This is Certifiable: Ecolibrium Solar walks us through the UL 2703 testing process

ecolibrium solar

Look at all of these. Installers often change modules based on availability, so being able to test in-house is a big time savings.

Simplification is one of the key objectives of the solar industry, but the path to get there, ironically, is super detailed. Removing components to simplify a racking system, being compatible (and compliant) with a broad range of suppliers and just generally re-thinking what’s already been established is a deliberate and labor-intensive trial-and-error process.

The Ecolibrium Solar office in Boulder, Colo., is a monument to the relentless process of simplification, and maybe it’s just the immediate proximity of craft breweries and, um, agricultural entrepreneurs, but the Ecolibrium team seems cool with it. On its face, there is nothing remarkable to see here, just a standard office tucked in the back of an office park, (save all of the tables and cornhole boards made of PV), but located in the warehouse is its product development and testing facility that is a certified partner lab of TÜV Rheinland Group. This partnership is a boon for simplification. Ecolibrium is able to test and certify modules for UL 2703 compliance in seven days and make a priority of the modules that need immediate certification. Without in-house testing, a company must wait until a lab can test the module, which can take up to several weeks or more.

“It’s a big deal and enables us to be very responsive to our customers’ needs,” says Chris Berg, engineering manager. “Installers often change modules based on availability. Being able to test quickly means we can certify modules as needed. Our UL 2703 listings enable customers and plan reviewers to see if the module specified is approved with our products.” In just the last six or seven months alone, Ecolibrium added around 109 modules to its UL 2703 certification listings.

This is what I’m talking about: Being a certified lab for TÜV Rheinland and testing UL compliance is so much work. To maintain the partnership, Ecolibrium must submit reports that prove its testing tools are calibrated properly. These calibration certificates require cross checking and validation of every tool used — covering everything from torque wrenches to tape measures. Yes, even the tape measures must be independently measured to assure validity of results. I’m exhausted just writing about it. Let’s turn this into a series of pictures to make it simpler for an editor like me.

load test

Load Test: The Ecolibrium lab tests modules to this minimum and beyond — for 30 minutes each — checking for any amount of deformation or slippage. They do this with hundreds of pounds of sandbags, depending on target loads, taking photos of each component before and after each test.

Temperature Test

Temperature Test: There is a temperature test that sends the module through several hundred cycles of extreme temperature changes to see if drastic humidity, cold and heat and constant expansion and contraction will affect the bonding.

Grounding and Bonding Test

Grounding and Bonding Test: The electrical part of the grounding and bonding test had the promise of sparks and excitement — sending 5,000 amps into the panel and blowing a fuse to test the resistance between the clamp and the frame in the event of a worst case electrical fault — but the test is still mostly a checklist to prove the accuracy of the testing conditions and the safety of the testers. A panel must pass this twice in a row.

Got all that? In addition to UL testing, Ecolibrium employs an in-house machinist to streamline the development of new prototypes for its racking product portfolio. Once a prototype is ready, it is handed to Jonah Coles, product solutions manager, who was an installer for seven years before joining Ecolibrium, to test from the installer point of view. Again, the trial and error R&D process is labor intensive, but keeping it all in house truncates the timeline from idea to implementation.

“From a prototyping standpoint, we can move from idea generation, to prototype, to optimizing the design, to a finished product much faster,” Coles explains. “Since we’re focused on continual innovations that simplify and improve racking, the ability to machine and test in house makes a huge difference.”

The latest creation to emerge from this laboratory is the EcoFoot5D High Density Ballasted solution that decreases tilt from 10 degrees to 5 degrees and cuts inner row spacing in half, boosting power density on a roof by 18.4 percent, which is a big industry trend these days. Other simplifications nearing completion are reducing the skirt SKUs for EcoX Rail-less from four to two, while increasing the number of module frame thicknesses that are compatible.


Solar Builder Buzz: Rail-less installation

For a solar installer, a new system, however simple, is just another thing to learn. The old “don’t fix what ain’t broke” principle. But Jonah Coles, product solutions manager for Ecolibrium, believes once installers overcome the learning curve for rail-less installation, they won’t go back to using railed systems. That was just one point of discussion with Coles and Chris Berg, engineering manager at Ecolibrium, during episode three of our Solar Builder Buzz podcast. Head to www.blubrry.com/solar_builder_buzz to listen and subscribe.

— Solar Builder magazine

SB Buzz Podcast: Discussing rail-less mounting with Ecolibrium Solar

Ecolibrium

We ventured out to Boulder, Colo., to discuss rail-less solar mounting with Chris Berg and Jonah Coles of Ecolibrium Solar. Because it is Colorado, the Ecolibrium office was located like 50 feet from a brewery, Asher Brewing Co., so that seemed like a good place to chat.

Click to listen (and subscribe!) below. Here’s what to look for in the discussion:

First minute: Beer selection.

2-min mark: Ecolibrium has a streamlined process for testing UL 2703 compliance because it is a certified partner lab of TÜV Rheinland Group. Chris explains how having this testing in-house adds to its product development.

4-min: We discuss the acceptance level of rail-less mounting in the market right now, and why, in Jonah’s view, it will only gain more ground as more installers get trained on these systems.

“Installers might not like it in the first week; they will come around in week two, and by the end of the month they won’t want to go back,” Jonah says. Then explains what hurdles need to be overcome in that first month and what advantages that can be gained, both on site and by doing more jobs overall.

10-min: Jonah dives into what he sees as myths about rail-less racking. One of them being that rail-less is only good if you have a perfect rectangle.

“I feel it’s the exact opposite. I installed rail for years before I came to Ecolibrium and was introduced here to rail-les, and if I have a couple of offset rows of panels [with rail] I have to square up that rail every time I have a new offset panel. But the panel is square, so if you don’t have a rail and you’re dropping a panel in, as long as you’ve placed your mounts where the panel is going to cover … there isn’t any squaring to do.”

14-min: We discuss the challenges and new considerations that exist with rail-less mounting. Plus, what should you look for when procuring a rail-less system?

18:50: We decided whether to stop the podcast and eat lunch or keep going.

19:01: We keep going.

19:08: What more can we expect to see in terms of rooftop solar product development, both residential and commercial – and how these developments can continue to grow the solar contractor market.

27-min: Examples they’ve seen (or things they would like to see) to keep removing soft costs from the installation process.

— Solar Builder magazine

Ecolibrium Solar now a preferred supplier for Amicus Solar Cooperative

Ecolibrium

Ecolibrium Solar just signed an agreement with Amicus Solar Cooperative as a preferred solar racking vendor for its member companies. Ecolibrium Solar was selected based on its successful relationships with Amicus members who use and prefer EcoFoot modular racking and for its strength as a company. Other factors include Ecolibrium Solar’s reputation for simple racking solutions for flat and pitched roofs, streamlined logistics that reduce cost, 25-year warranty, and expert, dedicated customer support from project start to finish.

Founded in 2011, Amicus Solar Cooperative is the first purchasing cooperative in the U.S. solar industry, and currently consists of 43 member-companies that are independent solar PV developers, EPC’s, integrators, and installation companies. Each member company operates under its own brand name in over 60 office locations in 29 states. Amicus Solar Cooperative is 100 percent owned by member companies.

SB Buzz Podcast: SunLink VP on tech, data, diversity and the path forward for solar

“Amicus Solar Cooperative is pleased to add Ecolibrium Solar to our group of preferred vendor partners,” says Stephen Irvin, Amicus president. “We’re confident that Ecolibrium’s quality products and dedication to customer service will serve our members and their customers well. We look forward to many years of a productive and mutually-beneficial partnership.”

Under the agreement, Ecolibrium provides Amicus members with its EcoFoot modular technology with its simple, roof-friendly ballasted system. EcoFoot is available in 10- and 5-Degree systems. The new EcoFoot5D High Density 5-Degree Racking was introduced this summer to complement the well-known 10-Degree solution EcoFoot2+. EcoFoot2+ holds an installer-hour rating of 13.5 modules, according to GNV ranking.

For pitched roofs, Ecolibrium provides its EcoX Rail-less Racking, which is the No. 1 universal racking sold in the fast-growing rail-less market, according to market analysis by GTM Research. GTM predicts rail-less will see 64 percent growth from 2016-2022. A new Tile Hook and Metal Clamp solution were introduced in September.

EcoX Rail-less is known for its ability to speed and simplify installation by eliminating rails. It is noted for delivering the beautiful aesthetic that homeowners love.

“Product innovation is the reason Ecolibrium Solar is in business, so you can expect to see additional product improvements soon. Taking cost out by simplifying racking is our ongoing goal, as well as providing superior products and customer support,” says Veague.

— 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

Ecolibrium Solar makes list of fastest-growing private companies in the country

Ecolibrium Solar, maker of simple racking solutions for commercial and residential solar, was named to the 36th annual Inc. 500|5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in America.

Inc. Magazine ranked Ecolibrium Solar the 443rd fastest-growing private company in the country. To make the list, Ecolibrium Solar grew 989 percent over the past three years, during a period when the economy grew just 6.7 percent.

Ecolibrium ranks No. 22 among energy companies on the Inc. 5000. Many energy companies listed are solar installers, but Ecolibrium is the sole solar racking manufacturer listed. The company also ranked No. 12 among the top Ohio companies named to the Inc. 5000.

“Ecolibrium Solar is honored to be among the outstanding companies in the Inc. 500 and Inc. 5000,” said Jan Willem van der Werff, Ecolibrium Solar’s CEO. “We’re passionate about making solar racking better, simpler and more cost-effective to mount solar panels on every type of roof. I’m grateful to our customers, who have supported and challenged us, to the Ecolibrium Solar team, which continues to create and deliver the simplest and fastest solar mounting technology out there, and to our investors who believed in us from day one and who are ready and look forward to the next wave of growth.”

ecolibrium

Ecolibrium’s growth

Ecolibrium Solar’s growth story speaks for itself, with more than 600 MW installed over five years.
The company conducts ongoing product innovation, development and testing at its TUV-accredited R&D lab and offices in Boulder, Colorado. But Ecolibrium is headquartered in Ohio where it originated and remains deeply rooted in the Ohio technology and investment community.

“The Ohio investment community is deeply committed to the businesses it invests in,” says investor and Ecolibrium Board Member Ted Capossela. “Next to looking for healthy financial returns, the long-term success of portfolio companies and creation of jobs in the Ohio region are top priorities. It is this longer view and loyalty that create the success and growth rate like we have seen with Ecolibirum. We look forward to many more years of above market growth rates.”

Ecolibrium is the No. 1 independent manufacturer in the fast-growing rail-less residential racking market and No. 2 in the market when SolarCity’s racking provider is factored in, reports GTM Research. As an independent manufacturer, Ecolibrium provides racking to distributors and solar installers nationwide, helping regional and national installers gain an edge in an increasingly competitive environment. The company offers its EcoX Rail-less Racking System. Rail-less is predicted to see 64 percent growth from 2016-2022.

In commercial low-slope or flat-roof racking, Ecolibrium Solar maintains the No. 4 position with the popular EcoFoot Modular Platform that today has more than 200MW installed. Further growth is expected with the addition of the just launched EcoFoot5D High Density 5-Degree Racking System. The high-density system delivers 18.4 percent more power than 10-degree systems.

— Solar Builder magazine