Last month, I ended Hint #4 by discussing options for securing the frame to the mast after landing it onto the can. Most of the time, the AER installation crew secures the frame to the mast and then breaks for lunch. Logistically we sometimes use this time to have someone install the load center onto the mast and wire the SO cables to the breakers. If the underground AC run from the grid has been installed, completing this wiring can also occur now if time permits. This allows the panel installation to be completed and the tracker is immediately ready to power up. As I always say, remember, your objective is to install an AllEarth tracker in one day!
I could go on forever trying to explain panel installation in detail, but manuals and videos will cover the process, so I will instead share general hints I feel will be handy (Hoppers Handy Tracker Hints, right?). Let me start by stating that the panel installation process is different for the L20 (five rows) and the S24 (six rows). The number of rows installed before and after flipping the array to the North side should be consistent each time for efficient installations, but not always.
For the L20 (top heavy and with more frame above the axle) we will access the topography and plan our installation process based on how best to safely place the ladders. If the ground is flat we always install two rows, flip the array, and finish the last three rows. The final three rows can be pushed up into place by the crew without ladders, but the crew clamping to the rails will still need ladders. If topography limits safe ladder placement we may start with three rows and then finish the process with two rows being installed. Site conditions will dictate your process every time.
When installing the S20 (bottom heavy and with more frame below the axle) we will always install three rows to start and finish the installation with two rows after flipping the array. This could change based on topography and site conditions.
The S24 (bottom heavy and with more frame below the axle) panel installation can be completed two different ways. The AER crew consistently installs three rows and then flips the array completing the installation with three rows from the North side. We follow this process because we use eight and ten foot ladders at our installations. Some of our dealers use extension ladders and this allows them to install 4 rows before flipping the array completing the installation with 2 rows from the North.
No matter what option you choose for installing panels, let me share some helpful hints about clamping, wire management, and chain fall usage. If you are one of the people on the AER crew clamping panels to the rails, we have with us the following tools and parts:
- Impact & socket for clamping
- Washers/bolts and clamps
- Zip ties & snips
- Grounding Weebs
This allows us to perform the needed task based on what is happening in the installation process. Reducing the number of trips up and down the ladder can be a time saver during panel installation. The crew placing panels can also be assisting with wire management during down time from placing panels.
Safe rigging of the chain falls cannot be emphasized enough. Safety first, as we all know. We will rig both chain falls for the L20 installation but with the S20/24, the North chain fall can be rigged just prior to flipping the array. In Hint#2, remember that I suggested installing a sling on the top of the array before landing on the can. This is when that hint becomes useful, making it easier to rig the North chain fall to the array. Rigging the North chain fall slightly off center to the mast will allow proper access when landing the cylinder after panel installation is completed.
When panel installation is complete, you should verify all clamps are in place, wire management is complete, and don’t forget, when the array is flipped to the North, installation of the anemometer is very easy. Finish the process by placing the array flat with the cylinder installed, and you are ready to energize the tracker if wiring was completed during the lunch break.
Remember: your objective is to install an AllEarth tracker in one day!
I hope that Hoppers Handy Tracker Hints were helpful.