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NBC Washington DC doing a little solar fear mongering

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  • #16
    Originally posted by adoublee View Post

    Hate to be the "provide me a source" guy, but I have not heard about a single firefighter injury from solar generated electricity. Injury from a fire does not count as that is what the risk is. If it was a risk, why would a figherfighter not be trained in it?
    I'm sorry, I didn't know first hand knowledge of someone getting hurt is required for a hazard to be considered serious. Are you saying that several kW of power at 400+ V is safe to work around on a burning roof? Existing training for how to deal with arrays allows fire safety personnel to develop opinions like "it is better to let it burn than risk electrocution". I don't really believe that is true, but I do believe that some people who need to make split second second life or death decisions might think it is, because they haven't been taught (or refuse to believe) anything different. Is there a safe way to reduce the voltage within the array of a string inverter system in an emergency? 2014 rapid shutdown covers from the array to the inverter, but on the roof is still uncontrolled. Maybe this kind of news report should be a wake-up call to SEIA that whatever support they are providing for fire safety training is not yet enough. Why do firefighters have to develop their own tools to determine if an array is at a safe voltage?

    Yes, SolarEdge and microinverters are intrinsically safer. There are still many, many *new* string inverter systems being installed that have no means for dropping voltage on the rooftop to safe levels.

    I can't defend the *tone* of the reporting any more than I can defend the tone of the ubiquitous Solar City guy who wants to talk to me every time I walk into Home Depot. I don't see much in what was actually reported that is counter-factual or "fake", though.
    Last edited by sensij; 05-19-2017, 12:59 PM.
    CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

    Comment


    • #17
      Originally posted by sensij View Post

      I'm sorry, I didn't know first hand knowledge of someone getting hurt is required for a hazard to be considered serious. Are you saying that several kW of power at 400+ V is safe to work around on a burning roof? Existing training for how to deal with arrays allows fire safety personnel to develop opinions like "it is better to let it burn than risk electrocution". I don't really believe that is true, but I do believe that some people who need to make split second second life or death decisions might think it is, because they haven't been taught (or refuse to believe) anything different. Is there a safe way to reduce the voltage within the array of a string inverter system in an emergency? 2014 rapid shutdown covers from the array to the inverter, but on the roof is still uncontrolled. Maybe this kind of news report should be a wake-up call to SEIA that whatever support they are providing for fire safety training is not yet enough. Why do firefighters have to develop their own tools to determine if an array is at a safe voltage?

      Yes, SolarEdge and microinverters are intrinsically safer. There are still many, many *new* string inverter systems being installed that have no means for dropping voltage on the rooftop to safe levels.

      I can't defend the *tone* of the reporting any more than I can defend the tone of the ubiquitous Solar City guy who wants to talk to me every time I walk into Home Depot. I don't see much in what was actually reported that is counter-factual or "fake", though.
      The story mentioned the word "training" 3 times but nearly every comment is about electrocution.
      For training it has one about firemen should be trained to deal with solar, news4 found that they don't have regular training, and Frederick county chief states he doesn't know that they have a specific training ...

      The articles hits repeatedly on the dangers of rooftop solar that there are no standards for it (which there are). They even hit on two things that are also covered by code standards, added weight, and setbacks. if they were are problem shouldn't they have interviewed someone about the codes? But no they give the president of SEIA 2 sentences that happen to confirm other statements from firemen who all stated that they have had no training in the matter anyway.
      OutBack FP1 w/ CS6P-250P http://bit.ly/1Sg5VNH

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      • #18
        Originally posted by sensij View Post

        I'm sorry, I didn't know first hand knowledge of someone getting hurt is required for a hazard to be considered serious. Are you saying that several kW of power at 400+ V is safe to work around on a burning roof?
        With this logic no home would be allowed to utilize any natural gas appliance, and you wouldn't be able to drive a car. It's about mitigation of unreasonable risk, not manufacturing all possible risks. Again, if firefighters were really at risk int these circumstances, they would already be training for that risk.

        If a firefighter sees solar panels and says "let er burn", that's a story about firefighter ignorance versus firefighter safety.

        Comment


        • #19
          Originally posted by sensij View Post
          Are you saying that several kW of power at 400+ V is safe to work around on
          Yes installers do it all the time... Yes SolarEdge and Micros are a bit safer but that doesn't seem to stop people from installing string inverters. I have a string inverter, granted mine only goes to 150V ..

          Originally posted by sensij View Post
          a burning roof?
          Well thats the danger. And fire chiefs assess the danger of the fire all the time, pulling men off when they deem it to dangerous.

          My system is well labeled. I also have a sister and brother in law who work in a VA county near to DC as volunteer firefighters. They mentioned that they have had zero training on solar, and so I gave them a brief course on it. The issue though is that the story claims to be about training and a voltage detector but seems to be much more slanted towards fear and hardly hits on training.
          OutBack FP1 w/ CS6P-250P http://bit.ly/1Sg5VNH

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          • #20
            Originally posted by adoublee View Post

            If a firefighter sees solar panels and says "let er burn", that's a story about firefighter ignorance versus firefighter safety.
            Firefighter ignorance and firefighter safety are related. The story also provides this quote:

            "We can develop the best standards in the world, but if no one knows what they are, it doesn't really matter," Hopper said. "So I would say standards and education are really the two key elements."
            Again, I would assert that if they feel the need to develop their own tools to assess the relative safety of the array, the industry is letting them down. That same dynamic apparently played out in the 2017 NEC development as well, per an industry periodical, and although it sounds like the end result will be better, we have a lot of years of installations to go up still before much of the country needs to follow the new requirements.

            Fire service representatives submitted a proposal to control conductors within the array to 80 V or less. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) submitted a competing proposal to refine the NEC 2014 requirements and make them more enforceable. This heated debate continued during the public comment period, as stakeholders developed new concepts for addressing electrical hazards within the PV array. As a result of this debate, the fire service and SEIA proposals found more common ground by the end of the comment period. The SEIA proposal focused on reducing hazards within the PV array by requiring listed and labeled or field-labeled rapid-shutdown PV arrays, a concept that NFPA's Fire Fighter Safety and PV Systems Task Group developed. The fire service included this same requirement as a compliance option added to its original proposal.
            CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by sensij View Post

              Firefighter ignorance and firefighter safety are related. The story also provides this quote:



              Again, I would assert that if they feel the need to develop their own tools to assess the relative safety of the array, the industry is letting them down. That same dynamic apparently played out in the 2017 NEC development as well, per an industry periodical, and although it sounds like the end result will be better, we have a lot of years of installations to go up still before much of the country needs to follow the new requirements.
              Yes I agree. And more to the point the SEIA is letting them down. Both with the poor quotes, lack of training standards etc. The article does a poor job focusing on training though and the voltage detector isn't going to help with training. Further it will require considerable training in and of itself.

              Managed to find a firefighter who was hurt by solar in 2015 in CA. he went to the hospital with numbness in his arm.
              http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local...363414051.html

              It is interesting it is in CA though as they have quite a bit of firefighter training and PV regulations...

              Also here is the news story on the fire footage used in this footage. Note the fire was started by a lawnmower and solar had nothing to do with it. The firefighters had no problem shutting off the solar and fighting the fire.

              http://www.nbcboston.com/news/local/...tml?akmobile=o

              you can see from the footage that the entire roof has collapsed except for the array with the rails being the only thing still standing from wall to wall.
              Last edited by ButchDeal; 05-19-2017, 02:42 PM.
              OutBack FP1 w/ CS6P-250P http://bit.ly/1Sg5VNH

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by ButchDeal View Post

                absolutly though there are too many people that think this is news. We have customers that want solar but want it ground mounted because it is too dangerous on the house, we try to explain that ground mount is more dangerous and it is safe on the house.
                With Musk spewing his vapor ware claims,
                News spitting out safety issues
                Coal/oil pushing anti net metering,
                Trump on ani-solar
                failing slow moving solar companies

                We are in for a terrible year here. Hell they are reporting that solar is doomed because the moon occasionally block the solar power oh my god what will we do?
                A broader view might be that's what you get when the educational system fails with the result that the population becomes as dumb as cattle.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by ButchDeal View Post

                  you can see from the footage that the entire roof has collapsed except for the array with the rails being the only thing still standing from wall to wall.
                  Neat. I had sort of wondered if the rails would provide enough structural support to make false the statement regarding increased risk of collapse.
                  CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post

                    A broader view might be that's what you get when the educational system fails with the result that the population becomes as dumb as cattle.
                    I believe for some reason NBC (which is usually very pro RE) is trying to drive fear into people using half truths and old solar installation data.

                    I am not sure why but I would put money on a bet that this type of news involves big dollars going to them from somewhere.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by SunEagle View Post

                      I believe for some reason NBC (which is usually very pro RE) is trying to drive fear into people using half truths and old solar installation data.

                      I am not sure why but I would put money on a bet that this type of news involves big dollars going to them from somewhere.
                      That is my thought as well.
                      OutBack FP1 w/ CS6P-250P http://bit.ly/1Sg5VNH

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by ButchDeal View Post

                        That is my thought as well.
                        I doubt it is a political motivation. Probably from either the fossil fuel industry or the POCO's in the MD area.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Hi Everyone,

                          Long time lurker and first time posting. I actually was motivated to register to reply to this thread. While I'm a big fan of solar, I'm also a 3rd generation volunteer firefighter. I realize there's a lot of emotion on both sides of this issue and I'm not even going to address the circus show that is the American media.

                          I'm in the process, right now, of having a 12kW PV system installed on my roof right now. Having had several large DC UPS systems at work (including one small DC backplane fire) and after recently having the commercial solar system at our local shopping mall catch fire (also a relatively small electrical fire) I was/am somewhat concerned about having higher voltage (~480V) running on my roof. While I realize these are exceptions and there are thousands of residential 120VAC eletrical fires every year, I did stop and ask myself am I sure this is a good idea?

                          This was one of the key reasons I would have preferred an Enphase solution for its panel level MPPT, rapid shutdown and low 120VAC wiring. But since Enphase has been teetering on the brink of financial ruin for a couple years now, and because they don't make microinverters that will work with my Panasonic 330W panels, and because most installers I spoke with were recommending SolarEdge, that's the direction we chose. I think SolarEdge is a great solution, and the DC voltage at 350V is not too bad. Obviously it has panel level rapid shutdown as well.

                          But, as a firefighter, here's the thing. Even though I know a lot about solar, and know that many systems can be safely de-energized. Because systems are so heterogeneous (string, micro, optimizer, different string lengths, DC voltages, wiring schemes, batteries, etc.) one can never be sure what you will find when you roll up on a fire. In the seconds you have to put together a plan to try and put out the fire while simultaneously trying to assess whether anyone might still be in the home and need to be rescued, I don't have time to trace wiring plans and lookup inverter model numbers on the internet.

                          While bylaws and requirements vary by jurisdiction, in many/most settings volunteer firefighters are largely considered to be "good Samaritans" and are not obligated to protect property. That is to say, if the leadership decides it is not safe to enter a structure or that its not safe to spray water on an energized structure, we will absolutely let it burn (assuming no one is trapped inside to the best of our knowledge).

                          I agree that the training could be improved. Here are some decent examples of current solar training materials (ther first couple PPT and PDF's)
                          https://www.google.com/search?q=sola...hrome&ie=UTF-8

                          But here's the thing, even with all the training in the world. Because every solar solution is different, there will always be doubt and concern over FF safety. When there is doubt, the FF will act in their own best interests to minimize their risk of harm.

                          The only real "solution" I see going forward is a multi-pronged approach:

                          1) Mandate the use of panel level rapid shutdown solutions for all new systems residential and commercial (perhaps this is part of the new NEC 2014/2017 requirements, I haven't read them)
                          2) Placard all legacy non-compliant systems including commercial
                          3) Placard all new compliant systems including commercial
                          4) Have the NFPA/UL conduct electrical conduction testing using different voltages, nozels, spray patters, and flow rates.
                          5) Develop safety tools to check for voltage/current

                          While I know for certain that high voltage (>5000V) can easily travel up the water stream from a high voltage line electrical to a FF (I had such training at the PECO Electric FF training facility in Philadelphia), I personally have my doubts that this will work if the voltage is low (<500V). But honestly I don' know.

                          Let's keep everyone safe, homeowners included!







                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by JSchnee21 View Post
                            Hi Everyone,

                            Long time lurker and first time posting. I actually was motivated to register to reply to this thread. While I'm a big fan of solar, I'm also a 3rd generation volunteer firefighter. I realize there's a lot of emotion on both sides of this issue and I'm not even going to address the circus show that is the American media.

                            I'm in the process, right now, of having a 12kW PV system installed on my roof right now. Having had several large DC UPS systems at work (including one small DC backplane fire) and after recently having the commercial solar system at our local shopping mall catch fire (also a relatively small electrical fire) I was/am somewhat concerned about having higher voltage (~480V) running on my roof. While I realize these are exceptions and there are thousands of residential 120VAC eletrical fires every year, I did stop and ask myself am I sure this is a good idea?

                            This was one of the key reasons I would have preferred an Enphase solution for its panel level MPPT, rapid shutdown and low 120VAC wiring. But since Enphase has been teetering on the brink of financial ruin for a couple years now, and because they don't make microinverters that will work with my Panasonic 330W panels, and because most installers I spoke with were recommending SolarEdge, that's the direction we chose. I think SolarEdge is a great solution, and the DC voltage at 350V is not too bad. Obviously it has panel level rapid shutdown as well.
                            Enphae uses 240V AC wiring not 120V AC.
                            SolarEdge is arguably safer solution than enphase though only a bit.



                            Originally posted by JSchnee21 View Post
                            But, as a firefighter, here's the thing. Even though I know a lot about solar, and know that many systems can be safely de-energized. Because systems are so heterogeneous (string, micro, optimizer, different string lengths, DC voltages, wiring schemes, batteries, etc.) one can never be sure what you will find when you roll up on a fire. In the seconds you have to put together a plan to try and put out the fire while simultaneously trying to assess whether anyone might still be in the home and need to be rescued, I don't have time to trace wiring plans and lookup inverter model numbers on the internet.

                            While bylaws and requirements vary by jurisdiction, in many/most settings volunteer firefighters are largely considered to be "good Samaritans" and are not obligated to protect property. That is to say, if the leadership decides it is not safe to enter a structure or that its not safe to spray water on an energized structure, we will absolutely let it burn (assuming no one is trapped inside to the best of our knowledge).
                            There are label requirements at the meter, and disconnect making it easy to find.

                            Originally posted by JSchnee21 View Post
                            I agree that the training could be improved. Here are some decent examples of current solar training materials (ther first couple PPT and PDF's)
                            https://www.google.com/search?q=sola...hrome&ie=UTF-8

                            But here's the thing, even with all the training in the world. Because every solar solution is different, there will always be doubt and concern over FF safety. When there is doubt, the FF will act in their own best interests to minimize their risk of harm.

                            The only real "solution" I see going forward is a multi-pronged approach:

                            1) Mandate the use of panel level rapid shutdown solutions for all new systems residential and commercial (perhaps this is part of the new NEC 2014/2017 requirements, I haven't read them)
                            It is part of NEC 2017. NEC 2014 has array level rapid shutdown. NEC 2017 has module level


                            Originally posted by JSchnee21 View Post
                            2) Placard all legacy non-compliant systems including commercial
                            All systems should currently have placards.

                            Originally posted by JSchnee21 View Post
                            3) Placard all new compliant systems including commercial
                            All systems are placarded

                            Originally posted by JSchnee21 View Post
                            4) Have the NFPA/UL conduct electrical conduction testing using different voltages, nozels, spray patters, and flow rates.
                            This is done and the NEC codes and rapid shutdown are based on their suggestions

                            Originally posted by JSchnee21 View Post
                            5) Develop safety tools to check for voltage/current
                            There are already some of these and the NBC article does mention one such tool though they claim it is the first of its kind, I am pretty sure "of its kind" is very specific since others can be purchased from the likes of Sears, homedepot, etc.

                            Originally posted by JSchnee21 View Post
                            While I know for certain that high voltage (>5000V) can easily travel up the water stream from a high voltage line electrical to a FF (I had such training at the PECO Electric FF training facility in Philadelphia), I personally have my doubts that this will work if the voltage is low (<500V). But honestly I don' know.

                            Let's keep everyone safe, homeowners included!
                            OutBack FP1 w/ CS6P-250P http://bit.ly/1Sg5VNH

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by ButchDeal View Post
                              ... we try to explain that ground mount is more dangerous ,,,
                              What's dangerous about a ground mount system?

                              Not disputing, but want to know what cautions I should be taking with my newly installed ground mount system -- which up to now I would have assumed is safe to touch / safe to wash off (in the first daylight before sun hits the panels).
                              8 kWp gnd;SE 7600A;P400;Hanwha Q.PLUS L-G4.2 335W

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by CharlieEscCA View Post

                                What's dangerous about a ground mount system?

                                Not disputing, but want to know what cautions I should be taking with my newly installed ground mount system -- which up to now I would have assumed is safe to touch / safe to wash off (in the first daylight before sun hits the panels).
                                You have up to 600V at ground level. Many jurisdiction require fencing to prevent people to access it.
                                You also have a lot of glass panels at ground level. Yes they are pretty tough but small kids and wild animals do strange things to equipment like this.

                                you can't easily protect the array wiring (except with a fence) as many large and small animals will nibble on the insulation. Keeping the wires tight and close to the racking helps keep larger animals from nibbling.
                                OutBack FP1 w/ CS6P-250P http://bit.ly/1Sg5VNH

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