Published: September 1, 2016
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By: John Paul Dulay, Cal Poly Pomona
Category: Renewable Energy
Hashtags: #GridAlternatives #photovoltaics #Renewableenergy #Solar #Sustainability #Teamwork
In my recent install at a lovely residence in Ontario, I decided to document the construction of the rail system which holds the array of solar panels in place on the roof.
Our rails come in bulk. Each piece is a 136"-long aluminum metal with grooves in which hardwares can slide through it. I have uploaded pictures of the rails with this post.
To determine how much rails we are going to use for an array, we have to consult the blueprint of our PV system. Knowing the orientation and the number of solar modules to be put up on the array, we can calculate the total length of rails to be utilized.
Once we know how much rails we are going to use, we can proceed to splice the rails i.e. to connect the rails together to our desired length. We use splicing hardwares and an impact driver which is a power tool used to bore holes on the rails and to tighten bolts on the hardwares. I have uploaded pictures of the splicing hardwares used.
After splicing our rails, we can go ahead and slide clamp hardwares through the grooves of our rails. These hardwares consist of end-clamps, mid-clamps, and inverter clamps. End-clamps are used to 'clamp' down the sides of the solar panels located on both ends of our array while mid-clamps are placed in-between modules and are used to hold down adjacent panels. On the other hand, inverter clamps are used to bind unto our rails the inverters which are circuit components that convert DC current coming from the modules into AC current. Inverter clamps are placed in-between end-clamps and mid-clamps and also placed in-between two mid-clamps so that inverters are directly underneath each solar panel when we do our module placing later on. I have uploaded pictures of the clamp hardwares used.
Finally, once the hardwares are in place, our rail system for the array is ready to be brought up on the roof and to be installed by our roof team!