The structure to hold our 15 solar panels is 18ftx20ft. We chose to locate it at the top of the property where we get the most hours of sun and it can do double-duty as a water catchment surface. High up is the best location for water tanks so gravity does all the work in creating great shower pressure without the need to pump.
The only problem with choosing a site at the top of the property is that all the materials have to be carried up there. The road on our land goes up to about 290ft above sea level. The highest point of the land where this structure is going, is another 150ft above that. So our dedicated tireless team have been carrying sand, cement and timber up the hill for the past 2 weeks to get the foundations and support structure in place. Their stamina, strength and good nature in the face of this task is amazing (think of the huffing and blowing you get if you ask someone to deliver a package to a walk-up apartment in NYC or London).
Mr Nicholson recommended making the supports in concrete rather than wood to lessen any lateral movement from high winds that may put stress on the panels. Once the nine concrete pillars were cast the next task was to build the wooden roof frame and add the galvanized roofing material which will catch the water.
The structure follows the natural slope of the land and is about 5-6ft off the ground. This is the optimal height to get the most sun but still be low enough for the trees to break some of the force of high winds, should we be hit by a hurricane.
We like to get the most out off all materials we bring onto the land so in addition holding the solar panels and capturing rainwater, we think this structure will also serve a wonderful purpose in the near future as our goat house.