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Solar module mounting method and clip

Imported: 24 Feb '17 | Published: 06 Jan '04

Jefferson Shingleton

USPTO - Utility Patents

Abstract

A solar collector array is formed of a plurality of solar panels mounted on a frame made of support beams which may be sheet metal channel members. A butyl tape or other glazing material is applied between the back laminate of the solar panel and the beam. Clips are used to clamp the panels to the support beams. The clips have an upper portion that is generally T-shaped in profile, and a retainer in the form of a channel nut or bar, with a threaded hole that receives a bolt or similar threaded fastener. The retainer biases against the inwardly directed flanges of the channel support beam. Electrical wires and mechanical fasteners are concealed within the support beams.

Description

The above and many other objects, features, and advantages of this invention will be better understood from the ensuing detailed description, which is to be read in connection with the accompanying Drawing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a portion of an array of solar panels supported upon channel-type support beams, and attached thereto with connector clips according to one preferred embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 2 shows the clip of this embodiment.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing the clip of this embodiment attaching a solar panel to a channel support beam.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view showing a portion of an array of solar panels employing clips according to a second embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view showing the clip of this embodiment attaching a solar panel to a channel support beam.

FIG. 6 is another view showing details of the clip of this embodiment.

FIG. 7 is another perspective view showing additional details of this embodiment.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a clip according to another embodiment of this invention.

FIG. 9 illustrates the clip of this embodiment with a support beam.

FIG. 10 is a partial perspective of an array of solar panels employing a clip of yet another embodiment.

FIG. 11 is a view showing the installation of the clip of this embodiment in a channel support beam.

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the clip of this embodiment.

FIG. 13 is a perspective view illustrating another embodiment.

Claims

1. A fastener arrangement for attaching one or more flat rectangular solar panels onto a rack formed of one or more channel members, in combination with the rack and panels, in which the channel member has an elongated slot with a pair of inwardly facing flanges defining said slot and defining a surface supporting said solar panels which extend across said slot; said fastener arrangement comprising a clip member having a generally T-shaped profile with a stem portion with opposed flat sides and a cap portion at an upper end of the stem portion with flanges extending above said opposed flat sides, wherein the stem portion has a width sufficient to span across the slot of said channel member so that the stem portion rests on the pair of flanges of said channel member, and with the flanges of said cap portion extending out along sides of the stem portion to define recesses at opposite sides of the clip holding the edges of said solar panels against said channel member; a threaded fastener member rotatable in said stem portion and extending downward therefrom; and a channel nut adapted to be disposed within the associated channel member of the rack and to engage the flanges of said channel member, the channel nut having female threads to receive said threaded fastener therein to tighten the flanges of said clip member against the solar panels onto the rack.

2. The fastener arrangement according to claim 1 wherein said clip member is injection molded of a sturdy plastic material.

3. The fastener arrangement according to claim 1 wherein stem portion has a lower surface with contoured ends that continue over edges of said channel member.

4. The fastener arrangement according to claim 1 further comprising a pair of struts joining said clip member with said channel nut.

5. The fastener arrangement according to claim 4 wherein said struts are resilient and deformable to bend when the threaded fastener member is tightened down on said channel nut.

6. The fastener arrangement according to claim 4 wherein said struts are frangible member that break when the threaded fastener member is tightened down on said channel nut.

7. The fastener arrangement according to claim 4 wherein said clip member, said channel nut, and said struts are unitarily molded.

8. The fastener arrangement according to claim 1 wherein said threaded fastener members includes a pair of bolts arranged in a pair of holes in said clip member and which are received in respective threaded sockets in said channel nut.

9. A solar collector arrangement comprising one or more parallel rows of solar panels, each said row including:

10. A solar collector arrangement according to claim 9 further comprising strips of glazing material interposed between said solar panels and respective ones of said at least one channel member to provide cushioning and electrical isolation between said solar panels and said channel members.

11. A solar collector arrangement according to claim 9 further comprising at least one extruded resilient filler gasket disposed between adjacent ones of said solar panels at one or both sides of each of said fastener arrangements.

12. A solar energy collection arrangement according to claim 11 wherein gasket is made of a rubberlike material.

13. A solar energy collection arrangement according to claim 11 wherein said gasket has a pair of spaced flanges along each of two opposed edges, each pair defining a receptacle for fitting over an edge of a solar panel.

14. A solar collector arrangement comprising at least one support beam, an array of rectangular solar panels attached along said support beam such that edges of said solar panel extend across said support beam, and a plurality of clamps for clamping said rectangular solar panels onto said support beam, each said clamp including an upper clamp portion having a generally T-shaped profile with a central stem and a pair of transverse flanges at upper edges of said central stem; the central stem and said pair of transverse flanges being disposed onto and spanning across the support beam; at least one threaded fastener member passing through said central stem; a lower clamp portion shaped to clamp against a portion of said support beam to hold the upper clamp portion down against said support beam, and said lower clamp portion having at least one threaded portion receiving said at least one threaded fastener member for tightening down said flanges of the upper clamp portion to hold against the support beam the edges of the solar panels that cross over the support beam.

15. Solar collector arrangement according to claim 14, wherein said lower clamp portion has a pair of bolt receiving portions and an arched portion between said bolt receiving portions.

16. Solar collector arrangement according to claim 14, further comprising at least one strip of a glazing material situated on said support beam for cushioning said solar panels.

17. A method of installing flat solar panels onto a support formed of one or more elongated support beams, comprising; the steps of: applying strips of glazing material onto one or the other of edges of the solar panels and said support beams; positioning the panels in place on the support beams so that the panels are held by the strips of glazing material onto the beams, with the panels oriented so that the edges of the panels are at a right angle to said support beams; attaching to the support beams, in spaces between adjacent ones of said panels, fastener clips, each said fastener clip including a clip member having a generally T-shaped profile with a stem portion with opposed flat sides and a cap portion at an upper end of the stem portion with flanges extending above said opposed flat sides, said stem portion and said flanges being placed onto and spanned across the support beam; a threaded fastener member rotatable in said stem portion and extending downward therefrom, and a retainer member being disposed upon and engaging a portion of the associated support beam, the retainer member having threads to receive said threaded fastener member therein; and rotating said threaded fastener member to clamp said clip member to hold said edges of said adjacent panels on said support beam.

18. A method of installing flat solar panels onto a support according to claim 17, further comprising running electrical wires carrying power from said panels through a wireway formed in said support beams.

19. A method of installing flat solar panels onto a support according to claim 17, wherein said support beam includes a channel member having one slotted side with a pair of inwardly directed flanges defining a slot therebetween; and said step of attaching said fastener clips includes for each such clip inserting the retainer member thereof through the slot, and by rotating said threaded fastener member drawing said retainer member against said inwardly directed flanges.