Electricity and Control January 2023
SAFETY OF PLANT, EQUIPMENT + PEOPLE
Renewable energy is one of the fastest-growing markets globally. Recent trends indicate that solar photovoltaic (PV) installations have doubled within the past year and are expected to double again by 2030. Such rapid expansion is accelerating the search for ways to reduce risks associated with installing and commissioning PV systems – and a demand for accurate handheld devices that can be used to take reliable measurements safely in the installations. Staying safe in monitoring solar PV installations
C omtest, local representative for Fluke, says the world’s first CAT III 1 500 V true-RMS solar clamp meter, the 393 FC, has been introduced to meet this need. Here, Comtest outlines how the clamp meter can be used by technicians to ensure they stay safe when installing, checking or maintaining PV panels and equipment. In PV applications current is ‘wild’ and not limited by electronics. Choosing the correct solar testing equipment is therefore critical to ensure workers – and the PV system itself – are protected against a range of potential electrical hazards. The Fluke 393 FC helps to protect technicians against the three main electrical hazards: shock or electrocution from energised conductors, arc faults that spark fires, and arc flash that leads to explosions. Control measures and best practices that can mitigate these risks are different when working with photovoltaic systems, compared to those that apply when working with any other kind of energy-generating resource. That’s why it’s important that multimeters, test leads and fuses are rated for the application being worked on.
The risk of electrocution Shock or electrocution from energised conductors happens when current takes an unintended path through the human body – and it can have lethal results from as little as 50 milliamps (mA) hitting the heart. Electrical shocks are typically caused by faulty insulation of cables and wiring, damaged insulation of safety covers, or improper grounding. In a PV system, the main places such conditions exist are the combiner box, the equipment grounding conductor, the PV source and output circuit conductors. Arc faults and arc flash Electrical arc faults that spark fires are high-power discharges of electricity between two or more conductors, with the discharge causing heat that can lead to the deterioration or even burning of wiring insulation. PV systems are particularly vulnerable to arc faults caused by a disruption in conductor continuity, or by unexpected current between two conductors, often the result of a ground fault. Arc flash is a phenomenon of large-scale PV arrays
The Fluke 393 FC clamp meter strengthens safety levels for technicians working on the installation, commissioning and maintenance of solar panels and PV systems.
JANUARY 2023 Electricity + Control
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