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News

New Product: The Mod Spacer™!

Solar panels are typically fastened to rails using mid- and end-clamps, which also establish the proper gap between panels. But what about the inter-row gaps (shown below), where there are no mid clamps to set the gap size?

Gaps between panels on the same row (1) are set by the size of the mid clamps. Inter-row gaps (2) are up to the installer.

It’s up to the installer to decide how large these gaps should be, and how to go about maintaining the desired size. This is usually done using a temporary spacer, which is removed after the panels are fastened in place.

If you’re a solar installer, you’ve probably come up with a jerry-rigged solution for spacing solar modules. Maybe you use a spare mid clamp, a scrap piece of rail, or perhaps a handy colleague of yours has built one out of wood.

Straining to grasp a UFO mid clamp stuck between two panels

Either way, these DIY spacers tend to be:

  • Hard to remove when the weight of a panel is resting on them
  • Easily forgotten on the roof
  • Inefficient to use

We’ve developed a patent pending spacer that we think will make solar installer’s lives easier.

The Mod Spacer™ Cam

The Cam design allows the Mod Spacer to never get stuck between two panels. With its twist release feature, it can contract in size, allowing for easy removal.


The Mod Spacer™ Peg

The Peg design can be staged on a piece of 3/4″ EMT. You can add multiple spacers and arrange them to accommodate panels in landscape and portrait. With its extended arm, the Mod Spacer Peg can rest on the edge of a panel without falling. Pegs can also be used individually (without the conduit).

Features of both Mod Spacers

  • Set a 1/2″ inter-row gap
  • Durable plastic – Won’t scratch panels or hurt someone when dropped
  • Bright red color – Never forget a spacer again

So which Spacer do you need? Check out the Mod Spacer product pages for more info and suggestions for which version might be a good fit for you.

Not sure if the Mod Spacer would be a hit with your crew? Order a free sample from the drop-down menu on the product pages in our shop – no credit card required and we’ll even cover shipping!

We hope you enjoy this tool. Please let us know what you think in the product reviews!

Cheers,

The Slick Tools Team

Categories
Solar Info

Solar Animal Guard Job Cost Calculator

Whether you’re an installer in the field, or a manager at an installation company, you might want to get some insights into how much all your animal guard jobs cost, or when the AG Bender™ will pay for itself. Our job cost calculator can tell you all this and more.

Here’s what the calculator can do:

  • Get estimates on the amount of materials and labor required, and the costs associated with both.
  • See how much time and money the AG Bender will save you.
  • Get your nerd on by adjusting advanced settings like number of sub-arrays (this has a big impact on perimeter length & cost), labor rates and the multiplier for payroll taxes and other overhead.
  • All of these metrics are available on a per job and annual basis.

If you’re still unsure whether you should install animal guard at all, or if you need some help convincing a customer to take the step, you should check out the first part of this series called “Does my solar PV system need animal/critter guard?“. Here we explore the financial risks of not installing animal guard.

Also, refer to our sourcing guide for all the best materials and tools to use when installing animal guard. We don’t sell the tools listed here, we simply hope you get some value out of the guide.

Cheers!
The Slick Tools Team

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News

NABCEP Trade Show ’22

11 years ago, in Malta, New York, former executive director of NABCEP Ezra Auerbach realized the potential there was for bringing together solar installers and exhibitors for a few days. The installers could all get up to date on their NABCEP certifications, while the exhibitors could make valuable industry connections and teach classes on new technologies and practices. Back then, there were a mere 18 exhibitors and around 150 attendees at the show. Needless to say, the show has come very far! At its most recent gathering in Phoenix, Arizona this March, over 80 exhibitors showed off their newest and coolest products, while over 700 attendees roamed the show floor and attended classes.

One of those booths was Slick Tools! We had the most amazing time connecting with fellow solar nerds and gathering incredible feedback on our tools. We heard more than once that NABCEP is by far the best solar trade show in its size class – and we couldn’t agree more. The Sheraton Phoenix was packed with technically minded installers from across the country who were eager to learn and give us their honest feedback.

We can’t blame so many people for stopping by our booth, though. In the end, we had a very eye catching display to show off our latest innovations. Our mock roof served as the perfect attendee magnet, while demonstrating what a critter guard job done right can (and should) look like. We were even able to squeeze in (pun intended) some Mod Spacers™ for people to try out.

To round off the trip, Marshall and I decided to tag on some more fun adventures. The plan was to set off for Phoenix, camp along the way, attend the trade show and finish with a hut trip on Vail Pass in Colorado. So, we stuffed the Subaru full of our entire trade show booth, clothes for 3 different climates as well as our camping gear and ski gear. Needless to say, we were exhausted by the end of it, but boy was it fun.

Overall, NABCEP ’22 was a great success. We’re proud to put the Slick Tools name on the map, and can’t wait to see our new solar friends at NABCEP ’23 in Missouri.

In the meantime, come find us at RE+ in Anaheim, CA this fall!

Best,

The Slick Tools Team

Categories
News

Slick Tools places 2nd at UNC E-Challenge!

After qualifying for the finals back in February, we pitched again on March 9th and got 2nd place in the open division! The prize money will enable us to continue product development and to visit some trade shows this year.

The UNC Monfort College of Business E-challenge is an annual competition where 10 companies compete for a prize fund in 2 divisions. Slick Tools qualified for the finals in the open division alongside companies like GelSana and RD Flows (1st and 3rd place, respectively). The 1st place for the collegiate division went to Submission Nutrition, a nutrition provider by and for martial artists.

The E-challenge provided us with some great feedback on our pitch, and we met a lot of amazing entrepreneurs and advisors along the way.

So, what’s next for Slick Tools? We’re headed to Phoenix, AZ for the annual NABCEP Continuing Education trade show! We can’t wait to show off our tools and meet industry leaders face to face.

Cheers!
The Slick Tools Team

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News

GRID Alternatives just got an AG Bender™!

GRID Alternatives is a non-profit organization based in California, that provides underrepresented individuals and tribal communities across the globe with solar who would not have been able to afford the transition to renewable energy. In addition, they train hundreds of solar installer each year. These cohorts of trainees from all backgrounds are taught the basics of solar systems before applying their knowledge on actual projects. With their industry connections, GRID enables these individuals to land jobs at solar installers across the country after they complete the 10-week program. Sam, our business developer actually completed GRID’s “Solar Training Academy” in 2020. His cohort worked on a commercial project in Boulder for 10 weeks.

We’ve long admired GRID for helping individuals across the globe transition to renewable energy, and for helping build a strong workforce in the industry.

We decided to visit one of these cohorts last Tuesday on a residential project in Denver to donate an AG Bender. Hopefully we can partner with GRID in the future, as we develop a full line of solar-specific tools!

Categories
News

UNC Entrepreneurial Challenge Finalists!

Marshall and I took part in the University of Northern Colorado’s Entrepreneurial Challenge last week, pitching Slick Tools LLC to a panel of judges. We focused our presentation on the Animal Guard Bender, but also shared our vision for a full line of solar-specific tools. In the end, we were able to secure a spot in the finals!

There are two divisions in the competition: the collegiate division and an open division. In the finals on March 9th, all teams from both divisions will compete against each other for a share of $25,000.

We had some interesting contestants in the open division. GelSana Therapeutics has invented a gel that heals wounds faster, and Sarus Lifting is working on a construction logistics app. Four companies from each division made it to the finals, so we’ll have our work cut out for us!

Regardless of the outcome, the E-challenge was a great experience for Marshall and me, and we’re stoked to pitch again.

Categories
Solar Info

Built to last

This Animal Guard Bender has been with Namasté Solar for 2 years now, and it’s still going strong! In fact, we have not had any warranty claims on these tools. Davis at Namasté Solar had this to say about the AG Bender:

“It’s held up to the abuse it gets in the work van and looks like it will be around for a long time.”

Davis Fogerty – Solar PV Installer, Namasté Solar Electric

Slick Tools was founded to help solar installers, and to make their jobs easier. The last thing we want, is for our customers to worry about the reliability of their tools. Therefore, we chose durable materials that can last for years and designed the Bender in such a way that parts can easily be replaced. This dedication to quality, coupled with our hand assembly of each Bender makes for a tool that will last.

Hand assembly of an Animal Guard Bender

Installers using the AG Bender in the field noticed that pulling the mesh through the machine, slowly wore off the contact rods over time. Back then, Benders were outfitted with contact rods made out of durable polyethylene (UHMW) and we found that by simply rotating the rods, installers could get the maximum use out of the parts.

Since then, we have found that the materials Teflon™ and Delrin™ are better suited for most mesh types. While we have not observed any substantial wear on the current rods, we do offer replacement parts in our shop. These can easily be swapped out by the customer.

Additionally, we have a warranty for the unlikely event of a Bender being defect or not performing like it should be.

As always, reach out with any questions or comments you have!

Happy Bending,

The Slick Tools Team

Categories
News

The New AG Bender is here!

AG Bender 7: New Features

Since the inception of the AG Bender we have constantly been making improvements based on your feedback. Recently, we made significant modifications that we’re extremely excited about and we hope that you will be too!

First off, we’ve made some changes to the website! You can now shop for Benders here. We are offering a $150 discount for your first Bender purchase! Just use the discount code “first_agb” at checkout.

Now let’s talk about the machine. We’ve made the AG Bender compatible with more wire mesh types, including PVC coated ones by these manufacturers:

Nils doing friction testing

We did a lot of friction testing with different materials to make the Bender easier to use. As a result, we now offer either Delrin™ or Teflon™ rods, depending on your choice of mesh.
These parts can be easily swapped by customers on site.

spiffy mesh spool with tape measure showing diameter

The Bender is able to accommodate mesh spools with various inner and outer diameters.

The other changes we are excited about

A “wave plate” detent system on the machine perfectly aligns the mesh when changing the width of the Bender.

top view of strut channel

And finally, we increased the length of the strut channel, making the Bender easier to anchor.

For more information, visit the AG Bender page.

As always, we look forward to hearing your feedback!

Categories
News

Field Tester Program

Become a Prototype Tester!

Here at Slick Tools, we strive to provide you with high quality tools that make installing Solar easier. Putting our tools into the field to get tested by the people who will actually use them has been a huge part of our product development. The more feedback we can get, the better.

That’s why we started our Field Testing Program.

This is a great opportunity for you to test the latest and greatest tools on the market, and for us to get invaluable feedback on our designs!

Here’s how it works:

  • Fill out the Field Tester Signup Form here
  • If one of our prototypes aligns with your needs, we’ll send you a unit to test
  • We’ll periodically ask you to fill out a short survey so we can improve our products.
AG Bender in Namaste solar Van

Here’s one of our first AG Benders in the field over at Namasté Solar!

Feel free to reach out with any questions you have about the program!

Cheers,
The Slick Tools Team

Categories
News

Introducing: The Forge

Let’s work together to improve the Solar Industry.

The Forge is your opportunity to partner with Slick Tools to create the solutions that will drive our industry forward. Whether you’re a solar professional that just has an idea for a tool, or you already have a prototype, we’ve got you covered!

Our Founder, Marshall, left his job as a solar installer and started Slick Tools to invent solutions that would make his colleagues’ jobs easier. We know that there are plenty of smart installers out there that have great ideas for tools, but don’t have the time to pursue making them. We want to partner with those people!

Read about The Forge Program here!

Follow our LinkedIn and sign up for our Newsletter to stay in the loop!

As always, please reach out with any questions you have.

Best,
The Slick Tools Team