25 August 2005

Centerbrook Architects

The UniRac frame for the solar array

Installation of the UniRac frame system.

AJ Shea Construction was hired by Spire Corporation to install the photovoltaic cells on the roof of the Centerbrook Architects building, and to manage and coordinate other subcontractors on this project.

Spire Corporation was contracted for systems design, material procurement, system commissioning and operation and maintenance.

The project began with the installation of a UniRac frame system to the roof. This provided a unique set of challenges as the roof is comprised of structural foam panels, and the 150-year-old timber roof joists vary in placement and material thickness. A custom jig was fabricated to ensure the accurate drilling of over 180 roof penetrations and a system of boots and flashing was employed to prevent water intrusion. This work was done with East Lyme Stucco and Waterproof, a local contractor.

The underside of a solar panel

Preparing to link solar panels together.

One hundred Shell PowerMax Ultra 165 watt photovoltaic cells were delivered to AJ Shea Construction, brought to the site and hauled to the scaffolding erected for this project. These were attached to the completed frame system, and wired together using junction boxes on the rear of each panel.

Ten cells were wired in series, and each group of 10 were connected in parallel, providing an optimal power output of 16,500 watts DC.

The output of the cells was connected to a combination of three SunnyBoy 6000U inverters located within the roof space of the building and the AC output of the inverters provides approximately 16,500 watts of AC line power to supplement the electrical needs of the building. A local electrician, Cegranzo Electric was hired to install conduit, disconnects and to integrate the system into the building's existing electrical infrastructure.

Electrical panel

Integrating the solar array into the building's existing electrical system.

The system also includes the integration of an InSpire solar monitoring solution, which allows the monitoring of AC energy production, wind speed, temperature and solar irradiance in real time over the Internet.

All of this work was completed in approximately three weeks, during which time Centerbrook Architects remained open for business.

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