The code has been through two revisions and is currently with the correlating committee, where they will review any final edits or changes before publication in August 2019.

Preparing for NEC 2020

Todd Fries | HellermannTyton

Tell us about yourself and your background in the solar industry.

I have been involved in the solar industry since 2011. I am a voting member of Code Making Panel 4 of the National Electrical code and have been helping to write new and improved code for a number of code revisions which include NEC2014, NEC2017 and the up and coming NEC2020. I have also been a member of other task groups, such as the SEIA, SAPC Best Practices working group, which produced the Solar Access to Public Capital (SAPC) Quality Assurance Protocol and most recently am helping to develop a standard PV Field inspection guide.


What’s the current status of the new NEC2020 Code?

The code has been through two revisions and is currently with the correlating committee, where they will review any final edits or changes before publication in August 2019. We received public input on many items within Article 690, but this panel also processes public input from articles 691 to 694 as well as articles 705, 706 and 710.


What are key changes as related to code compliant labeling?

The labeling for Rapid Shutdown has been updated, eliminating one label that dealt with systems that didn’t meet Rapid Shutdown requirements, but since NEC2020 requires Rapid Shutdown on all new systems, the labeling has been updated to reflect those changes. We have also simplified and eliminated labels where necessary.


Are any labels being deleted?

One of our goals as a committee is to simplify the labeling process, eliminating any redundant or obsolete labels. We strive to remove as many requirements as possible while maintaining absolute safety. In this cycle, we eliminated three more labels. The first was a roof marking 690.31(G)(1) to indicate the presence of embedded circuits, but the fire service states that those circuits must be 10" below decking, so the label is no longer needed. We also eliminated the label required in 690.52. Since there is no option to install a PV AC module without this information being provided by the manufacturer (on the device itself), it is redundant to require a second label with the same information. Finally, we eliminated the Rapid Shutdown label required in 690.56(C)(1)(b) since the label now describes a shutdown method that is no longer code compliant.


What are some benefits to the installer when transitioning to the new code revision?

Meeting the requirements has become easier. For instance, in the previous revision (NEC2017), it was a requirement to mark DC PV Circuits (690.53) with the maximum voltage, maximum circuit current and the maximum rated output current of the charge controller or DC to DC converter (if installed). Now only the maximum DC voltage of the PV system is required.


Tell us how HellermannTyton ensures their products will comply with the new code?

HellermannTyton, by participating and contributing to the code requirements, not only helps to streamline and simplify the code, but also ensures that our products will meet the code requirements to the letter. We test our labels in real-world outdoor environments and through the use of accelerated aging test chambers, such as Xenon Arc. This allows us to warrant our products after installation.


In your opinion will the changes help or hinder the solar industry?

The changes will definitely help the industry. I feel that one of the more important changes will be how we can help to lower installed costs, which not only impact customers, but also the installer. The reflective label currently required in 690.31(G)(3-4) is no longer required to be reflective. The “Warning - Photovoltaic Power Source” label, which is typically applied to DC conduit at 10-foot intervals, will no longer need to be reflective. DC Conduit in NEC2020 no longer requires a reflective warning as the DC conductors are no longer dangerous after Rapid Shutdown. The label now is simply used to identify the DC circuit for maintenance and repair. The word WARNING was also removed to shorten the label text and to comply with ANSI Z535.4. The labels will still be applied every 10 feet, but the materials used to manufacture the labels will be much less expensive, making it more economical in the long run.


Are NEC2020 labels backward compatible to previous code revisions?

As with any code revision, some are, and some are not. In particular, be aware of the labeling changes for Rapid Shutdown as those are some of the most important. As mentioned in the previous question, and as an example, you cannot use non-reflective conduit markings on an NEC2014 or previous revision of the code. Be sure to understand the new requirements carefully before attempting to install labels on an installation utilizing an older revision of code.


The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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