Nine Fasteners produces wire management clips with safety and longevity in mind.
Wire management on solar arrays is more than just an aesthetics-pleaser. Securing wires properly prevents damage, ground faults and even fires. Many mounting, inverter and module companies have started to include wire management with their products. But when that integration doesn’t come standard, many installers turn to plastic wire or zip ties as a quick fix. The problem with them is their quickness — they fail much more quickly than the solar power system ever will. Stainless steel clips offer longevity when zip ties fall short.
Nine Fasteners of Hopkinton, Mass., recently entered the solar market and has worked to educate the industry on the benefits of its clips. Originally forming in 1982 as Quality Components, the company distributed hardware products, nuts, bolts, clips, fasteners and some electrical componentry. In 2002, the name changed to Nine Fasteners and solar became a stronger focus in 2008.
“We still maintained our position as an overall distributor, but we began to concentrate on finding out what made the solar industry work,” says Art Noyes, president. “Since that time, we have put 90% of our energy and assets into growing our clip business in the solar business.”
From 2012 to 2013, Nine Fasteners says its solar clip business increased by 5%. At the end of 2014, the company expects to grow by more than 50% over the previous segment. Noyes feels Nine Fasteners has finally hit its stride.
“Business has been good to us,” Noyes says. “What we’re trying to sell to this industry is our ability to resolve design issues. We got into the business by tooling standard fasteners, clips, wire management clips. We began slowly but surely and have been building it since.”
Nine Fasteners has four standard wire management clips for solar modules frames and racking systems — the DCS-1306, -1307, -1414 and the DCX-2452A. The company also manufactures clips special for certain mounting and microinverter companies (for example, the new NFI-1461 clip fits to Enphase-specific cables). All clips are stainless steel, made in the United States and require no tools for installation.
“We try and take the feedback we get from the rail manufacturers and the installers to try and produce the best clips, the most useful clips possible,” says Vin Marino, product manager.
The clips secure wires/cables out of view with just a push of the thumb to snap into place. Nine Fasteners’ clips lay flat on the panel without protruding — providing a better aesthetic value and securing panels properly.
While most ideal for smaller, microinverter-based projects (since the microinverters and wires are installed on the modules), Nine Fasteners’ wire management clips work well on any type of solar array. The same size wires are used on all projects, making the clips very versatile.
The National Electrical Code doesn’t have standards saying solar installers should specifically use a certain type of clip or tie for wire management, but Marino believes that will one day change as more research is done on the longevity and safety of wire management products.
“We’ve been trying to market against the use of plastic and wire zip ties,” Marino says. “They’re going to corrode and fail eventually. It seems like a lot of people in the industry are coming to that realization. It’s good to know they’re coming to their senses.”
With solar components collectively having warranties outpacing 25 years, the short life-spans of zip ties aren’t great investment choices.
“It might cost you less now to use zip ties, but what is it going to cost you to replace them every five years for the next 30 years?” asks Marino. “That’s six times you’re going to have to send somebody out to the site, track down every zip tie that’s busted, which is probably a lot, replace all the zip ties — that’s a lot of money. It takes twice as long to install one zip tie over one of our clips. Not only are you saving money on the labor to install our clips over zip ties, you’re also saving money on replacement and maintenance costs.”
Nine Fasteners’ clips also promote longevity by way of wire safety.
“A lot of clips on the market now have a center hole punched in them,” Marino says. “That creates a rough edge which comes in contact with the wire, and over time that rough edge will cut through the rubber casing on the wire and lead to problems down the line. Our clips don’t punch a center slot, and we roll the outer edges, making sure the steel isn’t biting into the cable.”
Nine Fasteners works with manufacturers (like Enphase) to design clips, but the company’s standard clips can be found through various distributors. Installer feedback has led to the production of new clips, and some will be showcased at Solar Power International this year. Learn about the benefits of Nine Fasteners’ stainless steel clips at Booth 1745.