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Know the Code: PV and NEC

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 1


First National Electrical Code 1881

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 2


The National Electrical Code was
invented to reduce the risk of

FIRE
And
ELECTROCUTION

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 3


Electrical Safety
Get the NEC Handbook: Order it on-line
At
www.nfpa.org/Catalog/

Read John Wiles book about article 690 (which applies to PV)

Photovoltaic Power Systems and the National


Electrical Code: Suggested Practices

This is on-line at http://www.nmsu.edu/~tdi/


Photovoltaics/Codes-Stds/PVnecSugPract.html

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 4


National Electrical Code
Chapter 1 General
Chapter 2 Wiring and Protection
Chapter 3 Wiring Methods and Materials
Chapter 4 Equipment for General Use
Chapter 5 Special Occupancies
Chapter 6 Special Equipment
Chapter 7 Special Conditions
Chapter 8 Communications Systems
Chapter 9 Tables

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 5


Each Chapter has many sections
Chapter 6 Special Equipment
600 Electric Signs and Outline Lighting ............ 70–477
604 Manufactured Wiring Systems ................... 70–481
605 Office Furnishings (Consisting of Lighting Accessories and Wired Partitions) ............... 70–482
610 Cranes and Hoists .................................. 70–483
620 Elevators, Dumbwaiters, Escalators,
Moving Walks, Wheelchair Lifts, and Stairway Chair Lifts ................................ 70–488
625 Electric Vehicle Charging System ............... 70–498
630 Electric Welders .................................... 70–502
640 Audio Signal Processing, Amplification,
and Reproduction Equipment .................... 70–504
645 Information Technology Equipment ............ 70–509
647 Sensitive Electronic Equipment ................. 70–511
650 Pipe Organs ......................................... 70–512
660 X-Ray Equipment .................................. 70–513
665 Induction and Dielectric Heating Equipment ........................................... 70–515
668 Electrolytic Cells ................................... 70–516
669 Electroplating ....................................... 70–519
670 Industrial Machinery .............................. 70–520
675 Electrically Driven or Controlled Irrigation Machines ................................. 70–521
680 Swimming Pools, Fountains, and Similar Installations .......................................... 70–523
685 Integrated Electrical Systems .................... 70–537
690 Solar Photovoltaic Systems ...................... 70–538
692 Fuel Cell Systems .................................. 70–547
692 Fire Pumps .................................. 70–550

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 6


Then there sub-headings and sub-sub-headings
690 Solar Photovoltaic Systems ...................... 70–538 (this is the page number)
I. General ........................................... 70–538
690.1 Scope
690.2 Definitions
II. Circuit Requirements ........................... 70–540
III. Disconnecting Means .......................... 70–542
IV. Wiring Methods ................................. 70–543
V. Grounding ........................................ 70–544
VI. Marking .......................................... 70–545
VII. Connection to Other Sources ................. 70–545
VIII. Storage Batteries ................................ 70–546
IX. Systems Over 600 Volts ....................... 70–547
October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 7
Who Makes the Code?
NATIONAL ELECTRICAL CODE COMMITTEE
CODE-MAKING PANEL NO. 3
Articles 300, 527, 690, 692
Raymond W. Weber, Chair, Dept. of Commerce, WI [E], Rep.
International Association of Electrical Inspectors

Joseph J. Andrews, Electrical Safety Resources, Inc., SC [U], Rep. Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, Inc.
Charles W. Beile, Allied Tube & Conduit/Tyco, IL [M], Rep. National Electrical Manufacturers Association
Ward I. Bower, Sandia Nat’l. Laboratories, NM [U], Rep. Solar Energy Industries Association
(VL 690)
Paul Casparro, Scranton Electricians JATC, PA [L], Rep. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
Charles W. Forsberg, OH [M], Rep. Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.
Jack A. Gruber, Wheatland Tube Co., PA [M], Rep. American Iron and Steel Institute
Dennis B. Horman, PacifiCorp, UT [UT], Rep. Edison Electric Institute
Kenneth Krastins, Plug Power, Inc., NY [M], Rep. US Fuel Cell Council
(VL 691)
George M. Kreiner, Underwriters Laboratories Inc., IL [RT]
Ronald E. Maassen, Lemberg Electric Co., Inc., WI [IM], Rep. National Electrical Contractors Association
Steven J. Owen, AL [IM], Rep. Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.
David A. Pace, Olin Corporation, AL [U], Rep. American Chemistry Council

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 8


There are several other articles referenced in
690 Solar Photovoltaic Systems
n Chapter 1 General
u Article 100 – Definitions § Chapter 4 Equipment for General Use
u Article 110 – Installation Requirements u Article 445 – Generators
n Chapter 2 Wiring and Protection u Article 450 – Transformers
u Article 200 – Grounded Conductor
u Article 480 – Storage Batteries
u Article 210 – Branch Circuits
§ Chapter 6 Special Equipment
u Article 690 – Photovoltaic Systems
u Article 230 - Services
u Article 692 – Fuel Cell Systems
u Article 240 – Overcurrent Protection
§ Chapter 7 Special Conditions
u Article 250 - Grounding
u Article 705 – Interconnected Power Sources
n Chapter 3 Wiring Methods u Article 720 – Circuits less then 50 volts
u Article 310 – Conductors
u Article 314 – J-Boxes sizing
u Article 338 –Service Entrance cables

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 9


NEC Figure 690.1(A)
October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 10
Some of the definitions

Photovoltaic Source Circuit. Circuits between modules


and from modules to the common connection point(s) of
the dc system.

Photovoltaic Output Circuit. Circuit conductors between


the photovoltaic source circuit(s) and the inverter or dc
utilization equipment.

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 11


690.5 Ground-Fault Protection. Roof-mounted dc photovoltaic
arrays located on dwellings shall be provided with
dc ground-fault protection to reduce fire hazards.

(A) Ground-Fault Detection and Interruption. The


ground-fault protection device or system shall be capable of
detecting a ground fault, interrupting the flow of fault current,
and providing an indication of the fault.

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 12


There are 4 things we have to use NEC in PV system
design on a regular basis

1) DC Voltage of PV as a function of temperature

2) Voltage drop

3) Ampacity of wires, fuses and breakers

4) Grounding

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 13


Sharp 185

Voltages and currents


are given at standard
test conditions and are
NOT the maximums!

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 14


October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 15
October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 16
690.7 Maximum Voltage.

(B) Direct-Current Utilization Circuits. The voltage of


dc utilization circuits shall conform with 210.6.
(C) Photovoltaic Source and Output Circuits.
Over 600 V not allowed
(D) Circuits Over 150 Volts to Ground.
NOT accessible to other than qualified persons

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 17


Voltage Rules Summary

PV system voltage (VNEC) is the Voc x 1.25.

wSystems over 600 volts cannot be installed in 1 & 2 family dwellings.


wSystems over 250 volts must use 600 volt equipment and conductors.
wSystems over 150 volts, installed in 1 & 2 family dwellings, must be locked.
wSystems over 50 volts must be grounded.
wSystems less then 50 volts must use 12 AWG conductors (or larger).

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 18


690.8 Circuit Sizing and Current.

The wires from the PV modules to the inverter or charge


controller must be able to carry 156% of the Isc

Because

125% for continuous duty

125% for irradiance greater than 1000 W/square meter

125% x 125% = 156%

125% = 1.25

156% = 1.56

Ditto: for sizing the charge controller unless…


October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 19
690.8 Circuit Sizing and Current.

Exception: Circuits containing an assembly, together with


its overcurrent device(s), that is listed for continuous operation
at 100 percent of its rating shall be permitted to be
utilized at 100 percent of its rating.

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 20


PV Circuit
NEC® 690.8(A)(2)
Slide credit: Jerry Flaherty, Electrical Inspection Services Current
Circuit current is the sum of the parallel
source circuits maximum current as
calculated in 690.8(A)(1).

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Example module

Astropower 120
(now GE120)

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690.8(B)
The PV source current (INEC) is the short circuit current
(Isc) multiplied by 125%. Isc = 7.7 A
NEC PV Source Circuit Current = (INEC) = Isc X 125%
Example: (INEC) = 7.7 Amp X 1.25 = 9.625 = 10 Amps

NEC Over-current Device Current Rating (Iod)


Iod > 125% X INEC
Example: 125% X 10 Amps = 12.5 Amps > 13 Amps (Iod)
The wire also has to be able to take 13 A

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 23


Overcurrent Protection 690.9 Considerations:
•Ampacity
Use the rules in Article 240 •Temperature
•AC or DC

690.9 Overcurrent Protection.


(A) Circuits and Equipment.
(B) Power Transformers.
(C) Photovoltaic Source Circuits.
(D) Direct-Current Rating.
(E) Series Overcurrent Protection.

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 24


690.9 Overcurrent Protection.

(C) Photovoltaic Source Circuits.
•Use of fuses or breakers is OK.
•They have to be accessible
•You must pick the amperage rating to the
nearest 1 amp

(D) Direct-Current Rating.



Make sure the fuses or breakers are

RATED FOR DC

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 25


A fuse for each series string, all 500 of them!
October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 26
Overcurrent protection sizing (see article 240)

While the wording of some of the rules for this may seem
confusing, the bottom line for all of them is:

Make sure the fuse will blow BEFORE the wire melts!
And a corollary:
Make sure the fuse will blow before the equipment is damaged.

If there is only ONE or TWO series strings feeding the inverter,


You DO NOT need series string fuses.

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 27


For PV source circuits
Recall that the current we had to consider for wire sizing
Is 1.25 x Isc.

For the overcurrent device, we have to use 1.25 x the current


Rating found for the wire. This leads to 1.56 x Isc.

Then we have to pick the nearest fuse size.


Finally, we have to go back and check that the fuse will
protect the wire size we chose.

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The PV modules are to be connected in
series with a single conductor cable.

The ambient temperature could be


170°F (77 C) between the roof and the module.

So the temperature rating of all


terminals, devices, conductors and
cables should be 90ºC.

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Recall that for a module with Isc=7.7 A we had:
The PV source current (INEC) is the short circuit current
(Isc) multiplied by 125%.
NEC PV Source Circuit Current = (INEC) = Isc X 125%
Example: (INEC) = 7.7 Amp X 1.25 = 9.625 = 10 Amps

NEC Over-current Device Current Rating (Iod)


Iod > 125% X INEC
Example: 125% X 10 Amps = 12.5 Amps > 13 Amps (Iod)

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 30


PV Conductor Ampacity
So we know that the current could be as high as 10 A under
certain irradiance conditions and the over current device is
sized with another factor of 1.25 because the PV current is
continuous.
So now we must have a wire that can carry AT LEAST the
amount of current it is protected for (13 A).

Now we have to consider the temperature conditions.

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 31


New temperature calculations in NEC 2008

Table
310.15(B)
2(c)

But what
ambient temp do
you use?

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 32


Use the
Copper
Development
Association’s
“Outdoor
design
temperatures”

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33
Now you take the design temp + temp adder from
NEC table 310.15(B)(2)(c)

= the temperature you will need to de-rate to in NEC table 310.16

In Binghamton, the design temp = 84 F.

For a conduit sitting on the roof, you have to add 60 F. So the


temperature to de-rate for is 144 F.

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October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 35
A design temp of 144 means a de-rate factor of 0.58

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Take the ampacity you need and divide by 0.58 to get the 30 C
ampacity.

For our 13 A we need on the roof-top, take 13 ÷ 0.58 = 22.41 A:


AWG #12 THWN-2

Using 0.41 instead of 0.58 is still OK, because it is more


conservative.

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What if there are more than 3 current carrying conductors in the
conduit?

Now you have to de-rate again using table 310.15(b)(2)(a)

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If there are more than 3 current carrying conductors,
use table 310.15(b)(2)(a)

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Take your 30 C current and divide by de-rate factor in table
310.15(b)(2)(a)

For our 22.41 A, we would need

22.41 ÷ 0.8 = 28.01 A if there are 4 to 6 current carrying


conductors in the conduit. AWG # 12 is still OK.

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Article 690.10 Stand-Alone Systems

If the inverter output is 120 V, multi-wire


branch circuits are not allowed

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690.17 Switch or Circuit Breaker.

The DC disconnect
•Has to be within 5 ft of where wires enter the building.
•Must have correct rating for DC and current
•Located where readily accessible

And it can’t be in the bathroom


October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 42
“Readily accessible” and
DC disconnect There is plenty of “working space”
Rated for up to 600 V DC

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Section IV Wiring methods

690.31 (B)
Single Conductor Cable. Types SE, UF, USE, and
USE-2 single-conductor cable shall be permitted in photovoltaic
source circuits where installed in the same manner
as a Type UF multi-conductor cable in accordance with Article
339. Where exposed to sunlight, Type UF cable identified
as sunlight-resistant shall be used.

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690.33 Connectors.

1) Must have polarity (labeled + and -)

2) Must have protected tips

3) Must latch together so they can’t be disconnected


accidentally

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Voltage drop from PV array to inverter

In addition to sizing the wires for ampacity,


we also have to consider voltage drop.

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 46


About Voltage Drop
Wires should be sized to reduce resistive (heating) loss to
less than 2%. This loss is a function of the SQUARE of the
current x the resistance. This is another manifestation of
Ohm’s law: V= I x R. So I = V/R.
And resistive loss is
I x I x R = V/R x V/R x R
= V x V/R = our old friend, V x I = Watts!

So “resistive loss” equals power loss, a bad thing.

Use a wire-sizing table to choose the size wire for the


current and voltage you are working with.

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 47


Computing voltage drop formula
(0.2 x d x I /V) x (Ω/kf) = %Voltage Drop
Where:
• I is the circuit current, which for source circuits is usually
taken as the maximum power current, Imp,
• d = one way distance in feet
•V is the voltage at which you want to find VD, and
• Ω/kft is the wire’s resistivity in Ohms per 1000 feet and is
found from NEC Chapter 9, Table 8, Conductor Properties.
• Math note: 2d is the round trip distance. To convert to %, one
multiplies by 100, but to convert feet to kilo-feet, one divides by
1000. 2 x 100/1000 = 0.2
October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 48
Grounding
See also, article 250

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 49


Grounding: the big picture
+
-

1)
11)
+
4)
-

1)

+
- + - 3)

1) 5)
9)

3)
2) 200 A
+ 8)
+ 3)
+ load

-
3) 7)
G line
3) line

L1
6)
load
L2
G 30 A
N G

bond wire from new ground rod to existing ground rod or water pipe 3)

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 50


[250.4] Bonding and grounding requirements
for non-current carrying conductive
components:
★Must be connected together (bonded)
★Must be permanent and continuous
★Must be connected to earth (grounded)
¬Must be connected to the electrical source
¬ Must be in accordance with manufactures
instructions. [110.3(B)]

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690.43 Equipment Grounding. Exposed non–current carrying
metal parts of module frames, equipment, and conductor
enclosures shall be grounded in accordance with
250.134 or 250.136(A) regardless of voltage.

From article 250: don’t forget that the equipment ground


has to be continuous.

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690.45 Size of Equipment Grounding Conductor.
Use table 250.122 EQUIPMENT GROUNDS

690.45 Size of Equipment Grounding Conductors.


Equipment grounding conductors for photovoltaic source and photovoltaic output
circuits shall be sized in accordance with 690.45(A) or (B).
(A) General. Equipment grounding conductors in photovoltaic source and
photovoltaic output circuits shall be sized in accordance with Table 250.122. Where
no overcurrent protective device is used in the circuit, an assumed overcurrent device
rated at the photovoltaic rated short-circuit current shall be used in Table 250.122.
Increases in equipment grounding conductor size to address voltage drop
considerations shall not be required. The equipment grounding conductors shall be
no smaller than 14 AWG.

(B) Ground-Fault Protection Not Provided. For other than dwelling units where ground-
fault protection is not provided in accordance with 690.5(A) through (C), each equipment
grounding conductor shall have an ampacity of at least two (2) times the temperature and
conduit fill corrected circuit conductor ampacity.
October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 53
EQUIPMENT GROUNDS

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 54


EQUIPMENT GROUNDS

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EQUIPMENT GROUNDS

Wiley Electronics
www.we-llc.com
ILSCO Lug

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 56


EQUIPMENT GROUNDS

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 57


SYSTEM GROUNDS

[250.166] The Grounding


Electrode Conductor to
be no smaller then the
largest conductor but
not smaller the #8 AWG
for DC systems.

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 58


SYSTEM GROUNDS

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 59


VI. Marking

Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 60


Some markings are already there such as
on modules. Others, you have to put on,
such as:

690.53 Photovoltaic Power Source. A marking, specifying


the photovoltaic power source rated as follows, shall be
provided by the installer at the site at an accessible location
at the disconnecting means for the photovoltaic power
source:
(1) Operating current
(2) Operating voltage
(3) Maximum system voltage
(4) Short-circuit current

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690.54 Interactive System Point of Interconnection.
Label the breaker PV is tied in to

690.55 Photovoltaic Power Systems Employing Energy


Storage.
State Max voltage

690.56 Identification of Power Sources.


Indicate where the disconnects are.
690.64 (B)(4) and (5).
Label the breaker which is back-fed by PV system
and that it IS back-fed.

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October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 63
And from earlier code sections:

For the any switch that could be energized on the


line or load side, put on this sign

WARNING.
ELECTRIC SHOCK HAZARD.
DO NOT TOUCH TERMINALS.
TERMINALS ON BOTH THE LINE AND
LOAD SIDES MAY BE ENERGIZED
IN THE OPEN POSITION.

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For a 120 V stand-alone, put this sign on the load center:
WARNING
SINGLE 120-VOLT SUPPLY, DO NOT CONNECT
MULTIWIRE BRANCH CIRCUITS!

It’s a good idea to have plenty of labeling.


Label the inverter (“INVERTER”)
Label the j-boxes as to DC or AC and voltage
Label the conduits
Label the PV source circuits for easy trouble-shooting

Use laminated cards or engraved plaques for long-lasting labels.


A paint pen works well to fill in the voltage and current info on a laminated card
for the specific system.

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690.64 Point of interconnection

(A) Supply Side. A photovoltaic power source shall be


permitted to be connected to the supply side of the service
disconnecting means as permitted in 230.82(5).

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690.64 (B) Load Side.

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 67


Example:

A customer has a 200 A load center and wants to install


A 10 kW PV system. If he uses (4) SMA 2500 W inverters,
The sum of the PV breakers will be 60 A.

200 A + 60 A = 260 A. This is greater than 120% of 200 (which


Is 240). What do we do then?

Solution A) Downsize the main breaker to 150 A. Then the sum


Of 150 + 60 = 210 which is less than 240.

Solution B) Create a branch off the service entrance and go to


A dedicated PV load center.

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 68


How to build a branch

From meter

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Wiring schematic for a tap

8) service panel fed by PV


9) power distribution block
11) disconnect switch
12) existing service panel
14) THWN-2 wire in conduit

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 70


Another way to derate main

October 2012 PV Installer's Course ---NEC Article 690 Highlights 71


Putting in a new, smaller main breaker

8) Existing service panel


10) To grounding electrode
12) New main panel
13) Utility meter

Reminder: Neutral and grounds


for circuits must be separated in all
sub-panels.

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VIII. Storage Batteries
Highlights:
•High-voltage (over 50 V) not allowed unless terminals
are inaccessible
•Guard live parts.
•Make sure there is a fuse or breaker in the + wire of
the battery bank.
•There has to be disconnect switch
•Wet cells must have sufficient ventilation. See Article 480.
•Check Article 110.26 for working space rules. Don’t put the
power panel directly above the battery bank.
•Use battery cables of the correct type.

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Related codes

If batteries are being installed where there is propane, check the


local propane code. Usually, you cannot install a battery bank
within 3’ of a propane fired appliance.

If the battery box vent goes thru the wall, install a power vent.

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Daily NEC for PV
There are some things that come up in every installation.
Other items are taken care of for you.
Already figured:
•Module interconnect size
•GFP fuse comes with inverter
•Series string fuse specified on module
•AC breaker size specified in inverter instructions
You have to do:
•Size wires and conduits for wiring from PV array to inverter.
Consider ampacity, temperatures and voltage drop.
•Size wires from inverter to load center.
•Put the ground wiring on correctly

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Neatness keeps inspectors happy

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