One of the most important tasks when installing a PV system is wire management. This task is sometimes overlooked by installers or not given enough attention. Proper wire management minimizes maintenance, optimizes safety, and enables longer-lasting systems. Installers that take their wire management seriously will have longer lasting systems that require less maintenance over the lifetime of the PV system (20 to 30+ years). Whereas poor wire management could lead to service calls every couple of years, each costing hundreds of dollars. But these problems can be nearly eliminated with proper wire management.
So, what is wire management? Wire management is the practice of properly routing, organizing, supporting, and protecting the wiring. This practice is especially important for the installation of PV systems given the variety of harsh environments that PV systems are installed in. The wire management standard for the solar industry states that, “Electrical equipment shall be installed in a neat and workmanlike manner.” Wire management is about being neat and using common sense, such as ensuring wires are tucked away so rodents and other creatures do not have access. Wires should be run in a manner that avoids damage to their insulation and conductor, avoiding sharp edges, rough surfaces, moving parts of racking systems, direct sun light and overly tight bends. Wire organization and identification is another important aspect of wire management. Using wires with coloured insulation helps identify circuit conductors.
Most solar racking & mounting manufacturers carry products specific to wire management, but the specialized equipment is often overlooked for a cheaper alternative. The common solution for securing wire on a flush-mounted array are simple plastic zip ties bought from any home-improvement store. These cable ties sometimes cannot withstand the vast temperature changes underneath a residential solar system over its operating lifespan. Whether to use metal clips or plastic cable ties depends on site conditions and installer preference. Metal clips are stronger and have a longer lifespan, but they can have sharper edges that cut into components if secured incorrectly, including into the PV System wiring itself.
Proper wire support means securing wiring along PV modules and racking equipment, or in conduit trays by choosing correct components like stainless-steel wire clips, UV-stabilized composite wire clips and UV-stabilized wire ties. Stainless steel wire clips are available in a variety of forms to meet a variety of needs. These clips are designed to fasten to module frames or mounting rails.