External AFCI products available yet?

Hey Everyone, I'm new to the forum here. I've installed a 1.8kW roof mount grid tie system using a Fronius IG2000 inverter that I bought a little over a year ago. I'm getting to ready to have my system inspected and I notice that 2011 NEC 609.11 is now required, meaning that I need some sort of Arc Fault Protection. My inverter doesn't have this built in and I'm struggling to find external AFCI breakers or other products that would satisfy this requirement. Can anyone point me in the right direction? I hear Midnite Solar offers something but I'm not finding it.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
Mick

Comments

  • MicklongleyMicklongley Registered Users Posts: 4
    Re: External AFCI products available yet?

    I found this but not too sure about it - does this look legit?

    http://www.dcsunvolt.com/Arc_Fault/ARC_Fault_Detection_Module.html
    http://www.dcsunvolt.com
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 30,642 admin
    Re: External AFCI products available yet?

    Interesting--One thing to watch for, requires 24 VDC +/- 10% -- So you cannot just take power from your 24 Volt battery bank to run it (requires a regulated supply).

    I am getting so confused now--Ground Fault or Arc Fault for solar arrays?

    MorningStar now has a PV DC Ground Fault box:

    http://www.morningstarcorp.com/products/ground-fault-protection-device/

    And Midnite has the Remote Array Disconnects:

    http://www.midnitesolar.com/products.php?menuItem=products&productCat_ID=44&productCatName=RAPID-SHUTDOWN-SYSTEM-NEC-690.12

    As well as Arc Fault detection/shutdown on their Midnite Classic MPPT Charge controllers

    http://www.midnitesolar.com/pdfs/Classic1.pdf
    Worlds only arc fault detecting controller

    Midnite was working on their Arc Fault Detecting Combiners--But it looks like it has been pulled from their website???? (MNPV24 Arc Fault Disco):
    Midnite Solar's industry leading Arc Fault
    detection and protection system will stop series
    arcs as standard, and optionally, can suppress
    parallel arcs. Array string monitoring is a free
    feature with all of MidNite Solar's Arc Fault
    Combiners. Nothing extra to buy!

    -Bill "confused" B.
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • MicklongleyMicklongley Registered Users Posts: 4
    Re: External AFCI products available yet?

    Thanks for the reply Bill. Grid tied inverters generally have ground fault functionality built in. The newer generation on inverters have arc fault protection as well. I just happened to take a really long time to install my system so I have an older inverter which doesn't have a means for arc fault detection or interruption. Being that I am grid tied with no battery backup Midnite Solar was my big hope, but they don't seem to have a breaker solution yet. I have reached out to Eaton to inquire about their PVGard 600 breaker but have yet to hear back from them.

    And on the dcsunvolt product mentioned earlier, it looks like all this does is alert you to an arc fault problem rather than interrupting the arc fault. So this isn't quite going to satisfy the NEC 609.11 requirement (as far as I understand it).

    Thanks for the input,
    Mick
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,366 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: External AFCI products available yet?

    Have you actually had the inspector require this? Perhaps a frank talk with the inspector telling them the situation might get you off the hook. No external device available they might let you go with what you have.
  • MicklongleyMicklongley Registered Users Posts: 4
    Re: External AFCI products available yet?

    I haven't had a discussion with them yet and probably won't broach that topic unless they bring it up, I was just hoping to have a "go to" solution in case they were being pretty hard about it. Anyway, I'll be sure to update the thread as things progress.
  • Belmont SolarBelmont Solar Registered Users Posts: 26 ✭✭
    Re: External AFCI (arc fault) products available yet?

    It will take quite some time before the MidNite arc fault Combiners are refined enough to work well with most brands of inverters out there.
    Many inverters cause false tripping. The AFC Combiners were shown on the website briefly, but they are back in engineering and the project simply does not have a timeline in sight due to the reason listed above.
    If you simply have to have AF. The only good choice right now is to buy an inverter with it built in.
    BTW: Not all inverters have their AFP ready for prime time.
    SMA, Power One & Solar Edge are the only ones that I can recommend.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: External AFCI (arc fault) products available yet?
    It will take quite some time before the MidNite arc fault Combiners are refined enough to work well with most brands of inverters out there.
    Many inverters cause false tripping. The AFC Combiners were shown on the website briefly, but they are back in engineering and the project simply does not have a timeline in sight due to the reason listed above.
    If you simply have to have AF. The only good choice right now is to buy an inverter with it built in.
    BTW: Not all inverters have their AFP ready for prime time.
    SMA, Power One & Solar Edge are the only ones that I can recommend.

    There have been problems with built-in AFP as well.
    It may be a good idea, but the technology is "not ready for prime time".
    Another case of the regulations being well-intended but uninformed.

    What's worse is that the inspector would probably just insist you have it if he knows anything about it at all, and would not be able to tell you what to get and where because he only knows the regulation not the reality.

    Someone should produce these just so they can be installed to pass inspection, and then removed so the system doesn't false trip repeatedly. We have the requirement for AFP on circuits to bedrooms here, and the breakers get removed because people don't like having the power go off over and over (vacuum cleaners seem to be a big offender).
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