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Energy Storage Systems: Commercial NFPA Code 2023

March 20, 2024 | Reading Time: 6 minutes

As of 2020, National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) 855 code requires very strict rules on installation locations of energy storage systems (ESS). This article outlines the rules and restrictions for ESS in commercial buildings.

Prior to Installation

There are many approvals and precautions that must take place before an ESS can be installed in a commercial building. Here are some main protocols to consider:

  • ESS plans and specifications must be submitted to the AHJ (Authorities Having Jurisdiction—organization, office, or individual responsible for enforcing the requirements of code) for approval and include details such as location and layout diagram of the room, details on fire-resistant rate structures, quantities and types of ESS units, details on fire suppression, detection, and ventilation. Test data for fire and explosion and hazard mitigation must also be made available to the AHJ for viewing.
  • The building owner must have possession of all construction documents prior to installation.
  • Operations and maintenance manuals must be provides to the ESS owner and the system operator before the system is activated. These manuals should include information such as the contact information for a service agency, a narrative of how the ESS is intended to operate, and a service record log that lists the schedule for all required service.
  • Emergency planning and training must be provided by the ESS owner to all personnel and staff if the system exceeds the maximum stored energy limits.
  • An emergency operations plan should be on-site and readily available for use by facility operations and maintenance personnel. It should include information such as procedures for shut down, procedures for inspection, procedures to be followed in response to system alarms, procedures to be followed in the case of fire or explosion, and procedures and schedules for conducting drills of these procedures.

Where can the batteries be installed?

  • Enclosures are required according to the listing and installation instructions of the ESS
  • Located only on floors that can be accessed by external fire department laddering capabilities
  • Cannot be located inside an electrical room
  • Must be accessible to emergency responders without needing to pass through an electrical room
  • Must provide safe and accessible exits
  • Must be separated from other areas of the building by fire barriers with a minimum of two-hour fire resistance rating
  • In a room containing smoke detectors
  • In a room equipped with annunciation, smoke, sprinkler, and fire detection systems are implemented to ensure effective communication in case of emergency
  • In a room containing a sprinkler system

Other Regulations to Consider:

  • ESS must be protected to prevent physical damage from impact caused by vehicles or other influences.
  • ESS must be secured against unauthorized entry with barriers, fences, and signage.
  • Signage must be posted on approved external enclosure locations and should include information such as the type of technology used in the ESS, emergency contact information, and the disconnecting means for all ESS within the unit.
  • The system must be commissioned with a plan, test, report, corrective action plan, issues and resolution documentation, and recommissioning.

Who do these rules apply to?

The rules in this article apply to any commercial property.

Questions? Concerns?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the rules and regulations required of ESS’s located in commercial buildings, we completely understand and that is okay. Our team is bursting with knowledgable professionals who have been in the electrical industry for decades. They’re keenly aware of the code changes and do everything they can to ensure your systems will pass on the first attempt.

You can rest assured that we will develop a system that adheres to code and works for your business. We’ll work with you to find every solution, and ensure you’ll be satisfied with every aspect of your system.

Give us a call with any further questions, or reach out to get your company started on solar today, (508) 717-3820.