Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Craig Friedrich

Committee Member 1

Kari B. Henquinet

Committee Member 2

Joshua M. Pearce


There is a lack of literature on the structural balance of systems (BOS), also called racking, for ground mount, fixed-tilt solar PV systems. Literature that exists discusses mostly rooftop racking and installations, additional wind loading, and weight considerations imposed on roofs, and little guidance is provided in building codes. The lack of peer-reviewed guidance on design requirements for domestic and large-scale application solar PV racking systems leaves most consumers relying on expensive, patented, off-the-shelf hardware. As PV cell technology and module costs have improved, we can start to focus on PV BOS improvements (particularly racking) and move towards sustainable designs that contribute to lower the overall cost of PV systems, increasing their accessibility especially for developing, low-income, or remote communities. The purpose of this paper is to review existing literature on fixed-tilt, ground-mount PV racking systems, present methods of analyzing DIY systems, and suggest further research. The paper is presented in the context of community development work and the author’s experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru.