February 19, 2024

Why is understanding solar PV systems crucial for building officials, and how does that comprehension enhance field inspections amid industry growth?

The approval of solar inspections is determined by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and/or the utility overseeing the project installation. The inspection ensures code compliance for safety of the solar PV system, aiming to verify compliance with the permitted plan set and manufacturers instructions, ensuring that the system adheres to the codes, prevents fire hazards, and should allow for efficient operation.

The inspection process encompasses two main categories: the electrical system and the structure. For the electrical system, inspectors look at the main service panel, checking for fire safety issues, proper grounding, wire types, connections to the systems, conduit sizing and supports, and compliance with approved plans and specifications. They also assess the location of disconnect switches. In the structural inspection, the focus is on the installation’s ability to withstand elemental forces, ensuring it does not pose risks to the home or occupants. Depending on your location, these factors may include wind, snow and/or seismic items, along with the weight of the PV panels and energy storage system (ESS) on the structure. The inspector reviews panel attachment, rail installation, and structural reinforcements, comparing them to approved plans.

Conducting thorough solar PV field inspections is essential for ensuring the optimal performance, safety, and durability of solar energy systems. With the rapid growth of the solar industry and many different system types and configurations it is more important than ever for building inspection personnel to understand these systems in order to ensure proper and effective field inspections.

Here is a link where you can learn more. In this free CEU bearing course series, join experienced inspectors from across the country as they show us how to make PV inspections efficient and effective. the Solar PV Field Inspection Basics Series covers system types and locations such as:

  • Microinverter systems in Massachusetts
  • DC-DC converter systems in Illinois
  • Rooftop system with energy storage in California
  • Ground mounted AC-coupled systems with energy storage in North Carolina
  • A 300 kW Commercial carport system in California 

Looking for further information about high performance buildings, energy storage, solar, and more? Visit the Clean Energy Clearinghouse for an expanded list of expert resources and CEU’s: