DC Arc Incident Energy in Photovoltaic Systems: Methods for Evaluation

William Sekulic, Albert Marroquin, Peter McNutt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus Citations


Renewable energy systems continue to be one of the fastest growing segments of the energy industry. This article focuses on the understanding of how photovoltaic (PV) technology behaves under dc arc conditions. Emphasis is placed on the electrical safety aspect of dc arc-flash incident energy (IE) evaluation. Because of the fast proliferation of PV systems and lack of formal equivalent calculation guidelines, such as IEEE 1584 for ac systems, it has been necessary to rely on different equations and models presented by various researchers over the last few years. This article discusses the behavior of PV systems under arc conditions and presents the results of the available methods to estimate the dc arc-flash IE. It provides a comparative analysis of a proposed arc-flash IE calculation method against different laboratory tests, including those performed for this article at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Detailed explanations are provided regarding the effect of the PV module current-voltage (I-V) and power-voltage (P-V) curves under arcing conditions. Examples of the application of the proposed calculation method to the test measurements are included.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)21-33
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Industry Applications Magazine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 1975-2012 IEEE.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-81920


  • arc discharges
  • estimation
  • hazards
  • mathematical models
  • occupational safety
  • resistance
  • switchgear


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