Wires Everywhere

Choosing the right mounting and racking system might seem like your biggest task, but don’t forget about cable management, too.

By William Feldman

Most any solar panel installation worth its salt, whether on the roof or on the ground, should feature secure mounting for the panels and a secure and protective raceway system to manage the dozens, hundreds or even thousands of cables. The issue heard, probably around the globe, is “What do we do with all these wires?”

When Snake Tray, a manufacturer of cable management systems, wanted to install solar panels on the roof of its headquarters in Bay Shore, N.Y., to reduce its electric bill, right off the bat it ruled out using conduit to route the cable because it is expensive and labor-intensive to install and often requires de-rating cables to compensate for the excessive heat buildup inside the conduit.

Snake Tray racksInstead, capitalizing on its engineering know-how, the company created an innovative system of cable management devices designed specifically for solar installations to streamline wiring for the 535 solar panels that were slated to go up on the roof. The new system, which also facilitates easy access to the cable and provides continuous support for them and the panels, was based on the company’s signature product, Snake Tray, a metal cable management system of open-web trays. The entire system is lightweight and does not substantially add to the weight load of the solar panel installation on the roof.

Solar Snake Tray is a weatherproof hand-bendable cable conveyance that easily, quickly and securely carries the DC circuitry from solar panels to their terminations. Installers change directions simply by bending the tray to accommodate the route of the run, which is a lot faster for installers in comparison to working with alternative methods.

The Solar Snake Trays feature an open, patented “lobster trap” design that permits easy drop-in of cables and lets air flow freely around the cables, allowing for heat dissipation and enabling copper conductors to carry their full capacity. This open web design precludes the need to increase the size of the cable and conduit, saving on the cost of copper cable. Also, the bendability of the tray simplifies installation compared to installation of other methods.

The trays connect with a single connector for a speedy bonded attachment, tray to tray, maintaining NEC compliance. The system is weatherproof and keeps cables in place even in hurricane force winds of up to 120 mph. Solar Snake Tray is available in hot-dipped galvanized or stainless steel to protect against weather and other environmental conditions.

Snake Tray also manufactures other solar accessories, including the UL-classified Solar Mega Snake, a pole-mounted management system capable of spanning distances in excess of 30 ft, and the Solar Messenger Snake Tray, which clips easily onto messenger wire rope without the need for tools or hardware.

Snake Tray, which itself generates about 75 percent of its electrical energy off its own roof, has supplied more than 1 million ft of Solar Snake Trays in installations in the United States and around the world in the last three years, in projects ranging from schools and sewage treatment plants, drugstores, meatpacking plants and railway station carports, all the way up to utility grade solar arrays producing hundreds of megawatts of energy.

William Feldman is a freelance writer, reporting frequently on building products and construction techniques and technology. Visit snaketray.com for more information on Snake Tray.

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