The new 2014 National Electrical Code (NEC 2014) contains a somewhat controversial new rule intended to protect firefighters who have to work on rooftops where solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are installed - Article 690.12, Rapid Shutdown of PV Systems on Buildings.
It requires a shutdown system with which emergency responders can de-energize the entire solar array within 10 seconds from a clearly-marked central switch before venturing onto a rooftop for firefighting.
This remote combining disconnect system is from our friends at Midnite Solar, and is an elegant solution to the issue.
The controversy with NEC 690.12 is simply about the extra cost added to each rooftop PV installation by the extra equipment. Firefighters think it's a great idea. It's really just one in a series of upcoming compromises and negotiations that will both let the rooftop PV industry prosper, and help keep firefighters safe...it will only happen if we all work together.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to OUTREACH. Firefighters need to be trained on exactly how renewable energy systems work, and how to stay safe around them....even if the RE system itself is on fire.
Thanks Midnite for being one of our educational sponsors, we enjoy trying our best to brutalize and break all the classroom display units you send us. Our full Educational Policy is here.
We do offer ISPQ / IREC / NABCEP accredited classes on the topic to both firefighters and renewable energy professionals. Please see our Upcoming Classes page for more information, or give us a call or email.