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

AceClamp hits the road to demonstrate entire solar system product lineup

ACE_TRUCK 1

Starting August 1, the new AceClamp Mobile Training Center will hit the road to provide on-site, one-on-one training for all of its products. AceClamp now has the resources and personnel to roll onto your jobsite or facility along the East Coast to train you and your staff on its family of products.

AceClamp’s extensive line of snow retention systems include, but are not limited to, standing seam metal roofs, slate and single ply membrane. Direct solar installations with microinverter attachments are also a big hit on the traveling tour.

AceClamp info

When you call AceClamp, you will be greeted by a real person answering the phone and can receive technical support from one of its senior engineers to assist in calculating snow loads or solar array layouts to ensure you are purchasing exactly what you need. There are no minimum buys with AceClamp forcing you to carry inventory. After placing an order your product will ship the “best way” when you need it, direct to a jobsite if desired.

— Solar Builder magazine

New high-density, five-degree solar racking system available from Ecolibrium Solar

Ecolibrium Solar just announced its new EcoFoot5D High Density 5-Degree Racking System. Built on the well-known EcoFoot Modular Platform, the EcoFoot5D combines a small 7-in. by 16.7-in.  roof-friendly modular base and dense 9.9-in. inter-row spacing. The result is a tightly packed array that delivers 18.4 percent more power than 10-degree systems.

Ecolibrum racking

New high-density EcoFoot5D 5-Degree Racking System from Ecolibrium delivers 18.4 percent more power than 10-degree systems, utilizing a small footprint and densely packed inter row spacing.

“Developers asked for a high-density solution that installs as easily as our EcoFoot2+ product. We’re very pleased to announce the EcoFoot5D. Customers have experienced the simple work flow and cost-saving logistics of the EcoFoot platform and wanted to use the same technology for 5-degree installations,” says Sam Veague, chief operating officer for Ecolibrium Solar.

EcoFoot5D is comprised of five preassembled components and requires only one tool for installation. Bases fall into alignment as modules are placed. Preassembled parts eliminate the need for PV panel preparation. The combined effect is an organized workflow and non-stop installation process from box to roof.

Ecolibrium ballast

Stackable EcoFoot5D High-Density bases enable a huge per-pallet shipping capacity. Fewer pallets are required, minimizing shipping storage and onsite crane use.

“It’s so simple, there is no training required. It is literally a 5-minute learning curve,” says Ecolibrium Solar’s Product Solutions Manager Jonah Coles. “Once installers have used the EcoFoot modular platform, there is no going back.”

System advantages include streamlined logistics due to the low part count and Bases that stack to deliver 290kW of Bases on one standard pallet. Installation is easy from start to finish, aided by accessible and protected wire management. Wires are covered by the system yet easy to access throughout the life of the system via a removable Wind Deflector. Ballast blocks are easily placed between rows in the Ballast Tray, eliminating under-module ballast placement and awkward reaching.

Ecolibrium

Suited for modules ranging from 32-50mm, the clean aesthetics and low profile are perfect for residential and commercial flat-roof installations. EcoFoot5D is backed by a 25-year warranty.

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar FlexRack previews TDP 2.0 Turnkey Solar Tracker at Intersolar this week

Solar FlexRack, a division of Northern States Metals and a leader in solar tracker, mounting and project support services, will preview its new TDP 2.0 Turnkey Solar Tracker at Intersolar N.A, July 11-13.

Solar FlexRack New TDP 2 Solar Tracker with BalanceTrac

The TDP 2.0 Tracker’s new advanced design, BalanceTrac, increases solar power systems’ energy yields and reduces installation risks and costs. Bundled with project support services for commercial and utility-scale solar installations, Solar FlexRack’s next-generation solar tracker solution offers more modules per row, greater rotational range, and more granular programmable technology to mitigate inclement climatic conditions.

These are just a few of the design features of the cost-competitive new TDP 2.0 Tracker that translate to higher performance, greater system design flexibility and cost-savings across a solar project budget. The turnkey tracker solution is efficiently designed to reduce overall project risk.

Exhibiting at Booth #9617 of the Intersolar Exhibition Hall at Moscone West, the Solar FlexRack team is available to schedule private previews and offer a more in-depth overview of the new TDP 2.0 Tracker with BalanceTrac. Head here to schedule an appointment.

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

— Solar Builder magazine

SolaTrim adds 5.5-inch solar array protective barrier to lineup

SolaTrim barrier system

Due to an increasing demand, SolaTrim LLC announced today that another barrier size option will be added to their product line. In addition to the original ST-001, SolaTrim is now offering the ST-055, similar in design, but with a 5.5” width – a full inch and a quarter narrower than the standard 6.75” wide ST-001.

“We’ve had increasing requests for a barrier size that could be readily applied to the solar array perimeter without trimming the barrier aluminum width to fit a uniform 5.5 inches. We are currently supplying a solar installer in Long Island who requested a high volume of this narrower size, and they have reported great success. We thought it only natural to add the ST-055 to our product line so other installers using similar racking and offsets could take advantage of this labor-saving convenience,” said Bob Smith, President of SolaTrim LLC.

— Solar Builder magazine