102 kW Commercial Enphase Rooftop System
For Jim Hand, solar is just the first part of his dedication to reducing energy costs. He has also made a very serious commitment to energy efficiency and knows that if one really wants to conserve power, they need to simply turn off the lights.
For this reason, Jim has made it his focus to run his dealership more efficiently so that he can ultimately pass the savings on to his customers. In 2013 he took on a huge initiative to replace all of the lighting at his dealership with energy-efficient CFL bulbs. Jim also changed out a near half-century old furnace with more efficient propane equipment and modified the existing exhaust system with a variable-speed motor in the body shop.
Once that work was completed and Jim started to see the savings materialize, he made the logical jump to invest in solar electricity production for his dealership. Jim Hand hired Solar Pros from Southern Vermont to design and install a 102 kW solar array with Enphase micro inverters at his Chevrolet dealership.
Solar Pro designs, installs, and provides high-quality service for both Solar Photovoltaic and Solar Thermal Systems at the best prices in Southern Vermont. CivicSolar assisted them in successfully procuring their equipment in a timely fashion. This full-service company tackled the project using Renesola modules, Enphase micro inverters, and S-5! PV kits to take advantage of the standing seam roof so that no rail would be needed to enable the structural support requirements.
Fitting the Enphase 215's under the modules to work within the structural constraints of the standing seam rooftop had its challenges but CivicSolar made it work.
This project was done that only way that Solar Pro and Jim Hand know how, by utilizing their experience to deliver efficiently and effectively to best satisfy their customer’s expectations.
Q&A with CivicSolar Sales Manager Dan Panko:
CivicSolar Sales Manager, Dan Panko, supported Solar Pro in completing this unique install. We asked him a few questions about the experience and how S-5! helped him overcome the challenges of these unusual racking needs.
What made this install particularly challenging?
The horizontal seam was larger than usual so it was hard to find a clamp that fit. In addition to the clamp needs, this was a 100+kW job with a finicky end customer in a region with high snow loads. We knew we needed to take extra care to make sure it was ready for extreme weather conditions.
What steps did you take to overcome the challenges?
I worked with S-5! to ensure that the pull-out values were adequate with the clamp positioned horizontally and that the snow-load would not be too high for the setup.
What equipment did you use and how did it meet your needs?
S-5!-S mini with the PV Kit was the only product mix that allowed the installer to eliminate rails, include some wire management, and cut down on the overall weight of the system.
How did S-5! support you in completing this project?
Yes! They sent samples and were willing to have a conversation with the end user (who climbed on the roof himself and tugged on the clamp with all his strength). They also sent pull-out data for the roof manufacturer and helped with the part count.
How did you make sure that everything was going to work before shipping the equipment?
Along with sending samples to the customer to test out himself, I personally set up a module on a table in the CivicSolar office to make sure that there was enough room beneath the module to fit a micro inverter.
What's the weight difference in using rails versus not using microinverters? With rails the installer could have added probably double the # of attachment points and spread the weight load out even more. We did one standing seam job where the engineer required 3 rails per row of modules. To really save weight they should have gone rail less with central inverter.
On this job it looks like they are using 2 clamps per edge. The Microinveters weigh about 4 lbs each. The lightest rail is about .5 lbs per foot (see: https://www.civicsolar.com/support/installer/questions/what-approximate-weight-linear-foot-unirac-and-ironridge-rails).
In the case of a high snow load or high wind, the designers have to look closely at how the standing seam is actually fastened to the roof sub-structure, because all the loads are eventually transferred to those hidden fasteners. If the roofing is lightly fastened, if it doesn't line up with the layout, or if the fasteners are unknown, I've seen them specify extra attachments or extra attachments plus rails.
Extra rails usually come into play when there is some load that is close to the limit of the 4-clamp (typical) design load of the module. I've also seen rails used when the roof is old or not nice and flat.
Manchester Center, VT 05255