What Is Solar Rapid Shutdown and Do I Need It?
Does your family have a safety plan in the event of a house fire? If your home has rooftop solar panels, it may be important to add solar rapid shutdown instructions to that plan. This critical regulation provides a way for firefighters to shut down the main power source during an emergency. Read on to see why the Solar Bear team recommends solar rapid shutdowns for homeowners.
Solar rapid shutdown is the ability to easily shut down a solar panel system in case of an emergency. This action was first mandated by regulations in 2014 by the National Electrical Code (NEC) as a quick and effective way to cut off electricity running through a solar panel system. Without rapid shutdown devices in place, there is no safe way to shut down the current running through the panel conductors. Because solar panels store power, there is still a risk of electrocution with the live current in the electrical cables in your solar panels. Firefighters and first responders would be at a higher risk because of rescue efforts that could bring them into direct contact with the solar system’s conductors or wires. However, with a solar rapid shutdown device, the solar system could be de-energized in under a minute and remove the risk of electrocution for anyone going on the roof.
If you purchase a solar panel system in 2022, rapid shutdown functionality is most likely included in your equipment. Most residential systems are installed with microinverters and power optimizers that operate with a built-in rapid shutdown capability. If you choose to buy a solar panel system that uses a string inverter, you will need to install module-level power electronics (MLPE) to comply with NEC regulations. By connecting your string inverter to a power optimizer or an MLPE rapid shutdown product, you can install this functionality quickly. Currently, if you have an older system, there is no requirement to retrofit but should you plan to upgrade or expand, you will need to bring the system up to NEC code.
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