Frey Electric Construction Company: Buffalo Harbor State Park

The Safe Harbor Marina at Buffalo Harbor State Park is home to over 1,000 boat slips, as well as a restaurant and bait shop on Lake Erie’s eastern shore, just south of downtown Buffalo, New York. The 190-acre Buffalo Harbor State Park opened to the public in May 2015. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (NYS OPRHP) improved the harbor’s break wall in 2016 with the addition of a bike and walking path, landscaping and two custom pergola structures. The artificial peninsula does not have access to ac power. The NYS OPRHP contracted Frey Electric to design and install a stand-alone PV-powered LED lighting system on each of the break wall’s pergolas to provide dusk-to-dawn lighting for park visitors.

The two open-structure steel pergolas feature polyester powder–coated curved beams and arched lattice rafters. The structures’ curved elements presented an inherent challenge to racking and module integration that made it difficult for the installers to mount the rails in the same plane. Frey Electric used one of the end lattice rafters to determine the array orientation’s plane of reference. Each rafter attachment has a custom standoff height to compensate for the arch and orientation angle of each rafter. To prevent possible galvanic corrosion, the installation team inserted Grace Ice and Water Shield butyl underlayment between the aluminum rail attachment brackets and the pergolas’ steel structural members. Due to extreme winds on the lakefront, the team used high-tensile-strength blind bolts to fasten the attachment brackets to the tube steel rafters.

To minimize the arrays’ visual impact on the pergolas, Frey Electric selected Lumos Solar glass-on-glass modules. The modules allow light to pass through portions of the array, helping to maintain the structures’ open feel. The frameless modules mount to the Lumos LSX rail system via four mounting holes in the face of each module. The high-tolerance system required the mounting holes and corresponding rails to line up within about 1/16 inch of each other. The installers constructed module templates from luan plywood and used them to help align the rail’s mounting bolts.

The project site can receive extreme amounts of snow off the lake and experiences long stretches of low-irradiance conditions. With the assistance of National Solar Technologies, Frey Electric designed a dc lighting system that provides 10 days of autonomy. Each pergola has an enclosed BOS package that includes a 24-Vdc nominal 980 Ah Deka AGM battery bank, a Morningstar Tristar MPPT PV controller, a Morningstar Tristar controller configured for load control, MidNite Solar surge suppression and OCPDs for individual components. The systems power Peachtree Lighting’s Cambridge Creek brushed aluminum 5 W LED sconce lights, rated for wet locations. The terminus pergola has 16 sconces (80 W total load), and the intermediate pergola has 12 sconces (60 W total load). The Morningstar load controller uses the PV array as a reference to provide dawn-to-dusk lighting operation.

“Buffalo Harbor State Park is the first state park in Buffalo. It was an honor to be part of one of its start-up projects. It was a team effort, from design to installation. Although the size of the two individual PV systems is small, the design and installation challenges were relatively complex due to the curved structures and the lakefront location. The frameless Lumos Solar glass-on-glass modules keep the openness of the pergola structures. It’s a satisfying feeling to know the project’s LEDs light the way for pedestrians on the break wall and boaters in the harbor.”

Deborah Zarbo, Frey Electric


DESIGNERS: Deborah Zarbo, engineer, Frey Electric,; Paul Vargovich, general manager, National Solar Technologies,

LEAD INSTALLER: Tony Scinta, installation lead, Frey Electric



LOCATION: Buffalo, NY, 42.9°N

SOLAR RESOURCE: 4.1 kWh/m2/day

ASHRAE DESIGN TEMPS: 86°F 2% average high, -4°F extreme minimum

ARRAY CAPACITY: 3,060 Wdc (1,530 Wdc per pergola)

ANNUAL DC PRODUCTION: 1,791 kWh (per pergola)

Equipment Specifications (per Pergola)

MODULES: Six Lumos Solar LSX 255-60M, 255 W STC, +3/-0%, 8.43 Imp, 30.2 Vmp, 8.86 Isc, 37.5 Voc

CHARGE CONTROLLER: One Morningstar Tristar TS-MPPT-60, 60 Adc, 150 Vdc maximum input, 8 Vdc–72 Vdc battery operating voltage range, four-stage MPPT charging algorithm (bulk, absorption, float, equalize), Morningstar remote temperature sensor

LOAD CONTROLLER: One Morningstar TriStar-45 configured for load control, 45 Adc, low-voltage disconnect capability

SURGE PROTECTION: MidNite Solar MNSPD-300-DC, 300 Vdc maximum, NEMA 4X

BATTERY: Deka Intimidator 8A8D, AGM, 12 Vdc nominal, 245 Ah at C20; four series strings of two batteries configured for 980 Ah at 24 Vdc nominal; customized stainless steel equipment enclosure

ARRAY: Three modules per source circuit (765 W, 8.43 Imp, 90.6 Vmp, 8.86 Isc, 112.5 Voc), two source circuits total (1,530 W, 16.86 Imp, 90.6 Vmp, 17.72 Isc, 112.5 Voc)

ARRAY INSTALLATION: Solar pergola mount, custom steel canopy structures, Lumos Solar LSX Rail 1.1 rails, Lumos Solar X Track beam attachment with high-tensile-strength blind bolts, 140° array azimuth (terminus pergola), 210° array azimuth (intermediate pergola), 22° tilt (average)

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