Solar demands can build intense pressures. EPCs and electrical contractors need high-quality eBOS products at competitive prices — and they need them fast. But in today’s supply-constrained environment, ensuring on-time delivery of PV components can be tough.
Smart planning and consistent project execution can make all the difference. Without forethought, electrical wiring — too often overlooked until the last minute — can make or break a project schedule. Hastily buying bulk wiring from a vendor without solar experience can lead to material waste, field assembly issues, and site inconsistencies.
Although many construction issues can be mitigated on-site, there’s little chance to recover from wiring stage delays that occur when there is no slack in the schedule. EBOS challenges during a project’s final stage can blow deadlines and damage profitability.
That doesn’t have to be the case. Instead, electrical BOS integration can streamline on-site assembly for more efficient, cost-effective installations that increase speed, lower labor costs, and shorten project timelines.
Avoid project pitfalls of bulk wiring
While bulk wire may seem cheaper at first, any initial savings ultimately come at a steep price. Deploying bulk wire can lead to inconsistent tolerances, which can generate inefficient material use and waste. More importantly, because it takes extra time to manually crimp, cut, and install bulk wire on-site, labor and equipment costs can soar.
And that’s if all goes well. Incompatible wire connections can erode tight end-of-project schedules and budgets just as the big push is on to wrap up a project and divert resources to new sites. Finally, bulk wire simply can’t match the mission-critical consistency and long-term reliability of factory-assembled alternatives, which asset owners and operators know are critically important.
Reduce risk with plug-and-play, prefabricated wire systems
Integrated systems can play a critical role in pulling risk out of your project and increasing your control. Prefabricated wire harnesses and combiner bundles that are pre-cut, connectorized, and spooled can cut time in the field, boosting project efficiency.
Look for wire systems that are designed and assembled with precise wiring gauge, harness length, and combiner box combinations tailored to your site’s unique layout. Vendors that assemble wire solutions in-house usually deliver better quality control, which means more reliability and stronger performance. Controlled manufacturing also comes with compressed lead times and faster delivery, even during pandemic backlogs.
Example: Smart wire solution helps shave months off community solar farm execution
When a utility in the Midwest was building its largest-ever solar project, it wanted its EPC partner to get the job done in just six months — three months faster than it would typically take to complete.
Meeting that deadline meant deploying the 6.5-MW community farm flawlessly. To produce the 12 GWh of electricity local subscribers had been promised, 12,204 panels and their racks would need to be installed at lightning speed. While the physical construction could be done fast, the complex electrical demands require far more time.
To ensure on-time delivery and maximize value, the project’s EPC needed partners with deep product expertise and superior customer service to manage any issues that might arise.
Because the EPC adopted prefabricated wire, Terrasmart could execute the plug-and-play solution in the field. The complete package included spools shipped at exactly the right length with the correct connectors built to factory tolerances to ensure reliability.
Within a single month, project estimators were working alongside the EPC’s engineering and project management teams to generate a purchase order and begin fulfillment of the system’s wiring. The customized wire and combiner box order included 678 source circuit conductors (SCC), 118 jumpers of various lengths, and 29 combiner boxes.
Although the utility originally had requested that the combiner boxes have whips to speed connections, Terrasmart pointed out that the project was using conduit to bring the SCCs to the combiner boxes. By drawing attention to the issue, the project team could shorten the conduit and proceed with whips as originally planned, speeding installation in the field.
Bespoke wire solution ensures fast results
A customized wire solution seamlessly addressed the project’s complex needs, streamlining on-site execution. Unlike the clumsy handling involved in using off-the-shelf bulk wire, the prefabricated wires were ready to go, eliminating in-field costs to unspool, cut to length, strip ends, and add connectors. The built-to-spec solution meant the EPC had no risks from wire inconsistencies or wastage in the field, saving time on-site.
The alternative? If the EPC instead had chosen to bring in bulk wire to use with the project’s pre-assembled combiners, installers would have been forced to laboriously cut each conduit to accommodate the whips and connect every source circuit. Instead, the EPC enjoyed a single-source supplier for the box and wire, which ensured that wire lengths and connector types were matched up ahead of time, making for streamlined construction at minimal labor cost.
Integration amps up project wins
Customized solutions help EPCs and electrical contractors untangle planning and execution complexity up front, simplify on-site execution, and compress installation schedules. The final result is a high-quality wire solution custom-manufactured to each project’s unique cost and schedule requirements.
Joe Parzych oversees the wire division at Terrasmart. With more than 15 million feet of wire installed, Terrasmart’s wire team skillfully manages project complexity and improves wire layout efficiency. Terrasmart brings a unique end-to-end view of the solar project lifecycle, maximizing efficiency and value while minimizing roadblocks and risks. For more information visit terrasmart.com.
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