SolarBOS unveils first working Arc Fault and Ground Fault Detection and Interruption solution

SolarBOS, Inc., a leader in electrical ‘Balance of System' solutions for the solar industry, will be unveiling the industry's first Arc Fault Detection and Interruption combiner box as well as the first true Ground Fault Interruption solution for PV systems at Solar Power International 2011.

SolarBOS, Inc., a leader in electrical ‘Balance of System' solutions for the solar industry, will be unveiling the industry's first Arc Fault Detection and Interruption (AFDI) combiner box as well as the first true Ground Fault Interruption (GFI) solution for photovoltaic (PV) systems at Solar Power International 2011 (Booth #915) in Dallas, TX, from October 17-20.

The threat of PV systems starting fires is an unfortunate reality. Since the Bakersfield, CA fire in early 2009, the solar industry has been searching for solutions that not only detect potential fire threats but more importantly stop the problem before it starts. Local jurisdictions have been calling for solutions to these problems and the new 2011 National Electric Code (NEC) includes requirements for Arc Fault Detection and Interruption for rooftop PV systems.

According to IDC Energy Insights research analyst Jay Holman, "All too often new fire safety requirements do not make it into the code until a tragic event raises awareness of risks to the national level, but arc-fault protection in rooftop PV systems provides an example of how an industry can take proactive measures to prevent such tragedies from occurring."*

There is a real danger of grounded PV systems creating a condition known as a ‘double ground fault' in which the positive side of the array essentially shorts to the negative side of the array through the equipment ground conductor. In most cases, the inverter's GFI is incapable of detecting one of the ground faults or preventing the ground wire from catching fire.

The new AFDI combiner is the latest breakthrough from SolarBOS, allowing system integrators to meet the letter of 2011 NEC in a cost effective and reliable manner. SolarBOS' AFDI combiner box has a module that detects series arcs and automatically disconnects the ungrounded conductor from the rest of the system, breaking the circuit, which stops the arc and prevents a fire from starting. The SolarBOS AFDI combiner can also be configured to work with a Ground Fault Interruption (GFI) device or system to open the ungrounded output of the combiner box when a ground fault is detected.

"Without AFDI or GFI capability at the combiner box, there is no way to automatically shut off the output from a PV array in the case of an arc fault or ground fault in the array wiring," said Jason Schripsema, CEO of SolarBOS. "Our new AFDI combiner not only solves this problem and meets the new NEC requirements, it does so in a cost effective way."

Owners and operators of PV systems will welcome this development as the SolarBOS AFDI combiner will safeguard their investment and provide peace of mind.

About SolarBOS

SolarBOS is an industry leader in the design and manufacture of electrical 'Balance of System' (BOS) products and is the first and only pure play BOS combiner company with a history of developing first-to-market disruptive technologies. With over 500MW of PV projects supported to date, SolarBOS has designed, built, and provided products to most of the major solar energy leaders in the US and Canada. SolarBOS' solutions allow system designers, engineers, and project managers to configure their BOS to spec. SolarBOS customers include today's solar energy leaders, including SunEdison, SolarWorld, GE Energy, Solar City, among others.

SolarBOS will have the Arc Fault Detection and Interruption combiner on display along with additional new products at Solar Power International 2011 (Booth # 915) from Oct 17 - 20 in Dallas, TX.

*IDC Energy Insights; Technology Selection: Reducing Fire Risk in Rooftop Solar PV Systems; Document # EI224977.


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