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Santo Alimo has technically been working for Lumina Solar since January, but his roots with the team go back nearly a decade.

“I have worked with most of these guys since 2011,” he says. That year, he started working at Astrum Solar, which was later acquired by what became Direct Energy Solar. A friend from Direct started Fusion Solar in 2017, and Alimo joined him when Direct Energy left the residential market. Lumina called up Fusion for installations, and a partnership was born. The two merged this year as a “solar powerhouse” under the Lumina name.

Today he is Quality Control & Safety Manager at Lumina, but when he started at Astrum, he didn’t set out looking for solar. Alimo, a Baltimore native, was driving a truck at the time, delivering appliances and maintenance products to commercial buildings in and around the Greater DC area.

“Honestly, I knew very little about solar,” he said. I was looking for a change of pace and a friend had asked if I was interested in a job working with him doing solar. He asked if I was afraid of heights and if I knew how to use power tools. I had worked with power tools before over the years and was not afraid of heights, but I had never been on a roof before. This was a big step from driving a truck all day!Read More

The Time to Act is Now

There’s no doubt that you’ve been inundated with statements and affirmations of equality from companies and organizations recently. The protests and rallies sweeping our country cannot—and should not—be ignored. While public outcry demanding change has been strong at points in recent history, progress toward positive change has been halting and temporary. Now, we hope that current momentum will serve as a tipping point and the beginning of long-term, fundamental change.

While it may sound like Unirac is jumping on the bandwagon by bringing up the subject of racial discrimination and the injustice of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police, I’m willing to take that risk. Why? Because we built a strong multicultural and multiracial community at Unirac upon a belief that talent, intelligence, and human kindness remain the same no matter what form they take on the outside. Recent events have re-opened Americans eyes to the systematic discrimination that is still rampant, even now, against the African-American community where lives are uniquely affected in many ways.

Black lives matter.Read More

Unirac is First to Achieve Miami-Dade NOA Approval

In an industry-first designation, Unirac has become the only solar mounting company to earn Miami-Dade County’s benchmark Notice of Acceptance (NOA) product approval for construction in hurricane prone wind zones. The NOA approval will result in cost savings for installers.

“This is huge for installers and contractors throughout Florida and the whole Southeast,” said Unirac’s Director of Products Ernest Gallegos. “For the installer, this means a significant savings of up to $200 per project.”

The NOA (NOA No. 19-0429.02) will significantly reduce the cost and timeline of residential solar installation with Unirac’s respected SOLARMOUNT PV rail system by enabling contractors to accelerate or even bypass costly project-specific engineering reviews and by radically streamlining the design, permitting, and inspection process.

“Because of the way it considers High Velocity Hurricane Zone (HVHZ) wind conditions, Miami-Dade has the most stringent building code requirements in the country,” Gallegos said. “These are true ‘gold standard’ criteria—we wanted the best there is.”Read More

Installer Specialist Tom Talmage is Making a Difference at Unirac

Unirac’s Tom Talmage has been concerned about the planet since he was a teenager growing up in Tennessee.

“In high school I was always fired up about the environment because of where I grew up and what we grew up doing,” Tom says. “We were always outside camping, fishing, hunting, so we learned to respect the environment at an early age.”

Today, Tom is Unirac’s Installer Sales Specialist for the Southeast. Based in Tampa Bay, he has been working hands-on with Unirac customers since December.

As much as Tom has found a home in the solar industry, it wasn’t a direct path for him. His first thoughts were to make an impact by working in the field of policy. While studying for his degree in political science at Stetson University, he joined a professor’s effort to reverse deforestation in Guatemala and Nicaragua. For several months, he hiked between mountainous rural villages planting thousands of trees and building ventilated brick stoves to help people of the country avoid emphysema, a common ailment due to open fires. “It gave me a lot of perspective,” he says of the experience.Read More

The Sun is Not Always Friendly to Solar Installations: The Hidden Dangers of Thermal Expansion

What do you think about when designing a solar system—energy consumption and production, wind loads, snow loads, seismic zones, or roof height? How about thermal expansion and contraction? Thermal expansion is a real, omnipresent effect, and overlooking temperature differences can have major consequences on a solar installation over time. It should be a major concern to the solar installer and homeowner. Fortunately, selecting products designed for the effects of thermal expansion can ensure a worry-free installation. Read on to learn more

What is Thermal Expansion?

It’s not just expansion. It is the natural behavior of materials to expand and contract with variations in temperature. Everything in our daily environment does this—from buildings to roads, sidewalks to bridges.

Although thermal expansion and contraction is a complex problem, it has a simple root cause. All materials are made up of atoms. When heated, the energy in those atoms rises, causing the atoms to move faster. The faster the atoms move, the more space they take up, and the material expands. When it gets cold, the opposite happens. This is an immutable law of nature. Why does all this matter when designing a solar system? Because the effects can be catastrophic to the system, the roof, and—ultimately—your business.Read More

A Little Logistics Information Goes a Long Way Toward Smoother Commercial Deliveries

Any type of work at a construction site always requires careful planning, but a solar installation can present unique logistics challenges. Fortunately, there are steps that can help ensure everything turns out well.

“Solar usually comes toward the end of a commercial project,” notes Brandon Carrasco, Director of Customer Solutions at Unirac. “Everyone tends to be itchy to get finished, so the temptation to just assume it will go well is there and pushes the project forward. Even though it’s rare, things don’t always go perfectly.”

“Just about anything can happen in the delivery process,” says Chase Alford, Unirac’s Senior Customer Fulfillment Coordinator. “Truck drivers fall ill just like anybody else, so schedules get turned around at the last second. Also, customers may not deal with material like this too often, so pulling a 20-foot-long bundle of steel that weighs thousands of pounds off a truck might surprise you with what equipment it takes.”

Then there’s natural disasters. The Unirac team has seen floods that closed warehouses and dealt with warehouses that moved a few days before. That’s why we do our best to prepare customers to anticipate anything that might come up, while making sure our processes are in place to be able to handle it.Read More

Ground Screws Open Up More Sites for Ground Mount

Ground screws turn inaccessible or difficult sites into potential locations for ground mount solar installations. Already a leader in pile-driven, cast-in-place, and ballasted foundations, Unirac now offers these versatile new tools and 25-year warranties to go with them.

So, what is a ground screw, exactly?

Think of an ordinary wood screw—the long, tapered, pointy kind with threads—but imagine it a lot bigger (four feet or longer) and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what a ground screw looks like. It’s a type of foundation (atop which are connected the structural beams and module hardware of a system) that has a continuous helix wrapped around a round pipe. They are generally hollow, unlike wood screws. If you’ve seen helical piles, ground screws are similar, but helical piles have a single helix or a helix at two or three points along the structure and are not continuous.Read More

Conduit Bending is a Superpower!

Seldom do you find an industry where individuals from diverse backgrounds can come together to work toward a common goal. I personally never imagined myself in the role I find myself in today. I went from a Broadcast Communication major as an undergraduate to a Theatrical Set Designer in graduate school to an early career working in independent theater and film to retail to marketing, finally landing my first job in solar about nine years ago. I’ve been hooked ever since. Many of you in the industry have similar stories and I am fascinated by them. Who are you, solar heroes? Where did you come from? How did you find your way to solar? What attracted you to the company you work for? What makes your solar career special? Why do you do what you do?Read More

How Soil Types Can Affect Solar Installations

From kilowatt backyard installations to megawatt projects, soils will have an impact on the type and cost of the foundation. A typical saying in geotechnical engineering is, “pay me now or pay me later”. By taking the time and effort to know your site before construction, you can optimize your foundations to save labor, time, material costs, and avoid headaches.

In this article, we will show you the basics of the soils you may encounter.

First, a designer or engineer should know that soils can consist of shallow bedrock, cobbles, and gravel, sand, or clay—each of which can have an impact on the foundations. Shallow bedrock or cobbles and gravel can cause issues with installing pneumatic hammer-driven piles (the upright posts that underpin the arrays) resulting in pile refusal and the need for concrete cast-in-place, ballasted designs, or groundscrew foundations. Sand soils can have low vertical or “pull-out” capacity, requiring deeper foundations. Soft clay can have a reduced lateral capacity, meaning piles can be pushed over, which can result in a need for deeper foundations and larger steel sections to remain stable.Read More

Stay Tuned – New Products Coming Soon

Shipping soon — the best attachment for every flat roof. With the fastest install in the industry and big hardware and labor savings, Unirac’s Flashloc™ RM is the new standard for solar attachments. Thanks to Unirac’s unique Flashloc™ technology, you’ll be able to install our new flat-roof attachment at speeds unmatched by any other, and because you won’t need to heat-weld membranes and can carry a single part for most rooftops, you’ll save on labor on top of the cost savings of the hardware itself. With a huge range of application possibilities and 6,600 lbs. of ultimate uplift offset, you’ll want to make sure Flashloc™ RM is on your radar. Orders being taken now.

To request more information, please click here.

Available soon – SOLOBOX is the only junction box you need for attic runs and rail-mounted applications. Featuring Flashloc Technology, SOLOBOX saves you time and labor on the roof by limiting shingle cutting and prying nails on attic runs. Just secure the box and inject the sealant. For rail-mounted applications, SOLOBOX mounts quickly to Unirac’s J-Box Mounting Bracket and has a low profile design to sit under the panels (where permitted). The box itself can support 2 attic pass throughs and features a hinging lid, a single captive screw, pre-drilled weep holes, and an option for a pre-assembled din rail. Lastly, SOLOBOX is NEMA 3R rated, UL1741 certified and backed by Unirac’s 25 year warranty. Start saving time and labor with the only junction box you’ll ever need – click here for more information.