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Photovoltaic- Residential and Commercial

Code Reference California Fire Code 2013, Chapter 6 Building Service and Systems. Please refer to the actual code sections for updates and full language.

Permits and Fees:

Permits Applications meeting the design criteria will not be charged fire permit fees or inspection fees at the time of submittal.

For designs not meeting the criteria will be charged a 1 hour fire plan review fee to address issues to building ventilation, fire fighter safety, and design time with contractor or designer if over the counter approval is desired

Pre-designs can be submitted by email, fax (707)-565-1172, or hand delivered to the Fire Marshal Roberta MacIntyre, they can be pre-approved prior to submittal to building department. Designs that can not meet the criteria listed in code requirements section will be charged a 1 hour fee for a review and shall be accompanied by the following information.

 

Diagram examples:

Click Here For Residential

Click Here For Commercial

CODE Criteria:

605.11 Solar Photovoltaic Power Systems.  Solar photovoltaic power systems shall be installed in accordance with this Code, the California Building Code and the California Electric Code, or as approved by the Fire Code Official.

Exception:

Detached Group U non-habitable structures such as parking shade structures, carports, solar trellises, and similar type structures are not subject to the requirements of Section 605.11.2 through Section 605.11.3.2.4.

605.11.1 Marking.  Marking is required on all interior and exterior DC conduit, enclosures, raceways, cable assemblies, junction boxes, combiner boxes, and disconnects.

605.11.1.1 Materials.  The materials used for marking shall be reflective, weather resistant and suitable for the environment. Marking as required in sections 605.11.1.2 through 605.11.1.4 shall have all letters capitalized with a minimum height of 3/8 inch white on red background.

605.11.1.2 Marking Content.  The marking shall contain the words “WARNING: PHOTOVOLTAOC POWER SOURCE”. 

605.11.1.3 Main Service Disconnect.  The marking shall be placed adjacent to the main service disconnect in a location clearly visible from the location where the disconnect is operated.

605.11.1.4 Location of Marking.  Marking shall be placed on all interior and exterior conduit, raceways, enclosures and cable assemblies every 10 feet and within 1 foot of all turns or bends, and within 1 foot of each side of penetrations.

605.11.2 Locations of DC Conductors.  Conduit, wiring systems, and raceways for photovoltaic circuits shall be located as close as possible to the ridge, hip or valley and from the hip or valley as directly as possible to an outside wall to reduce trip hazards and maximize ventilation opportunities. Conduit that runs between sub arrays and to DC combiner boxes shall be installed in a manner that minimizes total amount of conduit on the roof by taking the shortest path from the array to the DC combiner box. The DC combiner boxes shall be located such that conduit runs are minimized in the pathways between arrays. DC wiring shall be run in metallic conduit or raceways when located within enclosed spaces in a building. Conduit shall run along the bottom of load bearing members.

605.11.3 Access and pathways. Roof access, pathways, and spacing requirements shall be provided in order to ensure access to the roof; provide pathways to specific areas of the roof; provide for smoke ventilation operations; and to provide emergency egress from the roof.

Exceptions:

  1. Residential structures shall be designed so that each array is no greater than 150 feet (45,720 mm) by 150 feet (45,720 mm) in either axis.
  2. The Fire Chief may allow panels/modules to be located up to the ridge when an alternative ventilation method, acceptable to the Fire Chief; has been provided or where the Fire Chief has determined vertical ventilation techniques will not be employed.

605.11.3.1 Roof access points. Roof access points shall be defined as an area that does not place ground ladders over openings such as windows or doors, and are located at strong points of building construction in locations where the access point does not conflict with overhead obstructions such as tree limbs, wires, or signs.

605.11.3.2 Residential systems for one- and two-family residential dwellings.  Access shall be provided in accordance with Sections 605.11.3.2.1 through 605.11.3.2.4

605.11.3.2.1 Residential buildings with hip roof layouts. Panels /modules shall be located in a manner that provides a 3 foot (914 mm) wide clear access pathway from the eave to the ridge on each roof slope where panels/modules are located. The access pathway shall be located at a structurally strong location on the building capable of supporting the live load of fire fighters accessing the roof.

605.11.3.2.2 Residential buildings with a single ridge.  Panels/modules shall be located in a manner that provides two 3 foot (914 mm) wide access pathways from the eave to the ridge on each roof slope where panels/modules are located.

605.11.3.2.3 Residential buildings with hips and valleys:  Panels/modules shall be located no closer than 18 inches (457 mm) to a hip or a valley if panels/modules are to be placed on both sides of a hip or valley. If the panels are to be located on only one side of a hip or valley that is of equal length then the panels shall be permitted to be placed directly adjacent to the hip or valley.

605.11.3.2.4 Residential building smoke ventilation.  Panels/modules shall be located no higher than 3 feet (914 mm) below the ridge in order to allow for fire department smoke ventilation operations.

605.11.3.3 Other than residential buildings.  Access shall be provided in accordance with Sections 605.11.3.3.1 through 605.11.3.3.3.

Exception:

Where it is determined by the Fire Code Official that the roof configuration is similar to a one- or two-family dwelling, the Fire Code Official may approve the residential access and ventilation requirements provided in 605.11.3.2.1 through 605.11.3.2.4.

605.11.3.3.1 Access.  There shall be a minimum 6 foot (1,829 mm) wide clear perimeter around the edges of the roof.

Exception:

If either axis of the building is 250 feet (76,200 mm) or less, there shall be a minimum 4 foot (1,290 mm) wide clear perimeter around the edges of the roof.

605.11.3.3.2 Pathways.  The solar installation shall be designed to provide designated pathways. The pathways shall meet the following requirements:

  1. The pathway shall be over areas capable of supporting the live load of fire fighters accessing the roof.
  2. The center line axis pathways shall be provided in both axis of the roof. Center line axis pathways shall run where the roof structure is capable of supporting the live load of firefighters accessing the roof.
  3. Shall be straight line not less than 4 feet (1,290 mm) clear to skylights and/or ventilation hatches.
  4. Shall be straight line not less than 4 feet (1,290 mm) clear to roof standpipes.
  5. Shall provide not less than 4 feet (1,290 mm) clear around roof access hatch with at least one not less than 4 feet (1290 mm) clear pathway to parapet or roof edge.

605.11.3.3.3 Smoke Ventilation. The solar installation shall be designed to meet the following requirements:

1. Arrays shall be no greater than 150 feet (45,720 mm) by 150 feet (45,720 mm) in distance in either axis in order to create opportunities for smoke ventilation operations.

2. Smoke ventilation options between array sections shall be one of the following:

2.1  A pathway of 8 feet (2,438 mm) or greater in width.

2.2 A 4 foot (1,290 mm) or greater in width pathway and bordering roof skylights or smoke and heat vents

2.3 A 4 foot (1,290 mm) or greater in width pathway and bordering 4 foot (1,290 mm) x 8 foot (2,438 mm) “venting cutouts” every 20 feet (6,096 mm) on alternating sides of the pathway

605.11.4 Ground mounted photovoltaic arrays. Ground mounted photovoltaic arrays shall comply with Sections 605.11 through 605.11.2 and this section. A clear brush area of 10 feet (3048 mm) is required for ground mounted photovoltaic arrays.

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