March 2013: St. Louis, Mo. – While solar energy itself isn’t anything new, its popularity is rising as growing numbers of commercial and residential customers broaden their knowledge of the systems and they find the many benefits that solar can bring to their environment. French Gerleman, an independent distributor of electrical, automation, datacom and power transmission equipment, recently completed installation of one of the area’s largest and most complex solar arrays, designed to test and demonstrate a wide variety of components and technologies while offering customers an educational environment to help them make informed decisions.
The installation coincides with the launch of French Gerleman’s clean energy group, which provides solar energy products to industrial, commercial and residential electrical contractors.
“When we began planning the solar testing and learning center, we were very careful to perform due diligence on the products and manufacturers we offered, and wanted to ensure that our educational and consultative manner of serving clients was in place,” said Adam Ruebsam, Vice President of Commercial and Industrial Sales. “We built the center to support that purpose and give customers an environment where they could see the components in action, learn from our experience, and make the best decisions for their particular environment.”
French Gerleman’s solar testing and learning center was installed at the company’s 174,000 square foot headquarters building in St. Louis. The system is unique in that it incorporates four different monitoring systems, three panel technologies of various wattages and three different types of inverter technologies. The system took more than a year to design and build due to its complexity, and cost approximately 25% more than an average install.
The company was committed to the investment, as it incorporated all the components customers would need to evaluate when considering a solar system. “It was expensive and time consuming to do what we did,” said Ruebsam, “but we are in the business of providing technology and solutions for our customers, so we wanted to create an atmosphere where they could experience an active working system with the components they were considering. The testing center allows them to do just that, and we see it as a critical piece of French Gerleman’s solar product offering.”
The firm will continue to update the solar testing and learning center as new technologies are available.
Through its clean energy group, French Gerleman will support and offer components from trusted manufacturers such as SolarWorld, REFUsol, Fronius, Siemens, Cooper B-Line, Legrand, Unirac, SMA, Power-One, and Tigo Energy. Each of these manufacturers is represented in French Gerleman’s solar testing center, allowing customers firsthand experience of the various components.
Ruebsam cites French Gerleman’s distribution area, which covers Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas, as a prime growth area for solar power. The region has recently begun its journey towards increased energy independence and environmental awareness, and offers favorable weather conditions for sunlight. This, in addition to tax incentives and falling prices, make the market favorable for growth in solar energy.
About French Gerleman
French Gerleman is the region’s leading supplier of electrical, automation, datacom, and power transmission products and services to industrial, commercial and construction markets. Based in St. Louis, MO, French Gerleman has locations in Quincy, IL; Kansas City, KS; Columbia, MO; and Washington, MO. For more information, visit www.frenchgerleman.com.