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Failed solar/powerwall inspection

jedmo

Member
Sep 9, 2020
115
49
Northern California
Inspector came out to check out my solar system with 2 powerwalls, he didn't have the most recent approved permits in his inspection pack. He also mentioned a new requirement about having a disconnect for the powerwalls on the exterior of the house, the only disconnect for the powerwalls are on the inside of the TEG which is installed in the garage. The Tesla rep that was there told me he'll have to see the design that was submitted with the updated permit, since he didn't have it with him. Depending on what was in the design for the approved permit, they may need to resubmit it with the new requirement for the external disconnect for the powerwalls, which will probably take another couple of weeks to approve. A little frustrating being so close to being done and paid for with the system. I now have some doubt that everything will be inspected and paid for before the end of the year to receive the full 26% tax credit. Good times...
 
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SaveOurPlanet

Member
Jan 6, 2018
252
150
San Francisco
Just curious, mind telling us which county or city is the new requirement for the disconnect? I’m asking because I want to have everything inside the garage but would bring this up to Tesla when the time comes, if ever.
 

holeydonut

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
2,121
1,503
East Bay NorCal
Huh? That big disconnect switch on the outside needs to shut off the Powerwalls too? Has this always been a thing or just started lately?
 

jedmo

Member
Sep 9, 2020
115
49
Northern California
Just curious, mind telling us which county or city is the new requirement for the disconnect? I’m asking because I want to have everything inside the garage but would bring this up to Tesla when the time comes, if ever.

I live in Rocklin, CA. He mentioned that in case of fire, the fire department would need access to be able to completely shut off power to the house, inclusive of the powerwalls. Since the disconnect is inside the garage, they do not have a way to access it without breaking into the garage.

Huh? That big disconnect switch on the outside needs to shut off the Powerwalls too? Has this always been a thing or just started lately?

A separate set of disconnects specific to the powerwalls needs to be located on the exterior of the house.
 

jboy210

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
5,395
3,347
Northern California
Sometimes these inspections are like proctological exams and other times they just drive by and throw the signed inspection form out the window. Ours was close to the latter. 5 minutes of looking around and 15 minutes of BSing.
 
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getakey

Active Member
Jan 28, 2020
1,415
451
95762
I live in Rocklin, CA. He mentioned that in case of fire, the fire department would need access to be able to completely shut off power to the house, inclusive of the powerwalls. Since the disconnect is inside the garage, they do not have a way to access it without breaking into the garage.



A separate set of disconnects specific to the powerwalls needs to be located on the exterior of the house.

We are close. We live in EDH. There's another member here in EDH
 
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wwhitney

Member
Nov 2, 2017
968
1,320
Berkeley, CA
Depending on what was in the design for the approved permit, they may need to resubmit it with the new requirement for the external disconnect for the powerwalls, which will probably take another couple of weeks to approve.
It is extremely poor form, possibly illegal, for new requirements to be imposed after you have an approved plan set. If the code requirements have been properly legally changed, that change should only apply to new permit applications going forward. There is something to be said for raising this issue and seeing what the response is.

On the other hand, it's the contractor's responsibility to have the approved plan set on site at the time of the inspection, so that was a major oversight on the part of Tesla.

Cheers, Wayne
 

jedmo

Member
Sep 9, 2020
115
49
Northern California
It is extremely poor form, possibly illegal, for new requirements to be imposed after you have an approved plan set. If the code requirements have been properly legally changed, that change should only apply to new permit applications going forward. There is something to be said for raising this issue and seeing what the response is.

On the other hand, it's the contractor's responsibility to have the approved plan set on site at the time of the inspection, so that was a major oversight on the part of Tesla.

Cheers, Wayne

Agreed on both accounts. The Tesla rep tried to reason with the inspector that the approved plans did not have a disconnect on the exterior of the house, but didn't have the approved plans to show the inspector. The Tesla rep arrived pretty early and I did ask him if he had the updated plans with him as he pulled out the paper work that was left at the house. He assured me the inspector would have the latest copy. Oh well...not much I can really do at this point but wait.
 

Hank42

Legacy Supporter
Sep 30, 2012
541
286
United States - NY
How often does a FD actually disconnect power to a house? (with or without without solar/battery etc)??
Some of these regs are silly.

With that said: Yeah, it makes sense that if you have to have a power disconnect on the outside of the house for solar, then you also need a power disconnect for any other power generating source such as a powerwall. Not hard or expensive to install. Just ugly and annoying.
 

vickh

Active Member
Dec 16, 2018
3,148
503
az
Sometimes these inspections are like proctological exams and other times they just drive by and throw the signed inspection form out the window. Ours was close to the latter. 5 minutes of looking around and 15 minutes of BSing.

mine too. Best was the utility lady wanted a Tesla referral (she didn't follow thru yet :( )
 
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jaed

Member
Jan 6, 2017
69
84
California
It might be to late but if that happens again have you or your installer ask the inspector for a code section that he is failing the inspection from. Quite often inspectors hear the from someone or think the code says something when there it is not there. Also pull up the code they site and see if there are any exceptions. Quite often there are. I know because I am a inspector and own a company with a number of inspectors under me. We always say you have to quote a code section.

During our final the inspector said we needed a second form of disconnect other than the breaker. We challenged him and asked for the code section and he could not find anything so he just signed it off and left. Of course be nice just say “so I can understand this better can you tell me where that code section is? “

Also ask for a current set of approved drawings from Tesla. It is always good to have a copy for the future.

Hope that helps?
 

jedmo

Member
Sep 9, 2020
115
49
Northern California
It might be to late but if that happens again have you or your installer ask the inspector for a code section that he is failing the inspection from. Quite often inspectors hear the from someone or think the code says something when there it is not there. Also pull up the code they site and see if there are any exceptions. Quite often there are. I know because I am a inspector and own a company with a number of inspectors under me. We always say you have to quote a code section.

During our final the inspector said we needed a second form of disconnect other than the breaker. We challenged him and asked for the code section and he could not find anything so he just signed it off and left. Of course be nice just say “so I can understand this better can you tell me where that code section is? “

Also ask for a current set of approved drawings from Tesla. It is always good to have a copy for the future.

Hope that helps?
Thank you, Jaed. Your post was very helpful! I'll be sure to discuss this with the Tesla rep whenever they correct the current issue and schedule the next inspection.
 

jedmo

Member
Sep 9, 2020
115
49
Northern California
I found these two entries as part of the ess submittal checklist

'Disconnecting means shall be provided for the ESS per 2017 NEC 706.7(E). Disconnects are required within 5’ of main service panel or if structural conditions exist may be within 10’ of main service panel and within in sight. Permanent plaque or directory denoting location is required.'

'Please demonstrate unobstructed access on the plans to all required disconnects or as determined by the City of Rocklin Fire Department.'

My guess is the interpretation "and within in sight" means from the outside of the house, and unobstructed access also meaning the same, as if its in the garage they have obstructed access.

Based on my findings, Tesla dropped the ball on this.
 

wwhitney

Member
Nov 2, 2017
968
1,320
Berkeley, CA
'Disconnecting means shall be provided for the ESS per 2017 NEC 706.7(E). Disconnects are required within 5’ of main service panel or if structural conditions exist may be within 10’ of main service panel and within in sight.'
Except that's not what NEC 706.7(E) says (see below). It does refer to "connected equipment". That is a somewhat vague description, but I don't see it as referring to the main service panel. Rather I'd say it's the equipment just upstream of the Powerwalls, i.e. the generation panel or Gateway.

Cheers, Wayne


2017 NEC 706.7(E)

(E) Partitions and Distance. Where energy storage system input and output terminals are more than 1.5 m (5 ft) from connected equipment, or where the circuits from these terminals pass through a wall or partition, the installation shall comply with the following:
(1) A disconnecting means shall be provided at the energy storage system end of the circuit. Fused disconnecting means or circuit breakers shall be permitted to be used.
(2) A second disconnecting means located at the connected equipment shall be installed where the disconnecting means required by 706.7(E)(1) is not within sight of the connected equipment.

Informational Note No. 1: For remote disconnect controls in information technology equipment rooms, see 645.10.
Informational Note No. 2: For overcurrent protection of batteries, see 240.21(H).

(3) Where fused disconnecting means are used, the line terminals of the disconnecting means shall be connected toward the energy storage system terminals.

(4) Disconnecting means shall be permitted to be installed in energy storage system enclosures where explosive atmospheres can exist if listed for hazardous locations.

(5) Where the disconnecting means in (1) is not within sight of the disconnecting means in (2), placards or directories shall be installed at the locations of all disconnecting means indicating the location of all other disconnecting means.
 
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aesculus

Still Trying to Figure This All Out
May 31, 2015
4,519
2,570
Northern California
How often does a FD actually disconnect power to a house? (with or without without solar/battery etc)??
Some of these regs are silly.
It's a best practice.

If there is an active fire in your structure they will disconnect the power to it. Then it will be your responsibility to have it inspected and reset.

When there is no solar/batteries its as simple as throwing the main breaker. With solar and/or batteries they are going to turn off anything with a red label on it too. They don't want to be in the house in dark and smoky conditions worrying about poking live wires with tools or having live wires fall on them.

If the fire is involved enough they will have the utility come and pull the power at the transformer.
 
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charlesj

Active Member
Oct 22, 2019
1,241
274
Monterey, CA
I live in Rocklin, CA. He mentioned that in case of fire, the fire department would need access to be able to completely shut off power to the house, inclusive of the powerwalls. Since the disconnect is inside the garage, they do not have a way to access it without breaking into the garage.



A separate set of disconnects specific to the powerwalls needs to be located on the exterior of the house.
My May 21 install and following inspection didn't ask for a disconnect outside.
May be very lucky.

ps. I asked fire dept., perhaps when solar went on line in 2012 and before PW, if I can place a lock on the outside disconnect half of main panel as neighbor had a break in and breaker was disconnected by the robber. Sure, no problem, we don't turn off power to homes of pull the meter out.
maybe they changed their minds?
 
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SMAlset

Well-Known Member
Mar 4, 2017
9,185
9,913
SF Bay Area
Our 3/31/20 plans for a 8.16 solar system when we had only 2 PW included did Not have an AC exterior disconnect switch on them. Before install we added a third PW and the revised plans (7/31/20) added it along with a NGOM. The NGOM was determined unnecessary by PG&E right at the time of our install (due apparently to Tesla getting some approval rating for the equipment they were installing) and we had the NGOM removed prior to finishing our system install, but not the AC Disconnect. We were puzzled why we didn't need the NGOM and AC Disconnect on the first plan but did on the second. The AC Disconnect was painted the house color and while I'm not liking the addition of any box sticking out of the wall (our main panel is a flush mount), it's not so bad painted and if it ever helps quickly provide protection for fire personnel should our house catch on fire, well that's the way it should be. We chose to have our inverter installed inside our garage next to our PWs and GW2 so while it has a rapid shutdown disconnect, it isn't readily available in an emergency.

We haven't requested an updated final plan from TE but did get something like it (a partial plan) from PG&E which was included with our PTO approval (an attachment). People who got their PTO email might want to look for the attachment in the event you were so happy to see the PTO that you didn't open and read everything :). We were thinking after the year is over of asking TE for the final plan .pdf. Figure they are very busy with year-end installs at this point and can wait.
 
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holeydonut

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Jun 27, 2020
2,121
1,503
East Bay NorCal
Happy Thanksgiving ya'll!

How are we supposed to even conform with this requirement for all self-generation power sources to have a disconnect on the outside of the house?

Most solar disconnect boxes look like this; and they are simple boxes. It's not like they have a busbar and can simultaneously switch a bunch of circuits.

CD224NRB - Safety switch, general duty, fusible, 200A, 120/240 VAC, 2 poles, 60 hp, solid neutral, NEMA 3R with bolt on hub | Schneider Electric USA

If someone has 3x Powerwalls and AC coupled solar connected to the built-in panelboard on the Gateway 2, that means there's really no place to put an external throw switch. How in the world are people supposed to even set this up?
 

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