The exhibitors I spoke to at Intersolar North America this year felt that the show is not as popular or jam-packed with attendees as other clean energy conventions, however, that gave them the chance for longer, higher quality conversations with prospective customers. Intersolar happens a few months months following RE+, and that show has garnered record-breaking attendance numbers in the last two years, so companies tend to prioritize new product releases then.
If you attended the show in Las Vegas this past September, you understand how difficult it was to navigate, with two stories of exhibitors that spilled into neighboring rooms and an off-site ballroom that, admittedly, I never had the chance to visit. Intersolar was relieving because it was contained in a single venue — the San Diego Convention Center — and you weren’t constantly standing shoulder to shoulder with other attendees.
From the company booths I visited at Intersolar, there weren’t a lot of new product releases, but I was able to look at some technologies that aren’t often extensively covered here at Solar Power World. Instead of my usual coverage of the latest in solar racking technology, I honed in on components and services that aren’t as flashy as solar panels or trackers, but just as important to a total array.
DynoBond, a grounding tool from racking manufacturer DynoRaxx, has been on the market for more than a decade. DynoRaxx is also known for its fiber glass racking used on ballasted flat roof projects, but DynoBond is a product the company has licensed to other manufacturers. The tin-plated bonding rod clips onto successive module frames to ground the array. Like all of DynoRaxx’s products, it requires no tools for assembly.
Gripple’s cable tie replacement
Cable ties seem like a minor consideration in a solar project, however, unless they’re rated to perform in the elements, they’re prone to breaking during thermal expansion and contraction. Gripple, a European wire management company, recently developed a cable tie replacement that uses a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) strip with a steel cable running through it to secure larger wire runs. The HDPE strip is wider than a typical zip tie for better distribution across bundles of wires and comes with a 20-year warranty.
K2 Systems’ Cross Clamp
End- and mid-clamps are the components that mount modules to rails on rooftop solar projects. K2 Systems debuted its latest model of end- and mid-clamp called Cross Clamp at Intersolar. The all-metal, 50-mm clamp can switch between end and mid applications by attaching a plastic cap, and it’s compatible with all current and past K2 rail systems. Cross Clamp has already launched in Mexico and will release to the U.S. market in April.
S-5!’s MLPE Mount
S-5! is known for its solar mounting methods across different metal roof profiles, but its latest attachment offering is focused on balance of systems. The MLPE Mount is designed to secure module level power electronics (MLPE) along any position on the module frame. A tab built into the mount locks onto the adapter plate of an MLPE unit to reduce the chance of it moving during installation.
Another notable development from Intersolar is that Unirac has specified S-5! attachments on metal roof projects and in its proprietary design software, U-Builder.
Kinetic Solar’s Rapid 1 Rail
This is technically a mounting rail, but what is compelling about it is all the install considerations that are included besides what’s expected. The Rapid 1 Rail from Kinetic Solar is a Swiss Army Knife of a rail, with a series of channels built into it that can handle wire management, MLPE attachment, end and mid clamps and animal guards with the proper accessories. Kinetic Solar is an established Canadian mounting manufacturing seeking distribution in the United States.
Pacific Coast Wire & Cable’s made-to-order cable assemblies
Pacific Coast Wire & Cable admits that it shares a lot of the same services that other cabling and wire management companies offer. The biggest difference is that Pacific Coast is open to supplying wire management products to projects at most scales and ships those solutions directly from the manufacturer. One of its unique services is that it manufactures cable assemblies that come preassembled, so contractors don’t have to so in the field.
Built Robotics’ RPD 35
Automation turns its attention toward anything producing or working at large scales. It’s present in solar manufacturing, so it makes sense that utility-scale solar construction — a job that requires contractors to handle tons and tons of steel — would be the next to lean on automation. San Francisco-based Built Robotics cut its teeth in automated construction with trenching services before focusing on solar. The company was showcasing its RPD 35, an excavator adapted to handle pile-driving for ground-mounted solar projects. The rentable solar robot can hold 192 piles between two baskets and can install roughly 300 piles in a day.
EZ Solar’s JB-1.2
EZ Solar’s JB-1.2 is a rooftop junction box composed of polycarbonate. Unlike metals, using this plastic means installers can drill in from any side of the junction box to route conduits as needed. The JB-1.2 comes with a 25-year warranty and works on composite rooftops. EZ Solar has additional junction box models for other rooftop types.