AE 868
Commercial Solar Electric Systems

International Solar Energy Provisions


As we can see, finding the solar and PV related local and international codes can be a tedious task due to the variety of engineering disciplines involved in solar systems. Therefore, as a combined effort, ICC provisions coordinated and developed a model code to bring together all solar energy provisions found throughout the 2015 ICC (or I-Codes) that pertain to solar thermal and PV energy systems. As a result, ICC published the International Solar Energy Provisions (ISEP) that simplify the implementation of I-Codes in the jurisdiction where solar and PV systems are to be installed. Furthermore, since most PV system include electrical components and systems, NFPA 70 or NEC related articles are integrated into the ISEP 2015.

The ISEP is organized in chapters with related topics, and it differentiates between commercial and residential applications. You can also notice cross-references between I-Codes within the ISEP chapters. In additions, ISEP references other standards across the chapters, such as ASTM, IBC, IFC, IRC, NFPA 70 (NEC), and UL.


For the purpose of this class, students are encouraged to read through the ISEP chapters, such as Chapter 4 [RS] and Chapter 5 [CS], as they relate to Photovoltaic systems.

Let's look at an example:

If you are designing a PV system in a jurisdiction that approves international (I-codes), the ISEP 2015 will become handy to find related PV code sections such as LBC, IFC, and IRC code sections. Designers need to pay attention to the system installation type considerations to comply with these codes. For example, below we have two scenarios of PV systems:

Scenario 1

The PV system is a residential rooftop-mounted PV system.

Reviewing the ISEP Chapter 4 [RS], we can see that PV systems shall be designed and installed in accordance with section RS405(R907) and NFPA 70. RS405 states that PV panel or modules systems installed on rooftops shall be listed and labeled in accordance with UL1703 and shall be installed to resist the components and cladding loads specific in Table (IRC R301.292)), and adjusted for height and exposure in accordance with table (IRC R301.2(3)). In addition, installation shall be in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Scenario 2

The PV system is a commercial ground-mounted PV array.

Reviewing ISEP Chapter 5 [CS], we can see that PV systems shall be designed and installed in accordance with section CS509.1.2 (IFC 605.11.2) that states that PV installations shall be designed to provide designated pathways, access clearance, and spacing requirements according to NFPA 70 and IFC 605.11.


Refer to The International Solar Energy Provisions (ISEP) Chapter 4 [RS] and Chapter 5 [CS] for more detailed information about the previous example of code compliance.