Last year was a banner year for solar installations in the United States. According to the “U.S. Solar Market Insight Report,” produced by the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research, the United States installed 1,855MW of photovoltaic (PV) solar systems last year — a 109% annual growth over 2010. Installations in the fourth quarter alone were nearly double the value of those posted in the third quarter, which also came in at a record high.
A quick review of the capacity added last year per market segment shows utility-scale installations led the charge — up 185%. Non-residential installations grew 127%, and residential was up 11%. And although the Section 1603 Treasury Program expired at the end of 2011, the Report goes on to forecast that U.S. market share will increase steadily over the next five years as the European markets continue to slow down.
The explosive growth in the PV industry in recent years, coupled with generous Department of Energy funding initiatives, has allowed researchers and manufacturers an opportunity to drive down product costs through use of new materials/technologies, greater efficiency levels, and improved production processes. New products are being introduced at a feverish pace, as manufacturers look to capitalize on this hot market.
In an effort to help you keep up with this growing market segment, we’ve tracked down the specs on 48 solar products and presented them in this special section. This diverse group of products includes clips, grounding connectors, inverters, combiner boxes, meters, analyzers, modules, connectors, mounting systems, and more. Whether you’re a newcomer to this market segment or a seasoned designer/installer, we’re confident you’ll find value in the diversity of the PV products presented in this roundup.
Suitable for cars, bikes, scooters, carts, and motorcycles, these solar-powered charging stations are scaled to the size of the project and the charging needs involved. The stations feature a canopy of solar panels engineered with continuous components that are completely sealed against rain and snow. In addition, the products are net-zero energy structures, producing power that can be used and stored.
Grid-Tied solar inverters integrate a combiner box, AC/DC disconnects, and wire raceway. According to the company, the design simplifies service on the unit through a 2-piece modular configuration that allows the wiring box to remain connected and mounted in the event the power module needs to be replaced. Offered with 3,800W, 4,000W, 5,000W, 6,000W, and 7,000W power ratings, the inverters feature an operating range of 105VDC to 500VDC. Other features include field-selectable voltage output of 208VAC/240VAC/277VAC, an LCD display with nighttime monitoring capabilities, and a NEMA 3R enclosure.
Solar Power Analyzer
The SOLAR-500 solar power analyzer is designed to determine the proper inverter size and optimum power output position of panels and to identify broken or worn-out cells. Features include an I-V curve test for solar cell, maximum solar power search (Pmax) by autoscan (60V, 6A), maximum voltage (Vmaxp) at Pmax, maximum current (Imaxp) at Pmax, voltage at open circuit, and current at short circuit. The product also comes with 1.2V AA rechargeable batteries, an AC adapter, RS232C cable, software CD, and Kelvin clips (6A max).
This line of solar installation labels is manufactured based on the parameters outlined in Art. 690 of the NEC, using ultraviolet (UV)-resistant ink, permanent acrylic adhesive, and a base material intended to endure harsh environmental elements. Available in preprinted reflective, rating, continuous vinyl, and reflective rooftop versions, an optional hand-applied acrylic laminate is offered for additional long-term protection to printed text.
HEYClip SunRunner cable clips fit module frames up to 0.125 in. (3.2 mm) thick and feature a double-compression design that accommodates from one 12-gauge USE-2 to two 10-gauge PV-1000 solar wires. The clips are designed for use with other cables from 0.20 in. (5.0 mm) to 0.30 in. (7.6 mm) in diameter or wherever single or multiple cable management is needed. Manufactured of corrosion-resistant 304 stainless steel, the product features smooth edges that prevent damage to cable insulation and locking tabs to securely fasten it to module extensions or other panels. Additionally, the device features a generous lead-in for installation without tools and a screwdriver slot for easy removal or repositioning.
The Intelligrated Power CommercialAC is a 3-phase grid-ready AC solar module and inverter combination designed for commercial installations. According to the company, the plug-and-play module simplifies system design by eliminating the need for central/string inverter or module/string sizing. The inverter features hot spot suppression technology that eliminates diodes. In addition, the product eliminates high-voltage DC and arc faulting.
Able to accommodate 4AWG to 12AWG bare copper wire, the HelioLug grounding lug is designed for grounding solar modules in residential, commercial, and electric utility applications. The lug includes stainless steel mounting hardware that is UL 2703 certified, allowing it to be used to ground the rack as well as the PV module. Made from tin-plated copper, the product provides low contact resistance and high conductivity. In addition, its open-face design allows simple, quick lay-in without breaking or cutting the conductor. An included star washer penetrates aluminum annodization of the module frame and racks.
These tracking applications are available in two versions. The track_app basic is an iPhone-based application for residential customers, while the track_app expert is designed for iPads, catering to large-scale installations. Track_app expert allows users to monitor the inverter output and weather data as well as motor currents, position angles, and other data, which is pictured in real time on an easy-to-read display. The one-finger_touch allows the operator to manually drive the tracker into any desire position, and an integrated webcam allows users to view the entire system in real time.
The SXDC Series of non-fused switches is IEC-rated for 1,000VDC and 750VDC. Offered in 3-pole and 4-pole configurations, the switches are front operated, feature double break silver-plated contacts, ON/OFF operation, and flexible terminal barriers. In addition, the products are listed to UL98 at 600VDC for service entrance applications and include mounting feet that swivel to accommodate design variations.
These solar panel grounding connectors are designed to prevent galvanic reactions and enhance conductivity. The connector’s body features extruded serrations for breaking the anodized finish on PV modules and frames. The serrations in the wire binding break corrosion on the grounding wire, eliminating the need to prepare the surfaces of the PV module, the frame, or the ground wire. In addition, the product’s clamp-on design eliminates the need for mounting holes. Featuring stainless steel hardware, the units are
UL 467-listed and accommodate aluminum or copper 4 AWG to 14 AWG.