When I was a kid, my parents would take me to the Minnesota State Fair. My favorite part, was climbing around on all the farm equipment and huge trucks at Machinery Hill.
Our family car was a brown Plymouth Duster, so climbing out of that and onto a massive tractor at the fair – was like climbing a mountain. I could feel the solid construction. I could see the amount of work you could get done with a spectacular piece of machinery like that.
At TruNorth Solar, our owner, Marty Morud, grew up on a farm in Bemidji. When we started building more ground mounted solar arrays in Minnesota, I noticed how everything was built to the same rugged standards and values that Marty lived on the farm. “When you do a job,” Marty would say, “You do it right the first time and you build it to last. After all, our efforts don’t mean much unless the array is working for many years to come”
The same type of heavy duty construction you want in a piece of farm machinery, is how TruNorth designs and builds your solar array.
When we build your ground mounted solar system, you are getting the same type of equipment and construction process we use when we install solar for utilities.
When needed, we start with a “soil boring” to determine the composition of your soil. Not all projects require this step and sometimes we just come out and dig down to see the soils directly. This knowledge of your soil allows another layer of precision when cutting your posts for your project.
Avoid a Dry-Spaghetti Snap Solar Array
What begins to set the type of ground mounts we build for you apart from everyone else – is what we DON’T Do.
Most companies simple use a concrete slab and steel piping for a ground mount solar array. This sounds good… but there are a few problems.
A solar array in concrete, is a little like a dry piece of spaghetti.
Have you ever taken a piece of dry spaghetti that is not cooked out of the package and – “snapped it?”
That brittle snap is what can happen when you lack the ability for your ground mounted solar array to deflect under high winds. The concrete won’t move… it is rock solid. But the 3 inch pipe that was never designed to withstand violent structural loads… well… that’s the spaghetti.
The spaghetti “snap” is what can happen when ground mounted solar arrays are mounted on concrete footings.
At TruNorth Solar, to make sure you have the most rugged material, we used hot-dipped galvanized 6×9 steel i-beams. This assures you have structural longevity. This strength backs up the longevity your panels and inverters deserve.
The other advantage to a deeply driven i-beam, is greater resilience to wind loading and frost heaving.
To additionally test your i-beams for strength, we hook up our skid loader to your i-beam driven into the ground and perform 1200 lb + pull tests. This pull test assures your array will have appropriate structural deflection for winds that top 90 mph.
Another piece of a TruNorth Solar ground mounted solar array is our engineered construction.
The engineered construction is both for depth of penetration your industrial grade i-beams will make and the distance between the supports (the supports hold your panels on and create structural integrity). This is extremely important for Minnesota snow loads and any potential deflection from heavy winds.
This whole process separates your ground mounted solar array from anyone else’s in Minnesota. You get utility scale quality and construction experience for your farm system.
If you can imagine having a pick-up truck that is engineered like a dump truck for hauling capacity – you are getting the idea how we build your system.
Earthquake and Small Hurricane Tested Solar Array
The really fun part for us is working with farmers who want good pricing and a high level of quality applied to their solar farm system. The finished array will look great and is built for decades of life and prepared for everything from an earthquake to a small hurricane!
In our next blog we will look at a special piece of equipment (the Doyle 200s) to make your ground mounted solar installation fast and precise.