A PV system is relatively simple in concept, but after the NEC requirements are added for safety, the execution of the system requires considerable attention to detail. There are also significant numbers of electrical inspectors that are new to the field of inspecting PV systems.
Although changes to the 2020 National Electrical Code for PV systems have been covered in previous issues, this article compares the 2017 requirements with the 2020 requirements and determines how clarifications have been made.
Nearly every week, I get calls and e-mails from inspectors, plan reviewers, photovoltaic (PV) professionals, engineers, and electricians asking about areas of PV system installation that are not clearly addressed in the National Electrical Code (NEC).
Continuing education is critical. It will be mandatory to use all available communication devices and advanced tools at our disposal to effectively plan, review, and inspect the current and next generation of PV systems.
Codes, standards, equipment, and the organizations certifying that equipment meets a particular standard are continually changing. The harmonization of U.S. standards with international standards—while potentially reducing costs in the international arena—may complicate the application of these standards as they are adopted.
Before we get into the details of conductors, currents, and circuit protection on the AC side of the PV system, let’s step back and try to get a bigger picture of where are some of the dangers or hazards that need to be considered.