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  • NC Roof Fire code

    Can someone help me with the fire code for NC? Do i have to have a walkway around my panels? I am trying to figure out how many i can put on my roof and that makes a pretty big difference. Im good on all the electrical, just havent been able to find if there is a code for a fire fighter walkway

  • #2
    Originally posted by tdagner View Post
    Can someone help me with the fire code for NC? Do i have to have a walkway around my panels? I am trying to figure out how many i can put on my roof and that makes a pretty big difference. Im good on all the electrical, just havent been able to find if there is a code for a fire fighter walkway
    I'd start with the local inspector who will eventually be signing off on the project to make sure you know what you're supposed to need, and then the local fire department chief.

    That said, here's what I found quickly from google - http://www.ncoah.com/rules/rrc/meeti...orrections.pdf
    "605.11.1 Access and pathways. Roof access, pathways, and spacing requirements shall be provided in accordance with Sections 605.11.1.1 through 605.11.1.3.3."

    This can be found here https://codes.iccsafe.org/public/doc...de/554/9887316 - Sounds like the same basic 3ft setback from roof hips, and between solar arrays for walking access, that I discussed with my contractor.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by tdagner View Post
      Can someone help me with the fire code for NC? Do i have to have a walkway around my panels? I am trying to figure out how many i can put on my roof and that makes a pretty big difference. Im good on all the electrical, just havent been able to find if there is a code for a fire fighter walkway
      Super easy, do not believe anything anyone on this forum tells you. That would be extremely foolish and cost you big bucks when Inspection times comes and you fail. Call your local code department and ask. If they have no requirement ask your insurance agent.
      Last edited by Sunking; 05-21-2018, 10:19 PM.
      MSEE, PE

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Sunking View Post
        Super easy, do not believe anything anyone on this forum tells you. That would be extremely foolish and cost you big bucks when Inspection times comes and you fail. Call your local code department and ask. If they have no requirement ask your insurance agent.
        And even if you do have a requirement from the code, it may be possible to get a waiver from the fire department.
        CA requires a 3' setback from ridge in the code. But I got a waiver on it when I filed for my permit. I measured my roof, put together my plan, and got a waiver from the fire department. I showed the detailed drawings (with all the measurements of where things would be, and a printout of the aerial photo of the property. The fire dept. chief had a few questions (like where was the kitchen - presumably because many residential fires start in the kitchen.) And if the attic was contiguous between the South side (panels less than 3' from ridge) and North side (empty). So if they needed to vent, cutting a hole in the north roof face would vent the same space as cutting on the south side.

        So even if the default rules are that you aren't allowed to do something, if you ask nicely AND it's not going to impact safety you may get to do it. At least my experience with the building depts. is that they care about safety and the people working there are usually reasonable. Of course I only know a few building depts where I've lived. And I'm sure there are some people in those jobs that they are just rigidly following the rules and are not at all pleasant to interact with.

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        • #5
          So it looks like according to this, the setback requirements do not apply to a single family dwelling.
          Attached Files

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          • #6
            Originally posted by tdagner View Post
            So it looks like according to this, the setback requirements do not apply to a single family dwelling.
            Get something in writing you can understand and believe from appropriate authority. Until then, all else, including what you see here, is speculation.

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            • #7
              It will be cheaper to install per your local fire and building codes then to make an assumption that you do not need to follow the NEC rules.

              Most times it is easier to install it right the first time then to have to remove and install it a second time which may also include penalties if the AHJ or Fire Dept fails your install.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by tdagner View Post
                So it looks like according to this, the setback requirements do not apply to a single family dwelling.
                The exception highlighted in your capture is different from mine

                As other have said, check with your local inspector/authority that would end up signing off on any installation and the local fire department to get what's required.

                One last thing, if you inspector approves it, but it's not within the requirements of the fire department, it's still not right. If you think that the plan might really be ok by the fire department though it doesn't meet 100% of their requirements, then you can take the plans to the fire chief (or one that has authority for it) and ask for waiver based on those plans.
                Attached Files
                Last edited by TAZ427; 05-22-2018, 12:29 PM.

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                • #9
                  Well I just got off the phone with the county inspectors office. I actually spoke directly to the building inspections director and he had never even heard of a firefighter setback on the roof for solar panels. He said they look over the wiring when they come inspect and that is about all so long as I have the engineer certification that my roof will hold it. So, now that I dont have to have a 3 foot walkway I will more that likely be putting 27-325 watt solaria panels on the roof.

                  I figured out that I am actually getting paid for buying more solar panels with those. They cost 268$ a piece. I get a 30% tax break off that so $80.40, then I am getting another 60 cents per watt of my system. So per solar panel that equals $195. I am getting paid $275 for each of my panels that cost $268 a piece. So I am gonna get as large a system as I can put on the roof. I have gotten the payback period down to 2.68 years now on a system that costs $14K from Renvu.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by tdagner View Post
                    Well I just got off the phone with the county inspectors office. I actually spoke directly to the building inspections director and he had never even heard of a firefighter setback on the roof for solar panels. He said they look over the wiring when they come inspect and that is about all so long as I have the engineer certification that my roof will hold it. So, now that I dont have to have a 3 foot walkway I will more that likely be putting 27-325 watt solaria panels on the roof.

                    I figured out that I am actually getting paid for buying more solar panels with those. They cost 268$ a piece. I get a 30% tax break off that so $80.40, then I am getting another 60 cents per watt of my system. So per solar panel that equals $195. I am getting paid $275 for each of my panels that cost $268 a piece. So I am gonna get as large a system as I can put on the roof. I have gotten the payback period down to 2.68 years now on a system that costs $14K from Renvu.
                    Just get it in writing. Verbal assurances are not worth the paper they're written on.

                    Also, some find it valuable to plan ahead. Someday you will need to get at some part of the array. Putting 10 lbm in a 10 lbm bag may not be the best long term plan. Just sayin'.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tdagner View Post
                      Well I just got off the phone with the county inspectors office. I actually spoke directly to the building inspections director and he had never even heard of a firefighter setback on the roof for solar panels. He said they look over the wiring when they come inspect and that is about all so long as I have the engineer certification that my roof will hold it. So, now that I dont have to have a 3 foot walkway I will more that likely be putting 27-325 watt solaria panels on the roof.

                      I figured out that I am actually getting paid for buying more solar panels with those. They cost 268$ a piece. I get a 30% tax break off that so $80.40, then I am getting another 60 cents per watt of my system. So per solar panel that equals $195. I am getting paid $275 for each of my panels that cost $268 a piece. So I am gonna get as large a system as I can put on the roof. I have gotten the payback period down to 2.68 years now on a system that costs $14K from Renvu.
                      Don't let the reduced cost of the panels influence you to installing a bigger system. There is a lot more of the cost associated with roof racks, wiring, inverter as well as misc components to make a system complete. Panel cost is just a % of the overall cost.

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                      • #12
                        I agree with a lot of the above

                        * get your plans (with everything spelled out for roof setbacks, etc) signed off by AHJ and your fire dept (if you have one) before you buy.
                        * if you're thinking bigger == cheaper, you *might* be right - but to be sure you should look at the full cost (including larger inverter or more optimizers, more for rails and clamps, etc)
                        * Check with your accountant before counting on getting 30% tax credit on the full sales price AND the full 60 cent per-watt rebate. I would expect you get 30% credit on $73, so each panel will cost you $51.10. ($73 is $268-$195) And you would still have the other extra expenses as was pointed out. (of course you get 30% tax credit on those too - assuming you have enough income taxes to use up the credit.)

                        Now, even if the extra panels aren't "free" and cost a little, there's a good chance I'd buy them in your situation. If you buy a electric or plug-in-hybrid you can consume quite a few more kwh. And there are other things you could potentially add/replace that will consume electricity.

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                        • #13
                          Until you have approved and signed drawings from the AHJ, you do not have squat.
                          MSEE, PE

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by foo1bar View Post
                            I agree with a lot of the above

                            * get your plans (with everything spelled out for roof setbacks, etc) signed off by AHJ and your fire dept (if you have one) before you buy.
                            * if you're thinking bigger == cheaper, you *might* be right - but to be sure you should look at the full cost (including larger inverter or more optimizers, more for rails and clamps, etc)
                            * Check with your accountant before counting on getting 30% tax credit on the full sales price AND the full 60 cent per-watt rebate. I would expect you get 30% credit on $73, so each panel will cost you $51.10. ($73 is $268-$195) And you would still have the other extra expenses as was pointed out. (of course you get 30% tax credit on those too - assuming you have enough income taxes to use up the credit.)

                            Now, even if the extra panels aren't "free" and cost a little, there's a good chance I'd buy them in your situation. If you buy a electric or plug-in-hybrid you can consume quite a few more kwh. And there are other things you could potentially add/replace that will consume electricity.
                            Agreed on that tax credit. I had not thought of that honestly. I will call my tax man tomorrow and see what he says.

                            I have taken into account every part of a larger system(Rails, inverter, etc.) I was already going to go with a larger inverter in case I wanted to expand in the future. Now I am just doing the expansion now because without the firefighter path I have the room where I want them to go. The cost is more for the larger system initially yes, but since I am producing a larger percentage of my usage it will pay me back sooner. Payback period is 2.6 years vs the system I was going to install being 3.1 years.

                            From what I understood on the phone with the county office, they do not require a drawing to sign off on. I believe I will still go talk to my fire department though since its half a mile away. And I will probably go up to the county inspectors office tomorrow to try and turn in my paperwork, and they will tell me what parts I am missing.

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                            • #15
                              Turns out you are right about the tax credit. I had not thought about that at all(And I have a BS in Accounting haha)

                              That will put my after rebate system cost at $5800 and a break even point will be 3.72 years down the road. Still not bad I dont think.

                              Heres the link if anyone is interested in the read.
                              https://recsolar.com/blogs/how-to-ca...dit-for-solar/

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