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Are the building code rules for solar panels the same in every state?

asked 2015-01-30 15:31:38 -0500

What should I expect the process to be when my solar panels are installed? Is there an online resource where I can find out what the building code rules are in my state?

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answered 2015-02-06 20:07:12 -0500

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updated 2015-02-06 20:07:12 -0500

energysage gravatar image

Hi hanbido,

There are a couple of different codes that rooftop solar panel systems must adhere to.

The National Electrical Code (NEC) dictates how solar energy systems (including rooftop solar) should be wired, arranged, installed and labeled. The NEC is sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association as one of its Fire Protection codes - it's about electrical and fire safety. The NEC is updated every 3 years, but states adopt new versions of the NEC at their own pace and sometimes modify the code to better address local circumstances. The most recent version of the NEC (2014) specifically mentions solar panel installations, and has requirements for how systems should be designed and installed.

Building codes are cover a broader range of building aspects than the NEC - in addition to the electrical aspects of a building or part of a building, they also address structural and mechanical aspects. The exact code used in a given state differs, but the International Commercial or Residential Code [ICC/IRC] is applied in many states. Check your state or local government's website for relevant building codes where you live and how they handle solar - if at all.

In addition to these, there are also a number of green building codes which call for minimum environmental performance for new buildings - many of these have been developed by a local area or state, where they may or not be mandatory. They're often a collection of 'best practice' methods to ensure good environmental performance for a building, and may line up with federal energy conservation guidelines. As such, they often specify how solar panel systems should be designed and installed. The EPA has a list of some examples of green building codes here: http://www.epa.gov/region9/greenbuilding/codes/existing.html

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Asked: 2015-01-30 15:31:38 -0500

Seen: 189 times

Last updated: Feb 06 '15