Arch Electric completes large rooftop solar install for Wisconsin wood product manufacturer

Arch Electric recently completed a 389 kW SolarEdge DC-optimized PV system at its Ongna Wood Products manufacturing facility in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin. The rooftop array consists of 1,037 solar panels, each linked to SolarEdge Power Optimizers to maximize energy production on site despite the challenging cold weather conditions typical of Wisconsin.

Ongna Wood Products is a fourth generation family business that manufactures wooden pallets, crates and boxes. The company had invested in a new pallet making machine that would not only increase productivity but also significantly increase power consumption. Solar was an interesting option, but with Wisconsin’s long winters, cloudy skies, and temperatures ranging from 100°F to -25°F, the company wasn’t sure solar could be a viable option. Fortunately, local installer Arch Electric was less than 10 miles away in Plymouth and had extensive experience generating solar power in Wisconsin.

“The fact that SolarEdge is an established, leading supplier to the solar industry with a proven track record has given Ongna Wood great confidence,” said JD Smith, business development coordinator for Arch Electric. “At the same time, Arch Electric has been around for 20 years and has built its business on developing solar solutions specific to the Wisconsin climate. The combination of the two companies’ expertise and experience reduced the risk factor for Ongna Wood and gave them the confidence to invest in solar energy.”

As a company focused entirely on meeting the needs of its customers in Wisconsin, Arch Electric designs all of its projects to maximize year-round solar production. For the installation of Ongna Wood, it was decided to mount the solar modules on custom racks that change the mounting angle from the industry standard of 10° to 22°. This shift compensates for the lower sun angles and makes it easier for snow to slide without going through the modules, allowing for greater power production.

This commitment also led to Arch Electric’s decision to specify SolarEdge’s Power Optimizer solution for all of its installations. SolarEdge’s Power Optimizers attach directly to solar modules and enable independent operation, meaning that the underperformance of one module, e.g. due to snow or cloud cover, will not affect the others on the same string. This will ensure that Ongna Wood Products will benefit from increased energy production throughout the year.

As a company that works with wood and heat, safety was also a crucial consideration for Ongna Wood.

“The company liked that the SolarEdge Power Optimizers give it the ability to monitor each solar module for performance and failure, helping to minimize risk and maximize life cycle efficiency, and with the SafeDC feature of SolarEdge, one simple way is to power the array to allow for safe roof repairs, firefighter access, and general maintenance to deal with snow and ice,” Smith said.

All these benefits gave Ongna Wood Products the confidence to invest in solar energy. The SolarEdge system is expected to produce more than 80% of the site’s energy needs and is expected to pay for itself in just 4.4 years.

“Ultimately, it’s the financial proof that sells solar systems to companies like Ongna Wood Products,” Smith said. “Sustainability is a bonus, but SolarEdge’s technology with Arch Electric’s local expertise makes solar a viable business proposition — even in Wisconsin.”

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