The stars of any rooftop solar power generation system are the panels themselves. These rectangular pieces of equipment are the key piece of the puzzle that turn the sun’s free energy into electricity. So, as you can imagine, solar panels are very important and must be kept in peak condition to ensure optimum efficiency at generating electricity. But have you ever wondered if they carry a risk of fire? In this article, we explore that, as well as the precautions you can take to minimize such a risk.
Got a doubt about rooftop solar, or want to install a rooftop solar generation system? We at EVSOL Energy are your best option. Our Master Electricians have collective decades of experience and we’ve installed plenty of systems across varying sizes. Give us a call, we’ll pay you a visit and propose an efficient and cost-effective solution. If you’ve already got a system that needs some TLC, we can do that as well. We’d be honoured to be your maintenance partner, you just need to say the word! In the meantime, let’s get into the question at hand, of whether solar panels pose a fire hazard, and what you can do to minimize the risk.
Yes, There is a Fire Hazard Risk - But it's Over 1 in 10,000!
We can’t say that solar panels are fully risk free from catching fire. There is a fire hazard risk, but it’s been recorded as being as high as 1 in 10,000 according to a study by Photon magazine. This was usually caused by factors such as incorrect or improper installation by unqualified personnel rather than qualified and specialized electricians. Solar generation systems aren’t DIY projects after all. They utilize specialised parts and because they convert pure sunshine into electricity, can get pretty hot themselves. Thus, they must be professionally installed by competent and certified electricians, using high-quality components. If you were to engage EVSOL Energy in a solar power installation, you wouldn’t need to worry at all, as all those bases are covered.
Monitor Your Solar Power Generation System's Control Central Regularly
Your solar power generation system is, in effect a miniature power station. Like all power stations, it has a control central which is typically a wall-mounted panel to which everything connects. These systems are increasingly sophisticated and will usually have a display which shows information such as energy generation and consumption, as well as the health of the entire system. The system will usually identify if a particular panel is underperforming or operating in an unusual condition and signal an alert. Some systems will automatically send the alert to the solar panel installer with whom you may have signed a maintenance contract, so they might call you to schedule an appointment even before you have become aware of an issue.
Other systems may allow you to monitor them from the palm of your hand, sending real-time data to a special mobile app on your smartphone. It can become somewhat of a game to check out how much electricity your little power station generated over the day, week, month and year, and this also allows you to continuously check the status and quickly seek professional attention if the app alerts you to a potentially dangerous situation.
Visually Inspect Wires, Connectors, Solar Panels, and Components
Whilst it’s generally recommended to not go poking around electrical and solar power system components, you can do a visual check of the connecting wires, micro inverters, solar panels, central control system and other components without needing to touch anything. A visual inspection will quickly alert you to damage such as worn out or frayed wires, damaged micro inverters that may have cracked or broken casings, components that have come under rodent attack, or dirty solar panels, which are one of the most common causes of reduced efficiency. Whilst dirty solar panels themselves may not pose a fire risk; the heat of the sun means that solar panels can get quite hot themselves. If something highly combustible such as dried leaves were to land on the panel on a particularly hot day, a small risk of a fire starting is possible.
If There is a Fire, Always Inform Firefighters Accordingly
Don’t try to fight a solar panel fire, or any electrical fire, really. Water is a sure-fire recipe to electrocute yourself. Electrical fires must be fought with special chemicals. Your best bet is to call the fire department and isolate the system through the master switch on the central control panel if it is safe to do so. Be sure to inform the fire department that it is an electrical fire, and that solar panels are involved, as they have received specific training on how to deal with solar panel fires, since solar panels are constantly generating an electrical current as long as there is bright sunshine falling on them.
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