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A Real Sun Flower Blossoms In LA

illustration only
by Bradley Bartz
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Dec 20, 2010
The original Los Angeles Flower Mart is going solar with a 280 KW grid-tie system to power the premiere flower market resource in the largest wholesale flower district in the United States.

The LA Flower Mart grid-tie solar electric system is receiving a significant cash rebate from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and a full 30% tax grant from the Federal government. The System is expected to generate over 10 million kWh of electricity over its 25 year warranted life and more after that.

This solar grid-tie system is one of two systems approved by LADWP for a "Line Side Tap" for the back-feeding of solar generated electric power.

A line-side-tap is the process of tapping into the electrical infrastructure before the main panel circuit breaker of the client. The purpose of this type of tap is to ensure the busbar and electrical equipment is rated to handle the enormous current being generated by this 280KW solar system.

"When we first walked among the flowers to see the main panel we were quite overwhelmed by all of the beautiful colors and smells, said Dan Marnien the lead solar designer from MM Solar Solutions.

Dan continued with, "once we got to the roof we realized that it was eight buildings connected by shared walls and the solar panels would eventually be connected to just one meter in the main The original Los Angeles Flower Mart building."

The roof tops are a variety of structure types including a barrel roof, several flat sections and a collection of industrial wave roofs. The variety presented design challenges as the Schuco 225 Watt solar panels will be connect in 89 strings of 14. Each panel has an open circuit DC Voltage of 36.88.

This gets carried to a NEC 2005 Max DC Voltage of 14 x 41.67 equaling 583.4 VDC and 570.5 VDC for NEC 2008. The minimum DC voltage 14 x (29.76 -((70c - 25c) x .0035 x 29.76)) = 351 VDC. The SMA 250 KW Inverter has a minimum DC voltage input of 330 VDC. ok, I digress with math, the 14 panel strings are configured across 8 roofs for a total of 1,246 solar panels at 225 watts each for 280,350 watts.

The mounting hardware is a mixture of methods for each roof. The roofing work is being done by Tom Filla of All Pro roofing. His team focuses on the installation and waterproofing of solar mounting feet for the leading solar companies in Southern California. I'd like to estimate over one million mounting feet have been installed by Tom and his crew.

This LA Flower Mart Commercial Solar installation will use 607 stanchions that are 3 inches tall and 1,234 feet of 4 by 4 redwood sleepers. The sleepers will have penetrations every 2 feet for an estimated 617 penetrations.

ABC Solar Inc, the B, C-46 licensed solar contractor who is installing The original Los Angeles Flower Mart Solar Electric Grid-Tie System has hired All Pro roofing since 2003. Tom and his crew had years of experience when ABC Solar started hiring them. So, yes, I'd like to estimate that Tom Filla and his band of solar mounts have made over 1 million roofing penetrations for mounting solar panels.

"The team I assembled to install has the most experience of any solar crew in California," boasted Bradley Bartz, president of ABC Solar Incorporated.

"We almost always start our project with Tom at All-Pro, but it is the electrical line-side-tap and SunnyCentral SMA 250 KW inverter that prompted serious commercial solar experience."

The ABC Solar team takes the designs from the project lead at MM Solar Solutions and performs every step necessary to commission the solar system and start solar energy generation.

This includes extensive site visits, measurements and pictures. Each team leader is led thru the property and then multiple conversations and meetings go into producing a production and time schedule. ABC Solar focuses on getting every screw, bolt and wire ready for Just-In-Time delivery to the job site.

The SMA 250 KW Inverter is being landed on the second story of the built in parking garage that services the LA Flower Mart. The move from truck, up concrete driveway and to the inverter location requires a certified fork-lift driver and, of course, a fork lift. ABC Solar's team features veterans of the Navy, Army and National Guard. The best workforce is a trained one.

Electrical Configuration
The original Los Angeles Flower Mart Solar System is configured in 89 strings of 14 Schuco of Germany 225 watt solar panels to 32 Square D 30Amp/3p 600VDC Disconnect located at each array. From the Array location the solar strings are combined in a Solar Bos 600VDC Combiner box with each string having its own 15amp fuse.

From the roof in large conduit and large wire we core through the parking lot to the inverter location where we connect to two Square D HU364 200A/3p 600VDC disconnects. From here we go to the magic chamber of the SMA America SunnyCentral 250U (480VAC) grid-tie solar inverter.

This 97% efficient SMA product is connected to a Webox so that real-time solar production can be monitored by the client. The Inverter sends its 480 VAC power to a Square D HU365 600VAC 400A/3p Lockable Unfused Disconnect.

This is a lockable requirement by the utility company LADWP and to provide for more fire safety. From here the power goes to a LADWP Generation Meter that is a 400A 480VAC Square D UK7T.

Now that the solar power is accounted for, we send the power to a Interconnection Disconnect that is fused and lockable. It is a fused disconnect because this LA Flower Mart Solar Grid-Tie system is a Line-Side-Tap and bypassed the circuit-breakers in the main service panel. This unit is a Square D H365N 400A/3p lockable 600VAC fused disconnect with 400A, 200KVA I.R. Fuses.

To complete our solar system we connect to a LADWP bi-directional meter and, Now, the teams at ABC Solar, MM Solar Solutions, All-Pro Roofing and The original Los Angeles Flower Mart say, "Spin That Meter Backwards!"

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