The RED TAPE: North American standards, certifications, etc for components???

skip21alskip21al Registered Users Posts: 9
There are some Chinese solar system parts floating around out there. How do I know they have passed any regulatory testing for sale in the USA? I'm guessing any component needs to be "UL" (underwriter labs) certified, but what else should I look for? If California requires anything above and beyond, then please explain. Basically anything that would prevent me from getting federal credits as well as local utility incentives.


  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,006 admin
    edited February 2016 #2
    Technically, you need NRTL (Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory) Listing--And UL is one of those companies.

    Generally you need a building permit and an licensed contractor to do the install (it can be possible for you, working with the building department, to do your own install--Maybe). And, you may need approval by your utility too (if you are doing a Grid Tied System).

    Regulations for GT Solar are changing pretty quickly--And it can depend on which version of the NEC (National Electric Code) your building department is using. Newer code has some pretty stiff requirements for electrical safety and even minimum walkway/access around the panels on the roof for fire department.

    There are quite a few problems with fake NRTL tags on products out of China--Dealing with reputable vendors in the US can help minimize the problem. Even if you work with a good contractor--Not all of them have experience with GT solar:

    What is it you are trying to do? Grid Tied Solar (no battery, connected to utility power)? Battery backed emergency power? Hybrid system or what.

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 6,028 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Really good advice, but that is nothing new with that "just some guy".

    Skip said "California requires anything above and beyond" and that really as Bill said, depends on what county and what in the heck he is trying to do beside "getting federal credits as well as local utility incentives."

    If he is skilled enough as a handyman, has the patience, the store here or someone like good old me can save him a ton of money.
     His building department has to allow owner builder Solar permits, many do!
     Otherwise he needs a licensed Pro for installation.
    I did 4 grid-tie battery based homes up here last year from the office on text and e-mail. Never even saw the owner!
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
    E-mail [email protected]

  • skip21alskip21al Registered Users Posts: 9
    thanks! I'm doing a GT system only. no batteries. Sounds like as far as the hardware goes, I need to look for the UL listing/logo on the parts.
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 6,028 ✭✭✭✭✭
    And you reed to make sure the solar has a rating that is approved for fire by your building department if you are doing the install.  
     A few other matters also.
    If you are hiring a contractor there really is not a worry for you (other than basic due diligence) as they are the ones that do all this.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
    E-mail [email protected]

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