How These Two Changes to the NEC are Changing Solar Technology

solar panels

As the cost of solar energy continues to decrease, smaller margins will separate the industry winners and losers. Because of the price drop, companies are forced to quickly adapt to changes in the solar industry.

The National Electric Code (NEC), which sets the benchmark for safe electrical design, installation and inspection to protect people and property from electrical hazard in the United States, has made two recent changes that will especially test solar professionals' maneuverability.

Ecotech Institute's program director for solar technology Chris Janin and Ecotech Institute instructor Tim Galligan recently contributed their insights on the subject to Solar Power World.

As they point out in the article, the two key changes are:

  • The increase from the 1000-V standard to 1500 V: This change, a result of market needs, increases a per-string load by 50 percent for commercial solar installations.
  • The rapid shutdown requirement: This change can lead to increased system complexity and, for that reason, higher costs.

But although the rapid shutdown requirement may add to system costs, Janin and Galligan explain how solar installers can actually use these additions to the NEC to be more economic.

“Having to implement rapid shutdown on strings makes module level electronics, such as DC to DC optimizers and microinverters, a much better proposition. What was once a more expensive option is now on par with or better than the alternative. Module level electronics serve to reduce the system complexity introduced by the rapid shutdown system, making systems faster and easier to install, offsetting increased component costs.”

In short, having a more nuanced understanding of how these changes affect the solar installation process is key to being successful in the industry.

Read the full article on the Solar Power World website.

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