Unirac

Solar Safety Made Easy with UL3741 Compliant Mounting Solutions

Solar Safety Made Easy with UL3741 Compliant Mounting Solutions

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Solar Safety and Rapid Shutdown: A Scarce Solution to an Old Concern

Solar power offers a clean and viable energy solution for homeowners aiming to lower their electric bills or decrease their carbon footprint. However, for fire-rescue personnel, solar electricity presents a concerning safety dynamic. Firefighters must be aware of potential electrical hazards and be able to quickly employ protection measures to mitigate possible risks for first responders. Traditionally, fire-fighting standard operating procedures rely on disconnecting the power grid to counteract the dangers of electrocution. Since solar panels continue to generate electricity for as long as they are exposed to sunlight, the industry needed to standardize safety gates that addressed this concern.

Failure to address this PV safety issue could be a deal-breaker for potential customers, creating a bad reputation for solar installers, promoters, and manufacturers. So, it is prudent to ask what the solution is. Before UL 3741, the industry relied on module-level power electronics (MLPEs) to achieve rapid shutdown, a requirement solar professionals are familiar with since its first appearance in the 2014 National Electrical Code (NEC). The NEC introduced rapid shutdown requirements, aiming to quickly de-energize solar panels during emergencies. While seemingly logical, this decision had massive implications for the industry at the time, giving rise to some unintended consequences. The “plug-and-play” installation simplicity of solar arrays vanished, replaced by additional electronics on rooftops under each panel that could introduce new potential failure points.

When ideally considering system reliability and ease of installation, adding additional electronics to an array is a hard sell, especially in solar, where the conditions can be thermally challenging and vary seasonally.

In fact, Heliovolta, a third-party auditor, has officially stated in its Solar Builder magazine that the heightened utilization of mass-produced power electronics components such as MLPEs has introduced a statistically significant increase in failure points within U.S. rooftop solar systems over time. This surge inevitably leads to a greater occurrence of thermal events. What it means is that the incorporation of rapid shutdown system components may inadvertently contribute to these thermal events, further compromising system safety. This, in turn, necessitates a higher frequency of on-site firefighter interventions, presenting a paradoxical situation that appears rather counterproductive.

Scott Carman, an Operation and Maintenance worker at Paragon Solar, expressed in an interview with Solar Builder magazine:

“I feel that the well-intentioned additions to the rapid shutdown code tripled the number of connectors in a system, inadvertently creating more of a safety hazard it was meant to improve. The safest roof for a firefighter, after all, is the one they never were required to be on.”

Upon critical examination, it becomes evident that the code-based approach is an incomplete solution, proving to be inadequate in many cases:

  • Increased Complexity: MLPEs added complexity to solar installations, and with additional electronics on rooftops, they could introduce more potential failure points.
  • Cost Impact: MLPEs raise installation and equipment costs, making solar less attractive to price-conscious customers.
  • Maintenance Woes: Solar technicians reported more service calls due to MLPE malfunctions or improper installation due to increased complexity.

What is UL 3741 — New Path Toward Risk-Based Safety Standards?

All these arguments and issues against module-level rapid shutdown—due to the lack of concrete data on firefighter risks and the potential downsides of MLPE—culminated in the introduction of UL 3741, an alternative provided in the 2020 NEC. 

UL 3741’s implementation signified a significant shift toward data-driven safety standards for interaction with solar systems. The focus shifted from voltage limits to measuring the actual electrical dangers firefighters encounter during interventions. This shift in perspective assessed what shock hazards exist for emergency response personnel posed by a solar installation in worst-case conditions. 

Underwriters Laboratories defined and worked toward eliminating these issues by collaborating with industry stakeholders such as the Sandia National Laboratories and the US Department of Energy. This risk-based approach then uses empirical data on shock hazards to define safety parameters. The presence of real-world hard data allowed UL 3741 to establish a repeatable testing methodology for consistent and verifiable PV hazard standards. 

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UL 3741 opened the door for innovative solar system designs. It allows systems with minimal or no MLPE to be code-compliant, thereby reducing installation complexity and cost—a major concern for the industry. However, this flexibility comes with its own robust protection requirements. For racking manufacturers, an UL 3741 certification means that they must ensure that all accessible wires and energized components in an array are shielded to mitigate any risk of exposure. Rigorous testing simulates firefighter interaction with equipment, ensuring a high level of protection in various scenarios, including those in which firefighters fall on PV equipment while holding tools. 

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Solar mounting systems that qualify for UL 3741 listing must follow these 3 steps:

  1. Ensure PV racking and inverter models have been certified and listed together.
  2. Design the PV array layout according to one of the 4 use cases to meet NEC requirements (see Unirac’s UL 3741 application guide).
  3. Ensure wires are managed according to the racking-specific installation manual so that the system is installed correctly and safely.

Leadership in Safety and Compliance is Unirac’s Choice

Considering the history of solar energy safety standards, it is easy to identify UL 3741 as a watershed standard that positively impacts customers, whether commercial or residential. Now, on the application part: How can you guarantee they will receive the full value of their investment? The answer is straightforward: opt for UL-3741-compliant systems for a solar project.

Safety is a priority, and UL 3741 compliant systems must be your first choice.

Sounds very promising, right? Here’s the catch: the widespread adoption of this new standard within the solar industry has yet to fully materialize, at least to a significant extent. Manufacturers are still striving to achieve this golden standard—which is precisely where Unirac distinguishes itself. Unirac stands out by achieving UL 3741 compliance across our entire roof racking portfolio. Our hard engineering approach to product design and testing ensures that our systems are UL 3741-compliant, and your investment in solar with Unirac is not only safe and reliable but also future-proof. This commitment to safety demonstrates our proactive stance and innovative approach in the solar racking industry.

Unirac’s leadership brings several benefits to you as well:

  • Unmatched Selection: Unirac offers the most UL 3741-compliant racking (7) and inverter combinations (38) available.
  • Installer Confidence: Installers can choose Unirac racking with the assurance of safety and compliance.
  • Simplified System Design: A wider range of compliant options makes system design, selection, and installation easier.

Unirac’s Portfolio of UL 3741 Certified Solar Mounting Systems

A New Solar Vision for All Stakeholders

UL 3741 represents a monumental leap forward for the solar industry, benefiting all involved, including designers, engineers, and installers. With a comprehensive view, we can easily discern the profound impact the standards have on these stakeholders:

  • Enhanced Safety: UL 3741 sets a clear data backed benchmark for rapid shutdown, reducing their liability concerns and ensuring solar designs prioritize safety.
  • Simplified System Selection: With a wider range of UL 3741-compliant components, selecting safe and compatible equipment becomes easier.
  • Customer Trust: Using UL 3741-compliant systems allows installers to confidently guarantee their work meets the latest safety standards, building trust with customers.
  • Simplified Installation: Compliant components ensure a smoother installation process, potentially reducing installation time and complexity.
  • Competitive Advantage: Offering UL 3741-compliant systems can give a competitive edge in the market, showcasing commitment to safety and quality.
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The question that persists is: How can this be achieved, considering UL 3741 is a relatively new standard necessitating proper training and guidance for racking installation? While reviewing all related UL standards is one approach, it’s not entirely practical; the learning curve is high. This is precisely where Unirac, as a leading racking manufacturer, steps in. Drawing from the extensive experience with our partners, we understand the necessity for training. That is why we offer comprehensive training modules focused on our UL 3741-listed racking systems. These certifications equip you with the knowledge to seamlessly integrate our products into a compliant solar array. Completing our training will ensure you will gain in-depth knowledge of UL 3741 requirements as they pertain to our racking systems. This empowers you to answer customer safety questions confidently and efficiently, further solidifying your expertise. 

Embrace UL 3741 for a Safer and More Sustainable Solar Industry

Ul 3741 can be incredibly complex and confusing considering the details, simulations, and empirical evidence it contains. Nonetheless, what we can be confident about is that it is taking the industry in the right direction. For a long time, the sector has been thrown off track due to a lack of empirical data and research. We are now a lot more liberated, with multiple options available to go solar. Admittedly, like most new things, progress will require time and patience, yet strides have already been made, with manufacturers such as Unirac adopting UL 3741 for the majority of its products.

The imperative now is to maintain this momentum and enhance product safety through better engineering and rigorous testing. Additionally, all stakeholders, including installers, bear the responsibility of educating customers about the benefits and necessity of utilizing UL 3741-listed systems to ensure the safety of solar installations. With its consistent efforts and support, Unirac remains steadfast in its belief that every advancement contributes to the sustainability and resilience of the solar industry—after all, we believe Better Solar Starts Here.

Find out if your next C&I project is a good candidate for UL 3741

Gear Up for Success with Solobox Comp

Gear Up for Success with Solobox Comp

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Gear Up for Success with Solobox Comp: The Solar Installer’s Ultimate Junction Box!

At Unirac, partnerships matter. We recognize the challenges that our solar installers encounter, including routine logistical hurdles that can unexpectedly complicate what should be a seamless solar installation process. This is why Unirac is proud to introduce our junction box, Solobox Comp, the optimized solution for shingle-roof installations. Far more than just a J-box, Solobox Comp has been meticulously crafted to streamline your workflow with additive features directly requested by our solar installers.

First Butyl Box in Solar! Say Goodbye to Messy Sealants, Leaks, & Fumbling Around with Loose Parts

Say goodbye to the headaches of messy sealants and the hazards generated by loose parts on the rooftop. Featuring an integrated butyl attachment, Solobox Comp ensures that your junction box is securely seated and resistant to moisture, providing a strong, lasting connection that protects your customer’s investment for years to come. With Solobox Comp, all roof penetrations are safeguarded by Unirac’s trusted polymeric and hydrophobic adhesive butyl, which has been scientifically engineered to maintain roof integrity and stop leaks dead in their tracks.

Plus, Solobox Comp streamlines rooftop installations by reducing the number of necessary components. The innovative, single-screw hinged lid allows for swift installation and effortless maintenance checks. Experience the satisfaction of knowing you’ve delivered a clean, secure, and long-lasting installation with minimal hassle—that’s Solobox Comp, The Ultimate Junction Experience!

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Affordability That Won’t Break the Bank

We get it; every dollar counts. That’s why Unirac made Solobox Comp the most cost-effective and innovative junction box on the market. Solobox Comp provides unmatched reliability and ease of installation, guaranteeing top-quality performance, all without being a drain on your budget. With Solobox Comp, we’ve made your success our priority, and Unirac is committed to supplying exceptional value for your investment. There are many junction boxes out there, but Solobox Comp is the only one that elevates your solar setup by delivering the reliability and affordability that you deserve!

Backed by Unirac: Our Guarantee of Quality

Unirac believes in the quality and durability of Solobox Comp, and we back it up with an industry-leading warranty. When you choose Unirac, you’re opting for premier-quality products engineered with cutting-edge materials, advanced manufacturing standards, and rigorous testing criteria. Our products are built to last, providing unmatched durability and reliability for years to come.

Take Action Now! Request Solobox Comp from Your Preferred Distributor

Now is the time to prime yourself for success by incorporating Solobox Comp into your renewable-energy framework. Take the initiative—request Solobox Comp from your trusted distributor today. If you have any inquiries or require assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Your clients will applaud your expertise. Start today! Request Solobox Comp and establish yourself as the installer who always delivers excellence!

ASCE 7-22 Integration: Keeping You Ahead of the Curve

ASCE 7-22

ASCE 7-22 Integration: Keeping You Ahead of the Curve

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ASCE 7-22
In the ever-evolving world of solar, staying ahead of the curve is paramount. As responsible solar professionals, we understand the significance of adhering to the latest standards and regulations. Unirac, a trusted name in solar mounting solutions, is taking proactive steps to ensure your solar installations are not only efficient but also built to withstand the harshest conditions. We are thrilled to announce that, even though only a few Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) have adopted the ASCE 7-22 standard, we have our eye on the ball. The state of Florida, renowned for its rigorous building codes, has been one of the first adopters of the new standard. Unirac, going a step further, has already integrated 7-22’s structural-load criteria into U-Builder and provided state certification letters for plan set submittals.
Computer with screenshot Rail NXT-UMount

The ASCE 7-22 Standard: What’s New?

The ASCE 7-22 standard brings several important changes to the world of solar construction. It addresses critical structural-safety aspects such as snow loads, wind loads, seismic loads, and even tornado loads. While some AHJs are still catching up, Unirac recognizes the importance of staying ahead to ensure the safety and reliability of your solar projects.

​Proactive Integration Into U-Builder​

Unirac’s commitment to excellence drives us to anticipate the needs of our customers. That’s why we’ve taken the initiative to incorporate the ASCE 7-22 standard into our U-Builder design tool. By doing so, we empower solar professionals to design systems that align with the Code standards, even before they are widely adopted by AHJs.

State Certification Letters for Plan Set Submittals

Understanding that AHJs may require documentation demonstrating compliance with the ASCE 7-22 standard, Unirac has ratified state certification letters for ASCE 7-22 plan set submittals. This invaluable service simplifies the permitting process by assuring authorities that your solar project adheres to the latest industry standards.

Seven Systems Now Certified: Our Goal is Your Peace of Mind

At Unirac, we believe that safety should never be compromised. That’s why we have begun incorporating the ASCE 7-22 design criteria into our solar-racking products. We have started this process with seven of our systems including SolarMount® and NXT UMOUNT ® and will soon have a total of nine systems certified (GFT and ULA coming soon). These products have been certified to the updated requirements of ASCE 7-22, ensuring that your solar installations remain durable, dependable, and up to code.

Unirac has always provided high-quality, innovative solutions for solar professionals. Our proactive integration of the ASCE 7-22 standard into U-builder, coupled with state certification letters for plan set submittals, demonstrates our unwavering commitment to safety and compliance. By incorporating this standard into all our systems, we aim to provide solar professionals with the tools and products they need to thrive in an ever-changing industry.

As you embark on your solar projects, rely on Unirac to serve as your steadfast partner in guaranteeing unparalleled safety and reliability. With ASCE 7-22 integrated solutions, you can build with confidence, knowing that you are at the forefront of industry standards. Together, we are creating a brighter, safer, and more sustainable future through solar energy.

Innova letter

Overview of ASCE 7-22 Code Changes: Minimal Cost Impact Expected for Projects

Snow Loads: ​

  • The way we calculate ground snow loads for specific locations has changed. We now use a different statistical measurement method and consider data from the past three decades.
  • There’s a change in how we factor in reliability for snow-load combinations.​
  • Roof load values have been adjusted, with an average increase of 12% for most sites.
  • The snow importance factor has been eliminated, focusing on reliability values for different risk categories.
  • Snow drift calculations have been updated.

Seismic Loads: ​

  • Spectral calculations have been simplified, and factors Fa and Fv have been removed for certain situations.
  • We now use a multi-period response spectrum instead of a two-period one.​
  • Three new site classes have been added based on how seismic waves travel through the ground.
  • The equation for loads on non-structural members (Fp) has been refined for accuracy.

Wind Loads:​

  • Wind speed maps have been revised, especially in hurricane-prone regions.
  • The pressure coefficients (GCp) for Components and Cladding have been changed.
  • There’s a new approach for calculating the effect of wind direction (Kd) on design wind pressures in structural elements.
  • A new section has been added to determine wind loads on ground-mounted fixed-tilt solar systems.

Tornado Loads:

  • ASCE 7-22 introduces new guidelines to account for the impact of tornadoes. These rules are applicable to structures in risk categories III and IV.

Current Unirac ASCE 7-22 Certified Systems:

Unirac Joins Forces with S-5! in Pioneering Alliance to Propel Solar Energy Deployment

Unirac Joins Forces with S-5! in Pioneering Alliance to Propel Solar Energy Deployment

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Unirac, a pioneer in solar racking, and S-5!, a leading authority in solar attachment solutions for metal roofs, are proud to announce a new chapter in their long-standing partnership. This collaboration is a strategic move to streamline processes and overcome barriers in the energy transition journey, making solar installations easier.

The partnership encompasses several key initiatives that are set to redefine the standards in solar mounting technology. S-5! has extended its UL 2703 certifications for its clamps and brackets, which are now listed under Unirac’s certifications, a critical compliance requirement increasingly demanded by Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) nationwide. This certification ensures that these clamps are now fully approved for use with Unirac’s NXT UMOUNT® and SolarMount® systems. A comprehensive list of certified S5! clamps is available in Unirac’s installation manuals.

Moreover, the partnership is taking significant strides in technological integration. Both companies are actively working to incorporate each other’s solutions into their respective design tools – Unirac’s U-Builder™ and S-5!’s Solar Calculator. This integration promises to streamline the solar project design process, making it more efficient and user-friendly.

Ernest Gallegos, director of products at Unirac, emphasized the company’s commitment and vision, stating,” We are dedicated to driving innovation in solar mounting technology and ensuring our customers remain at the forefront of the industry. Our partnership with S-5! enables us to deliver solutions that not only boost efficiency and ensure code compliance but also reflect our unwavering commitment to our customers’ success. We see this as a significant advancement in our ongoing efforts to provide the best experience for our customers and to offer peace of mind to consumers adopting solar energy.”

The partnership marks a significant stride in addressing several critical needs within the solar energy sector. Foremost, we are ensuring compliance with new requirements that attachments are integrated into UL2703 certifications. These requirements are increasingly mandated by AHJs. This aspect of our collaboration guarantees that our systems not only meet these stringent standards but also provide our customers with the reassurance and compliance they need.

“Why is this partnership so important?” says Gallegos. “It’s because doing solar in a sustainable way, where the solar assets last as long as their intended time and purpose, is vital for the industry’s growth and customer acceptance. Unirac and S5! share a common vision of bringing solar energy to the masses in the most efficient, reliable, and environmentally friendly manner. By adopting sustainable practices and adhering to industry-leading codes, we are not only ensuring the longevity of solar installations but also building trust and confidence among customers.”

Mark Gies, director of product management at S-5!, adds, “We are excited about taking our partnership with Unirac to a new level by incorporating our solar attachment solutions into their project design tools and technical certifications, making it easier and more efficient for design and permitting systems that utilize their rails and our clamps.” He continues, “We have always been driven to make processes as user-friendly as possible for installers and end-users by providing world-class support and technical data.”

About Unirac

A pioneer in solar racking, Unirac has been North America’s leading manufacturer of solar PV mounting systems for over 25 years. The premier U.S. solar racking manufacturer with products that outlive their warranties, Unirac has more than 25 GW of experience and over 2.5 million installations that back up their engineering service and supply-chain excellence. Unirac is committed to being a partner throughout the full project lifecycle.

At Unirac, Better Solar Starts Here.

Media Contact

Karen Paramanandam
Marketing Manager, Unirac, Inc.
karenp@unirac.com

About S-5!

Founded by a veteran metal roof expert, S-5! has been the leading authority on metal roof attachment solutions since 1992. S-5!’s zero-penetration clamps and lifetime brackets attach virtually anything to most metal roof types, while maintaining roof integrity and warranties. Made in the U.S.A., S-5! solutions are engineered for a variety of roof-mounted applications and are now installed on more than 2.5 million metal roofs worldwide, including more than 6 gigawatts of roof-mounted solar, providing strength and longevity never before seen.

For more information, visit www.S-5.com.

Media Contact

Fiona Maguire-O’Shea
Public Relations, S-5!
fmaguireoshea@s-5.com

Bringing Butyl Back

Bringing Butyl Back

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Bringing Butyl Back: The Future is Here with Unirac, Again!

At Unirac, we’ve always prided ourselves on being at the forefront of solar mounting technology.  In 2010 we were so far ahead of the innovation curve that we were the first to introduce adhesive flashing that opened the market and enabled a more efficient installation experience. Today, we want to dive deep into that innovation and its significant impact on rooftop solar installations: butyl roof attachments for every pitched roof application. Unirac now offers a butyl solution on a full suite of attachments and conduit mount.

What are Butyl Roof Attachments?

Butyl, a synthetic rubber, has been traditionally used in various industries for its remarkable waterproofing and adhesive properties. When it comes to solar installations, butyl roof attachments refer to mounting systems that use butyl-based sealants or tapes to ensure a watertight seal between the roof and the solar racking system.

Stronghold

Why Butyl is a Game-Changer

Superior Waterproofing: Butyl stands out for its incredible water resistance. By using butyl roof attachments, installers can be confident that the point of attachment is well-sealed against potential leaks.

Extended Lifespan: Butyl maintains its adhesive properties over an extended period, reducing the need for frequent checks and maintenance.

Compatibility: Whether it’s a metal, composite, or asphalt shingle roof, butyl attachments provide a versatile solution suitable for various roofing materials.

Temperature Resistance: Solar installations are exposed to varying temperature ranges. Butyl’s ability to maintain its integrity in both high and low temperatures ensures the longevity of the seal.

Ease of Installation: With the adhesive properties of butyl, there’s no need for additional, complex sealing procedures. This translates to quicker and more efficient installations.

Unirac’s Approach to Butyl Roof Attachments

At Unirac, our approach is to integrate the benefits of butyl into our industry-leading mounting solutions. Here’s how:​

Engineered Excellence: We have combined our engineering expertise with the unique properties of butyl to create roof attachments that not only ensure a strong hold but also protect against the elements.​

Training and Support: To get the most out of butyl attachments, it’s essential to install them correctly. We offer comprehensive training and support to our partners, ensuring every installation is up to the mark.​

Commitment to Innovation: Our R&D team is continually working to push the boundaries of what’s possible with butyl in the solar industry. Expect more cutting-edge solutions as we move forward.​

Optimization: We kit all our attachments and that is no different for our butyl products. Each butyl attachment and accessory are kitted with the hardware needed to complete rafter installations. That is one SKU for ease of ordering, stocking, and installation. Direct to deck applications require extra screws and are sold separately as needed.​

The Road Ahead

As the solar industry continues to grow and evolve, the demand for reliable, efficient, and innovative mounting solutions will increase. At Unirac, we see butyl roof attachments as a key piece of this future puzzle.​

In conclusion, butyl roof attachments represent a merger of traditional material science with modern solar needs. By adopting these solutions, solar installers can ensure that their installations are not only efficient and reliable but also resilient to the elements. With Unirac leading the charge, the future of rooftop solar looks brighter than ever!​

Ask your distributor to stock Unirac attachments with butyl today.

Stronghold™ Butyl-

    • Dark: SBUTYLD1​
    • Mill: SBUTYLM1​
    • Extra deck screws: 003251W​

SFM Butyl- SFMBTLM1​

​Conduit Mount Butyl- EB-CM-01M​

SolarMount® Butyl- ​

    • Dark: 004BUTYLD​
    • Mill: 004BUTYLM​
    • Extra deck screws: 003251W​

Unirac Leads The Industry With The Largest Number of Racking & Inverter Combinations Under UL 3741

Unirac Leads The Industry With The Largest Number of Racking & Inverter Combinations Under UL 3741

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Be rapid shutdown compliant with or without MLPEs. Unirac has the solution that fits your needs.

Unirac has recently achieved UL 3741 compliance for its entire portfolio of racking systems. This is a major achievement, as Unirac now offers the largest number of racking (7 systems) and inverter (38 models) combinations that are UL 3741 compliant in the industry. This means that solar installers can have confidence in using Unirac’s racking systems for their projects, knowing that they are safe, reliable, and meet industry standards. Download the Unirac 3741 Application Guide.

Unirac has been at the forefront of innovation for over 25 years, and they go beyond basic requirements as dictated by code. The Unirac Product Development team is constantly seeking ways to improve the efficiency of projects, maintain safety standards, improve ROI, and provide the best value to their partners.

UL 3741 compliance is an important step forward in solar safety, as it provides a new level of PV hazard control that meets NEC rapid shutdown requirements. The NEC requires rapid shutdown of solar systems in case of an emergency or maintenance situation, to prevent electrical shock or fire hazards. Previously, the only way to meet this requirement was by using module-level power electronics (MLPE), which can be costly and complex to install.

“UL 3741 is a critical safety standard that specifically addresses Photovoltaic (PV) hazard control. In alignment with the National Electrical Code, it sets forth rigorous requirements for the design, construction, and performance of PV mounting systems. This helps ensure a high level of safety and reliability for both installers and system owners. As a Product Manager, I can attest to the impact of adhering to UL 3741, as it ultimately enhances the overall quality and dependability of solar installations.” 
– Tristen Foley, Flat Roof Product Manager

To comply with UL 3741, solar systems must meet several requirements. First, the racking system and inverter models must be certified and listed together, ensuring that the system is designed to work safely and efficiently. Second, the PV array layout must be designed according to one of the four use cases outlined in Unirac’s UL 3741 Application Guide, which provides guidance on how to design a safe and effective solar system that meets NEC requirements including inverter placement. Finally, wires must be handled according to the racking-specific installation manual, ensuring that the system is installed correctly and safely.

Unirac’s UL 3741-compliant racking systems offer several benefits to solar installers and project owners. First, they provide a simplified and cost-effective solution for meeting NEC rapid shutdown requirements, without the need for complex and expensive MLPEs. Second, they offer flexibility and compatibility with a wide range of inverter manufacturers, allowing installers to choose the best option for their specific project needs. Finally, they are designed to meet the highest safety standards, ensuring that solar installations are safe, reliable, and compliant with industry regulations.

“As the largest provider of UL 3741-compliant racking systems in the industry, Unirac continues to lead the way. Solar installers can trust Unirac’s racking systems to meet industry standards and deliver safe and dependable performance. With a wide range of racking and inverter combinations, Unirac offers a simplified and cost-effective solution for meeting NEC rapid shutdown requirements, making solar installations more accessible and affordable for all.” – Ted Bleeker, Director of Business Development.

Solar Spotlight: Supporting the structural side of commercial solar.

Solar Spotlight: Supporting the structural side of commercial solar.

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A few years on, there is still uncertainty surrounding the solar supply chain. There are likely still modules tied up at shipping ports, and despite Inflation Reduction Act incentives to develop a larger domestic market for solar panels, it will still be some time before we experience it. That is not necessarily the case for solar racking and mounts.  Unirac, a manufacturer with more than 20 years in the solar structures space, is geared and ready to tackle commercial solar projects in 2023. We’re joined by Unirac’s commercial business development director, Ted Bleecker, and director of customer solutions, Brandon Carrasco, to discuss what’s ahead for the company in the coming year.

Below is a portion of Unirac’s Solar Spotlight podcast with Solar Power World, but be sure to listen to the full episode here or on your favorite podcast app.

Contractor’s Corner by Solar Power World · Solar Spotlight: Supporting the structural side of commercial solar

With the passage of the inflation Reduction Act, what changes does Unirac See in the market with materials and how are you supporting the industry?

Brandon Carrasco
Brandon Carrasco

BC: I think, as we as we’ve seen this IRA legislation, we’re excited about it. First of all, there is a lot of tailwinds for the industry. That means nothing but good things for us across the board, as well as our partners, our customers and just the environment in general. But what we’re doing is we have a diverse supply chain. So as our customers continue to look for the options to how can they be compliant, the big question for us as a manufacturer is, can we meet the U.S. material requirements? So that doesn’t necessarily apply to everybody in every project. However, with our diverse supply chain, we do have a broad base of U.S. supply and material and manufacturing. And that allows us to meet in basically every segment –– residential, flat roof and ground –– that we work in. It allows us to provide materials and to provide projects or products for projects that meet those requirements of being U.S. manufactured.

What structural changes do you see in the C&I market?

TB: I think the developers are more active in the engineering, procurement and construction of their portfolios. So, we’re seeing a much more active role in the market with development partners. EPCs are getting smarter. I think back 10 years ago, it was a little “cowboy” how projects were installed on rooftops. Today, we’re very granular in our approach, with point loads with dead loads with applied loads. There’s a whole number of factors that affect the building envelope, and particularly the roof structure. So, it’s exciting to be part of a great company like Unirac, that has an engineering team that has a back office in India that supports us. We’re a 24/7 operation now.

How have large format modules affected racking engineering and designs?

BC: I think the first thing is as modules have continued to increase, it requires racking manufacturers to adapt. We and others in the industry have had to make modifications to some of the long goods in let’s say a ballast system where wind deflectors and ballast trays just have to grow to meet the new size ranges of some of the modules that are out there. It also has implications on wind tunnel testing, where the model that may have been tested six, seven, eight years ago is no longer valid for the size of models. They’ve just outgrew the range of that valid model. So, for Unirac what that’s meant is some new SKUs, some new components to ensure that we can handle those larger format modules, additional testing, as well as a refresh of some of the wind tunnel testing that we’ve done.

How does Unirac differentiate itself from other racking companies?

Ted Bleeker

TB: Unirac’s investment in human capital is unequaled in the industry. We’re constantly looking to create the best employee base to provide the best customer experience. That’s our goal. We are not thin on human representation and support for our customer base, from engineering to product support to install support, we’re there throughout. And then secondly, our product development. If you look at all our competitors, nobody is innovating at the pace that Unirac is and that goes from our residential attachments, like our butyl attachments for shingle roofs to metal roofs to multiple flat roof solutions. We’re looking at bifacial gains currently with our RM10 system and RM10 Evo and we’re innovating with UL 3741 testing across every rack that we have on the market.

What piece of advice would you offer to companies looking to break into the C&I, EPC or developer market?

TB: Right, it’s easy, partner with Unirac. We’ve got the best team on the market to support you, and I say that slightly in jest, but with all seriousness, we have the ability to support you from early-stage production reports up to very intense, permit design-ready documentation. We have the full spectrum of product offering to provide support for your installs wherever it is, we’ve got the onsite support for you to install in any market across the country.

BC: That partnership is so important, especially if somebody’s stepping into the C&I space.