Solar Photovoltaic DC Systems: Basics and Safety: Preprint

Peter McNutt, William Sekulic, Gary Dreifuerst

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems are common and growing with 42.4 GW installed capacity in U.S. (almost 15 GW added in 2016). This paper will help electrical workers, and emergency responders understand the basic operating principles and hazards of PV DC arrays. We briefly discuss the following aspects of solar photovoltaic (PV) DC systems: the effects of solar radiation and temperature on output power; PV module testing standards; common system configurations; a simple PV array sizing example; NEC guidelines and other safety features; DC array commissioning, periodic maintenance and testing; arc-flash hazard potential; how electrical workers and emergency responders can and do work safely around PV arrays; do moonlight and artificial lighting pose a real danger; typical safe operating procedures; and other potential DC-system hazards to be aware of. We also present some statistics on PV DC array electrical incidents and injuries. Safe PV array operation is possible with a good understanding of PV DC arrays basics and having good safe operating procedures in place.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2018
EventIEEE Electrical Safety Workshop - Fort Worth, Texas
Duration: 20 Mar 201823 Mar 2018


ConferenceIEEE Electrical Safety Workshop
CityFort Worth, Texas

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5B00-68696


  • DC
  • photovoltaics
  • safety
  • solar


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