Tilt in Action: Meet the Fourth Generation Tracker from AllEarth Renewables 

Not all tracking systems need acres of land. All Earth Renewables offers an alternative to rooftops for those doing residential and small C&I work. Now on its Generation 4 Solar Tracker, AllEarth is building on the strengths and history of the first three generations. Here is what’s changed:

Structure

Made from a single-piece steel tubular axle for a sleeker look and lower part count, the biggest change is in the move from hydraulics to electrical motion actuators for tilt and yaw. “This eliminates dealing with hydraulic fluid,” according to mechanical engineer Tim Hoopes. “The electrically driven Planetary Gear Motors have a helical first stage to minimize noise for smooth and quiet operation.”

For yaw, power to the motor is ramped up and down by a pulse width modulation (PWM) algorithm in the control system to minimize impact loading for smooth operation and long life. Hoopes says this is also more energy efficient with all controls and operation using less than 1 percent of the energy production.

A custom linear actuator is used to achieve the tilt motion. The actuator design uses a large diameter ACME threaded rod for column strength.

RELATED: Why solar is a ray of hope for struggling retail industry

“We have married the strength of the hydraulic cylinder with the reliability of electric drives,” Hoopes says. “The motor is the same as the yaw system for a low part count, and a tilt feedback sensor allows for greater positional accuracy.”

Gen 4 also has continuous operation during a grid power outage. It will always go into wind hold (high wind speed shutdown where the tracker goes flat to survive hurricane force winds) since all controls are run off the 24-volt DC battery backup. The batteries are charged from the tracker PV modules with redundant chargers on two PV strings.

The inverter is mounted lower down on the mast for improved accessibility and wiring. Gen 4 also allows installation of the inverter in locations away from the tracker, which is cool when using a larger three-phase string inverter for combining two to three trackers.

Software

For Generation 3, AllEarth Renewables used a modular approach on the circuit board designs for easier installation and removal in the unlikely event of a board failure. According to Seth Maciejowski, embedded systems engineer, on the internet gateway they use a “call in only” architecture that makes installation on most customers’ networks simple and avoids complicated TCP/IP configuration.

“The fourth generation tracker integrates the communications functions into the tracker using cellular and WiFi technology to put more performance and debugging information into the hands of customers and dealers, and it more closely ties systems to our BRIGHT solar monitoring solution,” Maciejowski says. “We’ve moved to a quieter electric drive system for both yaw and tilt actuators to provide variable speed operation and battery backup for grid outages and off grid applications. Through proprietary hardware, we are able to measure DC string power directly, which will be included in the data stream provided to the BRIGHT solar monitoring solution.”

— Solar Builder magazine

The Ultimate SPI Showcase: Here’s what to see at Solar Power International 2017

Big leap for microinverters

APsystems SPI

APsystems will unveil the YC600, a dual-module, smart grid and Rule 21 compliant microinverter at SPI in Las Vegas. A groundbreaking design in microinverter technology, the YC600 will offer the highest peak output power, faster transmission speed and more modules allowed per string than comparable microinverters. A wider MPPT voltage range will result in a greater energy harvest for homeowners.

You’ll want to get the full scoop at booth 1745.

Streamlined Shutdown

Fronius

Fronius is launching a new generation of its Rapid Shutdown Box, which the company says will be the most convenient solution for NEC 2014 (690.12) and NEC 2017 compliance, while enhancing overall rooftop and firefighter safety. The new generation includes two versions: the Fronius Rapid Shutdown Box Duo and Quattro.
“Based on customer feedback, we implemented many improvements into this new generation of our Rapid Shutdown Box,” says Michael Mendik, head of solution management at Fronius USA.

Directly connected to the inverter through the same conduit as the DC homeruns and powered by the array, the Fronius solution minimizes the number of components and eliminates the need for an external power supply. The low-profile design and the multiple mounting options allow for installation underneath the modules, ensuring a clean system look. In addition, the NEMA 4X rating ensures the box is built for severe outdoor conditions. MC4 connectors, spring-loaded terminals and generous wiring space make the wiring a breeze. The Rapid Shutdown Box also acts as a combiner box, removing the need for additional hardware. Booth 3943.

Lightweight, flexible power conversion

Ideal Power

Ideal Power invented a new kind of power conversion architecture that delivers on flexibility, allowing you to enable or disable any features depending on project needs. At SPI, check out its 30-kW Stabiliti Series power converters. These multiport, compact converters are smaller, lighter and dramatically reduce installation costs while increasing return on investment. Ideal Power recently partnered with NEXTracker to implement it in various PV sites throughout North America. Booth 1433.

A top rail clip to rule them all

Heyco solar rail clips

Heyco has been busy this summer, introducing several new clips and wire management accessories for the solar market. Newest to the lineup are the SunRunner 4-2 and SunRunner 4-2U, which are top rail clips for various racking manufacturers such as Unirac, Ironridge, Everest, SnapNRack, Solar Mount and other similar racking profiles. The SunRunner 4-2 and SunRunner 4-2U are suitable for the new Enphase Q Cable. At the booth, you can also enter for a chance to win a Google Home. Booth 4762.

Drive down carport costs

Baja Carports InterSolar 2017 Booth Models

Baja Construction always has a standout booth, and this year its in-house construction team will be installing its signature Baja Solar Support System design, the “Braced Single Post Support,” built with high-tensile light gauge steel to support 24 solar modules (7.8 kW). Included in the structure is an EV Station for the hot red Tesla parked underneath. Meet Baja’s in-house designers, engineers and project managers and also make certain to visit Baja’s sponsored lobby lounge for food and beverages. I’m sure you’re already there. Booth 4155.

Improve your grip strength

Ace Clamp solar mount
AceClamps are factory-assembled clamps with patented design features that allow strong connections to standing-seam roof panels without the use of set screws or any other loose parts that could damage the surface of the roof panel. AceClamp designs have been vibration tested during the development stage and incorporate special locking features to ensure that the bolts do not back out when subjected to vibratory loads from wind flutter and light seismic activity. Booth 809.

OMG Roofing solar mount

OMG Roofing Products has introduced PowerGrip Universal for mounting solar racking systems on commercial roofs. PowerGrip Universal is designed to reduce or eliminate ballast in solar racking systems, so there’s less weight, material handling and labor on the roof. Made of heavy-duty cast aluminum, PowerGrip Universal offers 3,300 lbf of tensile strength, 2,500 lbf of shear strength and 2,000 lbf of compressive strength. It’s one of the strongest anchors on the market. Booth 629.

Solar Connections

The Standing Seam Power Clamp from Solar Connections can attach to virtually any standing seam profile and draws its strength from patent-pending WaveLock Technology with optional two, three and five points of attachment. The top can be custom drilled and tapped to fit any bolt configuration. Offering ease of installation, the Silver Bullet set screws include a rounded bullet tip to maximize strength while also keeping the paint finish and seam free from harm. Additionally, the Standing Seam Power Clamp is available in standard mill finish aluminum material, making it an item you can easily keep in stock when the need arises. Booth 1569.

Reinventing the ground mount

Nuance Energy

Nuance Energy’s patent-pending Osprey PowerPlatform could revolutionize ground-mounted solar projects. This earth anchor foundation system satisfies permitting requirements for virtually any site and soil type without the need for geotechnical reports or special inspections. It eliminates the need for heavy equipment or cement by enabling small, unskilled crews to install the entire platform quickly and easily using only handheld tools. Booth 2108.

Meet the 4G platform

Ginlong Solis inverter

Ginlong Technologies is now shipping its Solis 4G Platform. What you can see at SPI this year in booth 2427 is the Solis-1P(2.5-10K)-4G-US single phase string inverters, with high switching frequency; 2, 3 and 4 MPPTs designs; 97.8 percent peak efficiency (97.5 percent CEC); fan-less NEMA 4X / IP65 design, integrated AFCI; web-based and smartphone app monitoring, all under 44 lbs. The Solis 25K-66K-US three phase inverters are designed for all commercial and utility-scale installations with four MPPT designs and ultra-low start up volume that maximizes energy harvest. Booth 2427.

Five trackers to, um, track

SunLink TTD

SunLink’s TechTrack enables efficient load redistribution and allows the system to handle extreme wind with less steel, fewer foundations and lower cost. Now, TechTrack’s intelligent control system also delivers equally responsive control modes for snow, flood and O&M. The result is system level benefits, visible in SunLink’s Vertex data monitoring system. Rigorous testing to UL3703 further reduces permitting risk. Booth 3319.

Soltec

SF7 is the next-generation horizontal single-axis solar PV tracker from Soltec. Soltec says the SF7 enables up to 5 percent greater MW per acre than other trackers and does that with 54 percent fewer piles-per-MW, 15 percent less parts count and 58 percent fewer screw type connections than leading competitors. SF7 standard features include short tracker site-filling options, unique steep-slope tolerance of 17 percent NS, efficient self-powering and innovative cable management solutions for combining, fusing and protecting PV source circuits more economically. Booth 3640.

Solar FlexRack TDP 2 Turnkey Solar Tracker_2017

Solar FlexRack is launching its TDP Tracker with a new BalanceTrac design to increase energy yield and reduce balance of system costs. This TDP 2.0 Solar Tracker with BalanceTrac, optimized for 1,000- and 1,500-V modules, has greater rotational range of up to 120° and enables more modules per row (up to 90). The robust design delivers autonomous tables that increase site flexibility to maximize land use. Booth 2538.

AllEarth Renewable

AllEarth Renewables is showing off its new Gen 4 tracker which will be self-powered, to guard against the grid going down and will have expanded communication options, such as Wi-Fi, cellular and SD card enabled. It will come as a complete, pre-engineered system for easy, efficient shipping. Booth 626.

Array Technologies

Array Technologies is revealing the results of a recent TÜV Rheinland-backed independent report focused on solar tracker reliability. Array’s latest single-axis tracker, the DuraTrack HZ v3, is often touted for its reliability and lower cost of ownership. Array says DuraTrack HZ v3 is proven to be 300x less likely to experience catastrophic failure during wind events than more stow-reliant, single-row competitors. Booth 2919.

Page two has new on big-time collaborations, products for boosting performance, installing on shingles and more.

— Solar Builder magazine

Organic farm in Maine adds four solar trackers via AllEarth Renewables

Goranson Farm

The 25-kW solar project will help offset the electrical bills of Goranson Farm, a third-generation, family-owned organic farm. The array is anticipated to produce 47,000 kWh per year, and offset nearly 100% of the farm’s energy needs.
The farm, owned and operated by Jan Goranson, her husband Rob Johanson, and their two sons Carl and Goran, sells its vegetables, meats, poultry, and maple syrup through local stores, farmer’s markets, and its own Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Their solar project will help offset the energy usage associated with operating the farm and producing approximately 400 gallons of maple syrup each year.

Funding for the approximately $150,000 project was provided by two grants from the USDA, in addition to financing through Coastal Enterprise, Inc. of Brunswick, Maine. The project was installed by Maine Energy Performance Solutions, a fully integrated energy service company, located in Washington, Maine.

The project utilized American-made AllEarth Solar Trackers, which track the sun through-out the day to maximize energy production. The ground-mounted pre-engineered solar trackers are designed for residential and commercial-scale installations and are manufac-tured in Williston, Vt. by AllEarth Renewables.

AllEarth Solar Trackers can produce over 30 percent more energy than fixed ground-mounted systems and up to 45 percent more energy than rooftop systems per kilowatt installed.

In addition to the solar trackers, the farm has also invested in a reverse osmosis machine to help reduce the farm’s firewood usage and create further energy conservation in their syrup production.

RELATED: The value of residential solar trackers for installers and customers 

— Solar Builder magazine

Three solar trackers (22-kW) installed at California elementary school

AllEarth Renewables trackers

AllEarth Solar Trackers are producing power with three 7.3 kW solar array trackers for Grenada Elementary.

Three state-of-the-art American made solar trackers are now powering the Grenada Elementary School in Grenada, Calif., thanks to Sharpe Energy Solutions, based in Ashland, Ore. Sharpe is an engineering, procurement, and project management firm that has performed more than 140 energy audits for schools in the Oregon and Northern California area in the last few years to procure state funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy project.

This particular 22-kW solar project is net metered to offset the electrical bills of Grenada Elementary, which educates approximately 180 students from kindergarten to 8th grade in northern California.
Sharpe Energy Solutions, an engineering, procurement, and construction management company, procured the financing for the installations from California’s Proposition 39 program, which is a jobs creation program that provides all California schools with resources for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

RELATED: PV in schools: Education sector is one of solar’s best opportunities 

The newly installed project utilized American-made AllEarth Solar Trackers, which track the sun throughout the day to maximize energy production. The ground-mounted pre-engineered solar trackers are designed for residential and commercial-scale installations and are manufactured in Williston, Vt. by AllEarth Renewables.

The AllEarth Trackers produce approximately 40 percent more energy than equivalently sized fixed-mount systems for this location. Here is a feature we wrote on the product and its benefits for both installer and customer.

“We are excited to be utilizing AllEarth’s technology to help rural schools move their energy systems into the future, and proud to be empowering school communities to operate their own renewable energy systems,” said Jeff Sharpe, Senior Engineer at Sharpe Energy Solutions.

Grenada School Principal and Superintendent Ginger Lee Charles expressed pleasant surprise at the speed with which the trackers were installed. “We are really impressed with Proposition 39 program, and appreciate SES’s work in spearheading our projects,” she said.

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar trackers power metal refinishing company Sungen Circle Finishing

Photo credit: Gary Hall.

Photo credit: Gary Hall.

Twenty-two solar trackers are now powering metalwork company Sungen Circle Finishing in Newburyport, Mass. The 186-kW solar project will help offset more than 65 percent of the electrical needs of the local metal refinishing company.

Originally the company installed a fixed ground mounted system in 2010 that was damaged by 6 feet of snow during a winter storm in 2015. As a repair remedy, the lower section of panels on fixed racking was dismantled and panels were relocated on 22 AllEarth Solar Trackers onsite. This location is unique because of a 50-50 split system between fixed solar and trackers, already clearly demonstrating power output difference from trackers at the same site.

The project utilized New England-made AllEarth Solar Trackers, which track the sun throughout the day to maximize energy production. The ground-mounted pre-engineered solar trackers are designed for residential and commercial-scale installations and are manufactured in Williston, Vt. by AllEarth Renewables.

RELATED: The value of residential solar trackers for installers and customers 

AllEarth Solar Trackers produce over 30 percent more energy than fix ground-mounted systems and up to 45 percent more energy than rooftop systems per kilowatt installed.

The project was installed by Talmage Solar Engineering, Inc. / Solar Market, one of the oldest and most experienced solar installation companies in the country, located in Arundel, Maine.

“We were thrilled to supply innovative, American-made solar trackers for this project, a solar solution that will produce more energy from the sun and give our customer greater long-term energy savings. The uniqueness of having 50-50 split of fixed and tracking systems at the same location will give us great deal of information about power output value between tracking and fixed solar systems,” said Naoto Inoue for Solar Market / Talmage Solar Engineering, Inc.

“We are very pleased with the project design and construction, and continue to be pleased with the solar performance of our project. We continue to enjoy our solar savings each and every day at our business,” said Rod L`Italien of Sungen Circle Finishing, Inc.

— Solar Builder magazine