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

Solar tracker certified: Arctracker Pro readies for U.S. market with UL certification

arctracker

Recently, the flagship product of Arctech Solar, Arctracker Pro with the world’s first invented redundancy design, obtained the first UL tracker certificates in China. Arctech Solar is also the first and the only Chinese company approved by UL. Arctracker Pro has met the UL2703 and UL3703 requirements set by UL Company after a series of strict tests and evaluations in China.

The UL Company  is a leading testing and certification institute in the US. All the tests were conducted by UL’s professional testing sites with professional testing equipment under simulated environments to examine the performance of the product under extreme climate conditions. Therefore, the certified product meets up with the international standards of UL2703 and UL3703 in mechanical strength, operational performance and numerous other aspects.

RELATED: We look at the value decentralized tracker systems bring to a project 

Mr. Bruce Wang, Chief Technology Officer of Arctech Solar, indicated that the certificates were a recognition of Arctech Solar’s technical strengths.

“A good product could not have been invented without the efforts of our talented R&D team. The UL certificates confirmed Arctracker Pro’s quality and performance. This will also be a starting point for Arctracker Pro to enter the American market and to be used by American consumers. I believe the smart redundancy design will shortly be accepted by the American market and bring them more cost-efficient and intelligent solutions,” he added.

You can check out this new-to-you tracker in a few months when Arctech Solar attends the 2017 SPI tradeshow in Las Vegas, Sept. 11 – 13.

Arctech Solar has cumulatively installed 10 GW and completed almost 600 projects in more than 10 countries. With a production capacity of 6 GW and 3 GW respectively in fixed mounting structure and tracker fields (a total annual capacity of 9GW), Arctech Solar has grown into a reliable partner in the global PV tracking and racking system field.

— Solar Builder magazine

Pika’s X7601 Islanding Inverter its latest to achieve UL 1741 standard

pika energy island inverterPika Energy’s transformerless, grid-forming solar inverters are now listed to the UL-1741 standard and are shipping to customers throughout North America. The UL-listed Pika Islanding Inverter (model X7601) is the most recent of the Maine-based manufacturer’s inverters to receive the ETL mark for UL-1741 compliance. The company’s X3001 inverter line has been UL-listed since 2013.

Pika also recently was awarded funding from the government through the Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative to further build out their technology and add features to the system for grid service applications including demand response.

The Pika Islanding Inverter is the core component of the Pika Energy Island, a single-inverter system for solar-plus-storage applications using smart batteries. The Pika Energy Island system also includes the Pika PV Link DC solar substring optimizers. Its grid-optional performance makes it perfect for grid-tied applications in which a smart battery will be added at a later time.

RELATED: LCOE Heroes: How inverters drive down PV levelized cost of energy 

“The UL-1741 listing for the Pika Islanding Inverter represents a significant step forward in the solar inverter industry, as there is now a third-party-certified, fully islanding, transformerless, single-inverter option that provides unrivaled simplicity for residential solar-plus-storage,” said Pika Energy President and Co-Founder Ben Polito. “When coupled with a smart battery, the Pika Islanding Inverter enables solar-plus-storage with round-trip efficiency north of 90%. This is a dramatic improvement on the 80th-percentile round-trip efficiencies typical of conventional 48V solar-plus-storage approaches,” Polito said.

The Pika Islanding Inverter uses the company’s patented, bi-directional REbus 380VDC plug-and-play nanogrid, which uses embedded smart controls and data on the same wires as power transmission. This makes the Pika Energy Island system, which requires no autotransformer, easy and quick to install, and extremely efficient. This new, higher level of efficiency is critical to solar-plus-storage customers who use batteries for daily cycling to manage energy costs.

“The Pika Energy Island’s high round-trip efficiency is a huge win for applications like energy arbitrage and utility aggregation, both of which reap substantial dividends on the performance of solar-plus-storage with efficiency that is over 12% higher than the state of the art,” said Polito.

— Solar Builder magazine

SnapNRack extends product warranty to 20 years, enters UL Data Acceptance Program

SnapNrackSnapNrack, owned by Sunrun, produces residential solar mounting solutions engineered to optimize material use and labor resources and improve overall installation quality and safety. SnapNrack residential solar mounting solutions are designed for composition shingle, tile, metal and flat membrane roof types, as well as ground systems.

This week, the company had a bunch of updates concerning its certifications and warranties.

UL 2703 updates

For starters, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works accepted SnapNrack’s S100 UL 2703 Integrated Grounding System for Solar Installations. SnapNrack achieved its UL 2703 Listing for Series 100 and Series 200 systems in April 2014, where system components have been tested by UL for electrical continuity and certified as a sufficient ground path, eliminating the need for additional grounding hardware.

Furthermore, Series 100 is UL Listed as a Class A fire rated system when installed with Type 1 and Type 2 modules. The UL 2703 Listing is a significant benefit to installers of SnapNrack product, as it usually means:

• An Integrated Grounding System
• Overall Reduction in Material Costs
• Dramatic Reduction in Labor
• Improved Quality & Safety

In addition, the company’s Santa Cruz, Calif., R&D test facility is now a qualified participant in the UL Data Acceptance Program. Under the UL program, SnapNrack is allowed to directly submit results from in‐house UL 2703 testing, which expedites the approval process by eliminating lab scheduling conflicts.

UL’s Data Acceptance Program provides a means for UL to accept externally generated test data in support of UL Mark certification. To qualify, SnapNrack’s R&D test facility was required to have the appropriate equipment, quality systems and qualified engineering personnel needed to conduct testing, equivalent to what would be used in UL’s own laboratories for the same testing.

“Being a qualified participant in the UL Data Acceptance Program provides SnapNrack increased control over the timing and schedule of our product testing and certification program. Providing UL with a data sheet ready package at the time of submittal eliminates test time and allows UL to decrease the turnaround time for our projects,” said Chris Oestreich, Sr. Director, SnapNrack.

RELATED: 2016 Solar Mounting/Racking Guide: Product Showcase 

Increased warranty

Next, SnapNRack doubled its limited warranty on its Series 100 Roof Mount and Series 200 Ground Mount products from 10 to 20 years at no additional cost to their customers. The increased warranty further reinforces SnapNrack’s position as a high quality manufacturer of Solar Mounting Solutions.

“Whether our customers are selling solar energy systems, or the power they produce, they can rest assured that SnapNrack mounting products are designed to be strong, safe and reliable for life of the system,” Oestreich said.

— Solar Builder magazine

SnapNrack Series 100 and 200 receive updated UL listing

 

SnapNrack mountingCertification is hugely important for all PV system components as the industry moves into the mainstream. SnapNrack’s 100 and 200 Systems received an updated UL 2703 listing that will further enhance the huge benefit that users of SnapNrack products have been receiving. All items in the SnapNrack price list are now approved for use on UL-compliant installations. The new standard for Series 100 and 200 is that they are designed as UL-listed systems that provide the benefits of an overall reduction in material costs, dramatic reduction in labor and enhancing quality & safety.

In addition to the current benefits this updated listing will further enhance SnapNrack products:

Bonding

SnapNrack is adding modules to its current bonding certification to provide even more module options that will ensure systems are properly bonded and certified. Check out its latest installation manual for a full list of the modules that will be covered in the certification.

SolarEdge Optimizers are added to its listing and will be bonded into the system when installed with its attachment kits.

Enphase MicroInverters are also added to the listing which will provide the system ground and eliminate the need for a system grounding lug. The Enphase inverters themselves will ground the system.

An enhanced MLPE attachment kit has been designed, tested and certified to work with SolarEdge and Enphase products under SnapNrack’s UL 2703 listing.

Fire

To further enhance its Fire Classification, SnapNrack added a low-slope fire certification to our Class A Fire Rating for Type 1 and 2 modules. Now the system certification is not only for steep sloped roofs 9.5 degrees and up but also low slope roofs 9.5 degrees and down.

Mechanical

As a first for SnapNrack, the company completed its first phase of mechanical load testing and certification.

— Solar Builder magazine