How Safe is Solar?

Today’s solar photovoltaic (PV) equipment is reliably safe, thanks to continued requirements of the National Electric Code (NEC) and much stricter training and testing requiements of contractors entering the business.

Perhaps the most important Code requirement is also the most recent. Arc-Fault Circuit Protection was required beginning with the 2011 National Electric Code as Acticle 690.11. Arc faults can occur when DC connectors on the roof age and loosen. DC voltage produced by the solar modules arc across that gap as a spark that can ignite nearby combustable material. Inverters are now required to sense that sparking and shut down, opening the DC circuit and stopping the flow of electricity. The best inverters are not confused by other electrical activity within the home or business and so are much less subject to nuisance trips.

Many owners of older systems are upgradinging their inverters to take advantage of the increased safety provided by Arc-Fault Circuit Protection. Availability of batteryless daylight backup on the newest inverters makes replacing their current inverter an easy decision for homeowners who want both the latest in system safety and emergency power in times of power outages or natural disaster.

Another requirement, Ground-Fault Protection, protects people from coming into accidental contact with electrical current if conductors were to short against metal components of the system over its 25 to 30 year life. Ground-Fault Protection was first required by NEC Article 690.5 in 1987 and updated in 2008. 

Bonding and grounding requirements of NEC Chapters 250 and 690.41 - 690.50 for all components are often misunderstood by poorly trained installers and electricians, but form the basic principles of electrical safety.

Utah Applied Solar Energy engineers will not only ensure that your system is installed safely and according to code – even for systems installed by the owner – but are happy to inspect your system annually for component wear or degradation.

Utah Applied Solar Energy, LLC  2015