Safety First at Major Solar Inverter Vendor – pv magazine USA

SolarEdge met with pv magazine to discuss the safety features of its products, as well as codes, standards and employee training.

January 7, 2022

Safety is paramount when installing a solar system, especially in rooftop applications where a home, shop, school or hospital could be fitted with PV. With this in mind, National Electric Code (NEC) compliant solar systems keep it safer and protect the equipment on the roof and everything important below.

PV Magazine was joined by SolarEdge to talk about security and how the company is building capabilities that go beyond what is required by US regulations, reducing risk and increasing the stability of a solar array. Jason Bobruk, Director of Code Compliance, and Carolyn Humphreys, C&I Sales Manager, both at SolarEdge, said most fires seen in buildings with solar panels don’t start from the panels themselves. Malfunctions in heating systems, factory machines, cooking appliances or even lightning pose a significantly higher risk of fire than solar systems.

Carolyn Humphreys
Image: LinkedIn

In the event of a fire in a PV system, a potential source is an arcing fault. They can be caused by faulty or improperly connected wires or connectors, corrosion, interference from animals, failed DC connectors, or overheating of the PV system, Bobruk said. Bobruk said 30% of safety concerns identified in the field were the result of incorrect wiring, a problem that can be prevented with improved training and standards.

training and standards

One area of ​​opportunity to improve safety will be employee training, which SolarEdge is actively involved in. As the industry grows rapidly, a large group of new employees with limited experience will join the workforce. With this comes the need to become thoroughly familiar with safety standards and the NEC. This may interest you : Delta Launches New Series of Solar Inverters for Residential and Commercial PV – pv magazine International. According to Bobruk, the US installers are among the best that SE works with, thanks in part to NEC. Countries that lack comparable regulations and standards are much more likely to experience solar-related safety issues such as fires or malfunctions.

Jason Bobruk
Image: LinkedIn

According to Humphreys, SolarEdge played an active role in developing the security code for inverters, building security directly into the hardware and software of the devices. The company meets or exceeds regulations for its centralized inverter, control node, safety shutdown devices and on-module power optimizers.

Bobruk is currently working with other leading manufacturers and NEMA on the PV Council to develop a universal standard for PV connectors. He said it’s incredibly important for the industry to come together to work on developing standards and improving safety for everyone. In the meantime, Bobruk says, it’s crucial that installers are aware of the risks posed by mating connectors. The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what brand of connector they use, as long as they use the same brand in every installation, Bobruk said.

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safety devices

SolarEdge uses power optimizers attached to solar panels to enable independent operation that increases energy production by overcoming the limitations of traditional string inverter systems, such as panel mismatch and shading/pollution. Read also : String solar inverter market – growing demand from business professionals: ABB, SMA Solar Know-how, Canadian Solar – The Manomet Present – The Manomet Present. The monitoring platform provides module-level visibility and provides increased granularity in identifying potential issues.

According to SolarEdge, 30% of breaches observed are due to improper wiring methods, but fires are very rare, especially when installed by well-trained personnel.
Image: SolarEdge

Image: SolarEdge

The device also has a built-in feature called SafeDC. As an example of how this function works, imagine that a part of the PV array heats up too much. Undetected, this small heat gain could develop into an arc fault in the future. However, using sensors on the inverter terminal blocks, the SafeDC system detects the high temperature, immediately identifies the source and disconnects the power optimizers from the inverter using the built-in SafeDC function. It also notifies the installer or system owner so they can fix the problem immediately. This is not possible with a conventional string inverter with a separate quick disconnect box. Neither the inverter nor the Rapid Shut Down Box can detect which modules are faulty, which can lead to the shutdown of the entire string.

SafeDC also provides protection for maintenance personnel or firefighters who need access to the roof. In traditional systems, high voltage from the active DC modules remains present even when the inverter is switched off, meaning older technologies can pose a risk of electrocution. With SafeDC solutions, each module is reduced to touch-safe 1V in less than a minute. This is important for all employees who need to get on the roof quickly. SafeDC also enables firefighters to fight fires more efficiently, safe in the knowledge that they can direct their hoses at a building without the risk that doing so could cause further safety issues or even a secondary fire.

Image: SolarEdge

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