SnapNrack debuts new universal wire clamp (compatible with Enphase Q Cables)

SnapNrack mounting

At Solar Power International, SnapNrack debuted its new Universal Wire Clamp, which will further enhance the company’s wire management solutions to reduce solar installation times and lower installations costs for customers.

The new SnapNrack Universal Wire Clamp is perfect for managing PV Wires and Enphase Q Cables on the roof. In fact, SnapNrack says this is the only wire clamp currently offered by any racking manufacturer for the Enphase Q Cables and PV Wires. The Universal Wire Clamp has the capability of securing four PV wires or two Enphase Q cables.

The Universal Wire Clamp is designed to organize and secure wires and cables with a lasting tight fit over the life of the system for any SnapNrack Series 100 Residential Roof Mount installation.

In addition to the Universal Wire Clamp, SnapNrack’s line of wire management solutions includes the Junction Box, Wire Retention Clips and Conduit Support Clamps. The full wire management line is made of materials which have been selected for their high UV exposure capability and ability to handle extreme rooftop conditions commonly seen under solar arrays.

SnapNrack customers can now purchase the entire wire management product line, including the Universal Wire Clamp, through their authorized SnapNrack Distributor.

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

— Solar Builder magazine

This non-traditional solar site drainage solution could save you thousands


HydroBlox transports water from high head pressure to low head pressure, creating a path of least resistance.

Installing or building the perfect site requires planning beyond the system itself. In ground-mount applications, for example, field drainage is an underrated attribute.

Drainage Explained

Typically, the energy dissipation methods on a solar site are aggregate, fabric cloth and perforated pipe. This requires excavation and removal of excess soil as well as the logistics and expense of supplying the aggregate to a remote and often difficult-to-access location. The maintenance requirements are time intensive and expensive.

These traditional drainage systems have a lifespan of one to seven years with most failures occurring in year three. These systems fail because of the migration of fines and silt — small particles that are suspended in the water. Often, you have a pipe that is surrounded by aggregate and a geotextile. As the aggregate or gravel settles and compresses over time, movement of the surrounding soil and fines increases. When the soil and fines migrate, the geotextile and pipe fill with these fines and become impacted.

A Better Way

Instead of going that traditional route, HydroBlox, a drainage and filter product made from 100 percent recycled plastic, is the first geotextile that conveys fluid.

HydroBlox has a compressive strength of 40,000 lbs per ft and an irregular patterned composition with an internal void space of 50 percent, referred to as a permavoid. The pressure in this void space is naturally lower and will remain that way due to the non-compressive nature of the HydroBlox. During natural settling, the plank of HydroBlox will not compress and therefore does not become impacted and clogged.

Also, HydroBlox transports water from high head pressure to low head pressure, creating a path of least resistance. The water then moves through the irregular void path of the HydroBlox plank, with the surrounding soil acting like a filter. This way, water will continuously pass through. In fact, this method moves water over ten times faster than sand.

“This is called the Tergazhi effect. The water movement is based on Darcy’s principle,” says Ed Grieser, owner of HydroBlox. “The working example that seems to resonate with everyone is when standing at the ocean’s edge at the beach, recall how quickly the water travels back into the sand when the wave recedes.”

Lee Supply is the exclusive distributor of HydroBlox with stock at all of their locations.


The installation method is very straightforward. Simply trench 2 in. wide and 7 in. deep. The trench should be 18-ft to 24-ft down the slope from the drip line. This will allow for 2 in. of HydroBlox to remain above grade. The downhill side is backfilled by the trenched material.

Alongside the potential O&M savings, Fancher says HydroBlox installation costs approximately one-quarter of existing methods.

“The costs associated with traditional systems are approximately $26.50 per foot,” he said. “The perforated pipe which is often compared to the price of HydroBlox is the least expensive component of the standard system. In reality, the true cost is much greater than HydroBlox because of the labor and equipment required. The installation costs for HydroBlox is approximately $1 per foot.”

Each foot of installed HydroBlox could net a savings of $19.50. On a 25-acre solar field site, the costs of installation are reduced by $780,000.

Also, heavy equipment and large vehicles are not necessary for maintenance. This allows for the solar panels to be placed closer together than would otherwise be possible. The maintenance for HydroBlox is simply keeping the rocks and debris clear on the uphill side of HydroBlox and the drainage swale that carries the water to the retention pond clear.

Product to Watch: NRG Systems’ Soiling Measurement Kit

NRG Systems’ Soiling Measurement Kit Photovoltaic modules often collect more than sunlight after they are installed. Depending on the siting location, particles ranging from dust to snow can accumulate on a PV module’s surface, reducing its performance and ultimately leading to significant power losses. This buildup — commonly referred to as soiling — can be compounded by such weather parameters as wind speed, relative humidity and ambient temperature, as well as localized activities near or around the PV plant.

To address and ideally avoid power losses caused by soiling, the new IEC 61724-1:2017 standard for PV system performance monitoring suggests that operators of utility-scale and large PV projects measure soiling ratio, which is defined as the ratio of the actual power/current output of a PV array under given soiling conditions to the power/current that would be expected if the PV array were clean and free of soiling. By measuring soiling ratio, operators are armed with the vital information needed to make practical decisions, like scheduling solar panel cleanings, that can better optimize the performance of their PV plant.

NRG Systems recently introduced a Soiling Measurement Kit specially designed to help PV developers and operators obtain the information needed to quantify the site-specific impacts of soiling on prospective and current PV projects. The turnkey solution is offered as an accessory to the company’s Solar Resource Assessment System and comes with three PV modules (one for data logger power, one clean panel and one dirty panel), pre-installed back-of-module temperature sensors, flexible mounting hardware and an integrated soiling interface module.

The Soiling Measurement Kit connects with NRG Systems’ SymphoniePRO Data Logger and provides a wealth of raw soiling measurement data that can be used to determine soiling ratio.

Specifically, the kit measures short circuit current and back-of-module temperature with the user’s choice of statistical interval as well as optional 1 Hz sample data collection, providing flexible analysis options to meet data demands. Generally, solar module performance decreases with increasing temperature, so back-of-module temperature measurements provide the critical information needed to accurately predict a PV plant’s power output.

— Solar Builder magazine

Tigo Skill connects your PV system to Amazon’s Alexa (enter to win one)

Tigo is now offering its customers the benefits of Amazon Alexa technology via the new Tigo Skill, available on Alexa-enabled products. The Tigo Skill integration allows English- and German-speaking Tigo customers to use their voice to inquire about their PV production or other information collected by Tigo’s SMART website.

How does it work?

Using the Tigo Skill, residential and commercial customers with monitored PV systems can request tailored information from Alexa, the cloud-based voice service by Amazon. For example, simply saying “Alexa, ask Tigo how much power my PV system generated today,” will report a day’s worth of power without the need to log in to Tigo’s SMART website. Other voice commands include: Alexa, ask Tigo…

  • what is my [Daily/Monthly/Yearly] Production Summary?
  • what is my System Total Production Summary?
  • what is my [Average/Peak] Energy Production?
  • what is an optimizer?

“Within seconds, you can know how well your PV system is producing – without logging on to a computer or climbing on the roof,” says Maxym Makhota, Tigo’s VP of Software Development. “Tigo Skill is the first to bridge the gap between solar, artificial intelligence, and the Smart Home mentality in which information is always available.”

Tigo customers now have three options to monitor their PV system: use their voice with Tigo Skill via an Alexa-enabled device; log in to Tigo’s SMART mobile app; or log in to Tigo’s SMART website. Automated monitoring emails with production notifications and reports are still sent to customers using TS4 with monitoring capabilities. The Tigo Skill is available in North America and Europe on Alexa-enabled devices including Amazon’s Echo Dot, Echo, Tap, and via the voice remote on Fire TV. Users can acquire the Tigo Skill by simply searching for and enabling the Tigo Skill in the Amazon Alexa mobile app available on iOS, Android, and Fire tablets or by enabling the Tigo Skill directly from Amazon’s website.

Enter To Win Amazon Echo Dot Giveaway From Tigo

Tigo is giving away a limited number of Amazon Echo Dots to its customers with monitored solar arrays to experience the full benefits of Tigo Skill. This unique opportunity provides PV system owners the additional value of combining Smart Home technology with Smart PV energy. Owners of PV systems utilizing Tigo’s products activated between August 9, 2017 through September 30, 2017 are eligible to participate.

— Solar Builder magazine

Alencon Systems updates its large-scale solar DC-DC optimizer

Alencon Systems LLC is debuting latest generation of its DC-DC optimizer, the SPOT, at Solar Power International 2017, Sept. 10 – 13, 2017 in Las Vegas in booth #1115. Alencon’s SPOT X2 has been specifically targeted at two, in demand PV applications: PV retrofits and DC-coupled Solar + Storage.

alencon solar optimizer

SPOT X2 improvements

  • The SPOT X2 is lighter and easier to install than previous models, while at the same time offering more power and higher efficiency than ever before.
  • The SPOT X2 features significantly improved on-board firmware to ensure greater energy yield. Headlining the software improvements in the SPOTX2 is an improved maximum power point tracking (MPPT) algorithm that assures optimal PV power harvesting under fast changing weather conditions.
  • The SPOT X2 takes its name from the improved printed circuit board (PCB) design of this newest version, which features two rugged main boards to drive the product’s four PV string inputs.
  • The SPOTX2 carries by ETL certification by Intertek for UL1741 (U.S.), CSA C22.2#107.1 (Canada) and IEC 62109-1 (European Union).

The SPOT X2 has been recast in a manner to make it easier to install to minimize the ‘soft’ costs – such as labor and ancillary installation materials – associated with PV retrofits. Minimizing installation costs is key to achieving the highest rate of return on PV retrofits.

“With a number of PV assets now changing hands as PV plants get older and PV fleets get consolidated, we are seeing a great deal of interest in retrofitting PV plants to improve energy yield. The SPOT X2 makes performing larger commercial and industrial or utility scale PV retrofits much easier than ever before,” explains Alencon Systems President Hanan Fishman. “Retrofitting a PV plant with Alencon’s SPOT can significantly increase PV yield by introducing more granular MPPT while at the same time improving safety and decreasing on-going O&M costs. Visitors to the Alencon booth at SPI will be able to see first-hand just how easy the Alencon’s SPOT PV retrofit solution is to deploy.”


— Solar Builder magazine

Array Technologies, Shoals team up to optimize utility-scale solar BOS

Array Technologies

Array Technologies and Shoals Technologies Group announced plans to collaborate on structural and electrical Balance of System (BOS) solutions for utility-scale solar. This relationship will leverage the complementary nature of Array’s trackers and Shoals’ electrical BOS solutions. The integration of offerings will result in improved performance and stronger economics for project developers and asset owners, and higher efficiencies for engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) companies.

The future of the solar industry will be driven by innovation, optimization and efficiency. Array and Shoals will draw on each company’s expertise, developed through nearly 50 years of combined solar operations, to tailor integrated solutions that further the evolution of the solar power plant.

“Array is thrilled about working with Shoals. Together, as BOS leaders in the market, we are in a unique position to innovate and advance unrivaled, integrated system solutions. We see tremendous opportunity to bring cost effective, optimized, and reliable collaborative offerings to the market. Our customers will greatly benefit from a new standard of seamless Balance of System solutions,” said Ron Corio, founder and CEO of Array Technologies.

Dean Solon, founder and CEO of Shoals, added, “Shoals has been designing electrical BOS for the Array tracker for years, and we are looking forward to a fresh approach on system integration with Ron and the Array team. The synergy between our two companies is unprecedented. We have no doubt that the collaborative effort of our two teams will result in a BOS solution that will offer efficiencies never before seen in the solar market. We are excited to be able to participate in this arena and look forward to offering these electrical BOS solutions to current and future customers.”

Intersolar North America Showcase: Here’s what to see at this year’s trade show

— Solar Builder magazine