Solar Power Safety
Fire Prevention & Solar Shut-down Capability
PV solar systems have a very good safety record. However, there are potential electrocution and fire issues that need to be addressed. Modern technology such as SolarEdge is designed to resolve these issues. It does this by having an automatic safety mode and thermal shut down capability. This avoids the need to search for switches in an emergency situation.
It is important to remember that DC voltage is generated by PV panels as long as the sun is up, even when grid power is down. There is potential for two issues:
Risk of Electric Arc Causing a Fire
In most PV systems any disconnection or faulty connection of current carrying wire can cause an electric arc, which is the continuation of current flow through the air. This generates a lot of heat which in turn can cause a fire, and a risk of electrocution.
Risk of Electrocution
Most solar PV systems cannot be completely shut down to a safe voltage level. This potentially puts installers, maintenance personnel and firefighters at risk of electrocution. There have been instances where firefighters have let homes burn because they could not be certain whether the solar panels were live.
Modern Solar Technology Solution
As systems get older there can be a risk of wires or other parts deteriorating and the above risks increase. Technology is now available that resolves these issues. SolarEdge has this technology included as part of the system. It is possible to retrofit modern technology to traditional systems to achieve a similar result.
In SolarEdge PV systems, when an arc is generated, the PowerBoxes connected to each panel automatically detect it and shut down. This stops the arc before it becomes hazardous and prevents it from re-occurring. The SolarEdge fire safety solution is part of the system at no added cost.
SolarEdge PV systems have an automatic ‘safety mode’ that ensures no risk of electrocution. As a double safety measure if it is not possible to cut AC power or switch the system to ‘safety mode’ manually it has a thermal detector which automatically switches the system to ‘safety mode’ avoiding the need for firefighters to search for switches.
Solar Safety Mode
SolarEdge starts up in “Safety Mode” when exposed to light. In this mode the SolarEdge power optimizers ensure each panel outputs as little as 1 volt, so the string DC voltage remains safe. Only when a SolarEdge inverter is connected to the strings and switched on, the panels start producing energy, and the string DC voltage increases. Consequently, installers face no risk of electrocution, because no dangerous voltage occurs until the system is fully installed.
Safe Solar Maintenance and Firefighting
In the event of a grid power shutdown, the solar modules immediately stop producing power and revert to the “Safety Mode”. This is beneficial to firefighters and to PV maintenance personnel working at the site. They need not worry about high DC voltages; once AC power is cut, all voltage shuts down and the roof is safe.
As a further precaution, necessitated by the occasional inability to cut AC power to the site (e.g., due to unknown switch location, switch is source of fire), panels and inverter shut down when a certain temperature is exceeded, eliminating the need for special procedures before tackling a fire.
- SolarEdge power optimisers can automatically detect and prevent arcs.
- Multiple detection by several power optimisers increases sensitivity and provides system owners with a reliable built-in fire prevention solution.
- If you have SolarEdge you have automatic thermal safety shut-down.
- Include automatic thermal safety shut-down when updating your insurance policy.
- If you don’t have SolarEdge and wish to add shut-down technology to an existing system give us a call.
Solarpro’s Safety Policy
- Occupational Health & Safety Policy & Practices comply with NSW OH&S Act
- All employees and contractors must meet our safety standards
- Safety is our priority and we seek continuous improvement
- We search out products with the latest safety features