Karl Riedlinger has written an excellent article in SolarPro Magazine. It’s a great read if you want to become familiar with the requirements of fall protection standards for photovoltaic (PV) installations. Kindly, SolarPro has granted Tanner permission to reprint the article here for the benefit of our readers.
“According to preliminary data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 635 workplace fatalities from falls occurred in 2010, down from a high of 847 in 2007. Of all the industries tracked, construction had the highest number of total fatalities in 2010— and 260 of the 751 construction fatalities recorded last year were the result of falls.
While these statistics are sobering, they tell only part of the story. The majority of workplace accidents are not fatal, but instead cause injuries resulting in lost worker income, lost company revenue, increased insurance rates and potentially lifelong health problems for injured workers. Understanding the hazards present on the job-site and addressing them through proper training, planning and safe work practices is in the best interests of both employers and employees.”
If you have been considering making the switch to solar energy but need just a bit more of a nudge, keep reading. There are numerous reasons to add solar panels to your home or business. Here are just a few of them.
Using solar energy reduces the carbon footprint you leave on the planet. It means you no longer have to rely on electricity or natural gas to power your home. The sun will shine whether inhabitants of the earth use its energy or not, and it doesn’t cost a cent to collect its energy. Additionally, solar panels on your structure can also contribute energy to the surrounding community when you sell the excess solar energy to the local power company.
Save money/make money
Because you no longer need the services of the local energy companies, you save the funds you otherwise would have spent paying bills to those organizations. The other monetary benefit is that you will likely gather more energy than you can use, and you can sell the excess energy to the local company, reducing their dependence on other energy resources as well. In essence, you can save the planet and some cash at the same time.
Generators, certain windmills and digging for natural gas all have something in common: they produce power… and noise. Another benefit of solar energy is that it provides energy without producing noise as a side effect. The sun makes no noise as it heats or lights, neither does it make noise when it provides energy for your home or business.
Increase property value
All the benefits of solar energy do require the installation of solar panels. Calculations reveal that it takes approximately 10 years for the panels to pay for themselves. Some argue that the investment is not worth it unless you plan to remain at the same residence for at least that period of time. However, what those individuals fail to mention is that the solar panels actually add to the property value of your home. So even if you don’t remain in the same location for 10 years, you still have the opportunity to recoup your expenses. All the while, the benefit to the environment is priceless.
The sun is in no danger of burning out. As long as it shines, it will continue to be a resource for power. Natural gas and fossil fuels can be depleted. There are very few resources that promise an endless supply. The sun is one.
Because the supply of other energy resources fluctuates, so does the price of those resources. This can most easily be seen at the gas pump. Since you don’t pay for the use of the sun, the price does not change. Its energy will be just as free today as it will be in 50 years.
When the industrial revolution transformed industry, manufacturers quickly designed universal fasteners which were suited for virtually every applications. A simple wood screw was used through the furniture industry, while fine threaded bolts and screws were used in metal product fabrication. Not until the end of the 20th century did manufacturers re-examine their approach to fastener design. Maybe it was advanced manufacturing methods or maybe someone in the field looked at a problem and designed a new, better mousetrap to solve an old problem. In any case, one of the most significant improvements in concrete fasteners in the last century is the concrete screw, orTapcon screw.
Tapcon screws allow installers to drill smaller pilot holes than traditional shielded anchors. A Tapcon screw is manufactured from hardened steel, and features an abrasive, aggressive thread. Once a pilot hole is drilled, the concrete screw is screwed into the concrete with a power drill in much the same way a wood screw is fastened into wood. Quick and efficient, contractors use the tapcons to install low-load fixtures to concrete and cement block walls.
Installers must be careful with Tapcons, or they will create problems for themselves. First the tapcon hole must be drilled to the proper depth. If the end of the screw hits the bottom of the hole before it is screwed all the way in, the screw will likely ream the hole out, and not be able to grip the concrete. Secondly, installers must use the correct diameter drill bit. If the hole is too large, the tapcon won’t grip the walls. If the hole is too small, the screw will bind as it enters the hole. In this case, a powerful drill will strip the head completely off the screw in just seconds, thus complicating the installation.
Another application using specialty hardware is solar panel installation. With our nation’s push toward more green energy solutions, solar panels are being designed into new building energy systems, and are typically mounted in multi-panel arrays on the building wall or roof planes. The individual panels are held into the arrays via custom solarpanel mounting hardware. When mounting a solar panel array, the fastener needs to create a ridged structure, but also allow for the panel to be installed and removed for inspection, maintenance and repair. For new buildings, or retrofit installations, the solar panel mounting hardware is designed as a single fastener that screws or threads into the building’s structural shell and then allows the solar panel to be mounted to the end of the fastener which is still exposed to the exterior.
When solar panels are mounted to a building’s roof, these specialty fasteners firmly attach the panels to the roofing system and allow for quick and seamless installation of the panels at a later date. For new buildings, specialty fasteners are recommended which fasten the metal roofing systems to the building’s framework and at the same time provide the studs to which the solar panels mount.
When designing a solar panel installation, make sure to research the installation options ahead of time. A proper installation requires the right fastener and proper preparation and planning.
A recent article over at RenewableEnergyWorld.com focuses on the growing problem of solar panel theft. Solar theft grew by 15% in 2009, and has likely been on the rise ever since. The 15% figure, which the article quotes, is courtesy of SolarInsure, an insurance company specializing the solar industry.
So solar theft is on the rise. What can you do about? The article provides a good run down of options including different types of alarm systems, creating physical barriers, and the use of breakaway bolts, an item we carry at Tanner.
Note, in the article, they refer to breakaway bolts as “tighten-and-break” anti-theft screws. However, the more common term in the industry is breakaway bolts. These are truly tamperproof. Without extraordinary measures, it would be impossible for a thief to remove the bolts, but keep in mind, the same goes for you as the installer or solar panel owner.
Read the full article over at RenewableEnergyWorld.com and if you have any questions we can answer, please share them in the comments section below.