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Staying Safe when Installing a Photovoltaic System

Part of the Photovoltaic Design & Installation For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Installing a photovoltaic (PV) system often means you're working on a roof or other high place and definitely means electricity is involved. PV systems convert solar energy into electricity —and electricity is dangerous business. Following are pointers for staying safe when you install any kind of photovoltaic (PV) system:

  • Always assume the wires you're about to touch are live; make sure you're wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE). At a minimum, your PPE should include safety glasses and high-voltage electrical gloves. It should also include a fall restraint if there's a chance you could fall more than 6 feet.

  • Never unplug a PV module connector without first measuring the current flow through the conductor with a digital multimeter.

  • Set up ladders at a 4-to-1 angle (a rise of 4 feet for a run of 1 foot) and with a minimum of three rungs above the roof line.

  • Start work early in the day and end early in the day. Installing PV systems places you in some extreme conditions, and even the most physically fit person will get worn down. No job is worth serious injury.

  • Installing PV systems is general construction work, which means the hazards associated with construction are applicable here. Get yourself trained in CPR and first aid, keep a first-aid kit on-site, and constantly communicate with others on-site to make everyone aware of any potential hazards.

  • Don't rush anything and always follow the instructions in the components' installation manuals.

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