Category: C&I Generation
As solar photovoltaic (PV) technology matures it is increasingly being integrated into building construction and used to replace conventional materials in parts of the building envelope such as roofs, curtain walls, and even windows. Architects are now integrating the technology into their designs for the aesthetic value while helping building owners save on their cost of electricity with environmentally friendly generation. Currently, BIPV modules and panels and their mounting means for roofing systems are evaluated for compliance to UL 1703, as well as ANSI/UL 790 and UL 997. The safety evaluation includes electrical, temperature, mechanical loading and impact, and fire tests. The product's output wiring system are also investigated for conformance with the provisions of the National Electrical Code (NEC). As a roofing material BIPV modules also require additional testing for compliance with the applicable standards identified within the Building Codes such as UL 790 and UL 1879, American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards ASTM E108, ASTM D226, ASTM D3161, ASTM D4869 and ASTM D6757, among others.
Safety Certification of BIPV modules are more stringent than conventional PV modules. The National Electrical Code (NEC), International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) requires that all PV products that are intended to be installed on or around a building must be certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL). Because of these Code requirements, all BIPV products are subjected to the same electrical certification and safety testing standards as conventional PV modules and more.
Product installation concerns for photovoltaic systems include:
• Utility compatibility and interaction
• Environment (e.g. indoor, outdoor, hazardous location)
• Maximum number of modules (effecting voltage/current/short-circuit)
• Fire exposure ratings
• Wind and snow loading
• Mounting and attachment
• Grounding and bonding
Since BIPV is designed to directly replace roofing material, it must be evaluated not only as a PV module but also as a roofing material with additional Code required testing such as:
• Fire testing in addition those tests performed on a solar PV module
• Impact testing
• Wind resistance
• Wind driven rain
• Environmental testing for conditions like:
UL 7103 provides one standard to address electrical, fire, wind resistance, impact resistance and durability of PV as a building material making it far easier for acceptance by Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).
Scott Jezwinski– Business Developent Manager - Solar, UL LLC