How to Build a Mount for 8 Solar Panels

How to build our 8 Panel Adjustable Top of Pole Mount Kit:

The 8P Mount Kit from Back 40 Solar is designed to mount eight 100 watt panels and can be found at this link. The kit comes with 2 pole bracket clamps, 4 L plates, 2 tilt brackets, a bag of panel clamps, a bag of nuts and bolts, the instruction manual, 2 extension rails for mounting panel rails, a total of 8 panel rails for mounting panels, and an Allen key.

The first thing we’re going to do is identify due South. We used an app on our cell phone but you can use whatever method you prefer. Once you identify due South, make a note of the direction. Next insert 2 – 3/4 inch bolts, labeled “L” in the manual, and temporarily secure them into the center holes on the pole bracket clamps as shown.

For this fastening it’s okay to just make it finger-tight as we are going to be loosening this very shortly. Next, place the clamp brackets on the top of your pole so that they line up West to East. This will allow the panels to face due South. Now use 4 of the long 5/16 inch bolts labeled “I” in the manual and insert them through the clamp bracket.

Keep these bolts loose and ensure you do not over tighten them or else they will not secure properly on the reverse side (as shown here). Instead, fasten the nuts very loosely so that all 4 bolts can easily be secured and then tighten securely using an adjustable wrench. When the clamp bracket is fastened securely to the top of your pole, you can remove the nuts that were secured to the 3/4 inch bolts from earlier. This will allow us to mount our tilt brackets as shown.

When the panels are mounted to the top of your pole you will be able to loosen these lower nuts and adjust the tilt angle to maximize the performance of your panels. For now, to ensure proper installation, securely fasten these tilt brackets in the zero degree angle.

So I have here one of our extension rails and so what we’re going to want to do is to make sure that the “C” shape is facing outward, away from the mount, and that we have our 2 slots on the bottom and our 4 slots on top. Now using the 5/16″ bolts, labeled “J” in the manual, secure the extension rails to the tilt bracket. Ensure that the “C” shape of the rail is facing away from the center of the pole and that the side with the 4 holes is facing up. Align the 2 rails so they extend the same amount on both sides and tighten all four bolts.

So for this next part we’re going to start assembling the rails and putting them together. You’ll notice that the rails have a “Coke bottle” shape here and with the L plates they’re going to be sliding in place at the bottom here, once we join them together. To properly extend the rails, (note the shape of the L plate) the longer of the two sides is aligned to the bottom of the “Coke bottle” shape. Now take 6 of the 5/16 inch bolts and place them in each of the slots in the L plate. Then, take the extension rail and join it to the L plate by sliding the heads of the first 3 bolts into the corresponding spots on the extension rail.

Make sure to only slide the extension rail about halfway over the L plate so another rail can be connected. Secure the L plate in place by fastening nuts to each of the bolts on both sides of the extension rail. Because of the design of the slots, the heads of the bolts will not spin inside of the rail. Now join the other extension rail in the same manner ensuring that the connection is flush. Repeat this until you have made 4 rails of equal length each using 2 extensions. On each of your 4 rails, slide 1 – 5/16″ bolt into the bottom slot on each side. These will attach through each of the 4 slots on top of the rails already affixed to the tilt brackets. Once all 4 rails are connected to your tilt brackets and securely fastened, your rails will be ready to mount your panels.

Now that we have our rails in place, we can go ahead and start adding our end clamps to help hold up our panels. Take the shorter of the 2 Allen bolts and place it through the clamp. Then loosely fasten a “t-nut” to the bolt leaving enough room for the clamp to slide into place. Once the “t-nut” is fastened loosely to the end of the bolt, you can slip the end clamp into the rail, ensuring the t-nut runs perpendicular to the slot. Then use the provided Allen key to loosely fasten the clamp to the rail.

Pro Tip: to ensure your panels appear straight, use a thin piece of wire or rope secured to each end of the rails so you can align each end clamp. This won’t increase the performance, but will make your installation a lot prettier to look at.

With the end clamps in place, lift your panels onto the mount. When the panels are where you want them, loosen your end clamps. Slide the panels in and then tighten the end clamps back down, securing the panels to your mount. With the end clamps in place, we will be placing the mid clamps. These are the clamps shaped like a “T” and will use the longer of the 2 Allen bolts. They install in the same fashion as the end clamps and are placed in between stacked panels. When all 4 rows of panels are placed, you will use 4 more end clamps on the top rails to secure the top row. Once the top clamps are in place, your 8P Adjustable Top of Pole Mount Kit is fully installed.

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