3.4 kW Ground Mount Expansion… With An Uh Oh

I know you will be shocked – absolutely shocked! – to learn this, BUT sometimes things don’t go entirely according to plan in the residential solar PV contracting world.

Fortunately, we don’t find ourselves saying “Uh oh” frequently. But it happens.

We feel it’s important for our clients to understand 1) everything we do to prevent the “uh oh” moments, but also 2) how we handle an “uh oh” if one should occur.

Having said that, on to the project! Which should have been an easy one: a small expansion of an existing ground-mounted system.

For any ground-mount system design, we always check a soil survey to see what conditions we can expect (e.g. soil type, depth to bedrock, etc.). In this case, we were expecting silty loam (BgC – Bath and Valois soils) with a >200 cm (>6.5 feet) depth to bedrock.

example soil survey for the Sungineer home office location

The existing ground-mounted system was located only 30 feet behind the new array, and the homeowner had installed a geothermal well literally only a few feet from the location of the new array, so we certainly were not expecting a thick, unbreakable layer of shale at 4 feet of depth.

You can see where this is going, right?

Those posts were NOT going in with our typical method of vibrating** the posts 6 feet into the ground. Nope, nope, nope!

Sungineer Solar’s fixed-fee contracts are structured so any minor* “uh oh” is the responsibility of Sungineer to address. It’s our job to get the job done!

We returned to our structural engineer for a second plan review, rented an excavator, bought a bunch of rebar and concrete, and made it happen. The homeowner is a retired contractor who wanted to drive the excavator for a morning, and working with him to execute the alternate plan was a lot of fun, too. We are grateful for his “can do” attitude!

rebar, sonotubes, and concrete

Once the posts were in the ground, the rest of the project went smoothly.

new array in foreground, old array in background

Especially when there are bumps along the road (clouds in the sky?), it’s so satisfying to see another solar project come to life!

*Minor as defined by <5% project cost increase.

**Post pounding video coming soon – it is SO COOL!