2016 Editor’s Choice Projects of the Year: Community Spirit

beardWe say it every year: When it comes to solar projects, we are all winners.

We already announced the winners of our 2016 Project of the Year vote, but we at Solar Builder liked a bunch of the other submissions too. Welcome to the first in our series of Editor’s Choice winners! These are projects that
didn’t garner the most votes from readers but we felt were still pretty darn cool too.

Editor’s Choice: Solving Space Limitations

 Town of Stafford

DJI02581

Challenges: Building this PV system on a rocky, steep terrain required special drillers just to install the piles. Some boulders pulled out were bigger than a pickup truck. Developer Standard Solar did a formal study and used innovative smart inverter capabilities to integrate to the grid according to ES’s requirements. The landfill part of the project was unique in that all electrical wiring/conduit and racking foundations had to remain above grade so as to not penetrate or disturb the cap layer. Standard had to run the inverter output feeders in conduit down a very steep (approximately 40 percent grade) section of the cap in order to reach the equipment pad. Innovation: This is one of the first virtual net metered projects approved in Connecticut, and it offsets 100 percent of the town’s load, making the whole town net zero. It supports mostly schools and other community loads.

Town-of-Stafford-landfill-solarLocation: Stafford, Conn.

Size: 3.45 MW

Developer: Standard Solar

Contractor: Electrical Contractors and Maine Drilling and Blasting

Modules: Hyundai Heavy Industries

Inverters: Chint Power Systems

Mounting: GameChange Solar and DCE Solar


 

Cedar Falls Utilities “Simple Solar” Initiative

IMG_0736

Cedar Falls Utilities (CFU) launched its “Simple Solar” community initiative to meet a growing demand for clean energy, while offering flexibility around participation in the project. CFU gave its customers the opportunity to pre-subscribe for the solar energy by making an upfront payment. These payments gave customers access to a portion of the energy that the array will produce — an amount by which their energy bills will be reduced — and the more customers who participated, the lower their cost to participate. This approach proved demand and interest among customers, drove the size of array built and created a mechanism where a customer could apply their energy savings to another home if they decide to move. Interest drove the solar unit price from $399 to $270. This became the largest community solar project in the state.

Location: Cedar Falls, Iowa

Size: 1.987 MW

Developer: RER Energy

Contractor: SunLink PowerCare

Modules: Hanwha

Inverters: Yaskawa-Solectria

Mounting: SunLink

 

— Solar Builder magazine

Let’s Get Wired: Five new wire management solutions to watch

snake-tray-utility-imageUtility-Grade Solar Snake Tray Solution

The next generation of cable management for solar installations eliminates the need to trench cables. Snake Tray’s hand-bendable cable trays with integrated anchor points require no fasteners to attach to the Z or C purlin of any racking system. Different models can manage string cables, feeder cables or both. Snake Tray nests together for low-cost shipping and handling. Rooftop products and models for messenger wire are also available. All products are made in the United States.

Head to www.snaketray.com for more information.

 

dynobond-option-2The DynoBond from DynoRaxx Replaces Conventional Grounding Methods

The DynoRaxx DynoBond is a proprietary, UL-recognized design that allows the DynoBond to be used as a jumper between modules and rows, making the module frames the medium for the equipment ground path. The DynoBond replaces the conventional method of installing one ground lug per solar module and running a solid six gauge copper wire bonding the modules. It requires no tools as it is pushed onto the bottom flange of the panel and supports flange thicknesses from 1.2 to 3.1 mm. Its stainless steel clips and tin-plated copper wire are paired to reduce its electrochemical potential. DynoBond is available in lengths of 8, 38, 76 and 96 in.

Visit dynoraxx.com for more information.

 

Ratchet-P-Clamp_SolarThe Ratchet P Clamp from HellermannTyton

HellermannTyton has added the Ratchet P Clamp to its suite of solar solutions, providing installers and EPCs with an adjustable, releasable wire management product that integrates with racking, speeds installation and reduces the number of fixing points required to safely secure wires and bundles.

The Ratchet P Clamp fits on most racking solutions and is installed with just a nut and bolt. It is made out of the company’s HIRHSUV nylon 66 engineered plastic, so there is no need to worry about heat, cold or UV.  The Ratchet P Clamp comes in four sizes. Size A (adjusts for 1/4- to 1/2-in. bundles) and Size B (1/2- to 3/4-in. bundles) are perfect for microinverter applications. The metal stamping is available in straight, 15-, 30- and 90-degree angles and three mounting plate lengths.

Weight is one of the primary causes for thin metals and plastics to fail. With the Ratchet P Clamp and microinverters, weight is not an issue. In addition to microinverter cables, the Ratchet P Clamp works great with multiple cable bundles for those home run applications. There is even a saddle on the top of the clamp that is a seamless mounting solution in those situations where the code requires separation of wires or if there isn’t an attachment point for module lead wires readily available. One of the game-changing features is its releasability. The ratchet can be opened with a small, flathead screwdriver, which makes running wires convenient since you can lay the cables into position without fully securing them. Maintenance is also easy as the Ratchet P Clamp opens and closes as often as needed but stays mounted to the rack as you work.

Go to www.hellermann.tyton.com for more information.

 

DCE wire managementDCE Solar’s Integrated Wire Management

DCE Solar’s Eco-Top offers a unique wire management solution integrated into the racking in both north-south and east-west directions, which eliminate the need for any third-party products. The Eco-Top has a versatile, UV-protected wire support on every panel column to allow for seamless north-south wiring. In addition, UL-approved wire clips can be mounted anywhere on the rear panel beam for east-west wire routing. Wires can be easily added before or after panel assembly.

For more information, head to www.dcesolar.com.

 

Heyco clamps

Heyco debuts new stainless steel clips (some for microinverter cables)

Heyco proudly supports both OEMs and installers with its large array of solar products through its vast distribution network. They recently introduced several new stainless steel clips for a variety of racking systems (including rail-less racking systems)! The SunRunner 90⁰ Cable Clips are designed to mount at a 90⁰ angle to the original SunRunner & can accommodate up to four .20”-.30” cables depending on the part number. Also new to Heyco is the SunRunner 2 Series – which is designed to hold Micro-Inverter cables .413” to .472” in diameter. Check them out for yourself  at Solar Power International in Las Vegas from Sept. 12 – 15 at Booth #3211.

For more information, visit Heyco.com.

— Solar Builder magazine

2016 Solar Mounting/Racking Guide: Product Showcase

PV mounting solutions

Photo credit: EcoFasten Solar

Most of you may have learned that the earth is not flat. Which is too bad, really. If it was flat, we’d just place PV panels all over it and call it a day. Our Mounting Guide would certainly be a lot less interesting.

But no, of course it isn’t flat. It’s not even round, really. It’s hilly and bumpy and slanted and hard and soft. It’s also full of wind and falling water and ice. And sometimes, when the gods are bored, the ground literally quakes. And that’s just on one site.

Somehow, on top of all that, we are now installing GWs of renewable energy. How is it even possible? Why, mounting and racking solutions, certainly help. Below is a guide to many of today’s top mounting/racking companies, the services they offer and a standout product in their lineup. And if you missed any of our other Mounting Guide articles this year, check those out too:

 

Roof-Tech

Roof Tech’s RT-[E] Mount

RT- [E] Mount is a compact, versatile rail-less PV mounting system. Simply attach the RT-[E] Mount to the rafters or anywhere else on roof decking. Once the panels are fastened, the system array is electrically bonded. RT-[E] Mount comes complete with RT Butyl flashing, renowned for its watertight performance and durability. PE stamped certification letters available: UL 2703, ICC ESR-3575, ASTM 2140, Fully Waterproof.

Lineup Snapshot

Residential
C&I
Utility
Roof-mounts
Ground-mounts

X
X
X

Types: Rail-free

Website: www.roof-tech.us
Contact: info@roof-tech.us

RELATED: Mounting with butyl rubber: How Roof Tech gets a leak-proof seal 

 

Spice-Solar

Spice Solar’s complete system

Spice Solar has developed a complete system that reduces parts and rooftop installation time on all roof types and all wind/snow zones. No more racking, mid and end clamps, transporting 20-ft rails, sawing, splicing and grounding — not to mention all the purchasing, inventory and logistics hassles that go along with this blizzard of rooftop parts.

Residential
C&I
Utility
Roof-mounts
Ground-mounts

X
X

Types: Integrated racking

Engineering Services: Layout/design

Website: www.spicesolar.com
Contact: info@spicesolar.com

 

 

NEW-SolarRoofHook-ProductSolarRoofHook’s All Tile Adjustable Roof Hook

SolarRoofHook’s All Tile Adjustable Roof Hook is the leading mounting hardware for clay and concrete tile roofs in the industry. It is designed to work with a variety of tile sizes and types, including both flat and Spanish tile roofs. This hook has three points of adjustability and is compatible with all major racking manufacturers, accepting 5/16 in. or 3/8 in. bolts.

Residential
C&I
Utility
Roof-mounts
Ground-mounts

X
X

Types: Rack-mount, hooks

Website: www.solarroofhook.com
Contact: jwiener@quickscrews.com

 

NEW-ECOFASTENEcoFasten’s Rail-Free Rock-It System

With the top-down leveling of EcoFasten Solar’s rail-free Rock-It System, the installer can level as they go or after the install. Also, the extensive EcoFasten line of patented watertight solar roof mounts is comprised of a series of product systems characterized by roof-type application. Each system can be paired with a wide variety of brackets, allowing installers to attach EcoFasten Solar roof mounts to virtually any racking option.

Residential
C&I
Utility
Roof-mounts
Ground-mounts

X
X
X

Types: Structural, rail-free

Engineering Services: Layout/design

Website: www.ecofastensolar.com
Contact: (877) 859-3947

RELATED: Do you need a solar snow management system? 

 

CertainTeedCertainTeed’s Solstice System

CertainTeed’s Solstice System features high-efficiency, 60-cell monocrystalline or polycrystalline photovoltaic panels with power outputs from 260 W to 285 W. The rack-mounted modules are available in a variety of black and white frame and backsheet combinations. Solstice is also backed by CertainTeed’s equipment, power output and installation workmanship warranty — one of the most comprehensive in the industry.

 

Website: www.certainteed.com/roofing/solar

 

MagerackMagerack’s Solar Mounting System

The Magerack Solar Mounting System is a turn-key solar mounting solution that includes all components from the rail and clamps to roof attachments. The system is UL 2703 listed and has a Class A file rating with integrated bonding and grounding. In particular, its patented L-foot with flashing is easy to install and absolutely waterproof at a competitive price. Magerack will also have innovative rail-less mounting system available this year.

Residential
C&I
Utility
Roof-mounts
Ground-mounts

X
X

Types: Structural, hooks

Website: www.magerack.com
Contact: info@magerack.com

 

SnapNrackSnapNrack’s Series 100 Roof Mount System

The SnapNrack Series 100 Roof Mount System is engineered to optimize material use, labor resources and aesthetic appeal. The system boasts pre-assembled, stainless steel “Snap-In” hardware, watertight flash attachments and installs with a single tool. It is fully integrated with built-in wire management solutions for all roof types, one-size-fits-all features and can withstand extreme environmental conditions. It is listed to UL Standard 2703 for Grounding/Bonding, Fire Classification and Mechanical Loading.

Residential
C&I
Utility
Roof-mounts
Ground-mounts

X
X
X

Types: Rack-mount, hooks, fixed tilt

Engineering Support: Layout/design

Website: www.snapnrack.com
Contact: contact@snapnrack.com

 

Solar-SpeedrackSolar SpeedRack’s SpeedMount

Solar SpeedRack’s SpeedMount (UL 2703, 1703 and 467) is a shared rail system.  The black anodized aluminum rails are shipped pre-assembled and are adjustable to fit over 95 percent of the available modules. Its rail strength and spans are industry leading with roof penetrations further reduced by using its SpeedFoot, a non-penetrating load-bearing rail attachment making this system an ideal solution for high wind and/or snow loads. Through use of its calculator, available free of charge on its website, customers can design their project in portrait, landscape or a combination of both and produce an accurate bill of materials for the racking required.

Residential
C&I
Utility
Roof-mounts
Ground-mounts

X
X
X
X

Types: Rack-mount, fixed-tilt, carport

Engineering Support: Layout/design, geotech

Website: www.solarspeedrack.com
Contact: shane@solarspeedrack.com

 

QuickRack-systemQuick Mount PV’s Quick Rack

Quick Mount PV’s patented mounting system Quick Rack is a simple, cost-effective and elegant rail-free solar mounting system. Featuring QRack technology, the patented system is an integrated roof mount and racking system, engineered to be robust and structurally sound. The system works with standard module frames and comes with state-of-the-art design software. Quick Rack ships in small boxes, saving money on shipping and logistics. With no rails, installation is fast and simple with mounts-to-modules instead of mounts-to-rails-to-modules.

Residential
C&I
Utility
Roof-mounts
Ground-mounts

X
X

Types: Rack-mount, rail-free, hooks

Engineering Support: Layout/design, installation

Website: quickmountpv.com
Contact: sales@quickmountpv.com

Click 2 for rooftop commercial and ground-mount products

— Solar Builder magazine

Problem Solvers: Solar site issues solved by the right mounting solution

IMG_2415ASSA ABLOY

Location: Berlin, Conn.
Size: 1.3 MW

International door and hardware manufacturer ASSA ABLOY had been making significant strides in environmental stewardship and was ready for its own clean energy installation. But there was a problem — the selected site had difficult topography, with slopes as steep as 20 percent in some areas.

The cost and time associated with grading the site could have stopped the project in its tracks, as no other site was available on the property.

Challenges

Standard racking systems can require significant grading when the site slope exceeds 7 degrees, creating cost challenges that could hinder the ROI on the deal, making project financing extremely difficult.
Rolling topography meant that either multiple rack types would need to be used (not a feasible solution), or the entire site would have to be graded to the same level (an expensive solution).

A racking system that could accommodate different types of terrain while still delivering uniform installation and performance was an absolute necessity.
Solution

DCE Solar’s Contour DB system was the best choice for this scenario due to its flexibility and ability to accommodate a greater degree of topographical changes. The Contour DB (driven beam) and Contour GS (ground screw) are economical ground-mount products between the material, installation and lower cost wiring methods. As a continuously connected system, this design minimizes the number of foundations. Minimal foundations means fewer connections, resulting in reduced hardware and installation costs.

Grading the site would have cost upward of $75,000. This savings was applied directly to the job cost, offsetting 50 percent of the cost of the racking system just by selecting the Contour DB. The quicker installation compared against one that included grading the site allowed ASSA ABLOY to start utilizing lower-cost clean energy sooner.

Website: www.dcesolar.com
Contact: (704) 650-7474

METZ_SunModo-2

METZ Residence

Location: Salem, Ore.
Size: 12 kW

Challenge

One thing the solar panel installer didn’t realize before getting out to the jobsite is that the profile of a corrugated metal roof changes over time. The peaks and valleys don’t retain their shape as the roof begins to sag with age. It’s difficult to find the right metal attachment to fit this specific metal roof profile.

Solution

SunModo’s RidgeBridge Mount can handle corrugated roof peak height variation. The RidgeBridge Mount is supplied with durable EPDM water resistant gaskets, and EPDM filler gaskets if needed, which allows the installer to compensate for peak-to-peak variations along the roof. The RidgeBridge also has the flexibility to be installed directly into the rafter using a 5/16 in. lag screw or firmly attach to the purlin or roof decking with the use of two self-tapping screws. With different bracket sizes and gasket types, SunModo’s RidgeBridge Metal Roof Mount can fit 90 percent of all rolled metal roof profiles.

Website: www.sunmodo.com
Contact: stellas@sunmodo.com

Bradley_Ap-Alternatives

Bradley Road project

Location: Snow Hill, N.C.
Size: 7 MW

Challenge

As part of a portfolio of projects with Ecoplexus, this array on Bradley Road in Snow Hill, N.C., had a high water table along with extremely low bearing load soils.

Solution

AP Alternatives’ shallow helical anchors were able to hold the loads even in the poor soil conditions. To combat the high water table, a 6-in. helix at 32-in. deep was utilized.

The company’s Advanced Modular ground-mount system is perfect for large commercial and utility-scale solar projects. Its prepanelized cartridges allow for rapid installation in the field and drastically reduce labor costs in high wage areas. The racking is fully preassembled and includes module installation with grounding prior to site delivery. Engineered cross bracing, high strength steel and anchor testing on every site makes it one of the most rigid systems on the market. The system is designed specifically for high snow load and high wind areas.

Website: www.apalternatives.com
Contact: amandab@apalternatives.com

SFR_-Walworth-1

Walworth Solar Project

Location: Walworth, N.Y.
Size: 1.6 MW

Challenge

When post installation began on the site numerous posts were hitting refusals. The inconsistency of the soils at the site would require multiple solutions. In order to keep the project on an important deadline, action and resolution needed to be achieved quickly.

Solution

The problem was identified onsite on a Friday. Solar FlexRack responded by overnighting pull test equipment and mobilizing a crew to perform pull testing onsite on Saturday. The data and information was being communicated with Solar FlexRack Director of Engineering and Geotechnical Engineer as it was collected. Based on the results of the testing and analysis the SFR Engineering team was able to determine multiple solutions for the varying conditions resulting in the most cost effective and timely solution to the issues. The stamped alternate designs were implemented on that Monday. The quick mobilization, on site pull testing, and analysis allowed the project to stay on schedule with minimal impact to the client. The project was therefore completed on budget and on time.

The FlexRack Series G3-X fixed-tilt racking system from Solar FlexRack is a custom, precision-engineered system designed to reduce project costs by optimizing materials and reducing labor and logistics costs in the field. The G3-X can accommodate any module type, is available in portrait or landscape, and offers integrated bonding and wire management. The system is also designed to handle various site conditions by being able to accommodate up to a 20 percent slope in the east-west direction and can be mounted to any type of foundation.

Website: www.solarflexrack.com
Contact: rpetruska@solarflexrack.com

HB-Solar

Dresden Municipal Building

Location: Dresden, ON 
Size: 368.25 kW

Challenge

Flush mount layout for pitched metal roof and low-tilt, low-ballast mounting for a flat roof section where a high roof density system was required in an area with considerable snow load.

Solution

HB Solar designed and delivered its SKYRACK flush-mount rail-based racking for the pitched metal roof with aisles and walkways for easy O&M access. For the low ballast system, BLOCKMOUNT2 was used with the modules oriented in portrait with module clamping in the green zone to provide superior module support for the local snow loads. The building manager is a long-time employee who has reported significant energy savings as a result of the PV system acting as a second skin on the building, increasing efficiency.

Website: www.hbsolar.ca
Contact: lisa@hbsolar.ca

Project-Essex-3

Essex Energy

Location: Tecumseh, Ontario, Ca
Size: 508.76 kW

Challenge

Essex Energy determined that a PV array should be installed in the town of Tecumseh, and the Tecumseh Arena was the logical choice to play host to the PV system as it is the largest municipal rooftop area available in the town and is also the town’s single largest user of electricity. The trick would be installing without a single penetration of the roof or voiding any roof warranties, which was a big concern. Plus, it needed to be extremely cost effective.

Solution

Between S-5!, the panel manufacturer and Essex Energy’s engineers, a unique design was implemented. Over 6,000 of the S-5! U Mini clamps and PV Kits were utilized to complete the installation, which requires no roof penetration. A 14-in. walkway was incorporated between every second row of panels, while still maximizing the number of panels installed. The walkways allow for easy navigation without having to walk across panels, facilitates easy roof inspection and maintenance and essentially makes every panel easily accessible. The flexibility in the application of the S-5! products was key in allowing this design consideration. Their light weight, low cost and ease of installation afforded the project tremendous savings and improved economic and financial performances across the board. The S-5-PV Kit is one of the first solar module mounting solutions in the industry to be listed to the new UL subject 2703, and an ETL listing to UL 1703. The S-5-PV Kit’s stainless steel mounting disk has 12 nodes designed to ensure the module-to-module conductivity of anodized aluminum module frames.

Website: www.s-5.com
Contact: greg@s-5.com

— Solar Builder magazine

DCE Solar’s Contour DB racking selected for 1.38 MW installation

DCE Solar ContourAfter exceeding expectations on their first solar installation, ASSA ABLOY selected DCE Solar’s highly-adaptable Contour DB (Driven Beam) racking system for their second installation. The original project over-delivered in terms of ease of installation despite very uneven terrain, which normally would have had to be significantly graded to accommodate traditional racking systems. However, since Contour can be adjusted to follow topography up to a 20-percent grade, ASSA ABLOY was able to forego a majority of the cost and time associated with grading the site, saving enough money to completely offset the costs of the racks themselves.

“Sites like ASSA ABLOY’s are exactly why we developed Contour,” said Bill Taylor, CEO of DCE Solar. “Being able to utilize sites with minimal site grading presents far more opportunities to expand solar. We’ve routinely found that Contour has been the turnaround factor for projects that would otherwise have not been built due to additional construction costs.”

RELATED: Mounting Challenges: Landfills, Brownfields, Water-Saturated Sites 

Contour’s high level of adaptability and ease of installation are attributed to a few key elements:

● Single point purlin connection – Allows the rack to pivot and seamlessly follow the topography up to a 20 percent grade
● Ease of alignment – A top beam adapter gives unmatched adaptability and simplifies the alignment process
● Nesting of zees & cees – Increased structural stiffness provides a compact design
● Jig assembly – Allows for greater module installation efficiency, significantly reducing labor costs and ensuring perfect panel alignment
● Integrated grounding – No additional module grounding accessories and only minimal grounding wire required
● Built-in wire support – No further wire trays needed

DCE Solar Contour DBConsidering the size and scope of the ASSA ABLOY project, which totaled 4,256 modules capable of producing over 1.38 MW of power, the ability to work with, instead of against, site topography was a huge advantage. The project was led by EnterSolar, who has used DCE Solar products in other installations as well. On-site installation was completed by Next Era Integrated.

“Over the years we’ve installed many of top-tier racking products and found DCE Solar’s Contour product to be unmatched,” said John Penton, President and Owner of Next Era Integrated. “Contour not only allows for reduced labor time but easily follows significant changes in elevation. In addition, the design accommodates heavy snow loads and challenging, rocky soils using screw foundations.”

“We’re proud to be the company behind the industry’s most topographically adaptable racking system,” said Taylor. “DCE Solar’s mission has always been to elevate the future of solar. Expanding its use and implementation is essential to achieving that goal.”

— Solar Builder magazine