Grounding Clear Mid Clamp

It’s late in the day and you’re close to finishing up installing the rooftop array.  You only have four more modules left and then you’re done.  However, the sun is quickly sinking and you’re feeling the pressure of wrapping up the job.  There’s more work for you to finish in the week so you want to have the rooftop work completed by end of day.  As you and your partner place the next module you lean over to place a mid clamp.  Oops, you just dropped the mid clamp.  You hear it slide down the already installed modules and along the exposed roof below the modules, then clank, it hits the gutter. Phew, it stopped.  Then you hear it hit the bushes two stories below and finally the ground.  Ahh, now you have to go find the mid clamp. 

Instead of going to grab the dropped mid clamp you continue on with your work.  A few minutes later, you are on to the next module.  And then the second to last.  At this point you need to go downstairs to get the dropped mid clamp.  You head towards the ladder, loosening your fall protection along the way.  You step onto the ladder, remove your fall protection and head down.  The sun is setting faster and faster as the minutes pass.  It takes you a couple of minutes to sift through the bushes to find the mid clamp.  You spot the metal, reach and grab the clamp.  You expel a sigh of relief, but just a little too early.  The nut that was loosely placed on the t-bolt has gone missing.  Ahhhh, you exclaim.  You quickly estimate that there is only 20 minutes left to wrap up all of the roof work or you’ll have to set up work at height again tomorrow. 

The tasks quickly roll through your mind: finish installing the last two modules including closing up the rooftop jbox, install rail end caps, remove fall protection anchors and seal / flash holes created from fall protection, drop ladder and clean up.  Everything but the last two tasks must be done before daylight exits making way for the evening.  Finally, you spot the mid clamp nut that had gone astray.  You think to yourself, if only you could have those 15 minutes back you spent looking for the dropped mid clamp, the pressure of time wouldn’t feel so extreme.  You clear your mind, make your way up the ladder, tie in and cross off each task with your partner in record time.  You did it, the array is completed and you can focus on commissioning the system tomorrow.  You can leave the ladder on the truck. 


Front view of solar panels


This scenario is quite common, especially when time becomes the enemy.  One strategy to avoid this is to have extra stock on hand.  You don’t need a ton of extras, but having a handful of the small, inexpensive components available for those times when something goes missing (which happens quite often when working on roofs) will save you time, money and headaches.  This technique applies to industry professionals as well as single-time installers.

So, when reviewing your order for completeness, don’t forget to add a couple of mid clamps, end clamps and SS hardware.  Unless you are 100% sure of all your rafter connection points, adding a couple of extra mounting feet goes a long way as well.  Other things to consider if they are not on your list is wire management, strain relief connectors for rooftop conductors, fuses, PV wire, PV wire connectors and any specific components to micro inverters or power optimizers.  Basically, if it’s small, easily dropped and easily lost I suggest getting a couple of extra to hedge against potential headaches.

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9 years 5 months ago
Written by
Eric Lorenz