When we talk about wire management and the code, it is easy to meet the basics of the NEC: neat and orderly, secured every 2 to 4 feet, proper bend radius, among others. But meeting the basics of the NEC tells a completely different story than having and executing a well thought out wire management strategy.
The latter takes into consideration environmental factors and installation procedures as well as O&M strategies.
Developing the right wire management begins well before the installation of the product. The strategy begins with knowing the market and the industry.
As manufacturers of racking and modules continue to cut costs every chance they can, so changes the wire management industry. Racking manufacturers in recent years have reduced mounting holes and continue to achieve new ways of creating thinner metals, while module manufacturers continue to reduce module mounting holes and create lower profile module frames. Cutting cost out of material is good for the industry, but it also creates new obstacles in achieving consistent wire management strategies.
At the design/specification stage of the project, it is critical to evaluate both your labor team and the environment where the project is going to be installed. Labor represents a major impact on budgets. When you consider the installation of a million or more clips on some installations, labor costs can be significant.
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More importantly, installation practices are hard to validate and control with such high quantities. Therefore, site designers should specify parts that are designed to be installed in a controlled way as well as designed to be installed quickly.
Additionally, materials should be carefully specified. While high quality metals, like a stainless steel, are known to last a long time out in the field, many notable advancements have been made to help extend the life of plastics in even the harshest environments. Plastics can often lessen the concern about misapplication because it is far less likely to abrade (and potentially energize) a cable than an improperly installed metal product.
We, as an industry, need to put more thought into wire management. Often, if you are doing wire management “on the cheap” or without a well-executed strategy, you will get predictable results. Engineers, designers and installers must see wire management, not as a commodity, but as a specified component like any other part in a system.
Nick Korth is Product Marketing Manager – Energies at Hellermanntyton.
— Solar Builder magazine