AE 868
Commercial Solar Electric Systems

PV Related Codes

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Building codes

The International Code Council (ICC)

ICC is an international organization that develops a set of comprehensive international model construction codes focused on building safety and fire prevention. Many ICC Codes (AKA I-Codes) have sections relevant to PV installations, including:

The International Building Code (IBC):

IBC covers all types of buildings except the detached one and two family dwellings and townhouses that don’t exceed three stories in height. The IBC includes requirements for the fire class rating of PV systems and it contains wind load calculations (as we briefly discussed in Lesson 5 when we talked about BOS structural calculations).

International Residential Code (IRC):

IRC establishes minimum regulations for one and two family dwellings and townhouses up to three stories in height that are not addressed in IBC. It brings together all building, plumbing, mechanical, fuel gas, and energy and electrical provisions, which include PV systems for one and two family residences.

International Fire Code (IFC):

IFC includes regulations governing the safeguarding of life and property from all types of fire and explosions hazards, which include PV systems. IFC addresses topics include general precautions against fire, fire department access, and fire safety requirements for new and existing buildings and premises. The IFC includes requirements for PV labeling, access and spacing, and the location of DC connectors and other. It is considered the most relevant to rooftop PV installations.

International Green Construction Code (IGCC):

IGCC is a model code focused on new and existing commercial buildings. It addresses green building design and performance to establish minimum green requirements for buildings. This code is related to the grading of buildings rather than safety regulations, as the previous ones do.

International Code Council Evaluation Services (ICC-ES)

ICC-ES involves technical evaluations of building products, components, methods, and materials. The evaluation process culminates with the issuance of technical reports that directly address the issue of code compliance and is useful to regulatory agencies and building-product manufacturers.

Note:

The International Code Council (ICC) codes related to roofing and PV systems are highlighted below:

Mechanical Codes

IAPMO Codes and Standards

The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) works with government and industry to implement comprehensive plumbing and mechanical systems all around the world. There are many IAPMO codes and standards that pertain to PV installations.

Note:

The Uniform Solar Energy and Hydronics Code developed by IAPMO contains thorough materials for PV systems.

Electrical Codes

International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies. The United States formed an IEC National Committee (USNC) to oversee the country's participation in IEC activities, and that is governed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The IEC promotes international cooperation on all questions of standardization and the verification of complying to standards and often serves as the basis for national standardization and as a reference when drafting international tenders and contracts. The IEC standards include all electrotechnologies, which also includes PV systems for energy production and distribution.

Note:

IEC Technical Committee 82 (IEC TC82) covers photovoltaic systems. The U.S. Technical Advisory Group (USTAG) provides input from U.S. stakeholders into IEC TC82 standards.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

The Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE) Standards Association publishes hundreds of industry-driven consensus standards in a broad range of technologies and applications, including photovoltaic (PV) systems and the integration with the utility grid. The IEEE global outreach drives the functionality, capabilities, and interoperability of a wide range of products and services.

Note:

IEEE 1547 is the most widely used standard for PV applications interconnection regulations. 

National Fire Protection Association

The NPFA 70: National Electrical Code (NEC) developed by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) issues the National Electrical Code® (NEC), the Uniform Fire Code, and other codes. The NEC is updated and published every three years and is considered to be the most comprehensive electrical safety installation requirements document in the world. Published by the National Fire Protection Association, the NEC is over 115 years old with 50+ editions and over 800 pages and articles. The first PV related article was added to the NEC in 1984 (Article 690) and is legislated into law by all states and most major cities in the US and some international places.

There are many articles of the NEC referenced in Article 690 that apply to PV installations. Whenever the requirements of Article 690 and other articles differ, the requirements of Article 690 apply.

Note:

For more information about related NEC articles to PV systems, refer to Chapter 11 in the text or the NEC free access on the NFPA website that is listed below.

Testing and Material Related Codes

ASTM International

ASTM International, also known as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), is an organization that develops international standards with a goal to improve product quality, enhance safety, facilitate market access and trade, and build consumer confidence. The ASTM has tens of standards that pertain to PV technology.

Note:

ASTM PV standards are developed by subcommittee E44.09 Photovoltaic Electric Power Conversion.

Underwriters Laboratories

As discussed earlier, Underwriters Laboratory (UL) develops safety standards including standards for PV related products. UL's standards are essential to helping ensure public safety and confidence, reduce costs, improve quality, and market products and services. Most products in the U.S. undergo UL testing and listing credentials.

Note:

PV-specific UL standards include:

  • UL 1699, for Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupters
  • UL 1699B, AC AFCIs
  • UL 1703, for Flat-Plate Photovoltaic Modules and Panels
  • UL 1741 – Inverters, Converters, Controllers and Interconnection System Equipment for Use With Distributed Energy Resources
  • UL 2703 – Rack Mounting Systems and Clamping Devices for Flat-Plate Photovoltaic Modules and Panels
  • UL 3703 – Trackers. Draft standard will be available soon
  • UL 8703 – Concentrator Photovoltaic Modules and Assemblies (Electric Safety for PV Concentrators). STP will be appointed soon.