Chart of US solar installations from 1976 to 2020

With the U.S. on pace for 4 million solar electric (PV) installations by 2020, building and electrical inspectors and other local code officials have their work cut out for them to keep up. It’s their job to ensure proper, safe installations, in line with current codes and standards. New informational videos on solar codes and safety are the latest in a suite of training resources targeted to code officials, architects, builders and solar installers.

“With the rapid expansion of solar installations, training from the NEC® (National Electrical Code), as well as other codes and standards become a critical combination to ensure a safe installation,” says David Clements, CEO of the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI).  “These must-see videos are an excellent resource that will help educate code officials and inspectors when inspecting residential solar installations. We are excited to have partnered with IREC on developing training material that will benefit both code officials and installers. Knowledge and knowing how to apply it will ensure a code compliant installation.”

According to Eileen Prado, executive director of the International Code Council (ICC): “These educational videos highlight key aspects of the inspection process that will appeal to a broad audience. Code officials who have experience inspecting solar installations will be reminded of important details of the process. Inspectors who are new to solar PV will be introduced to essential aspects of the inspection and referred to more detailed training.”

As part of a US Department of Energy SunShot program, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) partnered with the ICC and the IAEI to develop resources for code officials to learn the key aspects of solar technology related to their trade.

“Officials involved in the planning, inspection and permitting of residential solar installations now have access to solar training and education in their office, at home, and in the field,” says IREC Director of Workforce Development Laure-Jeanne Davignon. “The wide variety of tools allows code officials new to solar and experienced professionals to learn in the format they choose: in-person, online, printable documents or videos.”

ICC and IAEI regional chapters have begun hosting one-day trainings where code officials can learn the steps of accurate, consistent solar permit plan review, with the focus on the pre-inspection work of reviewing and approving the plan. To complement what they learn in the class, or as an introduction beforehand, participants can watch and learn about the details of residential solar inspection in the two new brief videos (4-5 minutes each).

Residential Solar Inspection Best Practices Part 1: Rooftop 

Residential Solar Inspection Best Practices Part 2: Ground Level  

  • Professionals can take a deeper dive into field inspection practices in a self-paced online training.
  • All classes and resources are free to participants as part of the DOE SunShot Solar Training and Education for Professionals (STEP) program.
  • More than 5,000 professionals have engaged in the PVOT (PV Online Training) since it became available in 2012.

The new in-person plan review course is being very well received. With more than 2,500 participants to date, evaluations include these comments from participants:

 “I liked the hands-on approach to the material. Much better than straight code lecture.”

“I know100% more about solar now.”

 “It covered structural, fire safety and electrical . . . and how they all tied into each other, with real life scenarios.”