Tuesday, November 17, 2009

re: wind on solar panels

I would look at the solar panels two different ways, depending on how they are mounted. If they are mounted flush to the roof surface, like most water solar panels for pools and hot water heaters, then I would likely use roof pressures. If they are mounted off the roof on racks at angles, such as for direct electrical production (which I am assuming is your case), I would likely analyze them using ASCE open canopy pressures. I don't have access to it at the moment but this should result in lower uplift pressures than if you used roof pressures, so I guess you could be conservative and use roof pressures. You will also have a horizontal component if the panels are angled. Using a more conservative approach would only result in a slight cost increase in your connections and supports either way, and compared to the value of the solar panels and equipment,and the cost of loss of use of the panels, I would definitely err on the conservative side.

Andrew Kester, PE

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