US20150076301A1 - Universal mid clamp - Google Patents

Universal mid clamp Download PDF

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Publication number
US20150076301A1
US20150076301A1 US14/317,756 US201414317756A US2015076301A1 US 20150076301 A1 US20150076301 A1 US 20150076301A1 US 201414317756 A US201414317756 A US 201414317756A US 2015076301 A1 US2015076301 A1 US 2015076301A1
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US
United States
Prior art keywords
module
nut
rail
clamp
bolt
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US14/317,756
Inventor
Greg McPHEETERS
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Sunrun South LLC
Original Assignee
Sunrun South LLC
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US7189108P priority Critical
Priority to US12/470,682 priority patent/US8585000B2/en
Priority to US13/196,270 priority patent/US8801349B2/en
Application filed by Sunrun South LLC filed Critical Sunrun South LLC
Priority to US14/317,756 priority patent/US20150076301A1/en
Assigned to MAINSTREAM ENERGY CORPORATION reassignment MAINSTREAM ENERGY CORPORATION ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: MCPHEETERS, GREG
Assigned to MS ENERGY SURVIVING LLC reassignment MS ENERGY SURVIVING LLC MERGER (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: MAINSTREAM ENERGY CORPORATION
Assigned to SUNRUN SOUTH LLC reassignment SUNRUN SOUTH LLC CHANGE OF NAME (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: MS ENERGY SURVIVING LLC
Publication of US20150076301A1 publication Critical patent/US20150076301A1/en
Assigned to SUNRUN SOUTH LLC reassignment SUNRUN SOUTH LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: MCPHEETERS, GREG
Abandoned legal-status Critical Current

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02SGENERATION OF ELECTRIC POWER BY CONVERSION OF INFRA-RED RADIATION, VISIBLE LIGHT OR ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT, e.g. USING PHOTOVOLTAIC [PV] MODULES
    • H02S20/00Supporting structures for PV modules
    • H02S20/20Supporting structures directly fixed to an immovable object
    • H02S20/22Supporting structures directly fixed to an immovable object specially adapted for buildings
    • H02S20/23Supporting structures directly fixed to an immovable object specially adapted for buildings specially adapted for roof structures
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04DROOF COVERINGS; SKY-LIGHTS; GUTTERS; ROOF-WORKING TOOLS
    • E04D13/00Special arrangements or devices in connection with roof coverings; Protection against birds; Roof drainage; Sky-lights
    • E04D13/14Junctions of roof sheathings to chimneys or other parts extending above the roof
    • E04D13/147Junctions of roof sheathings to chimneys or other parts extending above the roof specially adapted for inclined roofs
    • E04D13/1473Junctions of roof sheathings to chimneys or other parts extending above the roof specially adapted for inclined roofs specially adapted to the cross-section of the parts extending above the roof
    • E04D13/1476Junctions of roof sheathings to chimneys or other parts extending above the roof specially adapted for inclined roofs specially adapted to the cross-section of the parts extending above the roof wherein the parts extending above the roof have a generally circular cross-section
    • F24J2/5203
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04DROOF COVERINGS; SKY-LIGHTS; GUTTERS; ROOF-WORKING TOOLS
    • E04D13/00Special arrangements or devices in connection with roof coverings; Protection against birds; Roof drainage; Sky-lights
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F16ENGINEERING ELEMENTS AND UNITS; GENERAL MEASURES FOR PRODUCING AND MAINTAINING EFFECTIVE FUNCTIONING OF MACHINES OR INSTALLATIONS; THERMAL INSULATION IN GENERAL
    • F16BDEVICES FOR FASTENING OR SECURING CONSTRUCTIONAL ELEMENTS OR MACHINE PARTS TOGETHER, e.g. NAILS, BOLTS, CIRCLIPS, CLAMPS, CLIPS, WEDGES, JOINTS OR JOINTING
    • F16B37/00Nuts or like thread-engaging members
    • F16B37/04Devices for fastening nuts to surfaces, e.g. sheets, plates
    • F16B37/045Devices for fastening nuts to surfaces, e.g. sheets, plates specially adapted for fastening in channels, e.g. sliding bolts, channel nuts
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F16ENGINEERING ELEMENTS AND UNITS; GENERAL MEASURES FOR PRODUCING AND MAINTAINING EFFECTIVE FUNCTIONING OF MACHINES OR INSTALLATIONS; THERMAL INSULATION IN GENERAL
    • F16MFRAMES, CASINGS OR BEDS OF ENGINES, MACHINES OR APPARATUS, NOT SPECIFIC TO ENGINES, MACHINES OR APPARATUS PROVIDED FOR ELSEWHERE; STANDS; SUPPORTS
    • F16M13/00Other supports for positioning apparatus or articles; Means for steadying hand-held apparatus or articles
    • F16M13/02Other supports for positioning apparatus or articles; Means for steadying hand-held apparatus or articles for supporting on, or attaching to, an object, e.g. tree, gate, window-frame, cycle
    • F24J2/5258
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24SSOLAR HEAT COLLECTORS; SOLAR HEAT SYSTEMS
    • F24S25/00Arrangement of stationary mountings or supports for solar heat collector modules
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24SSOLAR HEAT COLLECTORS; SOLAR HEAT SYSTEMS
    • F24S25/00Arrangement of stationary mountings or supports for solar heat collector modules
    • F24S25/10Arrangement of stationary mountings or supports for solar heat collector modules extending in directions away from a supporting surface
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24SSOLAR HEAT COLLECTORS; SOLAR HEAT SYSTEMS
    • F24S25/00Arrangement of stationary mountings or supports for solar heat collector modules
    • F24S25/30Arrangement of stationary mountings or supports for solar heat collector modules using elongate rigid mounting elements extending substantially along the supporting surface, e.g. for covering buildings with solar heat collectors
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24SSOLAR HEAT COLLECTORS; SOLAR HEAT SYSTEMS
    • F24S25/00Arrangement of stationary mountings or supports for solar heat collector modules
    • F24S25/60Fixation means, e.g. fasteners, specially adapted for supporting solar heat collector modules
    • F24S25/61Fixation means, e.g. fasteners, specially adapted for supporting solar heat collector modules for fixing to the ground or to building structures
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24SSOLAR HEAT COLLECTORS; SOLAR HEAT SYSTEMS
    • F24S25/00Arrangement of stationary mountings or supports for solar heat collector modules
    • F24S25/60Fixation means, e.g. fasteners, specially adapted for supporting solar heat collector modules
    • F24S25/61Fixation means, e.g. fasteners, specially adapted for supporting solar heat collector modules for fixing to the ground or to building structures
    • F24S25/615Fixation means, e.g. fasteners, specially adapted for supporting solar heat collector modules for fixing to the ground or to building structures for fixing to protruding parts of buildings, e.g. to corrugations or to standing seams
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24SSOLAR HEAT COLLECTORS; SOLAR HEAT SYSTEMS
    • F24S25/00Arrangement of stationary mountings or supports for solar heat collector modules
    • F24S25/60Fixation means, e.g. fasteners, specially adapted for supporting solar heat collector modules
    • F24S25/63Fixation means, e.g. fasteners, specially adapted for supporting solar heat collector modules for fixing modules or their peripheral frames to supporting elements
    • F24S25/634Clamps; Clips
    • F24S25/636Clamps; Clips clamping by screw-threaded elements
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01QANTENNAS, i.e. RADIO AERIALS
    • H01Q1/00Details of, or arrangements associated with, antennas
    • H01Q1/12Supports; Mounting means
    • H01Q1/1207Supports; Mounting means for fastening a rigid aerial element
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F16ENGINEERING ELEMENTS AND UNITS; GENERAL MEASURES FOR PRODUCING AND MAINTAINING EFFECTIVE FUNCTIONING OF MACHINES OR INSTALLATIONS; THERMAL INSULATION IN GENERAL
    • F16BDEVICES FOR FASTENING OR SECURING CONSTRUCTIONAL ELEMENTS OR MACHINE PARTS TOGETHER, e.g. NAILS, BOLTS, CIRCLIPS, CLAMPS, CLIPS, WEDGES, JOINTS OR JOINTING
    • F16B2200/00Constructional details of connections not covered for in other groups of this subclass
    • F16B2200/40Clamping arrangements where clamping parts are received in recesses of elements to be connected
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F16ENGINEERING ELEMENTS AND UNITS; GENERAL MEASURES FOR PRODUCING AND MAINTAINING EFFECTIVE FUNCTIONING OF MACHINES OR INSTALLATIONS; THERMAL INSULATION IN GENERAL
    • F16BDEVICES FOR FASTENING OR SECURING CONSTRUCTIONAL ELEMENTS OR MACHINE PARTS TOGETHER, e.g. NAILS, BOLTS, CIRCLIPS, CLAMPS, CLIPS, WEDGES, JOINTS OR JOINTING
    • F16B2200/00Constructional details of connections not covered for in other groups of this subclass
    • F16B2200/40Clamping arrangements where clamping parts are received in recesses of elements to be connected
    • F16B2200/403Threaded clamping parts
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24SSOLAR HEAT COLLECTORS; SOLAR HEAT SYSTEMS
    • F24S25/00Arrangement of stationary mountings or supports for solar heat collector modules
    • F24S25/60Fixation means, e.g. fasteners, specially adapted for supporting solar heat collector modules
    • F24S2025/6002Fixation means, e.g. fasteners, specially adapted for supporting solar heat collector modules by using hooks
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02BCLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES RELATED TO BUILDINGS, e.g. HOUSING, HOUSE APPLIANCES OR RELATED END-USER APPLICATIONS
    • Y02B10/00Integration of renewable energy sources in buildings
    • Y02B10/10Photovoltaic [PV]
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02BCLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES RELATED TO BUILDINGS, e.g. HOUSING, HOUSE APPLIANCES OR RELATED END-USER APPLICATIONS
    • Y02B10/00Integration of renewable energy sources in buildings
    • Y02B10/20Solar thermal
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02EREDUCTION OF GREENHOUSE GAS [GHG] EMISSIONS, RELATED TO ENERGY GENERATION, TRANSMISSION OR DISTRIBUTION
    • Y02E10/00Energy generation through renewable energy sources
    • Y02E10/40Solar thermal energy, e.g. solar towers
    • Y02E10/47Mountings or tracking
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02EREDUCTION OF GREENHOUSE GAS [GHG] EMISSIONS, RELATED TO ENERGY GENERATION, TRANSMISSION OR DISTRIBUTION
    • Y02E10/00Energy generation through renewable energy sources
    • Y02E10/50Photovoltaic [PV] energy
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T24/00Buckles, buttons, clasps, etc.
    • Y10T24/44Clasp, clip, support-clamp, or required component thereof
    • Y10T24/44966Clasp, clip, support-clamp, or required component thereof having gripping member shifted by operator
    • Y10T24/44974Threaded cylindrical rod and mating cavity
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T403/00Joints and connections
    • Y10T403/16Joints and connections with adjunctive protector, broken parts retainer, repair, assembly or disassembly feature
    • Y10T403/1683Releasably captive nut or bolt
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T403/00Joints and connections
    • Y10T403/70Interfitted members
    • Y10T403/7062Clamped members
    • Y10T403/7064Clamped members by wedge or cam
    • Y10T403/7066Clamped members by wedge or cam having actuator
    • Y10T403/7067Threaded actuator

Abstract

A clamp has a body, a wedged channel nut, and a bolt. The body has a first component extending from the body and configured to engage a module and a second component having a tapered body surface. The wedged channel nut has a first flange and a second flange extending from opposing sides of the nut and configured to engage a rail and a tapered nut surface having an angle substantially identical to the angle of the tapered body surface of the second component, wherein the tapered nut surface engages the tapered body surface. A bolt extends through the wedged channel nut and the body. When the bolt is tightened, the nut and the body secure the module and rail together.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a divisional application of U.S. application Ser. No. 12/470,682, entitled “Universal End Claim,” tiled May 22, 2009, which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/071,891, entitled “Device and Method for Solar Panel Installation,” filed May 22, 2008, which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety. This application is related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/470,697, entitled “Module Attachment Apparatus and Method,” filed May 22, 2009, and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/470,588, entitled “Camming Clamp for Roof Seam,” filed May 22, 2009.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The invention relates generally to a clamp for securing a solar module or other component to a rail.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Solar energy generation is a rapidly growing technology worldwide and offers the potential of almost unlimited clean and sustainable energy. However, the use of solar electric technology has been limited by the costs associated with installing solar panels to existing and new structures and facilities.
  • When installing a solar module on a rail, various clamps must be utilized due to the varying sizes of the modules and various rail configurations, As a result, it is desirable to have a clamp that can be used to secure different types of modules to different types of rails.
  • The solar module is often installed on a roof or other surface for exposure to sunlight. As a result, the installed solar module can be viewed. Accordingly, it is desirable to have a clamp that is aesthetically pleasing and is preferably hidden under the module frames.
  • Because maintenance may he required for the solar modules and because the solar modules may be installed on a roof or other surface where access is often needed, safety is also an important consideration. Modules can be installed at a variety of heights, commonly about three to eight feet off the ground, and on a variety of surfaces, such as a roof of a building. When someone is walking next to a solar module, it is desirable that the rail does not extend past the edge of the module.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • Various embodiments described herein attempt to overcome the drawbacks of the conventional techniques and devices for solar cell array installation.
  • The systems, methods, and devices described herein can offer, among other advantages, decreased cost of installing solar cell arrays or components thereof This can be accomplished in an efficient and robust manner compared with the current installation techniques and devices. The systems, methods, and devices can be installed without drilling components during installation. Also, the modular nature can allow for easier installation and breakdown.
  • In one embodiment, a clamp comprises a body, a wedged channel nut, and a bolt. The body has a first component extending from the body and configured to engage a module and a second component having a tapered body surface. The wedged channel nut has a first flange and a second flange extending from opposing sides of the nut and configured to engage a rail and a tapered nut surface having an angle substantially identical to the angle of the tapered body surface of the second component, wherein the tapered nut surface engages the tapered body surface. A bolt extends through the wedged channel nut and the body. When the bolt is tightened, the nut and the body secure the module and rail together.
  • In another embodiment, a system comprises a module, a rail configured to support a module; and a clamp. The clamp includes a body including a first component extending from the body and configured to engage a surface of the module; and a second component having a tapered body surface. The clamp also includes a nut including a first flange and a second flange extending from opposing sides of the nut and configured to engage opposing sides of the rail; and a tapered nut surface having an angle substantially identical to the angle of the tapered body surface of the second component, wherein the tapered nut surface engages the tapered body surface. A bolt extends through the nut and the body. When the bolt is tightened, the nut and the body secure the module and rail together.
  • In yet another embodiment, a clamp comprises a body, a nut, and a bolt. The body includes a first component extending from the body and configured to engage a module; a second component extending from the body and configured to engage a first slot in a rail; and a third component having a tapered body surface. The nut includes a tapered nut surface having an angle substantially identical to the angle of the tapered body surface of the third component wherein the tapered nut surface engages the tapered body surface; and a nut extension having a nut flange configured to engage a second slot of the rail. A bolt extends through the nut and the body. Tightening of the bolt causes the nut and the body to secure the module and rail together.
  • In another embodiment, a clamp comprises a bolt extending at least a width of a module; a body having an aperture to receive the bolt and a body flange extending from the body toward the module; and a nut having a nut aperture for receiving the bolt and a first nut flange and a second nut flange extending from the module. Tightening of the bolt causes the nut and the body to secure the module and rail together, wherein the body flange is configured to pierce the module, and wherein the first nut flange and the second nut flange are configured to pierce the rail. Piercing of the rail and module surface finishes can ensure electrical and grounding conductivity between all of the associated components.
  • Additional features and advantages of an embodiment will be set forth in the description which follows, and in part will be apparent from the description, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The objectives and other advantages of the invention will be realized and attained by the structure particularly pointed out in the exemplary embodiments in the written description and claims hereof as well as the appended drawings.
  • It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory and are intended to provide further explanation of the invention as claimed.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The preferred embodiments of the present invention are illustrated by way of example and not limited to the following figures:
  • FIG. 1 a shows a cross-sectional view of single bolt universal module end clamp in a first installation position according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • FIG. 1 b shows a cross-sectional view of single bolt universal module end clamp in a second installation position according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • FIG. 1 c shows a cross-sectional view of single bolt universal module end clamp in a third installation position according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • FIG. 1 d shows an end view of single bolt universal module end clamp in a final installation position according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • FIG. 1 e shows an exploded view of a module end clamp according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • FIG. 1 f shows an assembled view of a module end clamp according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • FIG. 1 g shows an exploded view of an installed module end clamp according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • FIG. 2 a shows a perspective view of a module end clamp in a first installation position according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • FIG. 2 b shows a perspective view of a module end clamp in a second installation position according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • FIG. 2 c shows a perspective view of a module end clamp in a third installation position according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • FIG. 2 d shows a perspective view of a module end clamp in an installed position according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • FIG. 2 e shows a perspective view of a module end clamp in an installed position according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • FIG. 3 a shows a cross-sectional view of a universal module end clamp for a side-slot style rail according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • FIG. 3 b shows a side view of a universal module end clamp for a side-slot style rail according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • FIG. 4 a shows a cross-sectional view of a grounding channel nut and mid clamp securing two modules to a parallel rail according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • FIG. 4 b shows a cross-sectional view of a grounding channel nut and mid clamp securing two modules to a perpendicular rail according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • FIG. 4 c shows a cross-sectional view of a grounding channel nut and mid clamp securing two modules to a perpendicular rail according to an exemplary embodiment.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • Reference will now be made in detail to the preferred embodiments of the present invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings.
  • FIGS. 1 a to 1 d show an installation of a single bolt universal module end clamp 100 for securing a solar module 110 to a rail 120. FIGS. 1 e and 1 f show perspective views of the components of the module end clamp 100. FIG. 1 g shows an exploded view of an installed module end clamp 100. Although a solar module is described herein, it is intended to include any component of a solar cell array to be secured, including, but not limited to, a photovoltaic array, a photovoltaic module, a solar cell, a rail, a solar panel, a solar tracker, a mounting post or pole, and a mounting bracket. However, the term module is not intended to be limited to components used for solar energy and solar component installation. The module can apply to any component that can be secured to a roof, including, but not limited to, a satellite dish, an antenna, and HVAC equipment. Also, although the clamp may be referred to as an end clamp, the clamp can be used at any location along a rail to secure a module. Additionally, in some embodiments, the clamp may be configured as a mid clamp.
  • The exemplary module 110 shown represents an end portion of the module 110. The module 110 includes a frame 110 a that extends perpendicular to and supports a solar panel glass 110 b. On a distal end of the frame 110 a opposite the solar panel glass 110 b, the frame 110 a includes a flange 110 c extending perpendicular o the frame 110 a. in a direction beneath the solar panel 110 b. The flange 110 c shown is merely exemplary, but it is common for various configurations of modules to include a flange. The underside of flange 110 e is flat and is configured to abut a flat, upper surface of the rail 120. Although this exemplary module is shown, it is intended that any configuration of module can be used.
  • The rail 120 can be secured by a variety of means to a roof or other surface for mounting the solar module for exposure, As shown in the cross-sectional view in FIG. 1 d, the rail 120 can be constructed of a single material, such as anodized aluminum. In this exemplary embodiment, the rail 120 has a first vertical component 120 a and a second vertical component 120 b that are substantially connected by a horizontal component 120 e to form a void 120 d that can receive the clamp 100. The first vertical component 120 a and the second vertical component 120 b can be used to support the module 110 and abut or engage an installed wedged channel nut 140.
  • The end clamp 100 has an end clamp body 130, an end clamp wedged channel nut 140, and a torque bolt 150. The body 130 has a horizontal component 130 a and a vertical component 130 b extending perpendicular to the horizontal component 130 a. At a distal end of the horizontal component 130 a, the body 130 has a flange 130 e extending downwardly and perpendicular from the horizontal component 130 a, The vertical component 130 b extends into a nut-receiving component 130 d that extends outwardly in a direction away from the horizontal component 130 a. In a direction parallel to the horizontal component 130 a, the nut-receiving component 130 d tapers to a point 130 e.
  • The wedged channel nut 140 has a first surface 140 a that is flat and configured to abut a flat surface of the rail 120. The wedged channel nut has a second surface 140 b configured at an angle substantially identical to the angle of the tapered nut-receiving component 130 d. A third surface 140 c is perpendicular to the first surface 140 a and is configured so that it can abut a flat surface of the vertical component 130 b. A fourth surface 140 d, which faces a direction away from the body 130, is configured to receive the bolt 150 through an aperture 140 e, shown in FIG. 1 d. The aperture 140 e is elongated and is configured to allow movement of wedged channel nut 140 in a vertical direction while maintaining the position of the bolt 150.
  • The bolt 150 extends through the wedged channel nut 140 and into the body 130. The body 130 has a threaded aperture for receiving a threaded component 150 a of the bolt 150. The bolt 150 can engage or disengage the wedged channel nut 140 and the body 130 by using torque to rotate a polygonal component 150 b at a distal end of the bolt 150. It is intended that the bolt 150 can have any configuration at the distal end that allows a user to rotate the bolt or allows the bolt to engage or disengage, such as a screwdriver receiving recess, and is not limited to a polygonal component, such as a hexagonal or pentagonal shaped component. In this exemplary embodiment, when the bolt 150 is completely tightened, a distal end of the threaded component 150 a can extend past the nut-receiving component 130 d of the body 130.
  • As shown in FIG. 1 a, the module 110 can be secured to the rail 120 by lowering the module 110 onto the rail 120, whereby the clamp 100 does not obscure the alignment of the module 110 and the rail 120. The bolt 150 and wedged channel nut 140 are in an initial position whereby the wedged channel nut is at a first position resting along nut receiving component 130 d.
  • Referring to FIG. 1 b, the module 110 is aligned with the rail 120. The clamp 100 can be guided such that the horizontal component 130 a and flange 130 c of the body 130 are positioned above the flange 110 e of the module 110. Additionally, the wedged nut channel 140 is positioned beneath the rail 120 and substantially aligned with the flange 110 e. Once the clamp 100 is substantially in this position, the bolt 150 can be tightened so that the wedged channel nut 140 engages the body 130 to secure the module 110 to the rail 120.
  • FIG. 1 c shows a cross-sectional view of the module 110 and the rail 120 having a. substantially installed clamp 100. FIG. 1 d shows an end view of the module 110 and rail 120 having an installed clamp 100. Torque is applied to the bolt 150 causing the threaded component 150 b to engage the aperture of the body 130 and extend beyond the aperture in the nut receiving component 130 b. As the bolt 150 is rotated, the second surface 140 b of the wedged channel nut 140 slides along the nut receiving component 130 d. As the wedged channel nut 140 slides along the nut receiving component 130 d, the module 110 and the rail 120 are held together by a force pushing down by the flange 130 e of the body 130 and a force pushing up from the wedged channel nut 140. These forces, which are maintained by the position of the bolt 150, cause the clamp 100 to lock the module 110 against the rail 120. The amount of tightening of the bolt 150 required to secure the module 110 to the rail 120 can depend upon the thickness of the module 110 and the thickness of the rail 120.
  • As shown in FIGS. 1 d, 1 e, and 1 f, the wedged channel nut 140 has a first flange 140 f and a second flange 140 g, each of which extend along a side of the wedged channel nut 140 in a direction substantially parallel to the direction of the bolt 150. As the wedged channel nut engages the rail 120, the first flange 140 f and the second flange 140 g can enter a recess in the rail 120 or be configured to puncture a surface of the rail 120. The first flange 140 f and the second flange 140 g force the rail 120 in a direction towards the module 110.
  • By installing the clamp 100 on the module 110 and the rail 129, a solar cell array or components thereof can be secured together without drilling into either component. By securing the rail 120 to a roof or other support surface, the module 110 can be supported and positioned without any damage to the module 110. Also, by reversing the process described above, the clamp 190 can be uninstalled in a similar fashion.
  • FIG. 1 g shows an exploded view of the installed clamp 100 securing the module 110 to the rail 120. Because the installed clamp 100 is set back slightly from an edge of the rail 120, a cap 160 can be installed on the rail 120. The cap 160 can include a plurality of cap extensions 160 a that are inserted into the rail 120 to frictionally engage the rail 120. In one exemplary embodiment, the cap 160 can be made of rubber, though any known material to one of the art can be used. The installation of the cap 160 allows a flush end of the rail 120, which is safer than exposing the sharp edges of the rail 120 and can be more aesthetic.
  • FIGS. 2 a to 2 e show a perspective view of an installation of a damp is shown according to another exemplary embodiment. As shown in FIG. 2 a, a clamp 200 can be slid into an end of a channel in a rail 210 such that a head of a bolt 200 a remains exposed to an installer. A clamp body 200 b and a wedged channel nut 200 c of the clamp 200 are configured to be received by the rail 210 having a standard configuration. As shown in FIGS. 2 b and 2 c, the installer can continue to slide the clamp 200 into the rail 210. As shown in FIG. 2 d, once the clamp 200 has been slid a few centimeters into the rail 210, a module 220 can be positioned on the rail 210. The process to secure the module 220 to the rail 210 occurs similar to the method described above in FIGS. 1 a to 1 c, wherein the clamp 200 is tightened by bolt 200 a to secure the module 220 to the rail 210. The bolt 200 a remains visible and accessible to the installer, who can use a drill, screwdriver, pliers, wrench, or other tool to tighten the bolt 200 a of the clamp 200. FIG. 2 e shows a perspective view of an installed clamp 200.
  • FIGS. 3 a and 3 b show a module end clamp 300 configured for securing a module 310 to a side slot style rail 320. Similar to the module end clamp shown in FIGS. 1 a to 1 g, the module end clamp 300 has a body 330, a nut 340, and a bolt 350. The body 330 has a horizontal component 330 a and a vertical component 330 b extending perpendicular to the horizontal component 330 a. At a distal end of the horizontal component 330 a, the body 330 has a flange 330 c extending downwardly and perpendicular from the horizontal component 330 a. The vertical component 330 b extends into a nut-receiving component 330 d that extends outwardly in a direction away from the horizontal component 330 a. In a direction parallel to the horizontal component 330 a, the nut-receiving component 330 d tapers to a point 330 e.
  • The bolt 350 extends through the nut 340 and into the body 330. The body 330 has a threaded aperture for receiving a threaded component 350 a of the bolt 350. The bolt 350 can engage or disengage the nut 340 and the body 330 by using torque to rotate a polygonal component 350 b at a distal end of the bolt 350. It is intended that the bolt 350 can have any configuration at the distal end that allows a user to rotate the bolt or allows the bolt to engage or disengage, such as a screwdriver receiving recess, and is not limited to a polygonal component, such as a hexagonal or pentagonal shaped component. in this exemplary embodiment, when the bolt 350 is completely tightened, a distal end of the threaded component 350 a can extend past the nut-receiving component 330 d of the body 330.
  • Because the rail 320 is configured differently than the rail shown in FIGS. 1 a to 1 d, the nut 340 can also be configured differently. The rail 320 has a first slot 320 a for receiving a bolt head, whereby a bolt is used to secure the module 310 to the rail 320. The rail 320 has a second slot 320 b for receiving a second bolt head for securing the rail to a support on a surface. The body 330 of the clamp 300 has a downward extending flange that engages the first slot 320 a when the bolt 350 is tightened. The nut 340 has an aperture 340 a for receiving the bolt 350. The nut 340 also has a nut flange 340 b that extends into the second slot 320 b. A second nut flange 340 c extend from the nut flange 340 b toward a side of the second slot 320 b. When the bolt 350 is tightened, the body 330 and the nut 340 engage each other as well as the rail 320 to secure the module 310.
  • FIGS. 4 a to 4 c show a cross-sectional view of a grounding mid clamp 400 secured to a grounding channel nut 410 according to an alternative exemplary embodiment. The mid clamp 400 receives a bolt 420 that extends from an upper end of the mid clamp 400, which is positioned above a module 430, and past the other end of the module 430 through the grounding channel nut 410. The grounding channel nut 410 can be secured in a rail 440 supporting the module 430. The mid clamp 400, bolt 420, and grounding channel nut 410 are preferably made from a conductive material that is harder than the module and rail materials (e.g., aluminum) and does not rust or oxidize, such as stainless steel.
  • The mid clamp 400 has teeth 400 a that extend toward the module 430. As the bolt 420 is tightened, the teeth 400 a can puncture an anodized aluminum module 430 to create an electrical ground path from the bolt 420.
  • The grounding channel nut 410 has teeth 410 a extending in a substantially upward direction. When the bolt 420 is tightened, the grounding channel nut 410 moves in a direction closer to the mid clamp 400. The teeth 410 a of the grounding channel nut 410 puncture the rail 440 to create an electrical ground path in the rail 440. Stainless PEM insert threads 450 can ensure electrical conductivity from the bolt 420 to the grounding channel nut 410.
  • As shown in FIG. 4 a, the rail 440 runs in a direction substantially parallel to a seam between the two modules 430. However, the mid clamp 400 can also be used in a configuration where the rail 440 runs perpendicular to the seam between the two modules, as shown in FIGS. 4 b and 4 c. As further shown in FIG. 4 c, the mid clamp 400 can have a saw-toothed edge 400 b to grip the module 430. In one embodiment, the edge 400 b can puncture the anodized aluminum module 430.
  • The various embodiments of a clamp and the components thereof described herein can be composed of any known or convenient material, including, but not limited to metal, fiberglass, plastic, wood, composites or any other combination of materials. The clamp can be manufactured by any process known in the art, including extrusion and cold-forging.
  • The embodiments described above are intended to be exemplary. One skilled in the art recognizes that numerous alternative components and embodiments that may be substituted for the particular examples described herein and still fall within the scope of the invention.

Claims (2)

1. 1. A clamp comprising:
a bolt extending at least a width of a module;
a body having:
an aperture to receive the bolt; and
a body flange extending from the body toward the module; and
a nut having:
a nut aperture for receiving the bolt; and
a first nut flange and a second nut flange extending from the module;
wherein tightening of the bolt causes the nut and the body to secure the module and rail together,
wherein the body flange is configured to pierce the module, and
wherein the first nut flange and the second nut flange are configured to pierce the rail.
2. (canceled)
US14/317,756 2008-05-22 2014-06-27 Universal mid clamp Abandoned US20150076301A1 (en)

Priority Applications (4)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US7189108P true 2008-05-22 2008-05-22
US12/470,682 US8585000B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2009-05-22 Universal end clamp
US13/196,270 US8801349B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2011-08-02 Universal mid clamp
US14/317,756 US20150076301A1 (en) 2008-05-22 2014-06-27 Universal mid clamp

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US14/317,756 US20150076301A1 (en) 2008-05-22 2014-06-27 Universal mid clamp

Related Parent Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
US13/196,270 Continuation US8801349B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2011-08-02 Universal mid clamp

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
US20150076301A1 true US20150076301A1 (en) 2015-03-19

Family

ID=43061493

Family Applications (12)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
US12/470,697 Active 2029-11-14 US8250829B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2009-05-22 Module attachment apparatus
US12/470,588 Active 2030-01-30 US8251326B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2009-05-22 Camming clamp for roof seam
US12/470,682 Active 2031-01-23 US8585000B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2009-05-22 Universal end clamp
US13/156,451 Active US9819302B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2011-06-09 Module attachment apparatus and method
US13/156,443 Active US8539719B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2011-06-09 Module attachment apparatus
US13/196,183 Active US8376298B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2011-08-02 Universal end clamp
US13/196,270 Active US8801349B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2011-08-02 Universal mid clamp
US13/590,844 Active US8505863B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2012-08-21 Camming clamp for roof seam
US13/945,717 Active US9057195B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2013-07-18 Camming clamp for roof seam
US14/034,310 Active US8739471B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2013-09-23 Assembly for securing a component to a roof
US14/317,756 Abandoned US20150076301A1 (en) 2008-05-22 2014-06-27 Universal mid clamp
US14/716,190 Abandoned US20150365044A1 (en) 2008-05-22 2015-05-19 Camming Clamp For Roof Seam

Family Applications Before (10)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
US12/470,697 Active 2029-11-14 US8250829B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2009-05-22 Module attachment apparatus
US12/470,588 Active 2030-01-30 US8251326B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2009-05-22 Camming clamp for roof seam
US12/470,682 Active 2031-01-23 US8585000B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2009-05-22 Universal end clamp
US13/156,451 Active US9819302B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2011-06-09 Module attachment apparatus and method
US13/156,443 Active US8539719B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2011-06-09 Module attachment apparatus
US13/196,183 Active US8376298B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2011-08-02 Universal end clamp
US13/196,270 Active US8801349B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2011-08-02 Universal mid clamp
US13/590,844 Active US8505863B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2012-08-21 Camming clamp for roof seam
US13/945,717 Active US9057195B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2013-07-18 Camming clamp for roof seam
US14/034,310 Active US8739471B2 (en) 2008-05-22 2013-09-23 Assembly for securing a component to a roof

Family Applications After (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
US14/716,190 Abandoned US20150365044A1 (en) 2008-05-22 2015-05-19 Camming Clamp For Roof Seam

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Country Link
US (12) US8250829B2 (en)

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US20100282920A1 (en) 2010-11-11
US20140013677A1 (en) 2014-01-16
US20100284737A1 (en) 2010-11-11
US8505863B2 (en) 2013-08-13
US8585000B2 (en) 2013-11-19
US9057195B2 (en) 2015-06-16
US8250829B2 (en) 2012-08-28
US20130299657A1 (en) 2013-11-14
US8376298B2 (en) 2013-02-19
US20110232222A1 (en) 2011-09-29
US20110283492A1 (en) 2011-11-24
US20110284708A1 (en) 2011-11-24
US20110233358A1 (en) 2011-09-29
US20120312945A1 (en) 2012-12-13
US9819302B2 (en) 2017-11-14
US20150365044A1 (en) 2015-12-17
US20100281793A1 (en) 2010-11-11
US8739471B2 (en) 2014-06-03
US8251326B2 (en) 2012-08-28
US8801349B2 (en) 2014-08-12
US8539719B2 (en) 2013-09-24

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