Table of Contents
Global solar panel installations saw double-digit growth in 2021 and 20% growth or more in 2022. However, there is a need for safe practices in installations as there have been several instances of solar panel fires. When it happens, do you know what caused it and, more importantly, how to prevent them?
What causes solar panel fires?
The leading cause of solar panel fires is faulty wiring. Additionally, solar panel fires can occur due to improper installation of electrical appliances, ineffective systems, lightning, defective products, electrical surge and overcurrent. Thus, in some instances, instead of the solar panel itself, the fires are brought on by subpar installation or faulty components like DC isolators, sensors, or junction boxes. On other occasions, damaged solar cells can lead to overheating, igniting the materials that support the solar panels.
The Research Institute of Sweden (RISE) published the findings of two investigations on solar cells and photovoltaic technology fire safety difficulties in May 2019. The discoveries on fire ignition, spread, and fire fighting were some of the most significant. These studies suggested how little combustible material should be used as a roof covering beneath solar panels. This is to prevent a fire from spreading because fire-fighting involving solar systems would require firefighters to be properly trained and equipped. The studies also show that solar panels need to be spaced apart sufficiently to prevent the spread of fire and ease fire quenching if it happens.
Are these common?
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors states that solar panels do not start fires when installed appropriately. According to prior industry reports, less than 1 incident is reported for every 10,000 installations.
Additionally, significant solar design and technology advancements, along with safer code requirements, have increased fire safety.
However, according to a global inspection conducted by Clean Energy Associates (CEA), a sample of hundreds of commercial scale rooftops revealed that over 90% of the assessed rooftops had severe safety and fire hazards. As such, solar panel fire hazard awareness is vital in preventing potentially devastating losses.
How to prevent fire hazards from solar panels?
As with all fires, prevention is key in solar panel fires. Identifying and resolving the respective risks requires effort but is worth it. Therefore, let us have a look at the various ways.
Choose high-quality panels
High-quality panels are less likely to be faulty or damaged and, thus, less likely to cause a fire. Homeowners can utilise solar panels and parts from reliable, high-quality solar brands such as Sunpower, LG, and Panasonic. They can check the quality by evaluating its efficiency, warranty, the manufacturer’s reputation and client testimonials. It demonstrates how good their services are.
Besides this, one can also ask certified manufacturers which kind of panels are suitable for their needs. A fire hazard can be avoided if these are looked into before the panels are installed.
Choose experienced installers
Mistakes with solar panel installation can lead to fires. Thus, homeowners are encouraged to hire trained and experienced installers who have the know-how of solar panel system installation.
Check if the person or company you’re about to hire has the required licences and industry certificates. This confirms their capability of doing the job well. During the installation, they should follow certain procedures to ensure the system is properly installed.
Pay attention to maintenance
Electrical systems are sensitive and, thus, require routine upkeep. Homeowners should frequently conduct routine, professional inspections of their solar panel system to spot issues with electrical wiring, components, and panel wear before they become a fire hazard. Additionally, because solar panels are a big investment, regular maintenance is crucial to perform at their peak.
Avoid DIY installations
It may be tempting to DIY solar panel installation to save money. However, this could cost you more in the long run if you do not have the knowledge or experience. In addition, improper placement of the panels doesn’t only result in less solar power produced. It may also cause panels to be damaged if not handled properly.
Additionally, solar panels must be anchored to the house with correct electrical connections. Solar panels will heat up rapidly on hot, sunny days, and a fire can occur if incorrect materials or installation techniques are used. The last thing you need is poor wiring that blows up your inverter.
If you must DIY your solar panels, check out our guide – ‘Rooftop Solar Panel Installation: All You Need To Know.’
Alternatively, you can opt for second-hand panels if you want to DIY to save costs. However, check out ‘A Buyer’s Guide For Used Solar Panels’ before buying.
Overall, any hazardous situation can occur anytime, as it can be caused by anything related to electrical equipment. Thus, to prevent fires, the solar panels should be of good quality, skilled installers should be engaged, equipment checked regularly, and an expert hired for installation. Solar panel fire hazards can be averted if homeowners follow these guidelines and necessary protocols.
For more on solar panels, visit JustSolar.com.