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Codes That Govern Off-The-Grid Solar Installation In California
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October 29, 2020

Codes That Govern Off-The-Grid Solar Installation In California

All Solar power systems work off of similar mechanisms. The process involves a change in energy from solar or in simpler terms sunlight which is converted into DC power, this procedure can be termed the photovoltaic (PV) effect. The power generated is then saved for nighttime or emergency use in batteries or converted by a solar inverter into AC power which is used to power appliances in residential houses. This is a widely relevant advantage of the solar system.

Solar energy is classified as a renewable form of energy and is implemented on various types of technologies that are solar-dependent either passively or actively which is based on how they distribute solar energy or how they convert this energy to useful power. Excess solar energy generated is usually fed back into the electricity grid to be reconciled as credits for users or stored in a battery storage system for renewable use. The main types of solar power systems are divided into three broad categories namely; the on-grid solar system, off-grid solar system and then the hybrid solar system.  

However, in this article, we will be discussing how the off grid solar system works in certain areas of California. 

Solar technologies are starting to take over the electricity energy scene, as manufacturers of solar technology are working effectively to introduce new innovations to the world. Solar energy has numerous benefits; it is less expensive, it is safer, it’s renewable and it requires low cost on maintenance, which must be why a lot of residents live off the grid in California. 

Living Off-The-Grid In California

California, being a state with the largest number of solar photovoltaic installations and also a sector that supports power through solar PV, have various codes that govern the adoption of these systems which must comply with TITLE 24

Most sections of Title 24 permit the use of the off-the-grid solar PV system. These codes include, the residential code, electrical code, mechanical code, energy code and fire code. While the energy code requires connections with the grid for residential purposes, the other codes permit the implementation of off-the-grid connections.

These codes interact with each other and are usually revised every three years and it is currently under revision, providing a critical window of opportunity for potential change. The standards for reliability and safety could still be a barrier even if the regulations are changed. Read more here on the U.S. EIA site. 

The electrical code provides two modes of connection, via electrical sources (batteries) or as stand-alone. The code states that for a stand-alone system to be feasible in California, the wiring system of a house should meet the requirement of a system connected to a grid. These systems do not require backup generators or batteries and can be implemented off-the-grid.

Under the current law, off-the-grid residents of California are expected to meet all Title 24 criteria of the California Code of Regulations, which includes;

The California Electrical Code

  • Applicable health and safety standards and requirements of state and local permitting authorities; 
  • Any applicable rules of the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) regarding safety and reliability;
  • The safety and performance standards of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and accredited testing laboratories, such as Underwriters Laboratories.

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