About this chapter:Chapter 23 is specific to thermal solar systems and equipment. Solar voltaic systems are not addressed in this chapter. This chapter covers solar collectors, system design, safety devices, relief valves, freeze protection, expansion tanks, signage, labeling, heat transfer fluids, protection of potable water and potable water heating.
Code development reminder: Code change proposals to this chapter will be considered by the IRC—Plumbing/Mechanical Code Development Committee during the 2018 (Group A) Code Development Cycle. See explanation on page iv.
Piping shall be insulated in accordance with the requirements of Chapter 11. Exterior insulation shall be protected from ultraviolet degradation. The entire solar loop shall be insulated. Where split-style insulation is used, the seam shall be sealed. Fittings shall be fully insulated.
- Those portions of the piping that are used to help prevent the system from overheating shall not be required to be insulated.
- Those portions of piping that are exposed to solar radiation, made of the same material as the solar collector absorber plate and are covered in the same manner as the solar collector absorber, or that are used to collect additional solar energy, shall not be required to be insulated.
- Piping in thermal solar systems using unglazed solar collectors to heat a swimming pool shall not be required to be insulated.
System components shall be protected from damage resulting from freezing of heat-transfer liquids at the winter design temperature provided in Table R301.2(1). Freeze protection shall be provided in accordance with ICC 900/SRCC 300. Drain-back systems shall be installed in compliance with Section M2301.2.6.1. Systems utilizing freeze-protection valves shall comply with Section M2301.2.6.2.
Exception: Where the 97.5-percent winter design temperature is greater than or equal to 48°F (9°C).
Expansion tanks in solar energy systems shall be installed in accordance with Section M2003 in solar collector loops that contain pressurized heat transfer fluid. Where expansion tanks are used, the system shall be designed in accordance with ICC 900/SRCC 300 to provide an expansion tank that is sized to withstand the maximum operating pressure of the system.
Exception: Expansion tanks shall not be required in the collector loop of drain-back systems.
Essentially toxic transfer fluids, ethylene glycol, flammable gases and flammable liquids shall not be used as heat transfer fluids. Heat transfer gases and liquids shall be rated to withstand the system's maximum design temperature under operating conditions without degradation. Heat exchangers used in solar thermal systems shall comply with Section P2902.5.2 and ICC 900/SRCC 300.
Heat transfer fluids shall be in accordance with SRCC 300. The flash point of the heat transfer fluids utilized in solar thermal systems shall be not less than 50°F (28°C) above the design maximum nonoperating or no-flow temperature attained by the fluid in the collector.