NABCEP Con-Ed Conference 2014 Day 3

Today is another full day of electrical code.

It’s taught by Ryan Mayfield of Renewable Energy Associates. He taught the other code class I took recently up in Renton. Washington State is moving to the National Electrical Code (NEC) 2014 in July of this year.

I’m sitting in the class again because the more often I see the material the better prepared we’ll be for the switch to the new code.

One of my jobs as electrical administrator is debating inspectors on interpretations of the code. The more knowledgeable I am in the code the easier the more defensible our methods are.

Passing inspection is one thing. The inspectors make sure that our installation is “up to code” and “safe.” We see this as a starting point in our solar arrays. Code is a minimum standard for safety. Our best practices go above and beyond the code. Best practices combine serviceability, longevity, beauty, and craftsmanship with safety.

The biggest difference between take the last class for code officials and this class is the audience. Code officials need a breadth of knowledge across all sections of the NEC. They approach the articles specific to solar (Article 690 and 705 for those that care) in other ways than we do.

As solar pros we need a depth of knowledge to be able to achieve our best practices. I’m sitting in a class room with 100 other solar professionals with 1,000s of solar arrays of experience under their belts.

The questions and comments I’m hearing from my colleagues are insightful. It has been helpful to hear both sides of this code: inspectors and solar installers.

Amazing enough, we (solar pros) and the inspectors agree the majority of the time. Even so there are still complex murky parts of the code that are going to cause heartburn for everyone involved. That’s why the code gets updated every 3 years; to provide clarity.

Am I done with code update classes? Likely not. Myself and our head electrician, Jason, still need to review the material and do our own internal training. Our installers will be taking their own classes, but (some of) our non-electrician staff need to know the updates too.

Yesterday: NABCEP Conference Day 2

The Day Before: NABCEP Conference Day 1