How Can We Make PV Modules Safer?

John H. Wohlgemuth, Sarah R. Kurtz

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

33 Scopus Citations


Safety is a prime concern for the photovoltaics (PV) industry. As a technology deployed on residential and commercial buildings, it is critical that PV not cause damage to the buildings nor harm the occupants. Many of the PV systems on buildings are of sufficiently high voltage (300 to 600 Volts dc) that they may present potential hazards. These PV systems must be safe in terms of mechanical damage (nothing falls on someone), shock hazard (no risk of electrical shock when touching an exposed circuit element), and fire (the modules neither cause nor promote a fire). The present safety standards (IEC 61730 and UL 1703) do a good job of providing for design rules and test requirements for mechanical, shock, and spread of flame dangers. However, neither standard addresses the issue of electrical arcing within a module that can cause a fire. To make PV modules, they must be designed, built, and installed with an emphasis on minimizing the potential for open circuits and ground faults. This paper provides recommendations on redundant connection designs, robust mounting methods, and changes to the safety standards to yield safer PV modules.

Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages4
StatePublished - 2012
Event38th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, PVSC 2012 - Austin, TX, United States
Duration: 3 Jun 20128 Jun 2012


Conference38th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, PVSC 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAustin, TX

Bibliographical note

See CP-5200-54145 for preprint

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5200-56928


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