As much as we might wish jobsites could be standardized, we all know that every installation is unique. When unforeseen difficulties come up, you need a team that can help you get it back on track quickly. That’s what happened when Pennsylvania Solar Energy Company Inc. encountered a challenging site recently in the Pennsylvania hills and Unirac’s support provided a quick solution.
The project was going up on a residential property with grapevines and a winery near Pittsburgh. The spot chosen for the arrays had its south face looking uphill—obviously, an unusual situation to begin with. Further complicating the question, Pennsylvania Solar Energy wanted to avoid poured concrete foundations because of the mountainous terrain, and they also wanted to maximize panel density.
“This wasn’t just your average cookie-cutter site,” said Zachary Kushner, Installer Sales Specialist for the Northeast. “Besides the grade, we knew a lot of the ground contained fractured shale rock, so we were aware upfront that it wouldn’t be completely straightforward.”
Unirac’s ULA groundmount system was chosen for its flexibility and panel density and designed to be installed with ground screws, avoiding the need to pour concrete.
“There were four tables (arrays) total. One went in without any issues,” Kushner explained. (Ground screws normally install with nothing more than a Bobcat and a torque adapter.)
“We knew the shale might be a little challenging, so we sank pilot holes with a small auger, which worked for more of the screws,” Kushner said. “But the terrain turned out to be extremely rocky at some points, so we had to call an audible and get a drill.” With the drill, they were quickly able to install the remaining screws, thanks in part to Unirac Soils Engineer Jon Schermerhorn, who was able to consult with Kushner and Pennsylvania Solar via Facetime on the best approach.
“It was a very tough puzzle they had to figure out,” Kushner said. “But ultimately, ULA plus ground screws was still the right solution for this site because of the other constraints.”
Pennsylvania Solar Energy was pleased with how quickly Unirac was able to help it adapt.
“It feels great to be finished with such a great-looking array,” said Zachary W. Reedy, VP of Construction Management. “Really painless too. In three days, we had 170 (Canadian Solar) panels and micros up, with trunk cable run and minimal manpower. It is pretty good in my book!” The site will produce about 34kW of power.
Pennsylvania Solar Energy has been a Top-500 Solar Contractor award winner in 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019. It has been working in the Pittsburgh area and throughout the state since 1999.
Unirac’s Installer Sales Specialists are unique to the industry. With a background in installation, they bring unique insights and efficiencies to Unirac’s customers, working alongside them on site.
“It’s these out-of-the-ordinary situations that give us the insights to take to the next customer,” Kushner said. “We learn something every time we’re out at a site, and being able to translate that into savings for our customers is what makes Unirac stand apart.”