Partnering With EPEC/QT for More Efficient Solar Energy Installations
As the world becomes more electric, the renewable power is a growing industry with demand expected to increase, putting pressure on companies that supply solar energy solutions to build more efficient and effective equipment.
Capturing energy from the sun and funneling it into the electrical grid where it can be put to work powering our homes and businesses is a complicated process involving many pieces of carefully calibrated equipment. Additionally, as solar energy companies seek locations with consistent sunshine, they often build solar fields in harsh environments that can be difficult to reach. These remote locations can be expensive to service, making the protection of sensitive equipment critically important.
nVent is helping our customers achieve critical innovations in the renewable energy industry. EPEC Solutions (EPEC) and QT Corporation (QT), known as EPEC/QT, offer efficient and low footprint solar power panel solutions like AC combiner switchboards, combiners and recombiners. The company takes advantage of nVent technologies to save space, create efficiency and reduce cost without sacrificing reliability.
Efficient Sourcing Saves Time and Resources
AC combiners are an important component of solar energy systems, combining the energy from many chains of solar panels into a single power output that can be fed into a transformer, then into local power grids. These combiners are a core piece of EPEC_QT’s business.
To provide the best possible technology for their customers, EPEC_QT engineers need to source the most dependable and efficient components for their combiners. Building a combiner requires many individual pieces of technology, including conductors for transporting energy, surge protectors and insulators to ensure the stability of the electrical system and enclosures to protect sensitive equipment from harsh elements.
Finding the right parts from many different suppliers can be challenging. EPEC_QT worked with nVent representatives and distributors to purchase several nVent enclosures, power conductors, insulators and surge protection devices. Purchasing multiple components for their combiner from nVent streamlined the sourcing and production process for EPEC_QT. Using custom-built nVent products also helps EPEC_QT reduce labor time and decrease the amount of inventory it needs to keep on hand to meet customer demand.
Delivering Efficiency and Sustainability
EPEC_QT makes innovative combiners that lower costs and footprint for their customers. The company’s UL 891 AC combiner switchboards can reduce footprints by up to 40 percent, allowing customers to use space more efficiently and produce more renewable energy.
When designing its AC combiner technology, finding the right enclosure was essential for EPEC_QT. Company engineers needed an enclosure that could protect all the critical components while supporting the innovations that allowed for a smaller footprint for the enclosure. EPEC_QT worked with nVent to create a custom enclosure that houses the entire combiner and switchboard system. EPEC_QT selected nVent based on their ability to design and customize the enclosure to match the specific needs of the solar industry, the repeatable quality of the enclosures and the overall value of the product.
Additionally, to reduce the footprint of their switchboard technology, EPEC_QT engineers made the decision to eliminate copper bus connections inside the combiner and replace them with nVent flexible busbars and IBSB braids. These nVent conductors are more space efficient and cost efficient than copper busbars and offer better conductivity. They also reduce production time and labor costs because they are customized by nVent to match EPEC_QT’s exact specifications instead of being sheared and bent on site. This allows EPEC_QT to carry a reduced inventory of copper and minimize its material waste.
“With a focus on innovation and quality, nVent continues to set new benchmarks in the industry,” said Mark Sauls, Vice President of EPEC.
With nVent products in its combiner systems, EPEC_QT can count on its ability to deliver for its customers and continue to focus on creating innovative solutions that drive the solar energy industry forward. nVent is helping our customers achieve critical innovations for a more sustainable and electrified world, bringing new technologies without sacrificing reliability. Our solutions provide resiliency and protection and safety to critical systems and infrastructure around the globe while maximizing customer productivity.
nVent Insight: What does it take to bring the sun's energy to your power outlets?
In solar energy systems, the flow of power begins when solar panels gather the sun’s rays and convert them to electrical DC (direct current) power. This DC power then is converted to AC (alternating current) power by a device called a string inverter. The “string inverter” gets its name because multiple “strings” of solar panels are tied into each one. Typically, there are 12 to 24 strings of around 30 solar panels connected into each string inverter.
The newly produced AC power from the string inverters then flows into an AC switchboard—in the solar energy industry this is called a combiner (EPEC_QT’s specialty). The combiner’s job is to combine the power from several string inverters. The combiner is then connected to a transformer that matches the voltage coming out of the solar energy system to the voltage of the local power grid, allowing this locally produced energy to be used to power homes, businesses, charging devices for electric vehicles and more.