deep hole.

5) Electrical Cabling & Conduit:

Orange Electrical Cabling runs from DATs to the Inverter can be done several ways, from laying XLPE (steel wired Armoured Cable) wire cabling can be run above ground or buried, normally wiring is buried in Conduit, burying the Conduit is best as it reduces the energy losses over long distances, another method is to run conduit suspended on fencing wire between star picket posts, installing this method, UV stable conduit should be used.

However, the best method is to Bury the wiring in Large diameter Orange Electrical Conduit (image), the legal minimum depth is 60cm deep, with Warning Tape laid 20cm above the Conduit to tell anyone digging that there are power cables below.

If the DAT Control box uses 240V, we advise you run 15A Caravan extension lead or Cabling you can purchase from most Caravan outlets, as it is usually cheaper & better suited for the job.

If you intend to Claim the Government Renewable Energy Credits (REC's), an Electrical Compliance certificate is Required to be obtained via a Clean Energy Council (CEC) Electrician, they are Certified Electricians that are versed on installing Micro Power Grids that include Solar, Wind & Energy Storage systems.

IMPORTANT: You should ONLY use DC isolator switched on DC Wiring !

This is largely due to DC voltage being able to arch across AC isolator contacts and burn out the switch, as the contact posts on AC switches are closer together.

DC isolator switches are only a few extra $, and DC wiring is NOT up-to-code unless DC isolator switches are used.

The added advantage of running wiring in conduit, it allows you to add additional wiring if you later decide to add additional DAT's or even a Wind Turbine.

If you are installing Ground mounted DAT units where the Voltage is configured higher than 120V DC or 50V AC, supposedly the new OHS laws now require that all Exposed electrical wiring Not in conduit & within reach of people, the DAT’s are required to be Fence off.

With regards to XLPE cable (steel wired Armoured), this can be laid over the ground, however if carrying above 120 volts DC or 50 volts AC, it must be buried in the ground or in conduit complete with Safety tape as above.

6) DAT Testing & Performance:

Dual-axis Solar Trackers Generate the most energy than ANY other Racking type, DAT Racking is more complex, and are more expensive to purchase & Install.

However, the big pay-off is a DAT Harvests Energy for over double the hours per day, and requires approx. 1/2 the solar panels, all whilst providing a 25% return on investment than Fixed Racking to Generate the same energy.

Example: A DAT-8 (8 panels) Generates the same energy as 22 solar panels on a Fixed Tilted Roof-top or Ground mounted racking, all due to Peak sun's energy only striking Fixed roof or ground mounted panels for just 4~5 hours per day, where a DAT racking captures 11+ hours energy Generation per day! 

Our DAT Kits are purposely over-engineered, each DAT come with a minimum 20cm diameter thick walled Mast, Stainless Steel Control box housing with east~west Tracking via heavy duty 24V Slew-bearing and north~south Tilt Tracking via a 24V Linear Actuator.

Studies show investing in Dual Axis Solar Array take 3~4 years to Return-On-Income (ROI) of the initial investment cost, this is done by replacing you're energy/power bill and self consuming all the energy produced, this can only be done when matched with the correct sized Energy Storage, then the system owner will no longer have a energy bill for the next 25+ years, obviously having the correct energy storage capacity is the turn-key part of a system.

What great about a Energy Storage ? It first & foremost store what would normally be wasted/excess energy for later consumption.   So basically, any excess generated energy Not being consumed, is first sent to charged your batteries to full capacity - then during Excess Generation you have the first choice to automatically switch on say an Air-conditioner or if Grit Tied, sell your Excess energy to the State Grid for a Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) - This simple means that at Solar sun-set you will be consuming your own energy from your Batteries until sun-rise, thus eliminate paying the retailer price of 300% More for State Grid Power after sun-set & during the day if needed - That is how you become energy independent !

A long standing Clean Energy Con most people overlook: If you're an Energy Station/Generator, e.g. have Solar/Wind/Hydro/Bio-gas etc. You should Not have to Pay to be connected to the State Grid, as Micro-Grids are Cleaner & Greener that any Coal Fired Power Station!

Dual Axis Trackers & Equipment

Dual Axis Movements. Dual Axis Movements. Dual Axis Movements.

90cm~130cm Foundation Pole should have 20~30cm of cement beneath the bottom flange to prevent sinking.

 

If using an Auger a 40~60cm diameter foundation hole is required, and should be 30cm deeper than the foundation pole cemented length.

 

The top Flange of the foundation pole should be just above ground level, if not installing in a block of Cement.

Dual Axis Slew Drive.   Dual Axis Slew Drive.   Dual Axis Slew Drive.

DAT-4 Unit:

Wide stand, with 90cm Main Mast, +90cm Tilt Mast.

Click here to see DAT-4 Kit.

 

DAT-4 Unit:

Narrow stand unit, morning angle position, with 130cm Mast, +90cm Tilt Mast.

 

DAT-8 Unit:

8x 60cell Solar Panels with 90cm Mast, with Slew Bearing and Linear Actuator.

NEW Dual Axis Tracker.   NEW Dual Axis Tracker.   NEW Dual Axis Tracker.

DAT-15 in Stow position

 

Spider Foundation

Dina-Bolt to Concrete slab.

 

Ground Screw Foundation

Foundation for Soil, Clay or Rock.

NEW Dual Axis Tracker.   NEW Dual Axis Tracker.   NEW Dual Axis Tracker.

Rotational Stop Kit:

inc. Wires, Bolts & Bracket.

 

GPS sensor:

inc. Wires, Bolts & Bracket.

 

WIND Speed Sensor:

inc. Wires, bolts & Bracket.

Soil Ground Screw.   Rock Ground Screw.

Ground Earth Screws

Ground Screws are manufactured in various lengths, diameters and are suitable for different ground conditions from Sand, Soil, Clay and special Rock screws are available.

Page last updated: 31-Mar-2022.

 

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