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

On the Scene: 11 cool things we saw at Intersolar 2017

Another Intersolar has come and gone, but the product innovations, large and small, are here to stay. At least until next Intersolar. If you missed the event, or didn’t have time to see all three floors, here are some products that stood out to us in the exhibit hall.

1. This quick driveline disconnect

Array Technologies Duratrack

Array Technologies is the market leader in central drive solar trackers. Array tries to minimize parts count wherever it can (150 MW of PV only needing 150 components total), and we stopped by the booth to check out some of the handy new tweaks made to its DuraTrack HZ v3. In addition to a built-in above ground wiring component, we thought this quick disconnect driveline was a smart, simple improvement for those who have always wanted a streamlined way to move the driveline for maintenance activities.

2. This simple tile mounting system

Ecofasten simple tile

Ecofasten maybe wins our award for variety of new solutions packed into one booth at Intersolar. Many of these items aren’t fancy – like partnering with Unirac on an install kit (packs of 10) – but as most of the names suggest, they are simple, which is often even better. Like this new (so new it isn’t officially named) Rail-Based Tile System. The flashing itself replaces one complete tile, so no cutting, drilling or grinding there. After the stud and simple seal bushing are fastened to the tile base, place the flashing over, pound it with a hammer to form a hole over the stud and then install the L-foot with a bonded washer and nut.

3. An AC module power couple

LG enphase AC module

Details on this here.

4. The concept of ‘Microstorage’

JLM Energy

JLM Energy launched a new energy storage product category called MicroStorage — a battery pack that couples directly to a corresponding solar panel, as you see here. JLM says the advantage of its Phazr’s microstorage approach is that a single solar panel can concurrently charge a battery and deliver energy to the grid. The simultaneous nature of electron flow is unique to JLM’s patent-pending technology. The Phazr is designed for large scale solar plus storage applications, and is also perfectly suited for smaller residential and commercial installs.

5. A totally new approach to ground-mounts

Nuance Energy

This could be a gamechanger for ground-mount installations. Nuance Energy has a new solution, inspired by an old solution: anchoring. Nuance Energy wants to lessen the amount of steel needed on a site by not driving any into the ground at all. Using the pieces you see above, a hole is drilled, the anchor is driven down 40 inches into the soil and pulled by an uplift device. As the anchor turns and is pulled there is a natural ballasting that occurs using the earth itself. Utility poles are anchored using this strategy. This could drastically save on traditional installation, and even created a new “lift and shift” category, where a portable unit is fixed into place on a drilling or mining site and then removed once the project has ended.

6. This wall-mounted 100-kW inverter

solaredge

The combo EV charger / inverter maybe received the most buzz on the floor, but we gravitated to its new wall-mounted 100 kW inverter. Yes, a wall-mounted 100 kW inverter. This prewired three box setup looks like (and installs like) three string inverters, but is commissioned as one inverter. Installing 1 MW in half a day is a possibility.

7. The wire management on this tracker

SF7 Soltec Bluxome party

Soltec made a splash at Intersolar this year as it tries to do more business here in the U.S. There is a lot to like about their product, like the amount of panels you can mount in one row (which makes for a more energy dense field), but it was the little things that stood out most. Specifically how the wire management of the system is housed inside the torque tube.

8. The potential of this smart home device for solar installers

smappee solar storage

I have no live photo of this (it was the afternoon of Day 3 and I forgot — give me a break, already.) but the Smappee is the coolest thing we saw the entire week. Attach it to the cable coming into the house, and the Smappee will listen to everything – what’s turning on and off, how much standby power there is, how much PV is being generated, and on and on. This gives homeowners much deeper (and easy to follow) insight into their home energy consumption and, at the same time, provides solar installers another touch point for customer follow ups and service. The low price point (under $400) makes it potentially an easy first foot in the door. Right off the bat, a homeowner is likely to save 12 percent on their utility bill, just through awareness and optimization tips from the app. From there savings could approach 45 percent.

9. This stepped-up decentralized tracker

solar flexrack tracker turnkey

Solar FlexRack launched its TDP Turnkey Tracker about this time last year. The update for this year is a newer, longer single row tracker (90 modules with 2 to 4 more posts), adjusted by a larger motor that will open up larger, utility-scale projects. The torque tube is offset to achieve better balance. The attention to detail is big for Solar FlexRack, which is why “turnkey” is built into this product’s name – its slew of engineers are involved in their installations to avoid adding their company name to the list of growing tracker system failures out in the field.

10. This tripod tile mount

Sun Modo tile

Sun Modo tripod

The last few years has seen a flood of great tile roof mount solutions enter the market. The TopTile Mount that SunModo debuted at Intersolar is an entirely above-the-tile system – no need to deconstruct the tile roof. The tripod mounting stanchion can be mounted on a tile ridge independent of rafter position. This could cut your install time in half, compared to a more conventional approach.

11. Smart surge software

Tabuchi Americas

Now with a two-battery system setup, Tabuchi Americas continues to improve upon its solar+storage system (now more than 20,000 installs worldwide). Thanks to an integrated transfer switch, everything needed to get a PV + storage system up and running is included in the package, which means at least $1,000 soft cost savings over an unbundled system. In fact, this is one of the first UL 9540 certified systems – the certification specifically for solar + storage systems. Updates to the system’s intelligence has also improved its defenses against power surges from things like water pumps.

— Solar Builder magazine

Clamps of Approval: Here’s what to look for when selecting PV clamps

AceClamp

Photo courtesy of AceClamp

The following advice was sent our way via Civic Solar. Check them out here.

Clamps, the racking component used to fasten and ground modules to rails, are an integral component of a racking system. Knowing what to look for in a clamp is a great place to start when vetting racking solutions. Ideally, solar module clamps should be versatile, high quality, aesthetically pleasing and ultimately save you time on the roof.

Versatile solar module clamps are important because they allow for streamlined purchasing and ensure that you always have the right materials in stock. With framed modules ranging from 30 to 50 mm in height, a clamp that can accommodate any height means that you only have to worry about stocking one part, regardless of the modules that you install. With module prices dropping, this simplicity allows you to opportunistically shift your module purchasing without having to worry about changing the racking you stock. Going one step further, the most versatile clamps will be both module height agnostic and double as a mid and end clamp. Having both of these features reduces SKU count and increases simplicity.

Does it meet standards?

Quality of the clamp needs to be considered because racking systems are responsible for the structural integrity of solar systems that will be around for more than 20 years. Some factors to consider are code compliance and certifications, the amount and quality of testing that has been done and the warranty provided by the manufacturer.

A clamp needs to be UL 2703 Listed, which means it passes electrical, mechanical and fire testing. Be sure the clamp is UL Listed rather than just UL Classified or UL Recognized. UL Classified means it has only passed a portion of the required testing, and UL Recognized means that only a component of the racking system has passed a portion of the testing.

Warranty is important because it shows the level of confidence a manufacturer has in its product. The industry standard for a racking product warranty is 20 years.

Is it a looker?

Aesthetics of a clamp should be considered because sleek looking systems will increase the adoption of residential solar.

For a clamp, more attractive means having multiple finish options and a hidden end clamp. Matching the color of the clamp to the color of the module frame will give the system a cleaner look. A hidden end clamp eliminates protruding rails, helping rail-based systems rival the aesthetics of rail-less while remaining more cost effective.

Does it save you time?

Purchasing a clamp that is pre-assembled with a low part count and integrated grounding can save you tons of time. Now, almost all of the top racking brands have integrating grounding, where modules are bonded directly to the rail through teeth on the clamps that bite into the module’s anodized coating. This eliminates components, reduces cost and results in significant labor savings. Also, choosing a clamp that is able to stand alone in the rail channel will increase ease-of-install and turn a two person job into a one person job. Some brands accomplish this through single pre-assembled pieces that have a robust enough end to stand alone while others use spring loaded clamps. Another consideration is whether the mid clamp has a t-bolt or square bolt end. Square bolts need to be run through the rail prior to installation, whereas t-bolts can be inserted into the rail at any point.

Looking for these key features will ultimately save you time and money and allow for a smoother installation process.

Marisa Borelli is product manager for racking at Civic Solar.


System Profiles: Clamps

SunModoSunModo’s Universal Bonding Mid Clamp Kit

These Pre-Assembled Universal Mid Clamps have a unique T-Bolt locking feature that ensure the T-Bolt remains vertical and in full contact with the rail to eliminate pull out. The spring-loaded top clamp and open collar nut accommodates module frames from 31 to 50 mm. The added Loctite easily engages the T-Bolt from the top of the collar nut. The shared rail adaptor converts standard rail to shared rail to allow landscape mounting of PV panels on E-W rails.

How does it save time and cost?

The SunModo self-grounding system that includes the pre-assembled universal bonding clamp eliminates separate module grounding hardware and saves installation cost.

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Certifications: UL 2703
  • Warranty: 20-year structural, 5-year finish

S-5!


The PV Kit from S-5!

The S-5-PV Kit is one of the first solar module mounting solutions to be listed to the new UL subject 2703 that covers both bonding and mounting. The S-5-PV Kit fits two grab components. The universal PV grab attaches adjacent panels, while the EdgeGrab cleanly resolves end condition requirements. S-5! clamps do not penetrate the roofing system or affect the roofer’s warranty. Fits the majority of metal roofs, including exposed fastened and corrugated.

How does it save time and cost?

With the new S-5-PV Kit, the module is simply anchored with the kit and automatically provides a ground path in the module frame. No lugs or wire required except to connect one string of modules to another and to ground the system. This connection detail represents installed electrical cost savings of $6-$12 per unit.

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Certifications: UL and ASTM tested for use with extensive list of metal roofing manufacturers, profiles, materials and gauges.
  • Warranty: 25-year defect warranty (applies only when the S-5! product is properly installed, used and maintained).

AceClamp


AceClamp’s family of clamps

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. Accessories include Solar Kits for securing PV solar panels; a Micro L-Foot to mount microinverters directly to the standing seam roof rib; and a custom designed L-Foot for attaching a racking system to the AceClamp when needed. 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.

How does it save time and cost?

AceClamps and Solar-Kits are pre-assembled at the factory saving time at the jobsite. Four clamp styles fit the majority of the roof panels on the market, resulting in inventory cost savings. AceClamps install in less than half the time as most set-screw mounted clamps

  • Material: 6061-T6 aluminum and 303 stainless steel
  • Certifications: AceClamp ML and A2 UL Listed to 2703; AceClamp ML approved by Factory Mutual (4471) for wind uplift attachment. A2 and Solar-Kit tested to UL 467 Grounding.
  • Warranty: 20-year limited

EcoFasten


Ecofasten ASG-U Clamps

ASG-U clamps are efficient solar roof mount attachment options for any metal standing seam roof. Installation of the ASG-U clamps will not pierce the roofing material. ASG-U clamps are available in configurations for both vertical (double-lock) and horizontal (single lock) standing seams.

How does it save time and cost?

Two oval-point set screws are included as well as a hex-headed flange bolt for racking, making the ASG-U clamps not only fast and easy to install, but they will also maintain the integrity of your roof by not voiding roofing manufacturer’s warranties.

 This section appeared in our 2017 Mounting Guide. Not a subscriber? Sign up for a FREE subscription right here.

— Solar Builder magazine

EcoFasten Solar invalidates D Three Enterprises patents in Colo. District Court

ecofasten

The District Court of Colorado granted EcoFasten’s motion for summary judgement invalidating all patent claims asserted against EcoFasten by D Three Enterprises. The Court’s order brings the dispute initiated by D Three Enterprises to a close.

D Three Enterprises filed its action against EcoFasten in June of 2015, ultimately asserting claims from U.S. Patent Nos. 8,689,517, 8,707,655 and 9,068,339. From the beginning of the suit, EcoFasten maintained that the claims were without merit and that D Three Patents were invalid. In its recent order granting EcoFasten’s motion, the Court found that EcoFasten’s prior commercial activities predated the effective filing dates of each of D Three Enterprises asserted patents. This finding led to a further finding that EcoFasten’s prior commercial activities were prior to the D Three Enterprises’ patents, rendering each of the asserted patents anticipated and invalid.

Quote from EcoFasten Solar’s founder and owner, Brian Stearns:

“This finding by the Colorado Court confirms our unwavering position that D Three’s claims were baseless. EcoFasten Solar has a long, proud tradition of innovation. We work diligently to respect the patent rights of others. We also have and will continue to aggressively enforce our patent portfolio against infringing parties”

— Solar Builder magazine

EcoFasten Solar invalidates D Three Enterprises patents in Colorado District Court

 

ecofasten

The District Court of Colorado granted EcoFasten’s motion for summary judgement invalidating all patent claims asserted against EcoFasten by D Three Enterprises. The Court’s order brings the dispute initiated by D Three Enterprises to a close.

D Three Enterprises filed its action against EcoFasten in June of 2015, ultimately asserting claims from U.S. Patent Nos. 8,689,517, 8,707,655 and 9,068,339. From the beginning of the suit, EcoFasten maintained that the claims were without merit and that D Three Patents were invalid. In its recent order granting EcoFasten’s motion, the Court found that EcoFasten’s prior commercial activities predated the effective filing dates of each of D Three Enterprises asserted patents. This finding led to a further finding that EcoFasten’s prior commercial activities were prior to the D Three Enterprises’ patents, rendering each of the asserted patents anticipated and invalid.

Quote from EcoFasten Solar’s founder and owner, Brian Stearns:

“This finding by the Colorado Court confirms our unwavering position that D Three’s claims were baseless. EcoFasten Solar has a long, proud tradition of innovation. We work diligently to respect the patent rights of others. We also have and will continue to aggressively enforce our patent portfolio against infringing parties”

— Solar Builder magazine