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Apr 06, 2011
(A KeyRex Bolt is seen on a SnapNrack module mid clamp at an REC Solar Ground Mount Installation. Photo Courtesy of REC Solar)
The best security deterrent should work remotely, last 30 years, and stop the professional thief. Unfortunately, what most people choose does not meet these criteria. REC Solar wanted something better for their commercial ground mount solar installations.
“When REC Solar began looking for a security solution, we approached Bryce Fastener to explore what they could offer” said Greg McPheeters, Senior Design Engineer with SnapNrack. “REC routinely uses security fences, but we knew in remote sites this would not be enough. They had considered electronic alarms but rejected them for their drawbacks. Electronics have a high failure rate, are given to false alarms, have short life expectancies, and must be supported by continual monitoring. They may not prevent theft in remote areas where response times are slow. The hidden costs were too high. Security cameras offered no better results. REC solar found the right solution for them was a high security fastener made by Bryce Fastener Inc. Their Keyed-Lok security screws were better than breakaway bolts which make future maintenance very difficult. They are more secure than tamperproof fasteners which have bits sold at retail. Keyed-Lok is a custom keyed locking bolt only removed by their private key. It will last the life of the panel, and stop even the professional thief.”
REC Solar purchased its own exclusive keyed fastener and began using them on their commercial ground mount installations. Their systems are installed on SnapNrack mounting components, where the standard 5/16″ stainless hardware is simply upgraded to the REC Solar Specific Key-Rex fastener. REC Solar has installed MegaWatts of ground mounts using the Key-Rex solution including a recent installation on the island of Kauai, Hawaii which at 1.21 MegaWatts is the largest installation on the island. “The customer was particularly happy with the Key-Rex solution, knowing that the modules will be nearly impossible to remove without the keyed driver bits” explains Greg McPheeters, “and REC is happy with the installation process using the hardware. I spoke at length with the installers after the project was completed and they were very positive about the Key-Rex hardware. They noted some additional installation time due to the extra time needed to align the drivers within the keyed bolt heads, but the keyed bolt solution remains faster than other options we have looked at. They also reported a number of broken driver bits but this has been traced to the use of impact drivers, which is not recommended by Bryce Fastener.” Bryce Fastener has committed to replacing any driver bits that come back broken from the field.
REC Solar, based out of San Luis Obispo, CA, is a top 3 solar electric systems integrator in the United States. Among the many keys to the company’s success has been their commitment to innovative technologies, high quality installation work, and outstanding customer service. Their teams provide complete turn-key solutions for commercial, government, utility, and residential applications.
"We have tested our screws successfully against every tool a crook might have. We sold Key- Rex hardware to 800 different customers last year, without a reported security breach. You get an exclusive keyway with more security options than a padlock. We feel our “locks” supply cost effective security, ideal for the solar industry,” Mark Miller, Sales Director for Bryce Fastener Inc.
As solar panels continue to grow in popularity, effective security solutions will become increasingly critical to system design. Of the many options, it seems a low tech solution may be the best. A keyed locking fastener may be all that is needed to insure the panels produce quietly for the next 30 years with little maintenance, as intended.