Solar Snake Max is now available for utility-grade solar installs, see it at SPI

Snake Tray

Snake Tray

Solar Snake Max is Snake Tray’s new patented cable containment system for utility grade installations. The easy snap together elements allow for code compliant cable separation. Construction cycle times will be cut in half with this new approach to managing high voltage cables. Cables install with snap together components, no tools required or field fabrication. Solar Snake Max quickly mounts to any style of vertical pilings or poles and maintains code-compliant separation of power cables up to 2 KV. Booth 2281

— Solar Builder magazine

Wire management: What to look for when planning, purchasing your next solar system

Snake Tray's Cable Conveyance System

Snake Tray has developed a cable conveyance system that maintains a specific separation between cables that eliminates the need for upsizing cable gauges due to the derating cable because of bundling or piping.

Wires are good for two things: 1) Installing a kick-ass PV system 2) Tripping people up. To accomplish the first, you must avoid the second at all costs, which means implementing a sound wire management plan on projects of all sizes.

Planning

Just like the rest of the system, planning is important for both saving time and money. Tom Marsden and Vince Giglio from Heyco recommend laying out the cable routing on paper first before installing the solar cables. This will help you decide the best way to route the cables and what will be the most efficient use of cable mounting hardware.

Part of planning is of course purchasing, and knowing the most efficient ways to use what you’ve got.

“One way of saving time on installs would be to use stainless steel clips at the module level because you can install multiple clips in the same amount of time you can install a single zip tie, thus saving on labor costs,” says Vincent Marino, product manager for Nine Fasteners. “Also, when using micoinverters or optimizers connected to the panels, they can be applied prior to bringing the panel onto the roof.”

Nine Fasteners’ DCS-1307 Clip

Nine Fasteners’ DCS-1307 is its most popular clip. Constructed of stainless steel, it incorporates a rolled outer edge for maximum wire protection and is UL Certified. Its simplicity makes it cost competitive while still being manufactured in the United States.

Oh, and one trend to note while planning — pest management systems are starting to be required in rooftop installations, according to Marsden.

In a ground-mount, Roger Jette, president of Snake Tray, recommends keeping your power cables above ground when possible to remove the need to trench or thread cables through pipe.

“Besides being labor intensive, there is a potential of derating the current capacity of the cable,” Jette says. “With voltages now approaching 2,000 V, there is a high potential for problems if not enough attention is spent on the proper cable conveyance. Without a good cable conveyance plan, there is a potential for degradation of the cable insulation leading to arc failure.”

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

We’ve heard plenty of horror stories from installers and manufacturers in regard to incorrect installation approaches or accidental errors, but the anecdotes that stand out most are those caused by wire management. Just seems silly to risk the performance of a $13,000 system by skimping out and choosing ties known to fail or clips known to dig into wires and cut them over time — the solar equivalent of losing a football game because of a missed extra point.

“Too many installers are sacrificing quality for costs. We have seen a number of installations

Heyco’s SunRunner Vidrio

Heyco’s latest clip, the SunRunner Vidrio, is intended for installation directly onto the solar module with compression force only. The SunRunner Vidrio is a stainless steel clip with a special TPE so it will not harm the glass surface and can accommodate glass panels from 0.13-in. to 0.25-in. thick.

where UV nylon cable ties are breaking, only to be replaced with more UV nylon cable ties,” Marsden says. “This scenario is no different than buying something for your home. Are you going to buy an appliance that needs to be replaced every two to three years or are you willing to spend a little more up front, knowing your product is backed by a warranty?” He points to stainless steel cable ties as a less risky solution.

Your other purchasing decisions dictate what wiring will need to be done as well, especially with those installing rail-less systems. The lack of a rail changes your wire management options.

“As a New Jersey installer, many jurisdictions require wiring inspections to verify that rails have been properly grounded,” says Chris Torre, installation manager at Green Sun Energy Systems, which has been using Quick Mount PV’s rail-free system, Quick Rack. “We’ve been able to eliminate the cost of the second truck roll to the site, saving an average of $300 to $400 per project. The system has integrated grounding pins located on the panel clamps, so the system can’t be grounded until the panels are installed. With this system, we’ve been able to install as many as 68 panels in a single day with a three-man crew.”

Chris Crowell is the managing editor of Solar Builder.

— Solar Builder magazine

SPI Preview: Eight innovations for rooftop mounting at SPI

Advanced RackingAdvanced Racking (booth W1113) specializes in the design, manufacturing and sale of PV mounting systems for all types of roof tops and will be debuting a new solution at SPI — the Total Roof Platform (TRP) — that they say is the first system to standardize rooftop mounting hardware. TRP simplifies the ordering, installation and management of PV racking hardware and creates a mounting system designed to fit all types of roof tops — shingle, metal and flat. Installers will be able to use the same hardware on different types of roofs.

 

EcoFastenEcoFasten Solar (booth 3071) designs, engineers and manufactures solar roof mounts for all roof types and has something for every occasion it seems. The company’s entire product line, including the best-selling GreenFasten and the all new versions of the Rock-It System and Tile Flashing Systems, will be on display. EcoFasten’s product line uses a patented, watertight compression technology that’s relied on by the top installers in the country.

RELATED: Mounting by roof type: Experts share tips for all residential solar installs 

 

Everest SolarEverest Solar SystemsCrossRail Shared Rail (booth 2575) uses less rail resulting in fewer roof attachments. This means you can save money on labor, material and reduce time on the roof. To simplify installation, its Slide Bracket provides north-south adjustability for easy module alignment. In addition, the system’s structural rail connectors allow you to safely and quickly preassemble rails on the ground.

 

HeycoHeyco (booth 3211) recently introduced several new stainless steel clips for a variety of racking systems, including rail-less racking systems.  The SunRunner 90-degree Cable Clips are designed to mount at a 90-degree angle to the original SunRunner and can accommodate up to four .20 to .30-in. cables depending on the part number. Also new to Heyco is the SunRunner 2 Series, which is designed to hold microinverter cables .413 to .472-in. in diameter.

 

Quick Mount tileQuick Mount PV’s Tile Replacement Mount (booth 2527) provides a fast and easy way to install solar on tile roofs while protecting against water intrusion. Simply remove the tile and replace it with the Tile Replacement Mount. Works with all standard curved and flat tile roofs and all standard rail-based racking systems. Flashed at both the deck and top levels, the mount is fully engineered to meet code requirements and industry best practices.

 

RoofTech

Roof Tech Inc. (booth 769) made its name with Rail-less PV Mounting with Integrated Flexible Flashing (RT-Butyl) and is now introducing the option for third-party rail mounting to its self-flashing base. In some rail-less applications, a rail-based platform may be a complementary option to some challenging roofing surfaces. This option now allows the installers to combine the RT-[E] Mount with a conventional rail system that utilizes the same self-flashing base integrated with RT-Butyl. More on the RT-Butyl rubber.

 

 

 

 

SnakeTraySnake Tray (booth 930) is announcing a new stainless steel Ice Guard for solar panels that prevents injuries due to falling ice. The Snake Tray Ice Guard will easily mount to any type of solar panel manufactured and is a great safety solution for high pedestrian areas including parking lots, train stations and roofs where injuries could occur. More on Snake Tray.

 

 

 

SunModoThe Helio Rail Family has a new member, as SunModo (booth 1601) introduces the HR150 open profile rail system. SunModo’s HR150 system makes it easy to route PV electrical wires inside rail channels. Secured in seconds with channel clips and a splice kit, this quick and easy mounting solution removes the cost and hassle of cable ducts and ties.

 

— 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

How to add flexibility to your solar cable management strategy

snake tray cable management

Back in 2010, Snake Tray decided to install a PV system on its own roof. At that point, Snake Tray had been a manufacturer of trays for other industries for many years, with no ties to the solar industry. But after seeing a PV system installation up close, owner Roger Jette believed their trays would be a perfect solution for commercial rooftop cable management.

Tray is an open-air solution. Installers typically meet electrical code compliance by stringing cables through conduits, which protect them from harsh environmental conditions like temperature fluctuations and direct UV. Would the tray be up to code?

The tray most certainly was up to code, but most of the solar industry wouldn’t have guessed so.

“In 2008, there was a significant code change that said you do not need to just use conduit for solar panels anymore,” according to Eric Sadler, engineering sales manager for Solar Snake Tray. “It explicitly permitted exposed wiring methods, and consequently, we started telling our customers that this method is easier, faster and you can do this right now.”

Since then, it has been about shifting perceptions for Snake Tray ­— a shift that seems to be happening. The company’s solar business grew steadily from that first self-install, and now solar pathways are the company’s largest portion of business, with a focus on both commercial rooftop and utility scale. The code was even amended further in 2014 to explicitly allow cable trays.

Cable tray value

Traditional conduit requires cables to be sized larger, which can add cost. Snake Tray’s patented open design allows the cables to be securely managed while allowing for better airflow so cables can operate at higher capacity. Trays connect together with a single connector for a 15-second bonded attachment tray-to-tray.

The tray system costs more than a conduit, but Sadler says the value of the tray lies in its install speed, design flexibility and long-term accessibility.

“We are about labor savings and ease of installation,” he says. “You have pairs of wires coming off of every string, and in order to do it the old way, you had to T into the conduit and pull the cable. Snake Tray is an open tray, so you can start anywhere in the tray without having to T off.”

Bending conduit requires  planning and a tool; whereas trays can be bent using your hands and knees. After forming to the necessary shape, the tray is simply attached to the mounting system via Tek screws or bolts. Built-in mounting rings allow for a variety of mounting options.

“Between the ease of aggregating the strings and the ease of making the turns, it just is so much faster,” Sadler says. “Our rule of thumb is Snake Tray takes approximately 60 percent of the time it would have taken to do a job using the traditional methods.”

Those estimates can vary a bit above or below that mark depending on how the tray needs to be mounted. When the racking allows regular attachment, the value can be better.

“As racking evolves, we have to come up with more clever ways to attach the tray. That applies to both rooftop and utility,” Sadler says. “Everyone wants cost down as far as possible, and the racking manufacturers come up with more clever designs to get panels in place. And we evolve with them.”

Open-air Strategy

The open-air style of the tray provides great value in the wide open spaces of a utility-scale installation. Typically, cables are buried under ground in those applications, which means digging trenches. The gains in speed and efficiency with a tray vs. a trench solution are obvious, but a secondary advantage is how the exposed cable is now much more accessible for maintenance purposes for the life of the system.

However, many installers still prefer the standard, underground method for both cable protection and safety code reasons. Sadler believes both concerns aren’t really an issue. On the exposure side, the cables are often positioned underneath the panels, and they are UV-rated.

“They might fade in color, but they won’t degrade with UV exposure,” Sadler says.

As for the code, solar projects are to be made “not readily accessible,” which could mean up on a rooftop or perhaps behind a fence in the middle of the desert where only authorized personnel have access. This is how exposed wire methods meet the criteria, which at least means utility-scale installers shouldn’t shy away from the newer cable management method for either code or functionality-related reasons.

“For utility scale, we have solutions for fixed mounted and tracker plants, and we’ve become good at managing the string cables that come off all the panels, as well as the feeder cables, whether AC or DC, depending on if a company decides to use more inverters or combiners boxes,” Sadler says.

Solar Snake Tray applications

Trays can form to the necessary shapes by simply bending them with your hands or knees.

Trays can form to the necessary shapes by simply bending them with your hands or knees.

Below are the main Solar Snake Tray applications (with talks of a residential rooftop option coming down the road ­— stay tuned). The majority of these are made from a recycled steel that’s pregalvanized in the production line and then fabricated by bending, cutting and welding, and then finally treated with an industrial-strength powder coat finish.

There is a stainless steel option for high salinity environments like Hawaii.

• Rooftop commercial. The standard solar Snake Tray.
• Car ports. A lighter-duty solar Snake Tray to fix to carport, which is complemented nicely with the Snake Tray ice guard.
• Fixed-mount utility scale. A solar Snake Tray that attaches to the racking system.
• Single-axis tracker utility scale. The biggest cable management challenge is the single-axis tracker. Snake Tray offers a messenger wire supported option that gets strung from the first poll to the last poll of any given solar plant, and the tray hangs from the wire.

Chris Crowell is managing editor of Solar Builder.

— Solar Builder magazine