#BetterCallPaul: Your Engineering Questions Answered (No. 7, August)

Better Call Paul

How does RPCS adjust the Array tracker to account for different module designs?

Solar module manufacturers are continuing to change the design of their modules to improve their product and stay competitive as the solar industry continues to grow into one of the most sought-after renewable energy sources in the world. These module design changes can alter the physical shape of the frame in such a way that it might affect the manner in which solar trackers mount them on the system. Thankfully, Array Technologies and RPCS are prepared for these changes and know how to assist the customer in building the tracker to meet all needs of their module.

One trend that we’ve seen is that the module dimensions are moving towards that of thinner frame thickness, while increasing the module weight and length. One of the structural implications of this is that the modules may more easily bend in wind events which is, of course, a cause for concern. Array Technologies has prepared for this by developing module clamps with a wider grip. This mitigates the problem by more evenly distributing the pressure that the module may encounter, thereby increasing the tolerance of the module to remain structurally sound at higher site pressures. We will also work directly with the module manufacturer and provide clamps to test their module’s rigidity so that the manufacturer can request the clamp type that best suits their module’s needs.

Another structural change to modules in the past couple years that we’ve noticed becoming very popular is that module manufacturers are placing their junction boxes toward the center of the module rather than toward the edges. Because junction boxes protrude down from the module frame perpendicular to the plane that they are mounted, the location of these junction boxes needs to be accounted for when designing tracker systems that use these module types. Array has two available workarounds depending on the potential interference locations of the junction boxes. One option is to use a small center gap, which essentially shifts the modules over to the middle of the tracker where the center structure resides. This gap adds a mere twenty inches to the length of the tracker row and allows the center structure to avoid the junction boxes altogether. Another helpful option is Array’s “Hi-Rise Clamp.” These clamps are very popular on bifacial modules as they lift the modules slightly above the normal height of the structure which allows the underside panels to absorb more sunlight. As an added perk, the 400mm Hi-Rise Clamps also give a further buffer between any nearby junction boxes. This allows us to place foundation posts with a wider window of workable area without risking the junction boxes coming into contact with the bearing housings on the torque tube.

RPCS, with the help of partner Array Technologies, continues to adapt to the changing world of solar in every aspect to remain among the top solar contractors in the country. We dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to making sure we provide workable solutions to every new challenge and continue to learn new ways to improve our system and make it the perfect fit for our customer’s needs.


Meet Paul Towber
RPCS Manager of Project Design

In RPCS’s #BetterCallPaul segment, Paul answers your frequently asked engineering-related questions while offering unique insights into RPCS’s project design challenges, solutions, and expertise.


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