Solar PV Tools 101

PV Cable Assembly Tools
Crimp-on PV cable connectors require special tools to properly attach the connectors. Single-purpose tools from Multi-Contact or Amphenol work with only that type of connector and are often the best option for installers who work only with modules that have that same connector type. For those who encounter several different types of connectors, one of the Rennsteig tool sets that have a set of dies and positioners can be more convenient and economical than carrying a different tool for each connector type.

System Survey and Commissioning Tools
Commissioning a PV system is an important final step in the installation process, and it’s worth doing properly and consistently. Commissioning standards, such as IEC 62446 and related NABCEP guidelines, provide visual and physical inspections as well as electrical tests that should be performed prior to activating a new PV system. Common electrical tests made during commissioning include: continuity, phasing, and voltage for AC circuits; continuity of grounding conductors; DC circuit polarity verification; string I-V curves; string open-circuit voltage; string short circuit current; insulation resistance testing of PV source and output circuits; and, finally, a full-up system functionality test. With proper documentation, these same tests can be repeated periodically as systems age to ensure that they are operating efficiently.

Solar Safety Labels
The NEC and International Fire Code (IFC) require specific components of a PV system to be labeled for the safety of operators, maintenance, and emergency responder personnel. The Code also requires these labels to be appropriately weather resistant (IFC 605.11.1.1.3) and durable (NEC 110.21). These labels are UV and weather resistant and should meet Code requirements in most jurisdictions. Note that some jurisdictions may still require engraved placards. The labels are designed to permanently adhere to metallic, baked enamel, and powder-coated surfaces in most outdoor environments.

Local jurisdictions and company policies often call for unique language or types of labels that are not available in preprinted form. If this is a frequent requirement, a label printing system can be an economical way to get exactly what you need when you need it. The ability to produce custom labels also presents opportunities for branding as well as organization, theft prevention, and identification.

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