How are solar trackers holding up in hurricane season? NEXTracker sends an update

Hurricane season is never a fun time for those in the danger zones, but this year has been especially dangerous. And where there is extreme weather, there are challenges posed to solar systems. The highest quality mounting systems are tested to overcome these extreme conditions. Here is one feature from our archives on mounting in extreme weather. Summary: It is tough.

For more insight, NEXTracker sent over its perspective on how its tracking system, NX Horizon is designed to withstand a wide range of harsh environmental conditions – including high winds and flooding. NEXTracker NX Horizon has been put to the test in the Southeast in recent days due to extreme weather. One can see from the image below just how well NX Horizon held up in the wake of devastating storms, high winds and horrendous flooding.

NX Horizon post flood

NEXTracker reports that because of NX Horizon’s design, all of its systems in the hurricane-ravaged areas remain intact with zero damage. The company attributes this to:

  • -All trackers were placed into stow at 30 degrees in anticipation of high winds.
  • All of NEXTracker’s key mechanical components –e.g., motor, elevated slew gear/drive, controller – have a high clearance from ground level. Motor and controller height ranges from 36” above grade, and up to 46” above in high flood zones. Component elevation and NEXTracker’s balanced design played a big role in avoiding damage. The trackers’ mechanical function and structural integrity was not impaired.
  • Even at the worst-hit NEXTracker system sites – such as a couple in Virginia and North Carolina that experienced the worst flooding – none of the NX Horizons’ wiring came into contact with rising waters.
  • -With NEXTracker’s independent, unlinked rows, even if there had been any damage to one row (and there wasn’t) – the entire system wouldn’t go down; power can still be generated. If a DG customer (off taker) experiences a power outage due to extreme weather – they’ll still have electricity, because NEXTracker equips its tracker system with batteries that store sufficient power, for up to seven days. DG customers can leverage on-site generation and battery backup in the event of outages to maintain power supply.

For more info on NEXTracker, head to the company website.

— Solar Builder magazine

EFS Energy discuss move from railed mounting to railles with Roof Tech’s E Mount Air

EFS Energy was founded in 2011 by Paul McKnight, Owner and Chief Executive Officer, with a mission to “Put the Earth First in Solar”. The company serves homeowners and businesses with solar energy services and solutions, LED lighting upgrades and home energy performance audits. Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, EFS Energy employs a certified, in-house installation team that has installed more than 850kW of solar energy on residential and commercial properties throughout Missouri, Illinois and Kansas.

With 10 people on staff, everyone at EFS Energy wears a few different hats. Project Manager Kevin Glines not only serves as crew foreman, he also oversees inventory and warehouse management. Colette Conover’s job title is Energy Consultant, but she also manages the office and assists with internal sales processes.

“I’m our first contact with customers,” she explained. “I find out what they need, put it into our system, and forward it to our designer to bid the job.”

Kevin first learned about Roof Tech from the sales rep for his local parts distributor, who had been contacted by Mike Dunlap, Roof Tech’s Midwest Sales Manager. Learn more about Roof Tech here.

“Our rep set up a demo of Roof Tech products this summer,” he explained. “Before that, we had always used railed systems for our installations, so it was eye-opening to discover this unique mounting solution.”


Kevin decided to try E Mount AIR on his next job, and has used it on five projects since then. “We’ve had great communications with Mike Dunlap,” said Kevin. “He captured some time metrics for me and gave our crew some useful pointers on the mounting process.”

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

“I’ve always been interested in finding new products that can speed up the installation process,” Kevin explained. “With E Mount AIR we had a complex roof installation completed in just a day and a half. If we had used rails, that same job would have required another full day in time and labor.”

Kevin understands why some people might hesitate to try a new flashing technique, but now he knows the rewards. “With lag bolts, you can never be sure you are hitting dead center on the rafter, and that can cause issues down the road,” he said. “But with E Mount AIR, I don’t have to worry about finding rafters. My installers can safely place the array anywhere on the roof.”

Before getting into the solar business with EFS Energy, Kevin spent 15 years working in the auto glass industry. “I have first-hand experience with butyl adhesives and I’ve been really impressed with the performance of RT Butyl,” he said. “I have full confidence that we won’t have any issues with E Mount AIR. Its double-helix screws use two types of threading, so each screw grabs the RT Butyl and pulls the adhesive into the roof decking for a super tight seal.”

From her perspective dealing directly with customers on a daily basis, Colette is thrilled to have found Roof Tech. “We are here to provide our customers with quality and aesthetics, and to get the job done right,” she said. “Roof Tech offers us a great solution that lets us give our customers more options. We are committed to moving the solar industry forward, and Roof Tech is helping us to make sure that happens.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Iowa’s largest utility-scale solar project installed with Solar FlexRack’s G3 Fixed Tilt system

Solar FlexRack Installed in the largest solar project in Iowa

The largest utility-scale solar power generation project in Iowa, a 2.3-MW plant (the largest of the series, which will include five systems and total 5.5 MW) was just installed using Solar FlexRack’s G3 Fixed Tilt system. When completed, the five solar electric plants will reduce over 5 million tons of carbon emissions annually.

Developed and installed by Azimuth Energy, the installations under construction are primarily located in the central and eastern regions of the Hawkeye State. Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO), Iowa’s largest cooperative energy provider, will commission the carbon-free, solar plants and the clean energy will be delivered to their membership. CIPCO is part of a powerful movement among electric cooperatives to procure sustainable solar power as a part of their energy offering. (Cooperatives across the US have over 500 MW of solar power installed or in the works.)

RELATED: New single-axis tracker, turnkey service launched by Solar FlexRack 

The G3 Fixed Tilt

One of the most cost-effective racking solutions, Solar FlexRack’s G3 Series was independently verified for its ease and speed of installation.

Steve Daniel, EVP of Solar FlexRack said, “We are pleased to have been selected for these projects by an engineering, construction and development support services company as dedicated to quality work and customer service as Azimuth Energy. The rigors of their quality assurance program distinguishes their work and helps to ensure long-term project reliability.”

“We work closely with our clients and want to ensure we find the best solutions for their needs. Solar FlexRack met our demanding requirements, providing the most versatile solution with the ability to accommodate varying terrains and duplicate design configurations – reducing engineering time and installation cost,” said Marc Lopata, President, Azimuth Energy.

— Solar Builder magazine

GameChange Solar’s Grid-Lite roof mount system gets DSA approval

GameChanger SolarGameChange Solar says that its Grid-Lite Roof System was the first ballasted roof system to obtain DSA approval for an entirely ballasted rooftop solar array. The system is for a college building installation in Tustin, Calif.

Scott Van Pelt, Sr. Director of Engineering, explains it like this: “The advanced design of the Grid-Lite Roof System using interlocking rails instead of ballast pans allows us to leverage our CPP wind tunnel test results as well as address seismic loading issues to create an elegant low ballast system that worked well for this project. DSA is one of the most rigorous permitting authorities in the country. Having them review and approve our system confirms our design.”

Some Grid-Lite roof system attributes:

• Interlocking grid design combined with next-gen wind deflector reduces ballast to minimal amount
• Handles severe seismic conditions
• Integrated wire management trays enable string wiring throughout entire array prior to panelizing
• Minimal ballast saves up to $.02/watt
• Fast install with minimal components
• 5 and 10° tilts
•  Durable G90 and stainless steel components

RELATED: Inside the new, improved decentralized tracker from GameChange Solar 

— Solar Builder magazine

Sneak peek of a crazy new rooftop (and highway) solar solution from Bolymedia

bolysolar roof

Bolymedia Holdings Co. Ltd., a global high-tech company headquartered in Silicon Valley, is debuting an interesting new system at the Chinese Renewable Energy Conference Nov. 3, 2016 in Wuxi, China —  the BolySolar Roof. In the diagram, the BolySolar Roof shows two application scenarios: one for buildings and the other for highways.

The patent-pending BolySolar Roof utilizes a reflective Fresnel lens technology to concentrate light into the focal area which can be mounted in the attic of the roof. The Fresnel lens can be linear or concentric, depending on the need of concentration ratios and the orientation of the roof. The above diagram is one of many mounting scenarios.

The company is pitching the following advantages of this type of solution:

  • The BolySolar Roof cost less than an average rooftop solar system as well as a regular roof.
  • This technology does not need a sun tracking system like other concentrated solar power systems and can be adapted to roofs of any orientations.
  • The system not only generates electricity at 40 percent or more efficiency, it also provides a heat source and can eliminate traditional heating methods in a house. The Heat Utilizer can be a hot water tank that not only provides hot water, but also can warm the house during the winter.
  • A more advanced Heat Utilizer can serve as energy storage, allowing total energy freedom for many of the residential and commercial buildings.

In addition to applications in residential and office buildings, the technology can also be applied to highways. Seems mild, but hey, this is the solar industry, where thinking big is the norm.

“In contrast to other solar highway proposals, we recommend a Solar Shade solution using our technology,” says Dr. Xiaoping Hu, CEO of Bolymedia Holdings Co. Ltd. “A Solar Shade is not only more economical than a solar highway, it is more durable, and 2-4x more energy efficient. Also, for a highway going east-west bound, or when there is heavy snow, rain, or fog, a Solar Shade makes the highway much safer. Sun-glare, snow, rain, and fog are the some of the many causes of accidents. A Solar Shade is a solution to these problems, and the cost of a Solar Shade can be paid off in two to three years from electricity generation and reduced highway service needs. With smart sensors, a Solar Shade can change the driving experience.”


— Solar Builder magazine