WO2010045514A2 - An anchor having three-dimensional freedom of motion for mounting a framework element to a structure - Google Patents

An anchor having three-dimensional freedom of motion for mounting a framework element to a structure Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2010045514A2
WO2010045514A2 PCT/US2009/060932 US2009060932W WO2010045514A2 WO 2010045514 A2 WO2010045514 A2 WO 2010045514A2 US 2009060932 W US2009060932 W US 2009060932W WO 2010045514 A2 WO2010045514 A2 WO 2010045514A2
Authority
WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
tongue
carriage
support framework
framework
baseplate
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2009/060932
Other languages
French (fr)
Other versions
WO2010045514A3 (en
Inventor
James L. Henderson
Richard Dale Kinard
Peter Veenema
Albert L. Creely Jr
Original Assignee
E. I. Du Pont De Nemours And Company
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 US61/106,269 priority Critical
Priority to US10626208P priority
Priority to US10627008P priority
Priority to US10627308P priority
Priority to US10626508P priority
Priority to US10626908P priority
Priority to US61/106,270 priority
Priority to US61/106,265 priority
Priority to US61/106,262 priority
Priority to US61/106,273 priority
Application filed by E. I. Du Pont De Nemours And Company filed Critical E. I. Du Pont De Nemours And Company
Publication of WO2010045514A2 publication Critical patent/WO2010045514A2/en
Publication of WO2010045514A3 publication Critical patent/WO2010045514A3/en

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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
    • 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
    • F24S25/33Arrangement 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 forming substantially planar assemblies, e.g. of coplanar or stacked profiles
    • 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
    • F24S25/63Fixation 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
    • 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
    • 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]
    • Y02B10/12Roof systems for PV cells
    • 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
    • Y02E10/47Mountings or tracking

Abstract

The present invention is directed to an anchor for mounting a support framework element for a photovoltaic array to a structure. The anchor includes a footing, including a baseplate connectible to the structure, a tongue and a web for securing the tongue to the baseplate. A carriage for receiving a support framework element is movably connected to the tongue. The carriage is able to translate along and/or rotate around one or more lines of action in response to a force imposed on the carriage by a support framework element, each line of action being parallel to, collinear with or resolvable along one of three mutually orthogonal axes of a reference coordinate system extending through the anchor; and/or displace with respect to the footing by translating along and/or rotating around one or more lines of action to accommodate any misalignment between the exterior surface of the tongue and the plane of the support framework.

Description

T I TLE

An Anchor Having Three-Dimensional Freedom of Motion For Mounting A Framework Element To A Structure

CLAIM OF PRIORITY This application claims priority from each of the following United States Provisional Applications, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference:

(1) An Anchor Having Three-Dimensional Freedom of Motion For Mounting A Framework Element To A Structure, Application S.N. 61/106,262, filed 17 October 2008 (CL- 4456) ;

(2) A Support Framework For A Photovoltaic Array Including An Anchor Having Three-Dimensional Freedom of Motion Application S.N. 61/106,265, filed 17 October 2008 (CL-4457);

(3) A Photovoltaic Array Supported By A Support Framework Including An Anchor Having Three-Dimensional Freedom of Motion Application S.N. 61/106,269, filed 17 October 2008 (CL-4458); (4) Method For Mounting A Photovoltaic Array On A Structure Using A Support Framework Including An Anchor Having Three-Dimensional Freedom of Motion Application S.N. 61/106,270, filed 17 October 2008 (CL-4478); and (5) Support Framework Kit Including An Anchor Having Three-Dimensional Freedom of Motion For Mounting A Photovoltaic Array To A Structure Application S.N. 61/106,273, filed 17 October 2008 (CL-4483) . BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Field of the Invention This invention relates to an anchor having three-dimensional freedom of motion useful for mounting a framework element to a structure, to a support framework for a photovoltaic array including such an anchor, to the photovoltaic array supported by such a support framework, to a support framework kit including such an anchor, and to a method for mounting a photovoltaic array to a structure using a support framework including such an anchor.

Description of the Art The potential of solar energy as a clean, renewable energy source is well documented. There exists a substantial economic impetus for the deployment of an array of photovoltaic modules as a local source of electricity by both homeowners and governmental and commercial enterprises.

In a typical installation such a photovoltaic array is mounted to a structure such as a home, farm, school, or government or business building. The individual modules of the array are supported by a support framework that is itself securely mounted to a portion of the structure. A typical situs for the mounting of the support framework is the roof of the structure. It should be understood, however, that the structure on which the array is mounted may take other forms, such as a free-standing platform.

A photovoltaic module includes a photovoltaic panel that is itself a laminated arrangement comprising a layer of silicon-based photo-responsive solar cells bounded above by a protective layer of glass or other transparent material and below by a layer of protective material such as glass or polymeric film. The exterior surface of the upper layer of the panel is planar. The laminated panel is typically surrounded by a frame. Precautions must be taken to prevent or minimize the imposition of forces and moments on the module that would tend to bend the silicon layer. Such bending stresses, if unchecked, may result in the formation of micro-fissures in the silicon layer, which could impair the efficiency of the collection of solar energy by the solar cells thereon.

However, when mounted to the structure photovoltaic arrays are susceptible to forces and moments emanating from a variety of sources. For example, wind effects may produce upwardly acting lifting forces or rotational moments acting on the module. Likewise, downwardly acting compressive forces may be imposed on the module caused by accumulation of snow or ice. Either of these forces or moments could cause the module to bend.

In addition, the roof or platform to which the array is mounted may itself be warped or uneven, usually caused by age of the structure. The attachment of the support framework to an uneven surface may also generate forces or moments that are transmitted through the framework to the modules.

Accordingly, in view of the foregoing it is believed advantageous to provide a support framework for a photovoltaic array that includes an anchor having three-dimensional freedom of motion so the various forces and moments inherent in a photovoltaic installation may be accommodated.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In its most basic form the present invention is directed to an anchor for mounting a support framework element for a photovoltaic array to a structure. The anchor comprises a footing, the footing including: a baseplate connectible to the structure; a tongue overlying the baseplate, the tongue having predetermined length dimension, an exterior surface and an undersurface thereon; and, a web disposed between the undersurface of the tongue for securing the tongue to the baseplate, the web extending along substantially the entire length of the undersurface of the tongue; and a carriage for receiving a support framework element, the carriage being movably connected to the tongue, the carriage being able to translate along and/or rotate around one or more lines of action in response to a force imposed on the carriage by a support framework element, each line of action being parallel to, collinear with or resolvable along one of three mutually orthogonal axes of a reference coordinate system extending through the anchor; and/or displace with respect to the footing by translating along and/or rotating around one or more lines of action to accommodate any misalignment between the exterior surface of the tongue and the plane of the support framework . In another aspect the present invention is directed to a support framework for a photovoltaic array containing at least one photovoltaic panel to a structure. The support framework comprises a plurality of interconnected framework elements, the interconnected framework elements lying in a common plane; and a plurality of mounting anchors as described.

In still another aspect the present invention is directed to photovoltaic array comprising a support framework comprising a plurality of interconnected framework elements, and and a plurality of mounting anchors .

In still another aspect the present invention is directed to a method for mounting a photovoltaic array to a structure comprising the steps of: interconnecting a plurality of framework elements to form a support framework, the interconnected framework elements lying in a common plane, and mounting the support framework to a structure using a plurality of anchors.

The present invention is also directed to a kit for forming a photovoltaic array comprising: a plurality of framework elements interconnectable to form a support framework lying in a common plane; at least one photovoltaic module able to be secured to the support framework, and a plurality of mounting anchors. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention will be more fully understood from the following detailed description taken in connection with the accompanying Figures, which form a part of this application and in which:

Figure 1 is a stylized pictorial representation of a photovoltaic array incorporating the present invention, with the photovoltaic modules exploded from the support framework; Figure 2 is a stylized representation similar to Figure 1 showing an exploded view of the support framework;

Figure 3 is an isolated isometric view of a clip suitable for attaching a photovoltaic module to a support framework

Figure 4 is an isometric view of an assembled anchor in accordance with the present invention;

Figure 5 is an exploded view of the anchor shown in Figure 4; Figure 6 is an isolated isometric view of a carriage used in an anchor in accordance with the present invention;

Figure 7 is an elevational view of the assembled anchor shown in Figure 4 taken along view lines 7-7 therein (generally along the negative-x axis of the coordinate system C) , with a portion of the cap on the carriage broken away for clarity of illustration;

Figure 8 is a sectional view of the anchor taken along section lines 8-8 in Figure 7; Figures 9A and 9B are diagrammatic views (with hatching removed for clarity) illustrating the gripping action between the latching features on the cap and the arms of the carriage in response to a lifting force imposed on the cap by a framework element received by the carriage; and Figure 10 is an isolated isometric view of a modified carriage of an anchor in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Throughout the following detailed description similar reference numerals refer to similar elements in all Figures of the drawings.

Shown in Figure 1 is a stylized exploded pictorial representation of a photovoltaic array generally indicated by the reference character 10 incorporating various aspects of the present invention. The array 10 includes at least one, but more preferably, a plurality of photovoltaic modules 12 mounted to a structure S, such as the roof of a home, farm, school, government or business building or a free-standing support platform. In Figure 1 the array 10 is shown to include four photovoltaic modules 12-1 through 12-4, although it should be appreciated that any convenient number of modules may be used. Any suitable photovoltaic module may be used in the array 10.

Each module 12 is itself received on a support framework generally indicated by reference character 16. Each module 12 includes a photovoltaic panel 12P that is usually surrounded by a frame 12F. The upper surface of each panel 12 is generally planar and it is preferable that the panels 12-1 through 12-4 in the array are mounted to the structure such that the upper planar surfaces of the panels are coplanar. As is seen from the assembled arrangement of

Figure 1 and the exploded view of Figure 2 the support framework 16 comprises a plurality of individual stile and rail framework elements interconnected with each other to form a grid-like pattern. In the embodiment illustrated the support framework 16 includes a plurality of relatively longer framework elements 18 each interconnected by transversely extending, relatively shorter, framework elements 18' . The longer framework elements 18 define the stiles of the support framework 16 while the shorter framework elements 18' form its rails. The stile framework elements 18 are those elements into which the shorter framework elements 18' are fitted. As used herein, the stile framework elements may be oriented vertically or horizontally, as desired. In the preferred instance each framework element 18, 18' is a hollow enclosed channel member fabricated from a non-conductive high performance composite material such as a glass-reinforced polyester, such as the PET polyester resin material manufactured and sold by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Wilmington, Delaware under the trademark Rynite®.

In the preferred instance each of the framework elements 18, 18' has a generally rectangular (to include square) transverse cross section. To effect the coplanar disposition of the panels of the modules it is desirable that the framework elements are themselves also mounted on the structure S such that the upper surface on the collection of framework elements are coplanar (within dimensional tolerances) . The common plane of the framework elements defines the plane of the support framework. It should be noted that the framework elements may exhibit other than a four-sided configuration. In such a case any reference surface or reference line present on each framework element may be used to define the plane of the support framework.

The modules 12-1 through 12-4 are secured to the support framework 16 using clips 20. Depending upon the location utilized each clip 20 has either single arm 2OA or a pair arms 20A1, 20A2 that extend from a base 20B. An isolated view of a two-armed form of the clip is shown in Figure 3. Each arm terminates in a finger 2OF with a grasping surface 2OG on the undersurface thereon. A fastener 2OT (e.g., a threaded bolt) extends through the base 2OB of the clip 20 and is threaded into a correspondingly threaded opening 2OH (Figure 1) provided in the framework element 18, 18' . This serves to bring the grasping surface 2OG of the finger (s) on the clip 20 into engagement with the frame 12F of the module 12, thereby to secure a module 12 to the framework element 18, 18' and thus to the support framework 16 as a whole.

The support framework 16 is mounted to the structure S using a plurality of anchor members ("anchor" or "anchors") 24 in accordance with the present invention. A description of an anchor 24 is set forth in full detail hereafter.

In the embodiment illustrated the laterally outboard end of each rail framework element 18' is attached via outboard connectors 28 (Figure 2) to a stile framework element 18 disposed at a lateral end of the array 10. The connectors 28 are preferably integrally molded members formed from substantially the same non-conductive high performance composite materials as used for the framework elements. As seen in Figure 2 each connector 28 has a channel 28C through which the associated stile framework element 24 extends. Each connector 28 is also provided with a socket recess 28S oriented transversely to the channel 28C therein. Each connector 28 is arranged on its associated stile framework element 18 such that the socket recess 28S is presented toward the central stile framework member 18 of the support framework 16.

Each of the rail framework elements 18' in the support framework is mounted to the structure S using an anchor 24 disposed at predetermined spaced locations within the support framework 16. A typical disposition of anchors 24 on the rail framework elements 18' of the support framework 16 is shown in Figure 1. For clarity of illustration only two of the anchors 24 (both mounting a rail framework element to the structure S) are illustrated in Figure 2. As will be developed each anchor 24 includes a carriage 34 (Figures 3 through 8) having arms 34A that cooperate to define a receptacle 34R. The receptacle 34R accepts the framework element 24' and is secured therein by a cap 36.

The central stile framework element and other stile framework element (s) disposed inwardly of the stile framework elements at the lateral ends of the array (if such are utilized) is (are) also secured to the structure S using anchors 24 disposed at predetermined locations therealong. As shown in Figure 10 hereof the carriage of an anchor 24 used to mount the central (and any other internal) stile framework element (s) is modified to include a pair of sockets oriented transversely with respect to the central receptacle of the anchor 24.

Figures 3 through 8 are various views of a basic embodiment of an anchor 24 in accordance with the present invention.

Each anchor 24 comprises a footing 32 to which a carriage 34 is movably connected. Both the footing 32 and the carriage 34 are unitary members preferably fabricated (as by injection molding or casting) from a non-conductive high performance composite material similar to that used to fabricate the framework elements 18, 18' .

In general, as suggested in Figures 1, 2 and 8-10, the carriage 34 is operative to receive and to securely hold a framework element 18, 18', as the case may be. The footing 32, to which the carriage 34 is connected, serves to mount the framework element to the structure S. As will be developed the carriage 34 is movable with respect to the footing 32 in a manner able to accommodate forces and moments imposed on the support framework and prevent the same from damaging the photovoltaic module supported by the framework element and also to accommodate misalignments between the structure S and the plane of the support framework 16. With reference to Figures 3 through 8 it may be appreciated that the footing 32 includes a baseplate 32B, a tongue 32T overlying the baseplate, and a web 32W. The tongue 32T has a reference axis 32A (Figure 5) extending therethrough and predetermined axial length, transverse width and thickness dimensions. In the embodiment illustrated both the exterior surface 32E and the undersurface 32U of the tongue 32T are generally planar in configuration.

A reference coordinate system C having mutually orthogonal x, y and z coordinate axes is indicated in the drawings for convenience of discussion. Although a reference coordinate system may be located at any position and at any orientation with respect to the anchor 24, for purposes of discussion herein a particularly convenient reference coordinate system is arranged such that the x-axis thereof is collinear with the central axis 32A through the tongue 32T and the plane of the exterior surface 32E is parallel to the x- y plane. With such a convenient coordinate system defined and located it is appreciated that the transverse width and thickness dimensions of the tongue respectively extending along lines parallel to the y and z axes of the reference coordinate system C.

The full axial length of the tongue 32T overlies the baseplate 32B. The margins of the baseplate 32 that extend axially beyond the ends of the tongue 32T have slots 32S disposed therein. The slots 32S receive fasteners 32N (see also, Figures 1 and 2) by which the anchor 24, and hence the support framework 16 having the photovoltaic modules thereon, is mounted to the structure S. Suitable for use as the fasteners 32N are HeadLok™ Heavy Duty Flathead Fasteners available from FastenMaster, a division of OMG, INC., Agawam, MA.

The tongue 32T is secured to the baseplate 32B by the web 32W. The web 32W is disposed between the undersurface 32U of the tongue 32T and the baseplate 32B. The web 32W serves to prevent the tongue 32T from being lifted or cantilevered away from the baseplate 32 in response to a lifting force (having a component acting along the z-axis) imposed on the carriage 34 by the framework element received thereon. In the embodiment illustrated the web 32W is disposed at a substantially perpendicular orientation between both the tongue 32T and the baseplate 32B. However, it should be understood that the web 32W may take any other suitable or convenient configurations and orientations so long it functions to prevent separation of the tongue from the baseplate. In the preferred case the web 32W is a continuous (i.e., uninterrupted) member that extends along substantially the entire axial length of the tongue. The central region of the carriage 34 presents a stage surface 34S configured to receive a framework element 18, 18' thereon. In the embodiment illustrated the stage surface 34S is generally planar to conform to the preferred exterior configuration of the framework elements 18, 18' . Of course, alternative configurations for the framework elements and, therefore, for the stage, are within the contemplation of the invention.

The portions of the carriage 34 that depend from the lateral edges 34E1, 34E2 of the stage surface 34S define legs 34L1, 34L2. Portions of the carriage 34 extending from the front and rear flanks 34K1, 34K2 (Figure 8) of the stage surface 34S define upwardly extending arms 34A1, 34A2. In the embodiment of the carriage shown in Figures 3 through 8 the plane of arms 34A1, 34A2 is generally perpendicular to the axis 32A of the tongue 32T. The inner surfaces of the arms 34A1, 34A2 are spaced apart by the axial length of the stage surface 34S. The inner surfaces of the arms cooperate with each other and with the stage surface of the carriage to define an open-mouthed receptacle 34R that is sized to accept a framework element (e.g., Figure 8) S. The receptacle is arranged on the carriage in a generally perpendicular direction with respect to the axis 32A of the tongue 32T. The anchor is freely movable along the rail framework element to allow the footing 32 to be positioned over a rafter or other structural element regardless of the dimension of the photovoltaic module. Furthermore, this freedom of motion accommodates differential expansion or contraction of the structure and/or the support framework.

The receptacle 34R may be closed by a cap 36, if desired. The cap 36, if used, is preferably fabricated as a unitary member from substantially the same non- conductive high performance composite material as used for the carriage and the footing. Details of the cap 36 and its engagement with the carriage are discussed more fully hereafter.

The receptacle 34R is shaped in correspondence to the exterior configuration of the framework element received on the carriage. Thus, in the embodiment illustrated, the receptacle (when covered by a cap 36) is four-sided in cross section (i.e., in the x-z plane) . Both of the arms 34A1, 34A2 meld with each of the arms and legs 34L1, 34L2 along jointure lines 34J. Stiffening flanges 34F are provided on the legs 34L1, 34L2 in the vicinity of the jointure lines 34J. The stiffening flanges 34F extend along substantially the full height of the legs and for a significant portion of the height of the arms 34A1, 34A2.

As may be appreciated from the drawings the stiffening flanges 34F together with the adjacent arm therebetween define a structural C-channel (Figures 4 and 5) . The stiffening flanges 34F serve to stiffen the material of the legs and prevent the legs from flaring outwardly from the vertical centerline 32V (Figure 7) of the web 32W (along a line of action parallel to the z-axis of the coordinate system C) in the directions 35F in the event a force having a component in the positive z-direction is imposed on the framework element held by the carriage.

In the preferred case the legs 34L1, 34L2 are sized such that they extend from the stage surface 34S and bottom against the baseplate 32B when the carriage 34 is received on the footing 32. Each leg 34L1, 34L2 has a tab 34T that extends inwardly toward the axial centerline (in the direction of the x-axis) . The free ends of the tabs 32T are spaced apart to define a slot or channel 32H (Figure 6) whereby the web 32W may be received under the carriage 34 while the legs 34L1,

34L2 and the tabs 34T thereon straddle the tongue 32T.

As seen in Figure 7, when the carriage 34 is received on the tongue 32T the inner ends of the tabs 34T are spaced predetermined clearance distances 35Y from the web 32W. The clearance distances need not be necessarily equal. Similarly, the confronting surfaces of the tabs 34T and the undersurface 32U of the tongue are also spaced by suitable clearance distances 35Z from each other. As is perhaps best seen in Figures 4 and 8 a stop wall 32W1, 32W2 is disposed at each axial end of the tongue 32T. The stop wall 32W2 is preferably integrally formed into the footing 32. The stop wall 32W1 is fabricated from a non-conductive high performance composite material and is joined, as by glue or ultrasonic welding, to the baseplate 32T and to the free axial ends of the web 32W and the tongue 32T. One or more stiffening gussets 32G (Figure 8) may be provided between the stop wall 32W2 and the baseplate 32B, if desired. The carriage 34 has an axial dimension that is less than the axial dimension of the tongue 32T. As shown in Figure 8, with the arm 34A2 abutted against the stop wall 32W2 an axial gap 35G is defined between the wall 32W1 and the stop wall 32W1.

As perhaps best viewed in Figures 8, 9A and 9B each of the upwardly extending arms 34A1, 34A2 terminates in a tip 34P. A camming surface 34C is disposed on the exterior surface of each arm adjacent to the tip 34P. In addition, a latching recess 34V is formed farther downwardly on the exterior surface of each arm. A boundary wall of the latching recess 34V defines a locking surface 34W for a purpose to be described. As noted, the cap 36, if utilized, is a flexible unitary member also molded from a non-conductive high performance composite material similar to the material used for the carriage and footing. The cap 36 is received over the tips 34P of the arms of the carriage. Each overlapping end of the cap 36 has a latching feature 36F that includes a camming surface 36C thereon. Each latching feature 36F also includes a locking surface 36L.

The undersurface 36B of the cap 36 that confronts the receptacle 34R has a pair of ribs 36R thereon. The ribs 36R extend into the receptacle 34R and are able to contact against a framework element 18' received therewithin .

To cover the receptacle 34R the cap 36 is moved downwardly onto the carriage and the camming surface 36C on each cap end engages against the camming surfaces 34C on the exterior of an arm. This abutment of camming surfaces causes the latching features 36F at the overlapping ends of the cap 36 to flex outwardly in the directions 36L shown in Figure 8. Continued downward motion of the cap 36 brings the latching features 36F into registration with the recesses 34V on the arms 34A. The resiliency of the cap 36 causes the latching features 36F to snap into engagement within the recesses 34V in the arms. When so received the locking surface 36L on the latching features 36F engage with the locking surface 34W defining a boundary of the recess 34V to hold the cap 36 to the carriage 34. When the cap is locked with the arms the cap serves to secure a framework element within the receptacle and to prevent egress of the framework element when it attempts to respond to a force imposed thereon tending to lift it from the receptacle.

Owing to the flexibility of the cap, as a framework element 18' responds to lifting force L imposed thereon, it moves upwardly from its original position in Figure 9A (in the direction parallel to the z-axis) and abutment between the ribs 36R on the undersurface 36B of the cap 36 and the framework element 18' causes the central region of the cap 36 to bow upwardly, as illustrated at 36W. This action is apparent by comparison of Figures 9A and 9B . The upward bowing of the cap 36 causes the latching features 36F on the overlapping ends of the cover 36 to bend inwardly from their original positions toward each other in the directions 36T, thus urging the latching features ever more tightly into the locking recesses 34V on the arms 34A. This response of the cap 36 to upward motion of the framework element serves to enhance the securing action of the cap holding the framework element within the receptacle.

Figure 10 illustrates an alternate embodiment of a carriage used to mount a central stile framework element 18 to the structure S. In this form of carriage the arms are substantially coplanar with the legs such that, when received on a footing 32 the receptacle 34R is generally parallel with the axis 32A of the tongue 32T. In addition the stage surface 34S extends laterally past each of the arms. Wall members 35W extend upwardly from the lateral margins of the stage extensions to define sockets 35S. A fixed cover 35F overlays the receptacle and the sockets. As appreciated from Figures 1 and 2 the sockets 35S receive the inboard ends of rail framework elements.

It should be readily appreciated from the foregoing that when the anchor is deployed in its fully assembled configuration (Figure 4) a framework element is received in the receptacle of the carriage, the carriage is received on the tongue of the footing, and the footing is secured to the structure. In such a condition the carriage is movable with respect to the tongue and able to accommodate forces and moments imposed on the framework element by: translation along and/or rotation around one or more lines of action, each line of action being parallel to a respective one of three mutually orthogonal axes of a reference coordinate system extending through the anchor.

That is to say, the carriage is able to translate along or rotate about a line of action that is parallel to, collinear with, or resolvable along one of three mutually orthogonal axes x, y or z axes of the reference coordinate system C extending through the anchor. Abutment contact between the tongue and either the tabs, legs, and/or undersurface of the stage surface of the carriage serve as limits to the extent to motion along each of the various lines of action. Bottoming of the legs against the baseplate accommodates increased compressive loads imposed on the support framework.

In addition, the carriage may displace with respect to the footing by translating along and/or rotating around one or more of the lines of action to accommodate any misalignment between the exterior surface of the tongue and the plane of the support framework. As used in this application, including the claims, the term "misalignment" refers to those conditions caused by unevenness in the structure and/or installation errors whereby: a) the plane of the tongue is inclined (that is, out of parallelism with) the plane of the support framework; b) the plane of one or more of the tongues is not mutually coplanar with the planes of the other tongues; and/or c) the axes of one or more of the tongues is not mutually parallel.

As a result of these accommodative actions the various forces and moments inherent in a photovoltaic installation are minimized or accommodated.

-o-O-o-

In another aspect the present invention is directed to a kit, the kit comprising: a plurality of framework elements, including a plurality of both stile framework elements and rail framework elements, interconnectible to form a support framework; and a plurality of anchors whereby the interconnectible framework elements may be mounted to a structure .

The kit may further include photovoltaic modules and clips for securing the modules to the support framework.

-o-O-o-

In yet another aspect the present invention is directed to a method for mounting a photovoltaic array to a structure comprising, in any convenient order, the steps of: a) interconnecting a plurality of framework elements to form a support framework, the interconnected framework elements lying in a common plane, b) mounting the support framework to a structure using a plurality of anchors as described above.

In one particular method of practice, a plurality of footings for mounting a central stile framework element and other internal stile framework element (s) (if used) are secured to the structure using the fasteners above described. The stile framework element (s) each have one or more modified carriages (Figure 10) thereon. The carriages are inserted onto the tongues of the footings. A stop wall (32W1) may be glued, welded or otherwise attached to the free end of the tongue on each footing, if desired.

Rail framework elements are introduced into the sockets of the modified carriages. The outboard ends of the rail framework elements are inserted into outboard connectors 28 disposed on the stile framework elements located at the lateral end of the array 10.

One or more anchors 24 (Figures 3-8) (with or without caps 36) are disposed at predetermined locations within the support framework and serve to secure individual rail framework elements to the structure .

Thereafter, one or more photovoltaic modules are attached to the support framework using clips 20.

-o-O-o-

Those skilled in the art, having the benefit of the teachings of the present invention as herein above set forth may effect modifications thereto. It should be appreciated that such modifications should be construed as lying within the contemplation of the present invention, as defined by the appended claims.

WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

Claims

1. An anchor for mounting a framework element to a structure, the framework element forming part of a support framework for a photovoltaic array containing at least one photovoltaic panel, the support framework lying in a plane, the anchor comprising: a footing, the footing including: a baseplate connectible to the structure; a tongue overlying the baseplate, the tongue having predetermined length dimension, an exterior surface and an undersurface thereon; and, a web disposed between the undersurface of the tongue and the baseplate for securing the tongue to the baseplate, the web extending along substantially the entire length of the undersurface of the tongue; and a carriage for receiving a support framework element, the carriage being movably connected to the tongue, the carriage being able to: translate along and/or rotate around one or more lines of action in response to a force imposed on the carriage by a support framework element, each line of action being parallel to, collinear with or resolvable along one of three mutually orthogonal axes of a reference coordinate system extending through the anchor; and/or displace with respect to the footing by translating along and/or rotating around one or more lines of action to accommodate any misalignment between the exterior surface of the tongue and the plane of the support framework .
2. A support framework for a photovoltaic array containing at least one photovoltaic panel to a structure, the support framework comprising: a plurality of interconnected framework elements, the interconnected framework elements lying in a common plane; a plurality of mounting anchors disposed in predetermined locations along the support framework, each of the anchors being operative to mount a framework element to a structure, each anchor itself comprising: a footing, the footing including: a baseplate connectible to the structure; a tongue overlying the baseplate, the tongue having predetermined length dimension, an exterior surface and an undersurface thereon; and, a web disposed between the undersurface of the tongue for securing the tongue to the baseplate, the web extending along substantially the entire length of the undersurface of the tongue; and a carriage for receiving a support framework element, the carriage being movably connected to the tongue, the carriage being able to translate along and/or rotate around one or more lines of action in response to a force imposed on the carriage by a support framework element, each line of action being parallel to, collinear with or resolvable along one of three mutually orthogonal axes of a reference coordinate system extending through the anchor; and/or displace with respect to the footing by translating along and/or rotating around one or more lines of action to accommodate any misalignment between the exterior surface of the tongue and the plane of the support framework .
3. A photovoltaic array, comprising: a support framework comprising a plurality of interconnected framework elements, the interconnected framework elements lying in a common plane, at least one photovoltaic module secured to the support framework, and a plurality of mounting anchors disposed in predetermined locations along the support framework, each of the anchors being operative to mount a framework element to a structure, each anchor itself comprising: a footing, the footing including: a baseplate connectible to the structure; a tongue overlying the baseplate, the tongue having predetermined length dimension, an exterior surface and an undersurface thereon; and, a web disposed between the undersurface of the tongue for securing the tongue to the baseplate, the web extending along substantially the entire length of the undersurface of the tongue; and a carriage for receiving a support framework element, the carriage being movably connected to the tongue, the carriage being able to translate along and/or rotate around one or more lines of action in response to a force imposed on the carriage by a support framework element, each line of action being parallel to, collinear with or resolvable along one of three mutually orthogonal axes of a reference coordinate system extending through the anchor; and/or displace with respect to the footing by translating along and/or rotating around one or more lines of action to accommodate any misalignment between the exterior surface of the tongue and the plane of the support framework.
4. A kit for forming a photovoltaic array, theomprising: a plurality of framework elements, the framework elements being interconnectable to form a support framework lying in a common plane; at least one photovoltaic module able to be secured to the support framework, and a plurality of mounting anchors able to be disposed in predetermined locations along the support framework and operative to mount a framework element to a structure, each anchor itself comprising: a footing, the footing including: a baseplate connectible to the structure; a tongue overlying the baseplate, the tongue having predetermined length dimension, an exterior surface and an undersurface thereon; and, a web disposed between the undersurface of the tongue for securing the tongue to the baseplate, the web extending along substantially the entire length of the undersurface of the tongue; and a carriage for receiving a support framework element, the carriage being movably connected to the tongue, the carriage being able to translate along and/or rotate around one or more lines of action in response to a force imposed on the carriage by a support framework element, each line of action being parallel to, collinear with or resolvable along one of three mutually orthogonal axes of a reference coordinate system extending through the anchor; and/or displace with respect to the footing by translating along and/or rotating around one or more lines of action to accommodate any misalignment between the exterior surface of the tongue and the plane of the support framework.
5. A method for mounting a photovoltaic array to a structure comprising the steps of: a) interconnecting a plurality of framework elements to form a support framework, the interconnected framework elements lying in a common plane, b) mounting the support framework to a structure using a plurality of anchors, each anchor being connected to a support framework element, each anchor itself comprising: a footing, the footing including: a baseplate connectible to the structure; a tongue overlying the baseplate, the tongue having predetermined length dimension, an exterior surface and an undersurface thereon; and, a web disposed between the undersurface of the tongue for securing the tongue to the baseplate, the web extending along substantially the entire length of the undersurface of the tongue; and a carriage for receiving a support framework element, the carriage being movably connected to the tongue, the carriage being able to: translate along and/or rotate around one or more lines of action in response to a force imposed on the carriage by a support framework element, each line of action being parallel to, collinear with or resolvable along one of three mutually orthogonal axes of a reference coordinate system extending through the anchor; and/or displace with respect to the footing by translating along and/or rotating around one or more lines of action to accommodate any misalignment between the exterior surface of the tongue and the plane of the support framework; and c) attaching a photovoltaic module to the support framework.
6. The combination of any of claims 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 wherein the carriage includes a pair of tabs that are disposed in a straddling relationship with respect to the tongue, each tab being spaced a predetermined clearance distance from the tongue, the tabs being able to contact against the tongue to limit rotation of the carriage.
7. The combination of any of claims 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 wherein the carriage has a first and a second lateral edge thereon, and wherein the carriage further includes a first and a second leg that respectively extend toward the baseplate from the first and second lateral edges of the carriage, each leg being spaced a predetermined clearance distance from the tongue, the legs being able to contact against the tongue to limit rotation of the carriage.
8. The combination of claim 7 wherein each leg has an enlarged stiffening member disposed thereon, each stiffening member extending away from the tongue, the stiffening members being operative to prevent the legs from flexing in a direction outwardly from the tongue .
9. The combination of claim 7 wherein each leg sized to contact the baseplate, thereby to support the carriage when the same is loaded with a force acting in a direction toward the baseplate.
10. The combination of any of claims 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 further including a first and a second stop member, the stops being able to contact against the carriage to limit translation of the carriage.
11. The combination of any of claims 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 wherein the web is continuous, is oriented substantially perpendicular to baseplate, and extends along substantially the entire axial length of the tongue .
12. The combination of any of claims 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 wherein the carriage has a front and a rear flank thereon, and wherein the carriage further includes a first and a second arm respectively disposed at the front and a rear flanks of the carriage, each arm has an upper tip thereon, the tips of the arms being spaced apart by a predetermined distance, the arms extending away from the carriage and cooperating therewith to define an open-mouthed receptacle that is sized to accept a framework element, the framework element being relatively movable with respect to the anchor.
13. The combination of claim 12 wherein each arm has an interior surface that communicates with the receptacle and an exterior surface, the exterior surface of each arm having an opening therein, a locking surface communicating with the opening in the arm, and wherein the anchor further comprises: a cap having a first and a second end thereon, a latching feature being disposed at each end of the cap, the cap being receivable over the upper tips of the arms with each latching feature engaging with a respective opening in the exterior surface of an arm, when the latching features of the cap are engaged with the arms the open mouth of the receptacle is covered, whereby the cap is able to secure a framework element within the receptacle and to prevent egress of the framework element when it attempts to respond to a force imposed thereon tending to lift it from the receptacle; and wherein each latching feature has a corresponding locking surface thereon, the locking surfaces on the arm and corresponding latching feature being engageable with each other to lock the cap to the carriage.
14. The combination of claim 13 wherein the cap is a flexible member having a bottom surface thereon, the interior surface of the cap confronting the receptacle, the bottom surface of the cap having at least one rib thereon, the rib extending into the receptacle and being able to contact against a framework element received therewithin, the cap being responsive to a framework element as the element undergoes a lifting force by bowing in a direction away from the receptacle, bowing of the cap causing the latching features to bend toward each other, whereby the latching features grip the arms more tightly and enhance the securing action of the cap against a framework element.
PCT/US2009/060932 2008-10-17 2009-10-16 An anchor having three-dimensional freedom of motion for mounting a framework element to a structure WO2010045514A2 (en)

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US10626908P true 2008-10-17 2008-10-17
US61/106,270 2008-10-17
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