Performance measures for residential PV structural response to wind effects

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Goodman, Joseph Neal
Augenbroe, Godfried
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This thesis applies structural reliability measures for the performance based design of residential PV system structures. These measures are intended to support designers in delivering systems with quantified and consistent reliability. Existing codified practices prescribe global factors (allowable stress design) and partial factors (load and resistance factor design) intended to provide an acceptable level of reliability as defined by historical practice. When applied to residential PV systems this prescriptive approach has two flaws, (1) calibration efforts needed to ensure consistency across structural system types have not kept up with the commercially available system types and (2) the actual expected reliability is not quantified and available to support decisions. The proposed reliability measures include probability of failure conditioned to wind speed in a fragility curve and the reliability index β, both of which are commonly used in performance based design. The approach is demonstrated through the application of the reliability measures to code compliant designs. Diverse system types are utilized to demonstrate how the existing code prescribed approach may lead to non-uniform structural performance. For each of the system types on which the reliability measures are demonstrated, a code compliant design is developed for three roof slopes, wind tunnel testing is conducted to provide an experimental measure of wind pressure coefficients, system specific fragility curves are generated to quantify the probability of failure conditioned to a set of wind speeds, and then, a site specific wind model is applied to produce a probability of failure and reliability index β. Through the performance based approach proposed in this thesis, two key outputs show non-uniform and unanticipated structural performance of PV systems designed according to the prescriptive code method. The two key outputs which illustrate this finding are fragility curves which illustrate the probability of failure over a range of wind speeds and reliability index, β values which couple the structural and wind distributions for a single measure of reliability.
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