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  • Golf Ball Damage: Protection?

    We live next to a golf course, unfortunately on the Slicer's side. Installed a pv system last year, and have one damaged panel. All of the hype about panels not being damaged by hail does not really apply, since a golf ball is larger than most hailstones, and is traveling a lot faster. (energy= 1/2mass x velocity squared?) There may have been other impacts without damage, but do not really know. And yes, we knew it could be a problem, but hoped the 'hailstone information' applied. Not.

    So, I am now looking into how can we protect the panels while minimizing the degradation of the solar rays and still not being ugly to look at.

    The array is mounted on a flat roof, on racks tilted at 15 fifteen degrees. They are not really visible if one is standing on the ground in front of the house until you get out about 150 feet away. I do not want to put in a high visible 'fence' as it would ruin the appearance of the house. Most of the problem balls come in at a fairly flat trajectory, rather than vertical.

    What ideas for protection are out there? I am wondering if I can find a monofilament fishing net that I can stretch over the array semi-taut. Seems I mostly need to just absorb some of the energy of the golf ball, not necessarily stop them. So far, though, I have not been able to find a net. Also, UV damage to most monofilament might limit its life, making it not a viable solution.

    What do you all think?

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  • #2
    Only thing you can do is put up nets, but they cannot cast any shade on your panels. Otherwise get a shotgun and sharpen up your skeet shooting skills. Just put a sign on Tee Box to holler 4 when they hit a slice to alert you of incoming so you can take aim and fire.

    In the mean time get a Lawyer and sue for damages.
    MSEE, PE

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    • #3
      I am concerned about shading by a net, which is why I am wondering about using monofilament fishing nets, which are both small filament and at least partially transparent. ???

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      • #4
        One person in my HOA put chicken wire over a solar water heater. The collectors are 4 ft. X 8 ft., a longer/wider span than most PV panels. I'm pretty sure the collectors are Sunearth, and so probably have 3/16" low iron, tempered glass. Anyway, his yard usually has a ball or 2 in it and in ~ 7 years, no glass breakage that I'm aware of. The chicken wire is somewhat loose, supported by 6 posts attached to the two side/side panels. Once you gat back ~ 150 ft. or so, it's pretty unobtrusive. I suspect, but don't know for sure if/how chicken wire would impair PV efficiency much. Maybe somebody could get a paper or a technical note out of it in one of the journals.

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        • #5
          An idea likely a bad one

          What about some clear plexi glass mounted a foot or so above the panels? may be even attached on top of the panel itself. You could use your busted panel as a test dummy down at the range. Get permission to set it out there at a hundred yards and let the golfers take aim. Could get a sheet of it and see what the reduction in production is before you go engineering a solution that stands up to wind etc.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Riverside Solar View Post
            What about some clear plexi glass mounted a foot or so above the panels? may be even attached on top of the panel itself. You could use your busted panel as a test dummy down at the range. Get permission to set it out there at a hundred yards and let the golfers take aim. Could get a sheet of it and see what the reduction in production is before you go engineering a solution that stands up to wind etc.
            Probably not a good idea. The plex will reduce the amount of energy reaching the panel, reducing production. The plex will yellow/haze and get dirty over time, reducing production more. An additional cover directly On top of the panel would inhibit air flow, increase panel temp. and reduce efficiency, perhaps promote early failure, and perhaps cause warranty problems, or void the warranty altogether. Leaving a substantial air gap - say 12" between the array and the additional cover will be fun to design but my bet is pretty visible. I'd also bet it would cause a redesign for the increased wind load. Also, it'll be fun cleaning the array under a 12" space.

            I once lived on another golf course where some homes were on the equiv. of an artillery range. One owner had plex. on the tee side of a walkway next to his house probably about 150 yards downrange from and oriented mostly normal to the tee box on a pretty straight ~400 yd. hole. The plex was mostly yellow and opaque except for the two sheets closest to the fairway. Those two were usually clear but cracked from the golf balls that regularly caused damage. Kind of an extreme case. I believe the course planted some trees for mitigation, but other homeowners complained about loss of view. FWIW, last time there, the trees were growing and the plex was still there.

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            • #7
              Haven't tried this yet, but think that something like bird netting (11 cents/sqft at McMaster.com) is the best compromise. Stretched under tension a foot or so above (gonna need to test what distance is needed but use as much tension as you can) it should protect the panels with a minimum of shading.
              Its too late now, but if you would have gone with my leasing company, their warranty covers golf ball damage.
              BSEE, R11, NABCEP, Chevy BoltEV, >2000kW installed

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              • #8
                Don't courses put up tall poles with netting strung between them, to keep balls confined to the course ?

                Was the golf course there when you bought the house ?
                Powerfab top of pole PV mount (2) | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
                || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
                || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

                solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
                gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister

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                • #9
                  Yes, golf courses often put up nets, but that is not viable for us. We have planted numerous trees, but it will take a while.

                  As I indicated in my original post, the course was here when we built the house, which is one of the reasons we purchased the lot and built. I am not complaining about the course, just looking for suggestions on how to protect our panels.

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                  • #10
                    I think a vertical fence of netting or plexi on the roof edge. The low trajectory slice is the highest velocity, assuming you are not too far off the tee. Golf balls dropping at near terminal velocity may not damage the panels. I doubt that the broken panel is the first hit on the panels.

                    Alternatively, lay the panels flat. You can compute the production drop of horizontal panels, and compare it to the estimated cost of damage. You can add panels to horizontal strings to make up lost production.

                    Alternate II : Orient the panels west, if that direction is away from the tee.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by marant View Post
                      We have planted numerous trees, but it will take a while.
                      As any golfer like myself can tell you a Tree is 90% Air
                      MSEE, PE

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by donald View Post
                        I think a vertical fence of netting or plexi on the roof edge. The low trajectory slice is the highest velocity, assuming you are not too far off the tee. Golf balls dropping at near terminal velocity may not damage the panels. I doubt that the broken panel is the first hit on the panels.

                        Alternatively, lay the panels flat. You can compute the production drop of horizontal panels, and compare it to the estimated cost of damage. You can add panels to horizontal strings to make up lost production.

                        Alternate II : Orient the panels west, if that direction is away from the tee.
                        Depending somewhat on weather, if you lay the panels flat, you'll be cleaning them more often and probably still be paying an additional performance penalty for added fouling due to horiz. panel orientation.

                        Some form of barrier between the ball and the glazing is best for my money.

                        Some of perhaps many application criteria for solution might be: Least interference with solar performance, 100 % ball strike protection, unobtrusive appearance, serviceability and cost.

                        Like a lot of things, maybe best solution is a set of compromises to get close to 100% strike protection.

                        On bird netting: Maybe, but I wonder how well does it hold up to UV ?

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                        • #13
                          Alternate III: Orient the panels southwest, if that put the edge of the panel towards the tee.

                          A slice curves, so the vector at impact is not a direct line from the tee. The simple miss hits in your direction will be higher and slower than a slice by a male golfer with a big swing.

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                          • #14
                            We are not near the tee, rather in range of the second or third shot on a par 5. I am sure the panels have had more than one impact, with most causing no damage.

                            At this point I am researching nylon monofilament fishing nets which can be attached to the top of the wall at the front of the array (see photo above), run to the top of the first row, then to the top of the second row, then over that row to be attached to a board down on the roof. I would not stretch it tight, rather leave it with enough slack that it would absorb most of the energy of the ball. If it then actually hit the panel it should not be traveling fast enough to cause damage (I hope). There are a lot of types of fishing nets so I will have to learn mesh sizes, strength, etc. Some nets are virtually transparent, which should help with not shading the panels much. Some also have high UV resistance.

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                            • #15
                              AFIK, there is no UV resistant nylon. One summer will do it in.

                              Maybe something like volley ball net, strung between your trees would stop the balls ?
                              Powerfab top of pole PV mount (2) | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
                              || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
                              || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

                              solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
                              gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister

                              Comment

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