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Solar ABCs Newsletter
December 2011
In This Issue
Revised Expedited Permit Process
Webinar on Commercial Rooftop PV Fires
Solar ABCs Annual Stakeholder Meeting
NEC 2014 Code Change Proposals
Standard for Embedded Electronics
Firefighter Safety and PV
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Welcome to the December newsletter for the Solar America Board for Codes and Standards (Solar ABCs).   The Solar ABCs newsletter provides the latest news and information about solar codes and standard achievements, announcements, and events.


In this newsletter, we report on a revised Solar ABCs report that outlines a recommended expedited permit process for small-scale photovoltaic (PV) systems, a Solar ABCs and Solar Electric Power Association co-hosted webinar on commercial rooftop PV fires, the Solar ABCs annual stakeholder meeting, an update on the NEC 2014 code change proposals, and provide information on a new IEC safety standard for PV modules with  embedded electronics. Please contact me if you have any questions or comments.



Larry Sherwood
Project Administrator
Solar America Board for Codes and Standards  
Revised Expedited Permit Process


The Solar ABCs has recently released a revised report that presents recommendations for local jurisdictions to use for expediting the permit process for small-scale PV systems. Homeowners, builders, and local jurisdictions often encounter a long and costly process for permitting residential (small-scale) PV systems and this revised report provides the background and approach for creating a standardized permitting process to save money and time. The Solar ABCs revised report entitled, Expedited Permit Process for PV Systems - A Standardized Process for the Review of Small-Scale PV Systems, includes new information for micro-inverters and AC modules as well as several new diagrams and calculations. The report also includes updated ASHRAE weather data to complement an online interactive map of the U.S. for ASHRAE weather data. This data is needed for voltage calculations of PV arrays and ampacity calculations of conductors. Read the revised report.
Solar ABCs Webinar: Commercial Rooftop PV Fires


The Solar ABCs and the Solar Electric Power Associationco-hosted a free webinar this month on the lessons learned from commercial rooftop PV fires and provided the derived ground-fault design and codes prevention methods. The webinar provided a discussion about one of those fires and included the lessons learned in understanding the right application of PV design and electrical building codes. In investigating the root causes of these fires, the complex nature of ground faults and fault currents in PV arrays was identified as a probable cause and has become better understood through follow-up analysis. A soon to be released report from the Solar ABCs will feed into the discussion on the broader fire safety issues of faults and fault currents, including what we know today and research that is underway to better understand the problem and make recommendations for future solutions. The presentation slides are posted on the Solar ABCs web site

Solar ABCs Annual Stakeholder Meeting


The Solar ABCs held its annual 2011 Stakeholder Meeting in Dallas, Texas on October 21, 2011. The annual meeting allows the Solar ABCS to provide PV stakeholders with an update and overview of Solar ABCs projects and other PV codes and standards activities.    Download the presentations.

NEC 2014 Code Change Proposals Submitted


The PV Industry Forum submitted proposed changes for the 2014 NEC Code.  Read the proposals that have been developed for Articles 690, 705 as well as a few other articles for the 2014 NEC. These proposals originated from many sources and some are from proposals rejected from the 2011 NEC.

Safety Standard for PV Modules with Embedded Electronics

The IEC Technical Committee 82 for PV is currently working on a new safety standard for PV modules with incorporated electronics, unofficially titled IEC 62109-3, Safety of Power Converters for Use In Photovoltaic Power Systems - Part 3 - Particular Requirements for PV Modules with Incorporated Electronic Devices.  As part of the IEC 62109 series, the standard will build upon the general and particular requirements for power converters covered in IEC 62109-1 and 62109-2, and provide further details and specific requirements for the module based equipment.  The scope was originally limited to AC modules but was later expanded to include any power conversion, protection, control or communication circuits.  The electronics may be integral to or mounted on the PV module, but not separate.


An outline with draft sections has been created and will be submitted to the IEC as a New Work Item Proposal by February 2012, and a first review draft should be ready for review by Working Group 6 by early summer.  The review and voting cycles take some time and therefore the standard is not anticipated to be published until 2013.  

Firefighter Safety and Photovoltaic Systems


Underwriters Laboratories (UL) completed an examination of fire service concerns of photovoltaic (PV) systems and the potential impact on firefighting operations.   These concerns included firefighter vulnerability to electrical and casualty hazards when mitigating a fire involving photovoltaic (PV) systems. Though the electrical and fire hazards associated with PV systems have been known for some time, the fire service has been unable to develop safety solutions and respond in a safe manner due to a limited body of knowledge and insufficient data. This fire research project developed the empirical data that was needed to quantify the potential hazards associated with fire scenarios involving PV installations and to provide the basis for the development of firefighting operational practices to reduce firefighter death and injury. Click here for more information and to download the final report.