Solar Builder

JAN 2018

Solar Builder focuses on the installation/construction of solar PV systems. We cover the latest PV technology (modules, mounting, inverters, storage, BOS) and equip installers/contractors with tips and tools to make informed purchasing decisions.

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Page 9 of 47

10 JA N UA RY / F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 8 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 over- come 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 to listen and subscribe. Got all that? In addition to UL testing, Ecolibrium employs an in-house machin- ist to streamline the development of new prototypes for its racking product portfo- lio. Once a prototype is ready, it is handed to Jonah Coles, product solutions man- ager, 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 proto- type, to optimizing the design, to a fin- ished product much faster," Coles explains. "Since we're focused on continual innova- tions 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 num- ber of module frame thicknesses that are compatible. Chris Crowell is the managing editor of Solar Builder. 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. Temperature Test There is a temperature test that sends the module through several hundred cycles of extreme tempera- ture changes to see if dras- tic humidity, cold and heat and constant expansion and contraction will affect the bonding.

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