WA Issues Guidance On Who Can Place Building Integrated PV Systems


Revised Code of Washington §§ 19.28.041, 19.28.161, and 19.28.006 definitions of “Equipment” and “Electrical construction trade” require that all parts and components of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems be installed and maintained by properly licensed electrical contractors and certified electricians. Construction contractors who are not electrical contractors are not properly licensed to install solar PV panels except in very specific applications as described in Washington Administrative Code § 296-46B-690. The allowance in Washington Administrative Code § 296-46B-690(5) permits construction contractors and uncertified individuals to place only “building integrated” PV panels but all electrical work, including wiring installation, terminations, etc., necessary to complete the electrical installations must be completed by the entity that obtained the electrical work permit.

Section 296-46B-690(5) states:

The entity placing a building integrated cell, module, panel, or array is not subject to the requirements for electrical inspection, licensing, or certification so long as the work is limited to the placement and securing of the device and an electrical work permit has been previously obtained for the electrical work related to the equipment by an entity authorized to do that electrical work.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries concluded that this rule was necessary because of the proliferation of materials that serve a dual function as PV components and building exterior finish materials such as roofing, siding, and windows. It recently reiterated that Section 296-46B-690(5) does not allow non-electrical contractors and uncertified individuals to install PV system materials unless they meet the definition of building integrated and the requirements in Washington Administrative Code § 296-46B-690. The definition of “building integrated” PV panels is from the National Electrical Code, and is defined in Washington Administrative Code § 296-46B-690(1) as “photovoltaic cells, modules, panels, or arrays that are integrated into the outer surface or structure of a building and serve as the outer protective surface of that building, such as the roof, skylights, windows, or facades.”

Additional Sources: Revised Code of Washington § 19.28.271 Violations of RCW 19.28.161 through 19.28.271 — Schedule of penalties — Appeal