Soligent partners with Chilicon Power for grid-support inverter, monitoring solutions

Soligent Distribution, the leading distributor of solar equipment in the United States, has partnered with Chilicon Power, a tech-forward designer and manufacturer of grid-support inverter and monitoring solutions, to expand its quality product menu.

Soligent, a pure play solar distributor, financier and technology platform supplies over 5,000 solar installers with best-in-class panels, inverters, racking and balance of systems across the U.S. and over 45 countries. Soligent is eager to partner with Chilicon Power in part due to the CP100 gateway monitoring system created so customers can view and manage their solar power systems 24 hours a day from the comfort of anywhere in their home. Soligent is dedicated in providing its customers with high quality products and Chilicon Power has met and exceeded that standard. Together, Soligent and Chilicon Power strive toward a brighter, clean-tech future.

“We believe in providing quality products to our customers and Chilicon Power has met and exceeded our standards,” said Thomas Enzendorfer, President at Soligent, “We look forward to a long and successful partnership with them.”

“Soligent and Chilicon share similar visions for the evolution of inversion and monitoring systems and we are pleased to partner with them”, commented Alexandre Kral and Dr. Christopher R. Jones, Co-Founders of Chilicon Power.

— Solar Builder magazine

SolarEdge launches new web-based PV system design tool

SolarEdge

SolarEdge Technologies is launching a new Designer tool to enable faster, easier planning of solar energy system designs. The new web-based tool with an intuitive graphical interface helps installers lower PV design costs and increase conversion rates by creating compelling customer proposals. The free Designer tool is part of SolarEdge’s comprehensive vision to support the entire PV process, including design, quotation, installation, and monitoring in one, end-to-end, cloud-based platform.

What’s new?

Designer uses satellite imagery and provides instant validation of a site’s design. The tool also simplifies the electrical design process with product recommendations and a Bill of Materials report. By creating attractive and informative homeowner offers, which include intuitive 3D site modeling and monthly energy simulations, SolarEdge’s Designer supports the sales process for PV installers.

RELATED:  How to design a perfect solar system — then sell it — with Aurora Solar COO

“Software is playing a more pivotal role in the PV industry, from the local level of each residential system all the way up to the macro level of grid management,” stated Lior Handelsman, VP of Marketing and Product Strategy, founder of SolarEdge. “With the release of our new easy-to-use Designer, SolarEdge is further enhancing its software suite to provide added value to installers throughout the PV process.”

Now available around the world, Designer is hosted in the cloud with access from any Mac or PC, enables multi-user access, and offers seamless integration with the SolarEdge monitoring platform for quick creation of site layouts.

— Solar Builder magazine

Aw Snap: We look at the Solar Raceway wire management solution

solar raceway

Fresh eyes are valuable every now and then. That was the position New York Manufacturing found itself in when it was approached by a large building products company to assist with its wire management needs. Their solar installations were continually plagued by one common theme: wire management. Like many other solar companies before them, their only choice was to manage wire using PVC cable trays or an extremely labor intensive EMT conduit. PVC can become brittle in a strong UV environment and it’s also a liability in fire prevention scenarios. Surely there was something better.

New York Manufacturing actively sought out feedback from dozens of solar installers, electricians and roofing experts. Based on the industry’s input, the company started to piece together a solution. The number one feature sought out was the ability to have an open tray, drop-in system. While electricians and installers love their job, they do not enjoy the hurdles of pulling wires. Electricians also expressed a need to armor wires from damage whether it be physical, weather or pesky rodents.

The result of these conversations was, Solar Raceway, has grown to become a complete wire management solution for the solar industry. Let’s look and see how it addresses the issues.

Pop the top off

So, something tough that both protects wires and doesn’t require wire pulling. It sounds like a bad riddle but after seeing Solar Raceway, the solution seems obvious.

The material choice was easy. To hold up in the wide variety of environments and elements that PV systems are exposed to, anodized aluminum extrusion was the best choice — a material with a high salt rating that is light weight and recyclable that will last years past the life expectancy of the modules themselves.

With Solar Raceway, the only bill of material items needed are the base, the bottom tray and the cover. Each component is designed to snap and lock into each other. Once the base is attached you would then snap the bottom tray into position. Now it’s time to drop your wires in and snap the top cover in place. Done.

The closed system is secure, while offering protection from the elements and rodents, but the top can be quickly removed for maintenance access. Picture an installer snapping in the trays, laying out the wiring of the entire system, testing everything and then snapping in the covers as a final step. Even if you don’t wait until the end, or find a connector issue down the road, the covers can be popped off to address any issues.

Versatility is another key benefit of the system. “We wanted it to be designed so that it can go up a wall vertically,” says Sal Anselmo, president of Solar Raceway. “We have a slot within the raceway in which the supplied wire retainer clips can be located, so you can take it from the roof, go off a rise area and continue, even install it upside down.”

The tough exterior doesn’t mean rigidity. Chad Carta, COO of Solar Raceway, says the Raceway comes in three sizes (1.5, 2.5 and 3.5 in.), two lengths (8 and 12 ft) and is agnostic to racking and module selection. So, there are many options in terms of layout. The size will depend on how you are using the raceway and what fill ratio will be needed. The 1.5-in. size was launched this year and came about due to a demand from smaller arrays and cross-between. On the other end, if you need 5 in. of diameter, two systems can be run side by side to accommodate that need.

“Some installers use it as a pure conduit replacement because they are tired of pulling wires and run it all the way down the back of the array,” Carta says. “Or some use a larger size and run perpendicular to the array where all of the wires that clipped on the backside of the panel feed to one central tray that will run back to the inverter.”

The Solar Raceway is already moving beyond rooftops. One no-brainer segment is carports if for no other reason than the aesthetics and how easy it is to install upside down. But it’s also finding a home in ground-mount systems.

“We’ve been surprised by the interest in ground mount applications,” Carta says. “These are projects that need to meet certain codes depending on the state or village, and they don’t like hanging wires or leaving them unprotected. This system protects the wires, so they don’t have to put a fence around the site. We were able to reduce the wire management for a large ground-mount system by 50 percent — run right down the middle, tied in with the rubber grommets and then just a short lead from the J-boxes.”

For more info on the newest inverters on the market download our free 2018 Inverter Buyer’s Guide

— Solar Builder magazine

New Button Mount with Cable Tie and Locking Clamp now available from HellermannTyton

Button_Mount_With_Cable_Tie_HellermannTyton

HellermannTyton, a specialist in the design and manufacture of robust solar fasteners, announces a high-performance Button Mount with Cable Tie and Locking Clamp. The two products fit the predrilled holes of most solar modules. They are rated for extended life in demanding outdoor environments and available for immediate shipping.

The Button Mount with Cable Tie fits most module holes and requires zero insertion force. Once placed through the module’s frame, installers can insert the included Solar Tie through the mount on the frame’s opposite surface.

The Locking Clamp fully closes and locks over a cable bundle. This fastener features an integrated fir tree mount for easy installation and includes a saddle for adding an optional Solar Tie and extending its bundle capacity. Designed with single-axis trackers in mind, it demonstrates exceptional extraction resistance.

RELATED: Heyco introduces four new cable tie products

SOLAR_Locking_Clamp_HellermannTyton

“Many installers run standard cable ties directly through sharp module holes, probably because it’s fast and easy; but unfortunately, those ties will fail prematurely,” said Product Marketing Manager – Energies Nick Korth. “So, we made these mounts easy to install but tough enough to withstand sun, wind and movement within module holes for years.”

Both products fit holes from 9×12 mm to 9×14 mm and can manage several cables. They are manufactured of high impact modified, heat-resistant, UV stabilized material, which is ideal for long-term performance in the full range of weather and climate extremes.

Full brochure is located right here.

— Solar Builder magazine

Data Drivers: Inverter monitoring system trends in the residential market

data monitoring inverters

This is an excerpt from the 2018 Inverter Buyer’s Guide. Be sure to download the full free report, complete with specs on 136 inverters at the bottom of this page.

Don’t let the hard, boxy exterior fool you — today’s inverters are all about transparency. A key in inverter selection is knowing just how transparent it is: What portals are set up for you and your customer to use? What do they show? And when? Just after it’s failed or maybe just as it sees something’s wrong? How do the alerts work? Can you make adjustments? Will it make its own adjustments?

Basically: How well can you see inside that box?

We asked each inverter manufacturer to share with us how their inverter monitoring system works and what came back was a variety of strategies, from increased flexibility and visibility for the operator and homeowner to innovations in predictive analytics and automated processes. Some come standard, some are subscription-based, but all are slick, boost PV performance and improve your company’s O&M services.

Here are the trends among the manufacturer-provided inverter monitoring systems on the market.

Download the 2018 Inverter Buyer’s Guide

Apps for that

Mobile-friendly platforms are fairly common now, with differences coming in how much data is presented and what remote capabilities are offered.

APsystems provides complimentary module-level monitoring through its cloud-based EMA service for both homeowners and installers. With the EMA app, users can see the energy their system is producing at the panel level, so if the app shows that a particular PV module is underperforming, the owner knows to check for shading issues, debris, damage, etc. The online EMA portal also emails alerts to the installer if a system or unit is operating outside its standard parameters. This is particularly handy when a PV module fails or is somehow disconnected.

Some solar customers invest in a PV system because they want to fully take ownership over their energy bills. They are hands on and want insight into what’s happening and how the system is performing. There are more options than ever for providing this service.

Enphase comes with MyEnlighten for homeowners, which presents system energy production, overall health, historical performance and energy equivalents all on one mobile-friendly display. Real solar enthusiasts can take advantage of a paid upgrade to per-panel monitoring, which is available via the installer who activated the system.
The flipside for the solar installer is the Enphase Enlighten Manager, which provides: fleet management, upgrade management for existing fleets (based on production and consumption data) and simplified repeat-business generation tools to reconnect with existing customers through additional services like battery management, EV charging solutions and system upgrades.

Diagnostics and remote updates

Fronius software updates

The free Solar.web platform from Fronius offers remote diagnostics and alerts such as proactive notifications in a variety of dashboards.

At Fronius, the free Solar.web platform offers remote diagnostics and alerts such as proactive email notifications concerning performance and state codes, as just two examples, to help determine whether a truck roll is necessary or not. Remote Update via Fronius Solar.web eliminates another category of O&M complexity and cost. In just a few clicks, any Fronius SnapINverters is updated remotely from any web-enabled device.

ABB’s Aurora Vision Plant Management Platform and Plant Viewer lets homeowners get a real-time view of how much energy has been harvested along with dashboard views for fleet-wide performance management through reports, diagnostics, analytics or event alerts. ABB inverters also come standard with a wireless connection that enables system monitoring and over-the-air upgrades to ensure units are operating with the latest functions.

Satellite monitoring

Recently, SolarEdge added satellite performance ratio and mismatch reporting to its cloud-based, module-level monitoring platform (free for 25 years). The company says this satellite performance ratio service eliminates the purchasing, installation and O&M of sensors. The mismatch report helps to streamline the process of identifying underperforming modules by comparing each module’s peak power and energy production to the average of all modules in the site, and presenting each module’s mismatch as a percentage above/below the average.

Storage integration

The plus sign in a “solar + storage” system says all you need to know about the monitoring system capabilities — there are more added in.

Magnum Energy provides data monitoring through the MagWeb line of monitoring kits. The MagWeb provides live internet monitoring of the inverter, battery monitor and automatic generator start module. Using an internet connection, MagWeb makes live and historical conditions available through a web browser at data.magnumenergy.com. The MagWeb GT provides an integrated dashboard of the MicroGT system engineered for PV + storage systems. With the MagWeb GT, the production data from the array and the battery bank status of the storage system are accessed via your local network from one simple dashboard.

Tabuchi provides data monitoring via the Tabuchi Cloud. Here, customers can monitor PV generation, household consumption, the amount of power bought and sold to and from the grid and the battery charge. It also allows customers to compare data hourly, daily, monthly and yearly. The service is included with purchase of the Eco Intelligent Battery System (EIBS). Tabuchi Cloud allows installers to make sure everything is working as intended, while the simple interface allows homeowners to quickly see how they are saving on energy costs.

Automation

The next evolution in system monitoring is taking all of this data and having the system apply its own fixes. Pika Energy‘s REview Dashboard is provided to the customer with every Pika system to view performance metrics in comprehensive real-time reports, but its biggest advances come from system automation. While some inverters may notify users that grid or environmental conditions have changed, the Pika Energy Island acts automatically to meet these new conditions. When peak rate periods set in, local demand spikes or the grid goes down, the Pika Energy Island manages energy flows to keep system owners powered up and saving money.

SMA’s latest development in monitoring and alerts is SMA Smart Connected. Now available with the Sunny Boy-US residential line of inverters, SMA Smart Connected is a proactive service package integrated into Sunny Portal that automatically detects and evaluates system events and initiates remediation or repair activities. This decreases truck rolls, lengthy service calls and system downtime. Once it is operating, SMA Smart Connected will actively monitor a residential system at all times through Sunny Portal’s intelligent monitoring technology.

For more info on the newest inverters on the market download our free 2018 Inverter Buyer’s Guide

— Solar Builder magazine