CBD Energy is a fascinating PV industry player in Australia.
We have previously described some of its growth strategies and its merger with Westinghouse Solar from the US.
As expected, it recently announced the imminent release of Westinghouse’s pretty neat ‘Instant Connect’ system.
Having done a lot of work on the streamlining of mounting, connection and inverters in the past, it remains to be seen how the market takes to this technology, although I personally like the concept and I commend CBD/Westinghouse for what it represents in terms of innovation.
One of the things that installers tell me is that although these types of systems have great theoretical promise, the reality of roofs is that variation is a huge issue, creating limitations for these Zep type mounting systems. I would imagine that the alignment tolerances for such systems are extraordinarily tight and require a level of accuracy not normally required, especially for the electrical contacts.
Such systems are not entirely new either. Almost two decades ago Solarex had a similar (if less ingenious) system allowing intermodule connections through a frame hole but in uniquely Australian style; it was designed for conduit rather than cable offering some protection for the myriad of cable munching marsupials and birds that we have.
I have also heard concerns that such systems can be a major pain the backside in the event of a module or inverter failure, because you effectively have to work your way in from the end of the array, module by module to disassemble and reach the problem module. Just how often this would be a problem comes down to reliability and arguably, the warranty terms and support provided, which aren’t described yet.
Having said all this, data is demonstrating there is a growing niche segment for AC modules and the Zep system has some fans. Combined with a very strong brand and some other install speed factors, it will be a very interesting product to watch.