There’s a lot of covered parking out there, and it’s a market that’s expanding all the time. Unirac’s MetalX is making it easy to include solar in those plans, as a recent installation at the Ft. Wayne International Airport shows.
The airport, which has one of the longest runways in the country (11,981 feet), was doubling the size of six existing identical carports and wanted to add solar. They called what was then Ecolibrium Solar, now part of Unirac thanks to a recent acquisition, and ended up choosing MetalX for the project.
MetalX is a direct-attach system for all metal roof types that uses a groundbreaking floating coupler to join row modules at their corners, increasing spans and reducing attachments. It also means fewer SKUs and a quantum leap in shipping density, with even megawatt-size systems arriving on just a couple of pallets, plus a streamlined installation process.
Jason Comstock, Field Support / Product Training with Unirac, went on-site in July to help the crew get up to speed. The lead contractor on the job was Johnson-Melloh (part of Veregy), and C2 Solutions of Bloomfield helped with the install itself.
When Comstock arrived to show them MetalX, the expansion of the structures was still to be completed, so he helped the crews put panels on the existing carport roofs.
“It went great,” Comstock says. “I had no idea when I showed up at the jobsite that I had trained two of the installers on a different system (a flat-roof project) at Ball State University. They picked MetalX right up. It’s really simple–there aren’t a whole lot of parts. Once you get your first row of attachments and get them straight, everything just falls in.”
In fact, it was so straightforward that he didn’t end up using all the time he’d budgeted.
“I’d planned a second day on site,” Comstock says, “but by the end of the first day, they were rocking and rolling, so they didn’t need me after that. And we actually didn’t start until fairly late in the morning that day.”
The system when complete (construction on the expansion portion of the project is continuing) will be 552kW, of which half is finished. Tommy Mitchell of C2 says the team ended up putting in about 180 panels/day with a four-person crew but believed 240 modules/day was an attainable goal for the second half.
Mitchell said Phase 1 finished without a hitch.
The modules themselves are 400-watt Hanwha Q-cells, 1380 in total. They have a 35mm frame and are being installed in landscape. The rows were fairly long, ending up with 24 columns altogether.
The roof of the carports is a standing seam metal averaging about 16 ft. high with a slope of 3 degrees. Standard Solar Connections International 2-SS attachments were used and paired with MetalX panel clamps.
“MetalX makes for an easier installation because you can drop in as you lay the panels down,” Comstock explains. “They basically self align. From an install standpoint it couldn’t be much simpler.” (You can see a demonstration of a sample installation here, or learn more by visiting the MetalX Product Page)
Brandon Carrasco, Director of Customer Solutions at Unirac, says MetalX serves a market segment that many installers and contractors may not have considered before.
“Metal roof opportunities are everywhere now,” Carrasco says, “especially in commercial and agricultural settings. These tend to be great roofs, too—big, simple rectangles where the efficiency and speed of MetalX can really shine.”
These features mean MetalX can often offer the lowest cost per watt as an overall system of any product on the market.
“This is pretty much turnkey for an installer,” he says. “Easy to ship, easy to learn, easy to install, affordable—we think this is going to open up a lot of business for customers.”
If you missed our recent webinar on MetalX, you can view it here.