Solar Panels

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Design help?

I'm thinking about adding a standalone structure to support 8 kW of panels. I cannot find any guidance anywhere on how such a structure needs to be designed. Biggest reason for this approach is to optimize the azimuth and elevation, but an important secondary reason is to provide shade for a patio. If the panels can be mounted to let some light through, that would be nice.


  • Consult your local building code. Any advice you get here should be vetted against those codes. The weight of the panels is insignificant and generally comparable to a lightweight roof. The most likely issue is going to be wind load and how your building code accounts for that. Florida and California are going to be completely different.
    All of the associated wiring will be protected and grounded per electrical code, so keep that in mind in terms of design aesthetics...conduit...
    I have a neighbor who kept whining about putting holes in his new "50 year" roof and has done nothing. Two days without power during the recent fires (and seeing my lights and AC on) changed his mind.
    For myself - I am in agreement with your approach even though my system is roof mounted. A shade or patio cover allows easy access for repairs and cleaning and the industrial look of the bottom of a panel actually appeals to me. If I were to move or do it again - patio cover.
  • Forgot - the racking system and attachments will not allow much light to come thru. You should assume that it will be a shaded patio with nearly solid roof. It will not be watertight and will allow water thru similar to a slatted or lattice roof.
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