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What Is Solar Rapid Shutdown, And Why Do I Need It?

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What Is Solar Rapid Shutdown, And Why Do I Need It?

A solar rapid shutdown happens when your home faces a crisis that can threaten solar panels, result in fires, or cause electrical damage to the system. In this process, the solar array shuts down and stops generating electricity so that people can safely exit their homes without being electrocuted.

How Does Solar Rapid Shutdown Work?

The proper definition is that in solar rapid shutdown, it is very easy to turn off any solar panel system in an emergency. Appropriate authorities mandate this shut down in line with regulations. The regulations were first followed in 2014 and were part of the National Electrical Code (NEC) safety precautions.

These regulations provided a safe and quick way of shutting down any electricity in the system. This regulation mostly helped the firefighters as they found a safe way to extinguish fires while the system was off so they would not be electrocuted.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) was the first organization to add rapid shutdowns into the NEC so that first responders would not be harmed when saving lives or infrastructure.

The Need For Solar Rapid Shutdowns

A solar panel starts generating electricity as soon as the sun starts rising. This is why there is an uninterrupted supply of electricity coursing through buildings. If there is an emergency, there must be a mechanism to shut down that continuous supply of electricity, which is why a rapid shutdown device is needed.

Many people think that if you shut down your solar inverter, the power shuts off too. However, that is not the case. There is power remaining in the electrical cables from the solar panels.

The most damaging consequences are faced by firefighters, who commonly drill holes into walls or roofs to properly ventilate burning structures so that the fire may die out properly. Cutting holes into walls can be dangerous, especially because firefighters can be exposed to live wires and get themselves electrocuted.

Is Solar Rapid Shutdown Necessary?

The law states that installing a solar rapid shutdown system with solar panels is essential. Not installing one is not illegal, but it is advised for the safety of others. Solar arrays are generally safe, and manufacturers consider their security when making them. Still, they conduct dangerous amounts of electricity, which can be fatal, so it is vital to safely de-energize your system in emergencies.

Where Can I Get This System?

In 2022, when buying a solar panel system, you also automatically avail this system as these panels come with rapid shutdown functionality. 

String Inverters:

String inverters and solar panels need module-level power electronics (MLPE) installed. The NEC demands MLPE.

Power Optimizers and Microinverters:

Most residential solar panels have installed SolarEdge’s power optimizers or microinverters of Enphase. Both power optimizers and microinverters are MLPEs that work at the solar panel site and have added rapid shutdown capabilities.

Legal Requirements For Installing A Rapid Shutdown System

The NEC states that rapid shutdowns are required. The requirements are updated after every three years. Since technology is getting more advanced, so are circuits and all electric appliances, which is why the conditions need to be updated. Every state has its code at its discretion and time. This is because NEC is not federally mandated. Some states even have a state-wide, independent electrical code instead.

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