For any solar installation, safety is the number one priority. Although completion of this online course merits certification, only qualified and experienced individuals should work with solar energy equipment. Besides working with competent experts in the photovoltaic (PV) field, it is highly recommended to participate in further safety training.
Per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration website, consider the following safety procedures when working with any solar site:
- Fall Protection, which includes:
- Guardrail Systems
- Safety Net Systems
- and/or Personal Fall Arrest Systems
- A Personal Fall Arrest System may consist of a harness, to prevent fall accidents on rooftops.
- Because heights are the number one cause of serious accident at solar sites, make sure you are properly harnessed at all times.
Consider the following safety areas to overcome electrical, physical, mechanical and other hazards at the solar site:
Personal Fall Arrest System
- A harness, to prevent fall accidents on rooftops.
- Heights are the number one cause of serious accident at solar sites; make sure you are properly harnessed at all times.
- Proper placement and use of a Step Ladder is also important.
- Use a separate Hoist Ladder to transport solar modules and other heavy materials to the rooftop. Some examples include:
- DIY hoist
- Professional Hoist
- Personal Protective Equipment
- A hard hat
- Gloves for physical protection
- Electrically-insulated gloves when working on ‘live’ PV systems
- Closed-toe footwear with adequate grip is necessary to maneuver on the rooftop without damaging the structure.
- Arc-Flash Protection
- Grounding (to be covered in separate video tutorial)
The following instructions and safety precautions are in place to ensure proper deployment and operation of your solar equipment:
- Use only the materials and tools specified.
- Do not break or modify any of the solar components.
- Do not sit or stand on the surface of the AC Modules.
- Install components securely to avoid parts from becoming loose or falling off during the installation.
- Only work in dry conditions with dry tools.
- Prevent rafters and sheathing from becoming wet.
- Install each AC Module securely to ensure proper grounding.
- AC Modules are installed on rooftops where there is danger of slipping or falling. Ladders and scaffolding should be used when climbing onto roofs.
- Do not use chemicals on solar modules when cleaning.
- Do not wear metallic jewelry or any conductive material.
- Do not touch electrical contacts, cables, or wires.
Note: Visit the location where the solar array is to be deployed prior to installation. You should become familiar with the site and its surroundings.
Note: It is recommended that you work with at least one other person. Never work alone.
Take the following precautions before starting work:
- Plan the job and visit the site before doing any work.
- Always work with at least one other person on site.
- Inspect power tools before using them.
- When conditions make it necessary, tell workers to stop working.
- Do not perform installation in poor weather conditions such as rain, snow, ice, or high wind.
Wear appropriate work clothes and protective equipment.
- Work clothes for both the upper and lower body should fit well and allow you to move freely.
- Always wear protective equipment such as harnesses and lifelines.
- Wear non-slip shoes. Shoes get dirty when worn on a roof, so keep the soles clean.
Observe safety regulations for ascending and descending ladders and stepladders.
- Ladders from a first-story roof to a second-story roof are very dangerous. Do not set up a ladder on a roof.
- When there is no other choice, straddle the ridge and lay down a rubber anchor mat, and secure the ladder to the mat. Always have one person hold the ladder firmly.
- When you use a two-stage ladder, secure it with ropes or stays to prevent it from sliding sideways, and have two persons hold the ladder steady.
- Use ladders with steps broad enough to permit safe work.
When working in high places, wear harnesses and use scaffolding.
- When working at heights of 6' or more, use scaffolds or other equipment to ensure a stable work platform.
- Scaffolds should be designed and erected by a qualified person.
- When it is difficult to erect a stable work platform, install safety nets, wear harnesses, and take other measures to prevent falls.
- Regulations mandate the use of harnesses. Fasten harnesses securely, and check that the length of lifelines is 6 ft or less.
- Attach the primary support line securely to a metal fixture installed for that purpose on a ridge or beam.
Installing Enclosures and Covers
- Install enclosures, guardrails, or covers at the end of work decks that are 10' or more above ground, at openings, and at other dangerous locations.
- When it is extremely difficult to install enclosures, guardrails, or covers, or when they must be removed to work in that location, install a safety net, wear harnesses, and take other measures to prevent falls.
- WARNING: Wiring work should be performed according to the provisions of the National Electrical Code. Grounding work and wiring connections to the inverter should be performed by a qualified electrician.
Adhere to the National Electrical Code (NEC). Pay special attention to Article 110, Chapter 2 Article 250, Chapter 3, Articles 300 & 310, 480 & 690. Reference at https://archive.org/details/nfpa.nec.2014
WARNING: The solar array generates electricity whenever it is exposed to sunlight. Be careful when handling it. There is a danger of shock if you touch the connectors or wires of the electric cables.
Points to Check Before Wiring
- The solar modules generate electricity when exposed to light.
- You will need to wear insulating gloves.
- You will need a multimeter for volts, amps, resistance and continuity capable of measuring DC and AC up to 600V and 40A.
- Make sure your tools are insulated.
Precautions for Wiring Solar Modules
- Never step or sit on the glass surface of the solar modules. The glass may break.
- When you install the solar modules on the mount, never allow an output cable to become caught between the mount and a module frame.
- The solar modules generate electricity when exposed to sunlight, take care not to short circuit the output cables. The cables can become overheated and their cable sheaths can melt.
- Ensure the module connectors are fully inserted. There is a risk of malfunction if they are not pushed all the way in.
- Support output cables so that there is no slack. High winds can blow slack cable against the mount, damaging the cables.
Precautions for Wiring Solar Arrays to the Inverter
- Follow the provisions of the National Electrical Code. Adhere to all of the NEC. Pay special attention to Article 110, Chapter 2, Article 250, Chapter 3, Articles 300 & 310, 480 & 690.
- For wiring through walls, protect the cables with metal conduits, flexible metal conduits, or other protection. Failure to do so can result in shock and short circuits. Always use conduit to protect sections of array output cables that are exposed to sunlight.
- For wiring outdoors, protect cables with PVC conduits, metal conduits or flexible conduits.
- Prevent water from entering or building up in conduit by using waterproof fittings or duct seal.
- To prevent shock, tape and label the cut ends of array output extension cables (the side opposite to the connector side) before connecting to solar module output cables. Further, tape them again after measuring the voltage of each array.
- To prevent shock when you connect the array output cables to the inverter, remove the tape one cable at a time as you connect the cables.