Solar PV Fire Safety

How Safe Are Solar Panels?

Solar PV Fire Safety

When it comes to Solar PV (Photovoltaic) Fire Safety, there’s no doubt that solar panels, due to their nature, can be a potential safety hazard. 

You will read some terrifying stories, mainly about PV fires on the web and in the news. Rarely the cause of the fire is discovered or explained, which can give the impression that solar panel systems are unsafe. 

Fortunately, this is far from the truth, if a PV system should be designed and installed to the industry standards.  For a PV system to comply with the relevant British Standards, BRE, and IEE codes, installers must be certified and audited annually by MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme).  Solar panel systems, like any other electrical works, must be checked and signed off by a competent engineer to certify the quality of the installation.

In a report by the BRE, it was concluded that PV systems do not cause any more risk to firefighters than any other electrical equipment, as long as they are installed correctly.  To read the full report click here.

Maintenance and Solar PV Fire Safety

Although, there is a general belief that maintenance is not required because there are no moving parts like in a boiler, pump, or another heating system. Yet, industry guidelines recommend that PV systems are maintained regularly, with checks at frequent intervals carried out by a competent engineer.  A PV fire is typically caused by arching or overvoltage which is a result of either poor design or workmanship (terminals, connections, fuses rating, etc.)

As well as the checks mentioned above there are products and technologies out there that offer an extra level of monitoring and safety.  For example, SolarEdge offers their trademark SafeDC™ which reduces the impact of arc fault and de-energizes the system to a low voltage whenever the grid or inverter is shut down. SolarEdge SafeDC Feature Helps Protect Solar PV Installers, firefighters, and maintenance staff in addition to arc fault detection which is designed to reduce the impact of some arc faults that may pose fire hazards

Other manufacturers have solutions for Module level or DC string monitoring and shut down in case of emergency or grid failure of fault. 

Ablaze Green Energy Solutions have designed, installed, and maintained hundreds of commercial PV systems and is here to answer your questions.