October 7, 2014
The 2011 International Building Code requires that PV systems have a fire rating that is the same or better than the required fire rating of the roof. To properly address this new fire rating requirement, the safety standard, UL1703, which regulates the safety of PV modules and panels was updated in October of 2013 with new fire performance test requirements. As of the fall of 2014, only a few manufacturers have evaluated their products to the new version of UL1703.
In January of 2015, jurisdictions throughout the state of California will be mandating the installation of PV systems that have a Class A fire performance rating. With the few products available on the market, this enforcement date may prove disruptive to the PV industry if manufacturers do not move quickly to get their products certified to the new fire performance requirements.
The U.S. Dept. of Energy, through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is funding the development of a guide for stakeholders on fire performance of PV systems. The guide is written specifically to the following stakeholders impacted by the fire ratings of PV systems:
A draft of the guide will be available for review by late September, 2014. If you register for the webinar, you will receive the draft review copy of the report prior to the webinar.
This webinar will present why the guide is necessary and will cover the basic content and structure of the guide. The webinar will show how each stakeholder in the process have different needs and responsibilities that must be understood to effectively address the new code requirements. Labs need to understand how to interpret the new standard. PV module manufacturers need to understand changes in how modules are evaluated for fire performance. PV mounting system manufacturers were not part of the fire performance of PV systems. Now these mounting system manufacturers are the focal point of the testing process. Contractors installing PV systems need to know how to select products from their PV system suppliers that meet the new fire performance requirements. Lastly, AHJs need to understand what documentation and equipment to look for when permitting and inspecting systems that require a fire rating.
Presenter: Bill Brooks, PE is the Chair of the Fire Performance Task Group for Standards Technical Panel for the safety standard ANSI/UL Std.1703, Flat-Plate Photovoltaic Modules and Panels. Since 2009, Mr. Brooks worked with the Solar America Board for Codes and Standards to help guide the laboratory testing necessary to develop a new fire performance test protocol in UL1703. A veteran of 26 years working on the development of the grid-connected PV industry in the United States, Mr. Brooks is a registered mechanical and electrical engineer and holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science Degrees in mechanical engineering from North Carolina State University.