Solar mounting systems are typically designed with one thing in mind: Get installers on and off the roof as fast as possible. One thing commonly overlooked by racking manufacturers is wire management. By integrating wire management into the solar racking system, not only are wires and cables protected from damage throughout the life of the system, but the system owner is pleased by the finished aesthetics.
Currently the only wire management standard for the solar industry is called out in NEC 110.12 (Mechanical Execution of Work), which states, “Electrical equipment shall be installed in a neat and workmanlike manner.” This is very subjective and does not hold installers accountable to any specific work requirements.
The rooftop is a dangerous place for wires and cables due to a variety of conditions, such as high heat, extreme cold, wind, snow and rain. The potential for damage is multiplied when wires are not properly secured. There is an industry need for an integrated solution for wire management, and it’s up to racking manufacturers to design solutions that integrate into existing system components. Mounting solutions with integrated wire management make it easier to train new installers on proper procedures.
Wiring has no standard warranties and is likely the first component of the system to have problems or fail completely. When this happens, it’s generally the solar provider’s responsibility to fix the issue. Poor wire management could lead to service calls every couple of years, each costing hundreds of dollars.
Solar installations present multiple opportunities for wire damage, especially on the rooftop. Solar panels and mounting system components have plenty of sharp edges that may cut the wiring. Many roof surfaces consist of sandpaper-like materials that abrade insulation over time through continued rubbing. Exposure to direct sunlight will cause insulation to wear over time. Lastly, the nice shady spot under a rooftop solar array creates an ideal habitat for critters that can chew through dangling wires and cables. The industry need for superior wire management is clear, which is why some manufacturers have started to provide integrated, specific solutions for wire management.
The SnapNrack Series 100 pitched roof system makes wire management a priority, not an afterthought. The Series 100 rail provides two separate channels large enough to route PV conductor wires and AC trunk lines neatly, protected within the channel. Snap-in wire retention clips keep things securely in place without tools or zip-ties. The solution also offers accessories purposely built for wire management. Wire and cable clamps route wire runs through rail channels. Junction boxes snap into rail channels without additional roof penetrations, to conceal and protect electrical connections. For areas subject to animal damage, the optional array edge screen keeps out critters from underneath the array.
From an installation perspective, it’s better to ensure wires and cables are managed properly to prevent service calls months and years down the road. Using a system that specifies and integrates wire management not only saves time during the initial installation but also saves cost over the life of the system while creating superior customer satisfaction.
Installation tip was provided by Andrew Wickham, product marketing manager, SnapNrack