Solar Equipment Innovations: Page 5 of 5

Intermediate

Inside this Article

Larger PV module can mean less installation time and expense
While a little more difficult to handle because of its physical size, a larger PV module can mean less installation time and expense.
Glass-on-glass modules
Some glass-on-glass modules allow light to pass through or between cells, creating a pleasant ambience beneath and the possibility of collecting more light reflecting up from below.
Glass-on-glass module from Trina Solar
This glass-on-glass module from Trina Solar offers a Class A fire rating.
SolarWorld’s Sunmodule Protect glass-on-glass module
SolarWorld’s Sunmodule Protect glass-on-glass module offers improved reliability (it’s less prone to water intrusion and cell breakage) and a 30-year linear performance guarantee.
Enphase Energy Microinverter
Microinverters offer module-level multiple power point tracking, monitoring, and simplified array design.
Power-One's Aurora Microinverter
Microinverters offer module-level multiple power point tracking, monitoring, and simplified array design.
AC modules
AC modules have microinverters pre-attached, providing the same benefits as microinverter installations, but reducing installation time and complexity.
Transformerless inverter
Transformerless inverters offer more safety features, as well as higher efficiency and lower weight.
SMA America’s Sunny Boy TL series
SMA America’s Sunny Boy TL series with Secure Power Supply is the first grid-tied inverter that can provide limited PV-direct power during a grid outage—without battery backup.
High-voltage charge controller
High-voltage charge controllers enable the use of smaller-diameter wire from the array to the controller, and the ability to use a wider range of higher-voltage modules in the system.
Railless mounting
Railless mounting decreases the time, materials, and cost of mounting PV arrays,
Auto-ground solutions
Auto-ground solutions - like the dimpled disk which scratches through the anodization on the aluminum module frame to electrically bond it to the adjacent module via the disk - decreases the time, materials, and cost of mounting PV arrays.
Fronius IG Plus inverter
Some inverters, such as this Fronius IG Plus, now provide arc-fault protection, as required by the 2011 NEC.
Screening underneath an array provides an additional measure of system protection.
Screening or mesh that keeps critters out from underneath an array provides an additional measure of system protection.
Wire management solutions
Proper wire management is key to professional-looking installations, and helps ensure that wiring stays safe and secure.
Wire management solutions
Proper wire management is key to professional-looking installations, and helps ensure that wiring stays safe and secure.
Larger PV module can mean less installation time and expense
Glass-on-glass modules
Glass-on-glass module from Trina Solar
SolarWorld’s Sunmodule Protect glass-on-glass module
Enphase Energy Microinverter
Power-One's Aurora Microinverter
AC modules
Transformerless inverter
SMA America’s Sunny Boy TL series
High-voltage charge controller
Railless mounting
Auto-ground solutions
Fronius IG Plus inverter
Screening underneath an array provides an additional measure of system protection.
Wire management solutions
Wire management solutions

The arc-fault protection requirement only applies to DC circuits on or entering a building, with a maximum system voltage at or above 80 V. The system must be able to detect and interrupt series arc faults as described above (a failure in conductor continuity) and disconnect inverters or charge controllers connected to the fault (or system components within the arcing circuit). In addition, the equipment must not automatically restart after a fault and have a visual indicator that a fault has occurred. Opening the circuit stops the arc immediately, so this technology decreases fire potential.

While there are still very few choices of equipment available to meet these requirements, more are appearing. In the spring of 2012, SMA America was the first inverter manufacturer to provide arc-fault detection in its inverters. Fronius now offers its IG Plus Advanced inverters with built-in arc-fault detection. Microinverter and AC module systems less than 80 VDC are exempt from this requirement, as are ground- and pole-mounted systems that have no DC circuits inside a building. Arc-fault protection that is integrated into charge controllers is available, as well as breaker-like units that can be integrated into a combiner box. 

Keeping Out Critters

Whether battling squirrels that chew on module wiring, or birds and rats that build nests under arrays, keeping critters away is an ongoing battle that, if lost, can result in electrical faults and decreased electric production. There’s now PV array pest-deterrent hardware available. Clips from Heyco (Sunscreen) and Spiffy Solar hold screening against the frames of modules, preventing animal access under the array. SnapNrack’s Edge Screen kit is available for its pitched-roof racks. Future building or electrical codes may require this; in the meantime, installers can save themselves a lot of headaches, callbacks, and liability by keeping the vermin at bay.

Wire Management

Another critical step in keeping PV arrays operating safely is keeping module wires, PV source circuits, and wiring for microinverters reliably secured and supported so the insulation isn’t damaged. Stainless steel and plastic clips for securing module wiring to frames are available from multiple manufacturers, including Arlington’s SC100, Burndy’s Acme, HellermannTyton’s E-Clips, Heyco’s Heyclip Sunrunner, and Thomas & Betts’ Ty-Rap. Heyco also offers a vinyl-jacketed stainless-steel cable tie—the Sunbundler—for PV wire management. Rack manufacturers SnapNrack, Schletter, and Legrand, and module manufacturers Lumos Solar and Silicon Energy, make racks with integrated wire management. On larger systems, cable tray, or similar products from manufacturers like SnakeTray, are making quality wire management easier than ever.

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Rebekah Hren is an author, educator, and full-time solar addict. She works as a project engineer for ground-mounted solar farm developer O2 Energies in North Carolina, and as an instructor and curriculum developer for Solar Energy International. Rebekah is a licensed electrical contractor in North Carolina, NABCEP-certified PV Installation Professional, and an IREC-certified PV Instructor.

Resources:

Go Solar California • gosolarcalifornia.org

Burndy • burndy.com

Canadian Solar • canadiansolar.com

Daetwyler • daetwylerce.com

Enecsys • enecsys.com

Enphase Energy • enphase.com

ET Solar • us.etsolar.com

Fronius • fronius.com

Helios SolarWorks • heliossolarworks.com

HellermannTyton • hellermanntyton.com

Heyco • heyco.com

Lumos Solar • lumossolar.com

Mage Solar • magesolar.com

MidNite Solar • midnitesolar.com

Morningstar • morningstarcorp.com

OutBack Power • outbackpower.com

PMC Industries • pmcind.com

Power-One • power-one.com

Refusol • refusol.com

S-5! • s-5.com

SolarBridge • solarbridgetech.com

Schletter • schletter.us

Schneider Electric • schneider-electric.com

Silicon Energy • silicon-energy.com

SMA America • sma-america.com

SnapNrack • snapnrack.com

SolarWorld • solarworld-usa.com

SunPower • sunpowercorp.com

Talesun • talesunusa.com

Thomas & Betts • thomasbetts.com

Trina Solar • trinasolar.com

Westinghouse Solar • westinghousesolar.com

Zep Solar • zepsolar.com

Zilla • zillarac.com

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