Opportunities, Strategies & Best Practices for Electrical Balance of Systems Optimization: Page 5 of 5

What types of wire harness assemblies or whip configurations are most popular with your customers?

In the utility space, we see a mix of 15 A and 30 A conductors from the modules to the combiner, but most of our customers are taking advantage of prewired or whipped combiners that have external connectors to speed up the installation process.

—Jason Schripsema, SolarBOS

Back in 2012, EPC firms and contractors considered a prefabricated system a secondary option. Now, few of our customers consider performing these aspects of a project themselves. This shift is mainly due to the fact that prefabricated assemblies provide significant time savings in the field and improve quality assurance. Our customers have asked for aluminum-based string wiring for several years, yet high-quality materials to support aluminum wiring systems have become available only recently. Eaton developed its Crouse-Hinds series dc collection system, Sunnector, to reduce costs and installation time in utility-scale solar projects. The Sunnector system uses aluminum for long-distance runs to reduce costs, but still incorporates industry-standard copper connections to PV modules. This way, contractors can use standard connectors and tools, while project owners can reduce costs by taking advantage of less costly aluminum wire. The specific cost savings correlate to string length. Our customers use both homerun and molded array harnesses in nearly all systems to support installation flexibility and reduce costs. For thin-film applications, Eaton has the ability to parallel multiple strings, which further enhances the layout by incorporating inline fusing and X/T junctions.

—Tony Gulrajani, Eaton

Our utility-scale ground-mount customers are moving to 1,500 Vdc cable harnesses that support both thin-film and crystalline modules. While the cable harness configurations vary depending on the layout of the PV project, we see more PV projects moving to a two-circuit parallel harness. This type of cable harness allows the PV designer to parallel two circuits together, which minimizes the customer’s combiner costs by halving the number of input circuits while doubling the amperage of the fuses inside the string combiners. This cable harness and combiner configuration provides customers with a cost-effective solution that offers high reliability.

—John Buckley, Bentek

We receive more demand for whips than for harnesses, but this varies somewhat according to application. On roof-mount systems, for example, we see more demand for whips. On projects using thin-film panels, we are see more demand for harnesses with inline fusing and Y-connectors. Harnesses are a bit more involved—the main variables are string count, connector type and labeling. On all types of solutions, custom labeling and different color wires are very popular, as these features make installation go much more smoothly and reduce errors.

—Tom Willis, AMtec Solar


David Brearley / SolarPro / Ashland, OR / solarprofessional.com

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