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New MCS fire prevention standards announced

fire safety

Last week the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) announced it was to introduce a series of fire prevention standards to solar PV and solar thermal installations, which aims to reduce the instance of rooftop fires and the harmful affects they have to surrounding buildings. Outlined in issue 2 of MCS 012, these standards are set to come into force in May 2016.

Mainly focusing on in-roof PV installations, the standards will be put in place to reduce their detrimental impact on fire performance by ensuring stringent testing is in carried out on all systems. This also means that manufacturers will have to declare the exact fire ratings given by testers, making the scheme transparent for all parties.

These standards have been introduced due to the drastic differences PV modules show when responding to fire testing, where failures have resulted in coversheet glass shattering and burning of sealant. All of which would result in a considerably lower fire classification.

Specifically, the standards highlight in-roof kits that allow for interchangeable PV panels. The systems that rely on the PV panel’s fire performance for overall fire performance of the system, will only achieve valid fire classification when used with solar modules (or panels within the same family) that have been tested with the kit. In this instance, the MCS 012 certificate will state both the fire classification achieved and the family of panels that help to achieve this.

 Installations that don’t use the preferred and tested PV modules alongside in-roof kits will not receive a fire classification. The only way installers can get round this is if the whole roof behind the PV installation was given a suitable fire rating; eg, a barrier material that has approved roofing fire classification and complies with building regulations.

Kit producers wishing to achieve a wider scope without such barrier materials are advised to:

  • Carry out fire testing using PV modules from specific product families and gain an extension to their certification
  • Modify their kit to achieve a suitable fire resistance without the PV module in place and demonstrate this by testing.

Due to the findings that lead to these new standards, MCS has commissioned further research into fire performance of solar panels to investigate whether solar panels can be grouped into families, based on their fire performance.  If this is appropriate, it will help manufacturers to test and declare preferred products to users.

Waxman Energy only supplies MCS approved products from industry leading manufacturers and has a number of in-roof PV kits that undergo rigorous testing with all PV panels on the market. EASY ROOF EVOLUTION PLUS can be used alongside most PV panels with fire ratings that are independent from the panels themselves.

For more information about the EASYROOF EVOLUTION range and in-roof mounting kits that we can offer, please head to our products page and browse.

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