Check out the recap from the show on YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts:
Highlights From This Episode:
Teamwork Makes the Design Dream Work: (0:35)
Say the name “PanelClaw” and Jason’s ears perk up! As Aaron reminds us, Jason’s first assignment at BayWa r.e. was to run point on PanelClaw’s clawFR hardware platform and clawOS software offerings. Aaron and Jason explain how solar installers can benefit from the special consultation process that BayWa r.e. offers with PanelClaw.
“This is a new level of service that BayWa r.e. is offering,” Aaron tells us. For contractors looking to design around PanelClaw components, BayWa r.e. will provide support for the initial design phase to develop the project. This hands-on review process makes it easier for our team at BayWa r.e. to interface with PanelClaw, so that installers can get the right design for their job, and BayWa r.e. can source the components called for.
“I’ve gotten to work with a ton of our installers doing system designs, getting approved for construction documents — pretty much everything from the initial workflow, doing a couple layouts, all the way through stamping. So it’s been a fun ride, and I’m looking forward to working with more of our customers,” says Jason. “If you need assistance, ping myself or reach out to your BayWa r.e. sales rep, and we can get in touch that way as well!”
PanelClaw’s Eye on C&I: (2:58)
Here today to give us the latest updates on PanelClaw’s hardware and software offerings is their Vice President of National Sales, Paul Bitterolf. Naturally, Paul leads off with PanelClaw’s clear value proposition for solar contractors tackling commercial projects of any size.
“We are the market-share leader in mid to large-scale ballasted racking. We’ve been around since 2008, focused exclusively on mid to large-scale commercial and industrial applications. We do a lot of school districts, stores, distribution centers,” Paul tells our listeners. “And over the last year or so, since announcing our partnership with BayWa r.e., we’ve been able to expand our product line into the small to mid-sized market. If you’ve got contractors that are looking at non-residential applications for flat roofs, our product is a great fit for it.”
PanelClaw offers its clawFR platform through BayWa r.e. in two different tilt angles: a 10-degree single-tilt with three row-spacing options and a 10-degree dual-tilt. “What’s great about it is that it’s the same platform, so the same essential components can be used in either configuration,” Paul says. That means contractors versed on designing one project using single-tilt can easily translate that knowledge to another project more suited for the dual-tilt.
Besides the ample design options, fewer parts and faster build speed is the other big headline here. Contractors build the grid prior to hanging the modules, then the entire grid is assembled with clawFR’s single bolt-hardware kit all to the same torque setting — and modules are hung via PanelClaw’s patent-pending, tool-less attachment engineering.
“It’s a rail-based system that lends itself to efficient load-sharing within the system — which translates to fewer ballast blocks, fewer attachments than you need with a non-rail-based system,” Paul tells the team. “The whole grid goes together with one bolt, and the modules are hung without any tools or hardware.”
Design-Order-Build with Speed and Ease: (5:50)
A big leap over this past year has been the continued development of clawOS — PanelClaw’s cloud-based structural design platform. Designed specifically for flat-roof PV projects, clawOS lets users create simple array layouts; upload layouts from AutoCAD or Helioscope; generate multiple racking design versions for budgeting purposes; examine structural requirements; and export bill of materials. The platform’s proprietary layout tool, fully automated racking design engine, and index of design inputs allows users to truly experiment with design optimization — with nearly limitless roof and sub-roof level platform load and point load limits.
And now that simplicity and versatility is available to any solar contractor sourcing through BayWa r.e. “Get in touch with your BayWa r.e. salesperson and we can get you registered,” Paul Bitterolf says, adding that with our new BayWa r.e.-PanelClaw support partnership, our own Jason Burnett would provide added training insights, sharing his own do’s and don’ts from his own onboarding with clawOS.
Opening up clawOS access is a huge step for a design tool inspired by PanelClaw’s own in-house technical expertise — but now available to empower anyone without AutoCAD experience or seasoned engineering knowledge. Paul jokes that clawOS helps answer that age-old design question: “Can you do this project without attachments? And if you need to have attachments, how many of them are there going to be? How heavy is this system going to be?”
Now there’s no more speculating, Paul says, with clawOS providing perfect and complete structural information on the front end of the project, along with support ticketing for users whenever design challenges arise, and continuous updates pushed to improve the design interface and technical presets. “If there’s a project that’s not going to work out… you can figure that out in the front end before you spend resources and resources only to come to that conclusion six months down the road.”
For Solar Nerds and Solar Novices Alike: (16:28)
Understanding the spectrum of solar businesses out there, clawOS has been improved to serve those who geek out over design details and those who just want to solve the bottom line.
“Some people like to draw every single gas line and drain on the roof. Other people just want to push modules everywhere and start removing them,” Paul says. “There’s no right or wrong, but we’ve built some flexibility into the sequencing around the actual design itself.”
And for the power users out there, there is a “clawOS Pro” version, which is what PanelClaw’s in-house team uses. But for most contractors, working through clawOS is sufficient. Once the design is ready and a drawing approved for construction is required, a support ticket can be generated and PanelClaw’s expert staff can help validate the design and produce the drawing.
“There’s two different workflows as we move into the issue-for-permit stage of the project,” Paul explains. For the small to mid-sized applications, PanelClaw can generate approved-for-construction drawings, with a state-certification letter that contractors can bring to the structural engineer already certifying the building, who can then review all the inputs and calculations and stamp the plans themselves.
Alternatively, if the onsite structural engineer certifying the site roof is not comfortable stamping your racking plans, PanelClaw can take care of that process for you.
Winning the Wiring Battle: (20:26)
Although the clawFR platform is compatible with any off-the-shelf wire management kits out there, PanelClaw has since developed three proprietary wire management solutions that make installs even more of a breeze.
“For some of these really challenging situations, you might have very little clearance underneath the low side of the module but still want to stay above the deck, especially with the single-tilt systems when you’re running homeruns north-south,” says PanelClaw VP Paul Bitterolf, adding that clawFR wire-management solutions can serve just about any scenario within the footprint of the array.
Of course, flexibility only works when there is availability — and this is where the BayWa r.e.-PanelClaw partnership once again brings value to the contractor.
“Oftentimes, the racking is procured a month or two months before you’re mobilizing. You’ve been under construction for a couple weeks, and installers realize ‘wait a minute, we gotta wire this thing up — how in the heck are we going to do that?’” Paul says, setting up the scene. “So one of the nice add-ons with our relationship with BayWa r.e. is that the materials are on the BayWa r.e. warehouse shelf — with just a quick phone call or a jump on the BayWa r.e. Webstore, you’ll have the homerun solutions, brackets for mounting RSD units, and all sorts of solutions that are proprietary and integrated into clawFR — not a month out, but in a matter of days.”
There’s so much more to this podcast than the recap above. Watch or listen to the full episode to hear the full conversation — including these topic highlights:
- PanelClaw solutions for UL 3741 compliance (22:50)
- Solving solar industry’s shared competitor — and the challenges to come over the next decade (27:38)
- Taking your first step with clawOS and clawFR (31:39)
BayWa r.e. Solar Systems LLC supplies residential and commercial solar installers in the United States with quality solar + storage components, forecasting, business planning advice, and a community of experts. Visit www.solar-distribution.com to read our industry insights articles and stream our Solar Tech Talk and Solar Town Hall podcasts on YouTube and Spotify. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to stay connected. Ask us about our Split Pay financing program and use our industry-leading Webstore to save time, get gear shipped, and get jobs done! Part of the BayWa r.e. Global family of renewable energy companies.