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APsystems powers massive 3-phase array at Pennsylania’s Cleaveland/Price plant

When your customers are electrical utilities, you tend to think of power on a grand scale.

So no surprise the new solar array at Pennsylvania’s Cleaveland/Price switch manufacturing plant will take its place as one of the larger solar arrays on the local grid: 673kW.

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“We knew that the project would take a lot of manpower and planning. However, we also knew that Cleaveland/Price could engineer a system that was efficient enough to be energy friendly while saving costs on a regular basis. Our long-term goal is to produce 100 percent of our electrical energy consumption, using solar power at a substantially lower cost,” said Trish Conboy, Cleaveland/Price marketing director. “We will see success in being energy independent, while being environmentally friendly. Cleaveland/Price will be capable of manufacturing with substantially lower energy costs. This will result in sustained company growth and lower product costs to customers.”

Cleaveland/Price manufactures a range of high-voltage switch products for power utilities nationwide. The company’s sprawling manufacturing complex sits in a glade off forested Route 993 in Trafford, Penn., east of Pittsburgh.

The idea for solar came less than a year ago, Conboy said, when Cleaveland/Price realized solar power costs less than purchased power, regardless of Pittsburgh’s cloudy conditions.

“Most people in the Pittsburgh area assume that solar will not work,” she said. “The fact is, solar does work in Pittsburgh and can cost less than what utilities charge for power.”

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The first step was construction of a new standing-seam roof, covering most of the plant’s eight-building layout and providing the ideal platform for an expansive array.

Cleaveland/Price engineers designed the 2,245-module array themselves, and will handle the final electrical hookup. Local contractor Don Miller, Inc., was hired to complete the installation of modules and microinverters, which began in late September and should be completed by mid-autumn.

The array features Neo Solar Power 360W, 72-cell monocrystalline modules.

APsystems YC1000 microinverters were chosen for their true 3-phase power handling and multi-module design. Each unit will handle three modules, simplifying the installation.

Steve Cleaveland, company principal, said the APsystems units also offer low-voltage startup, an advantage over string systems and boosting solar harvest.

“It only takes 22V to start up the microinverter to produce AC, so it is ideal for Pittsburgh’s cloudy and low-light days,” he said.

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Cleaveland/Price’s engineering expertise also led to an innovative racking solution, with a combination of off-the-shelf and custom-fabricated parts.

Microinverters are installed on “bridge” brackets between two Power Wide Clamps, with modules connected using a power bolt in combination with a power clamp, both from Solar Connections International. Cleaveland/Price’s own CNC team fabricated the 748 connecting “bridge” brackets in-house.

When completed, the array’s first phase will power about 30 percent of the facility’s demand. The second phase will power the remaining demand, while the final phase will power the warehouse.

Thanks to Pennsylvania’s net-metering allowance, the array should allow Cleaveland/Price to “bank” power on weekends and evenings when the facility is closed.

“We designed or purchased all equipment,” Conboy said. “This resulted in a low-cost solar array, with a less than four-year return on investment. This includes the 30 percent first-year federal tax credit on renewable energy.”

LEADER IN HIGH-VOLTAGE SWITCHES
Cleaveland/Price has been serving the power utility industry since 1975, when founder Chuck Cleaveland started supplying parts for switches that had been discontinued by electrical giant Westinghouse.

Being engineers, the Cleaveland/Price team began improving on the original designs and manufacturing its own product line. Over time that led to a full portfolio of custom switches and components rated up to 345kV, for a variety of utility applications.

Their reputation for reliability has been a major factor fueling their growth. No matter where you live in the United States, you may well drive past a Cleaveland/Price product at some point during your day.

The Cleaveland/Price solar field will be among the larger grid-tied arrays on the local West Penn Power system. It will join other high-profile commercial solar arrays in a growing regional market.

A 1.9MW solar field developed by Crayola powers that company’s crayon factory in Easton, Penn., while Lincoln Financial Field, home to the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, boasts an 11,000-module, 3MW array. Among utility-scale projects, Community Energy’s 6MW Keystone installation in Lancaster County provides clean power for an estimated 950 homes.

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As a state, Pennsylvania has climbed five places to No. 19 in total solar capacity nationwide, thanks to the completion of 38.8MW worth of new projects in 2016, the Solar Energy Industries Association says. An estimated 568MW will be developed in Pennsylvania over the next five years, SEIA projects.

Cleaveland/Price manufacturing plant
Location: Trafford, Penn.
Capacity: 673kW
Modules: Neo Solar Power 360W, 72-cell monocrystalline
Number of modules: 2,245
Microinverters: APsystems YC1000 true 3-phase
No. of microinverters: 748
System designer: Cleaveland/Price
Installer: Don Miller, Inc.

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The 5-minute Solar Installation

A complete 6.93kW solar installation in under 5 minutes? That’s right … thanks to the magic of video editing, and APystems microinverters!

Our friends at NextGen Energy have posted a great new video that compresses a whole 24-module rooftop project into an exciting short feature. And with their multi-module, plug-n-power design, APsystems YC500 microinverters helped the NextGen team get the job done fast.

Sure, it took a little longer than 5 minutes in real time … but the APsystems microinverter installation was fast and efficient. Less time on the job site means big savings for installers and customers alike … and that’s a wrap!

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APsystems microinverters installed in northernmost grid-tied solar project

APsystems 3-phase microinverters now power the northernmost grid-tied solar installation in the Americas – the Community Hall at Pond Inlet, Nunavut, latitude 72N.

Vancouver Renewable Energy (VREC) powered up the 590kW system in Canada’s newest and northernmost province in September.

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The 9.3kW community system features 32 SolarWorld 290-watt mono-crystalline modules and eight APsystems YC1000 true 3-phase microinverters.

In just three weeks the PV system had produced 590kWh of power, saving hundreds of dollars on the municipal power bill for the remote, 1,500-person hamlet. The community otherwise relies on a diesel “tank farm” and generator plant for its power needs – an expensive proposition now helped by clean, renewable solar and APsystems microinverter technology.

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The new array will be paired with a mural celebrating light, both from the sun and from qulliqs, traditional Inuit lamps that use animal fat for fuel, according to the Vancouver Renewable Energy blog.

Read the whole story here.

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APsystems offers installers microinverter training in Escondido, CA

APsystems-YC600-UMAAPsystems and UMA Solar are offering 2 in-depth installation and setup training classes for CA solar installers. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to simplify PV system installation and save money with the industry-leading APsystems microinverter line.

You’ll also earn 2 NABCEP recurring education hours for attending a class! Free lunch provided. Fill out the form below to register.

Both classes are invited to Lunch & Learn with Neurio!

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DATE/TIME/LOCATION:

Date: November 8th

Times: 9:30 – 11:30 (this class is now full)
1:30 – 3:30 (Available)

Address: 236 N. Hale Ave., Escondido, CA 92029


WHAT YOU’ll LEARN:
  • APsystems microinverter technology and system design
  • Hands-on training with our dual-module microinverters
  • How to save thousands of $$ in BOS costs
  • Microinverter installation tools of the trade and best practices
REGISTER HERE:
Complimentary lunch is included.

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What is a Microinverter?

Microinverters are a popular choice for residential and commercial solar installations. They inherently meet NEC 2017 requirements for module-level shutdown, increase system efficiency and performance, and help with shading issues. Learn more about how microinverters convert DC to AC power right at the panel level in this video.

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APsystems Unveils World’s Most Advanced Solar Microinverter

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LAS VEGAS – September 10, 2017 – APsystems introduces the YC600, a dual-module, utility-interactive microinverter with Reactive Power Control (RPC) technology and Rule 21 grid support functionality at Solar Power International in Las Vegas, NV.

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The first of its kind, the YC600 was designed to accommodate today’s high output PV panels, offer enhanced capability and meet the latest grid compliance standards, including UL 1741 SA requirements for California Rule 21 as well as voltage and frequency ride through and RPC for European and Australian DER requirements.

Offering an unprecedented 300VA peak output power per channel, the YC600 works with 60 and 72-cell PV modules and offers dual, independent MPPT per panel. The unit operates within a wider MPPT voltage range than competing brands for a greater energy harvest and boasts a durable, NEMA 6/IP67, powder-coated aluminum enclosure, bucking today’s trend of plastic casings.

YC600 Banners2“Integrating smart grid-interactive capability, reactive power control and Rule 21 support functionality into a dual-module microinverter while still maintaining independent MPPT per channel is a groundbreaking achievement in microinverter technology,” said Olivier Jacques, executive vice president, USA and EMEA. “We’ve significantly raised the bar with this product.”

The YC600 builds on the successful APsystems line of multi-module microinverters, simplifying installation and reducing logistics costs. The unit features both integrated ground and DC connectors for fast, hassle-free installation and maintains inherent compliance to NEC 690.12 Rapid Shutdown code requirements. An integrated ZigBee antenna offers broadband communication over a mesh network for fast, accurate data monitoring.

“The demands on today’s power conversion systems require that manufacturers not only bring cutting-edge concepts into existence, but also include the complex capabilities of successful previous generations, all while accommodating both current and new compliance standards,” said Dr. Yuhao Luo, APsystems’ chief technology officer. “The YC600 includes dozens of new and advanced features and functions that outclass competing products. And then we added free monitoring.”

The groundbreaking new microinverter will debut at Solar Power International, being held in Las Vegas, Nevada, September 11-13, booth #1745. The product is now available in Australia and Asia-Pacific markets and will soon launch in the U.S. market mid-Q4 and EMEA market late Q4 of this year.

 

 

 

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APsystems to Unveil World’s Most Advanced Solar Microinverter at Solar Power International

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEATTLE, Wa.; LYON, France; JIAXING, China – September 5, 2017 – APsystems will unveil the YC600, a dual-module, smart grid and Rule 21 compliant microinverter at the Solar Power International trade show in Las Vegas. A groundbreaking design in microinverter technology, the YC600 will offer the highest peak output power, faster transmission speed and more modules allowed per string than comparable microinverters. A wider MPPT voltage range will result in a greater energy harvest for homeowners.

The first of its kind, the YC600 is designed to accommodate today’s high output PV panels, offer enhanced capability and meet the latest grid compliance standards while providing an unprecedented level of power with dual, independent MPPT per channel. The unit also builds on the successful APsystems line of multi-module microinverters, simplifying installation and reducing logistics costs.

The new microinverter will debut at the APsystems booth #1745 September 11-13 at SPI.

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APsystems to debut groundbreaking YC600 microinverter at SPI 2017

APsystems will unveil the YC600, a dual-module, smart grid and Rule 21 compliant microinverter at the Solar Power International trade show in Las Vegas. A groundbreaking design in microinverter technology, the YC600 will offer the highest peak output power, faster transmission speed and more modules allowed per string than comparable microinverters. Additionally, a wider MPPT voltage range will result in a greater energy harvest for homeowners.

The first of its kind, the YC600 is designed to accommodate today’s high output PV panels, offer enhanced capability and meet the latest grid compliance standards while providing an unprecedented level of power with dual, independent MPPT per channel. The unit also builds on the successful APsystems line of multi-module microinverters, simplifying installation and reducing logistics costs.

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The new microinverter will debut at the APsystems booth #1745 September 11-13 at SPI.

Email sales.usa@APsystems.com to set up a meeting during the convention or find out more about APsystems microinverter products.

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Smart software for fewer truck rolls

By Larry Busby, Technical Services Manager at APsystems USA

For a PV installer, there’s nothing worse than having to return to a jobsite. Except, of course, having to do it more than once. We’ve all heard the expression “work smarter, not harder,” but you would be surprised how often solar installers get in a truck and roll out to a jobsite to adjust or repair something that probably could have been fixed remotely back at HQ. Many software-savvy solar installers are boning up on best-practices to better utilize the systems and information already available to them—most of it right at their fingertips—to save both time and money.

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For solar arrays, the most critical software typically lies within the power conversion devices, gateways and interconnected online monitoring platform provided by the inverter manufacturer. The online platform not only monitors the performance of the system, but also tracks a profusion of data points simultaneously and stores that information in the cloud. By checking certain performance specs, settings, activity and historical data, installers can quickly troubleshoot and fix common hitches or, at worst, narrow down the problem that’s plaguing a PV system.

Every inverter monitoring interface is a little different, but much of the information and tools available are typically the same. With an MLPE system like microinverters, you’re able to drill down to the PV panel level to see what each module is producing at any given time. When troubleshooting a system issue, or perhaps if you see a PV panel which is reporting low or zero watts, first try rebooting the system remotely if your monitoring platform offers that capability. With some systems, a reboot may help the interface identify the issue or it might reset the array to its default parameters in case an unusual grid event threw a monkey wrench at it. It could also spur the system to begin downloading recent updates which may have stalled when the system encountered the issue. You may even consider rebooting more than once.

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If you’re still troubleshooting the issue, check the DC side of your system. For a microinverter system, you want to be sure each inverter is reporting at its minimal operating range (such as 16V) incoming DC from the panel. Next, check your AC output. If your system shows it registering 0V or 120V, the inverter may not be sensing the grid or enough volts from the grid to register as a 240V grid connection. Without an identified grid connection, the inverter will not convert energy, so if you see this as an issue with multiple sequential inverters, it could be a cable or connector problem. If it applies to the entire string or array, the problem could be a loose wire in the junction box, or a tripped or off breaker.

With a low wattage problem, you can drill down to the panel level online and check the voltage. If it’s registering under its minimal operating range, it’s likely a panel problem and not the inverter. You may still have to visit the site, but at least you know what you’re replacing and exactly where it is on the array which saves you time troubleshooting. When you hit the site, unplug the suspect panel from the inverter and take a live load DC voltage and current reading. If your panel is reading below its minimum startup voltage and 0 current, then the panel is the culprit and needs replacing.

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Also, don’t underestimate the value of historical data. Looking back over a system’s history—especially that of a single panel—may allow you to identify recurring issues that seem to affect that particular panel. Perhaps a chimney shadow hits the panel at the same time each day. You can look back through the production history to see if it occurs often, or if you have multiple installations in a particular area, you can check each of those when you see unusual grid activity to see if and how it may be affecting your other sites.

Understanding what the site metrics are telling you will give you better insight into what’s happening at a job site. Learning what you can do to troubleshoot an issue online can not only save you a truck roll, but also significantly reduce your time identifying the problem if you do have to drive to the site. Most importantly, if you do need to hit the job site, remember that safety is paramount and to always turn off the AC before doing any work on the roof.

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APsystems congratulates the Top 500 Solar Contractors of 2017

Solar Power World’s 2017 Top Solar Contractors list is out, and APsystem solar partners are in the top ranks.

The annual list ranks solar installers and other contractors according to their influence in the U.S. solar industry. These leading firms are active in markets across the country, and SPW notes the cumulative installation numbers from the past year in all markets, services and states.

Congratulations to APsystems solar partners who made the list.  Thank you for showing leadership across the industry and pointing the way to a clean energy future.

Find the entire list of Solar Power World’s 2017 Top 500 Solar Contractors online here

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