Some product announcements make a big splash - think the whole Enphase Ensemble product line which is sure to be a game changer. But other products are far more subtle in their impact. They are, in this case literally, invisible to our clients, but we love them because they make a part of the process so much better. Such a product is the "Yeti" end-clamp from our friends over at Everest Solar. Let's look closely at a small but important product that you will never see!
First off, what even is and end-clamp? When solar panels are mounted on a pitched roof, as most of them are, we put attachments down that lag into the rafters and are flashed. On top of that go the rails, with the panels sitting on the rails. Mid-clamps go between the panels to anchor them to the rails, and end-clamps mount at the end of the rail to secure that last panel. The design of end-clamps is far tricker than that of mids since the mid-clamp rests evenly on the two panels. But the end-clamp only has one panel to grab, making it tricky to get the alignment just right. Indeed, it is so hard to get it right, that when Unirac phased out their wonderful Solarmount Evolution line with its awesome end-clamp, we penned an open letter to Unirac management, begging them to reconsider. (Alas, to no avail.)
Most end-clamps hold the panel by pushing down from the top of the panel. However there is one major drawback with that approach - an overzealous installer can blow past the torque wrench setting and end up shattering the panel! Ouch.
But check this out:
The Yeti clamp is highlighted in the circle callout, and you see it in red, sitting in the rail channel, and gripping the lip of the panel frame pressing it against the rail. (You can see a quick install video here.)
The resulting grip is super-strong, and the clamp is completely invisible, allowing you to cut the rails right to the edge of the panel frame. This gives you a secure, super-clean looking install.
We got our first chance to use these on an install last week and we are really pleased with how things turned out! (This was an unusual install for us in that the second half of the panels got installed in the rain - an everyday occurrence for our installer friends up in Oregon, but a rarity down here in sunny SoCal!)
Here's how the array turned out:
So first, notice the water drops on the panels!!! But the second thing to notice is just how clean a line we have at the edge of the array. (You can see the mid-clamp in the small gap between the panels.)
Here's another view, right down the edge:
Doesn't get much cleaner than that!
So we are convinced!
For an extra 20¢ a piece, we can have a better gripping clamp that is completely invisible and allows you to trim the rails right to the edge of the panels, giving you the cleanest possible look!
Let's hear it for those small, incremental improvements that make the solar industry such a great place to work. Big or small, invisible or super flashy, the innovative minds out there are continually striving to make our systems better for our clients. And that's as it should be!
Nice job, Everest!