National Fire Protection Association

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) issues the National Electrical Code® (NEC), the Uniform Fire Code and other codes.  The NEC is updated and published every three years and is considered to be the most comprehensive electrical safety installation requirements document in the world.  The NFPA encourages hundreds of volunteers to participate in the work on the three-year cycle to review and update the NEC to accommodate the latest technology and methods of wiring electrical systems.
The NEC has two articles that address photovoltaic (PV) systems:

  1. Article 690, Solar Electric Systems
  2. Article 705, Interconnected Electrical Power Production Sources. 

In addition, NFPA has a number of other codes that affect PV systems.

Solar ABCs Activities with the NEC

The Solar ABCs participates and contributes to the development of NEC codes and standards that pertain to PV systems. Representatives from the PV industry, academic institutions, the inspector community, testing laboratories, and the electric utility industry are encouraged to participate in each revision cycle for the NEC Code. Through the Solar ABCs and the PV Industry Forum, about 250 PV stakeholders develop, coordinate, and submit proposals to the NEC each code cycle.

Access NFPA Codes

The NFPA develops, publishes, and disseminates nearly 300 consensus-based codes and standards intended to protect lives and property from the effects of fire and other risks. You can browse the list of NFPA Codes to obtain the scope for each code, archived revision information and list of state and city codes. Or you can subscribe to the fee-based NFPA Subscription Service to search the NFPA codes database by keyword and obtain complete access to the full version of the current or previous editions of NFPA codes and standards. You may also buy NFPA codes and standards handbooks, catalogs, and other publications.

Learn about the NFPA Code Development Process

NFPA codes and standards are developed using an open, consensus-based process. All NFPA codes and standards are developed and periodically reviewed by approximately 7,000 volunteer committee members with a wide range of professional expertise.

This codes and standards development process utilizes NFPA Technical Committees and Code Making Panels as the principal consensus bodies responsible for developing and regularly updating all NFPA codes and standards.

The Committees and Panels are appointed by the Standards Council and typically consist of no more than thirty voting members representing a balance of interests. NFPA membership is not required in order to participate on an NFPA Technical Committee, and an appointment to a Committee is based on technical expertise, professional standing, commitment to public safety and the ability to bring to the table the point of view of a category of interested people or groups. Each Technical Committee has balanced representation, with no more than one-third of the Committee from the same interest category. The Committee must reach a consensus in order to take action on an item.

All NFPA codes and standards are revised and updated every three to five years and normally take approximately two years to complete. The NFPA process contains five basic steps:

  1. Call for Proposals.
  2. Report on Proposals.
  3. Report on Comments.
  4. Association Technical Meeting.
  5. Standards Council Issuance.

NFPA Certification and Enforcement

The NFPA's National Electrical Code is often adopted by State, regional and local codes enforcement organizations as the required electrical code. However, it is important to note that State, regional and local code enforcement agencies may base some of their electrical installation requirements on the NEC and may also impose differing or additional requirements. So be sure to check with your local code enforcement agency to determine the appropriate requirements.