This article summarizes some of the current and new requirements regarding proper labeling for standard solar and wind installations.

NEC 2023 Changes to Sections 690, 691, 692, 694, 705, 710 and 790

Todd Fries, Product Category Manager, Identification Systems | HellermannTyton North America

The NEC 2023 first draft meeting took place in January 2021. This article provides a preview of many updates and additions that impact labeling in many sections of the code related to PV and Wind. These systems and their required labeling continue to evolve, ensuring safe and informative installations. 

Like any progressive development, input from many sources contributed to a better understanding of what works and what does not, so the process of change could proceed in a way that makes sense for everyday use in real-world applications.

Code Making Panel 4 of the NEC 2023 reviewed hundreds of first-draft public inputs. Each suggestion was weighed, reviewed and compared to similar requests and then voted up or down based on all relevant data and substantiations. Many suggestions were for improved labeling. In the end, the panel addressed many contributions; some of those changes are outlined in this article.

One of the committee’s goals was to organize and renumber various sections. The panel consolidated similar labeling requirements found in multiple sections of the code into a single section. This should make compliance and inspection easier. The panel also moved the definitions found in section 2 of Articles 690, 692 and 705 to Article 100. This was done in accordance with the NEC Style Manual, which states that definitions of terms used in the requirements of the document shall only be located in Article 100.

Several references to plaque and directory requirements, also located in various sections throughout the code, have been consolidated into one section. The proper reference for plaques, labels and directories is now only found in Article 705.10. The definition for required plaques, labels or directories in Articles 710, 712 and 689 are now combined into Article 705.10. 

In case you missed it, the word “labels” is now referenced when describing required signage. The term “label” was added to the list of options for signage, as some believed placards were too restrictive of good sign options. 

Many label requirements were moved to more suitable locations within the code. Some were placed in sections that did not immediately apply to the requirement. These changes were part of a larger initiative to group applicable but dispersed information into fewer, more comprehensive, sections. Moving and renumbering sections simplified and streamlined code requirements, allowing for better interpretation by AHJs and installers. 

In summary, Code Making Panel 4 initiated the following label-related changes:

  • Consolidated similar labeling requirements found in many sections into one single section.

  • Simplified label language when possible.

  • Moved several label requirements to relevant sections for clarity.

  • Added the term “Labels” to requirements for “placards and directories.”

  • Consolidated all placard requirements found in 690.56 or 712.10 as example into Article 705.10. Other sections will reference 705.10 unless the placards are mentioned or required for stand-alone systems. In that case, they will reference 710.10. 

  • The reflective “Buildings with Rapid-Shutdown” label is no longer reflective, and required colors have been simplified so labels can be field printed by the installer. 

  • Added one new label related to manual load management for systems operating in island mode.

  • Added one new label for PV systems floating on bodies of water.

  • Definitions in sections 2 of Articles 690, 694 and 705 are moved to Article 100 (Definitions).

The details of the changes are listed below along with images of the labels associated with those changes. 

 

690.51 Modules and AC Modules

Modules and ac modules shall be marked in accordance with their listing.

Article 690.51 was moved to Article 690.4. The reason this was moved is because Article 690.4 generally covers equipment listing requirements for PV systems, including ac modules. Enforcement requirements for marking of modules and ac modules should be found in one section.

 

690.4(G) PV Equipment Floating on Bodies of Water

A new label was added to identify PV equipment floating on or attached to structures floating on bodies of water. Per the code revision, this equipment must be identified as being suitable for the purpose and shall utilize wiring methods that allow for any expected movement of the equipment.

 

690.53 moved to 690.7(D)

A permanent readily visible label indicating the highest maximum dc voltage in a PV system calculated in accordance with 690.7 shall be provided by the installer at one of the following locations. 

(1) DC PV system disconnecting means

(2) PV system electronic power conversion equipment

(3) Distribution equipment associated with the PV system.

The reason for the change was to correlate the label requirement with the relevant section to increase usability.

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596-01001

 

694.50 deleted and moved to and redefined in 705.14

The new language will appear as follows:

705.14 Output Characteristics.

The output of a power production source operating in parallel with primary source of electricity shall be compatible with the primary power source output power including the voltage, wave shape, and frequency of the primary source. Each power source shall be marked with the rated output current and the nominal operating voltage at a readily visible location. Synchronous generators operating in parallel with a primary power source shall be installed with the required synchronizing equipment.

Informational Note: See IEEE 1547-2018, Standard for Interconnection and Interoperability of Distributed Energy Resources with Associated Electric Power Systems Interfaces 

The panel determined that these requirements should be a requirement for any interconnected power systems, not just PV. Since Article 705 is the article used where different sources will interconnect, this is a more appropriate location. These requirements should be able to be met by manufacturer’s markings and not require field markings in all cases. A requirement that any markings be readily visible ensures that where it is not possible to use a nameplate, etc., a field marking label would be needed. The new label design no longer includes the reference to “ac,” so it is removed from the marking requirement, since we are trying to merge Article 712 into 705 and delete 712. The new label format applies to any power source regardless of ac or dc.

690.55 deleted

The PV system output circuit conductors shall be marked to indicate the polarity where connected to energy storage systems.

This has been deleted because the requirements are already covered under 690.31(B)(1), which is now changed to 690.31(B)(2). The requirements have not changed, but this section has been reorganized and renumbered for clarity. Identification changes from (1) to (2) with sub-sections added as (a) and (b).

(2) Identification: PV system dc circuit conductors shall be identified at all termination, connection, and splice points by color coding, marking tape, tagging, or other approved means in accordance with 690.31(B)(2)(a) and (b). 

Exception: Where the identification of the conductors is evident by spacing or arrangement, further identification shall not be required.

 (a) Conductors that rely on other than color coding for polarity identification shall be identified by an approved permanent marking means such as labeling, sleeving, or shrink-tubing that is suitable for the conductor size. 

(b) The permanent marking means for nonsolidly grounded positive conductors shall include imprinted plus signs (+) or the word POSITIVE or POS durably marked on insulation of a color other than green, white, or gray. The permanent marking means for nonsolidly grounded negative conductors shall include imprinted negative signs (−) or the word NEGATIVE or NEG durably marked on insulation of a color other than green, white, gray, or red. Only solidly grounded PV system dc circuit conductors shall be marked in accordance with 200.6.
 

690.56 Connection to Other Sources

Plaques or directories shall be installed in accordance with 705.10. 

Title changed from Identification of Power Sources to Connection to Other Sources. The language was changed to only reference Article 705.10. The proper reference for plaques and directories is now found in 705.10 only, except for 710.10 for buildings with stand-alone systems.

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690.56(C) moved to 690.12 with a change in label requirements

This change is one of the more notable and important revisions. First, the marking requirements were moved to the more relevant section 690.12(D). Second, and even more importantly, the requirements for the “Buildings with Rapid Shutdown” label were radically changed for the better. Most notably, the label no longer needs to be reflective and no specific color is required. The code simply states that whatever color is used, the printed text must contrast the background. The marking language requirements in the Fire Code, NFPA 1 11.12.2.1.1.2, and the NEC were different, making it unnecessarily difficult for enforcement and inspections agencies to align. Removing specific color requirements allows local enforcement agencies more latitude. In addition, this now makes it possible to field print these labels as opposed be being forced to purchase an expensive “pre-printed” design. Under these new rules, the labels can take on a variety of colors as long as they maintain the building image and that the “title” retains characters that are a minimum of 3/8" (9.5 mm) in height. 

 Shape

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Examples of field-printed labels that would be acceptable using the new code requirements.

 

690.56(C)(2) moved to 690.12(D)(2)

Rapid Shutdown Switch.

A rapid shutdown switch shall have a label that includes the following wording located on or no more than 1 m (3 ft) from the switch: RAPID SHUTDOWN SWITCH FOR SOLAR PV SYSTEM. The label shall be reflective, with all letters capitalized and having a minimum height of 9.5 mm (3⁄8 in.) in white on red background.

Unlike the previous label, this one does not change. The label is still reflective as described in the code language shown here. It has been moved to the more relevant section in 690.12(D)(2)

 596-00887

 

692.4(B) Identification of Power Sources

With the changes made to other articles, a single reference to this section is necessary. As stated earlier, these references have been consolidated in Section 705.10. The code language has also been simplified as shown below. 

Fuel cell systems shall be identified according to 692.4(B)(1) through (B)(3).

(1) Interconnected AC Systems. 

Plaques or directories shall be installed in accordance with 705.10.

(2) DC Microgrid Systems. 

Plaques or directories shall be 

marked with a plaque or directory installed in accordance with 712 705.10.

(3) Stand-Alone Systems. 

Plaques or directories shall be installed in accordance with 710.10.

 

691.4(2) Special Requirements for Large-Scale PV Electric Supply Stations

(2) Access to PV electric supply stations shall be restricted by fencing or by other adequate means in accordance with 110.31. Field-applied hazard markings shall be applied in accordance with 110.21(B). 

In this instance, the reference to “fencing or by other adequate means” is deleted from the description. 

Article 692 

Part VII is retitled as Part VI. The sections have been renumbered to comply with Section 2.4.2.1 of the NEC Style Manual. The title of Part VI is renamed Source Connections. It was previously titled as Marking.

 

Part VI. Source Connections

692.53 50 Fuel Cell Power Sources.

A marking specifying the fuel cell system, output voltage, output power rating, and continuous output current rating shall be provided at the disconnecting means for the fuel cell power source at an accessible location on the site.

692.54 51 Fuel Shut-Off.

The location of the manual fuel shut-off valve shall be marked at the location of the primary disconnecting means of the building or circuits supplied.

692.56 52 Stored Energy.

A fuel cell system that stores electrical energy shall require the following warning sign, or equivalent, at the location of the service disconnecting means of the premises:

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596-01002

The warning sign(s) or label(s) shall comply with 110.21(B).

These next three changes consolidate similar requirements into one Article. It also re-defines the description of this label.

 

705.10 Identification of Power Sources

This first revision continues to refine the identification of power sources requirement by consolidating some of the wording, adding language about off-site emergency. The term “label” is added to the list of options for signage as some may believe that placards are too restrictive of good sign options. Where multiple sources supply the building, the label shall be marked with the wording CAUTION: MULTIPLE SOURCES OF POWER. 

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This also is the Article to which other sections will refer to when describing plaques, labels or directories. Example, Article 692.4 will now point to 705.10 as will Articles 690.56(A) or 712.10 for example. This article will be the single location explaining format and design. 

 

690.13(B) to 705.20

The marking requirement of Section 705.20(8) is revised, and the language of Section 690.13(B) is extracted rather than referenced so the language is located in one place for consistent reference. The informational note is revised for clarity and to remove an unnecessary reference:

Informational note: With interconnected power sources, some equipment, including switches and fuses, is likely might be energized from both directions. See 240.40 

 

705.12(B)(2-3) Simplified label language

Editorial changes were made to the following two labels for clarity. Unnecessary words are eliminated from two marking requirements. 

705.12(B)(3)(2)

705.12(B)(3)(3)

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705.12 (C) and 705.12 (D) become 705.30 (C) and 705.30(D)

The requirements in subdivisions (C) and (D) are general requirements for all interconnections, not just the load side. These were moved to new subdivisions within section 705.30 as they apply to the overcurrent protection device installation, which is a more suitable location. The fastening requirement (E) is also moved to 705.30(E).

705.30(C) 596-00495

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705.30(D) 596-00587

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Part III Interconnected Systems Operating in Island Mode 

705.80 Power Source Capacity

A new section was added to Article 705 for islanded systems that go back and forth – connected to utility and not connected when the utility goes away. This addition covers load management, which in simple terms, is all about keeping the lights on. Power sources operating in island mode must operate within proper voltage and frequency for loads or cease to operate. The new label serves to alert the user to the operating load of the system. The new text reads as follows:

Where load management is controlled manually, the system shall have adequate capacity and rating for the supply of all equipment intended to be operated at one time. The user of the system shall be permitted to select the load connected to the system.

(B) Manual Load Management.

A permanent label shall be applied to the distribution equipment containing branch circuit overcurrent protection devices supplied by the system operating in island mode that states the total system capacity available to supply loads continuously and contains the following or equivalent wording:

NOTICE: Equipment is supplied by a power system incapable of operating all loads at one time. Manual disconnection of loads is required for system to operate independent of a utility source.

Informational Note: The opening of switches or circuit breakers to select loads is a common method of controlling loads manually.

 

710.10 Identification of Power Sources.

A permanent plaque, label, or directory shall be installed at a building supplied by a stand-alone system at the power source disconnecting means location, or at an approved readily visible location. The plaque, label, or directory shall denote the location of each power source disconnecting means for the building or be grouped with other plaques or directories for other on-site sources. Where multiple sources supply the building, markings shall comply with 705.10. 

This differs from 705.10 in that this article deals with buildings using stand-alone systems. An emergency contact number is not required. The language is simplified with a reference to 705.10 for buildings with multiple power sources. Also, the reference to service equipment is removed since some stand-alone systems will have no service equipment since they are often installed where there is no utility service. The term “label” is added to the list of options for signage as some may believe that plaques are too restrictive of good sign options. 

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Finally, to clean up definitions found in Articles 692, 694 and 705, those found in section 2 of each Article are moved to Article 100. These definitions are deleted from the relevant section and placed in Article 100. An example of the deleted text from 694.2 is shown below:
 

694.2 Definitions.

The definitions in this section shall apply only within this article.

Maximum Voltage.
The maximum voltage the wind turbine produces in operation including open circuit conditions.

Nacelle.
An enclosure housing the alternator and other parts of a wind turbine.

Rated Power.
The output power of a wind turbine at its rated wind speed. Informational Note: The method for measuring wind turbine power output is specified in IEC 61400-12-1, Power Performance Measurements of Electricity Producing Wind Turbines.

Tower (as applied to wind electric systems).
A pole or other structure that supports a wind turbine.

Wind Turbine.
A mechanical device that converts wind energy to electrical energy.

Wind Turbine Output Circuit.
Local Regulations and final draft revisions

Remember that these changes have been proposed in the first draft of the NEC 2023 which should be posted for public review by July 2 of 2021. Public comments will be accepted up until August 19, 2021. The panels will review in the second draft comments and while many things shown in this article may not change, there is always the possibility that they could change. 

Many adjustments are sure to come as the industry progresses and labeling grows with the changes to become a standard everyone can define and implement now and in the future. 

Always check local codes before defining labeling formats.

 

 

 

 

About Todd Fries
Todd Fries is a Product Category Manager of Identification Systems with HellermannTyton, North America. He serves on Code Making Panel 4 of the NEC 2023 and is involved with the changes and additions discussed in this article. 

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

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