The uptake of solar panels is heating up in Australia as more Aussies look to reduce their energy bill and tap into the sun’s natural energy, to make their home more sustainable.
One question that often pops up when researching solar panels is; “Are solar panels safe? or are they a fire hazard?”.
Solar panels come with a certain level of fire hazard associated with them due to the nature of the product and its ability to generate energy. However, there are ways to mitigate fire risks around solar panels to make them safer.
Choosing the right installer
Choosing a solar installer can be overwhelming because you might not know where to start or who to trust. The good news is that we’ve done the hard work for you - we have over 2,000 accredited solar installers who are ready to quote and install your solar panels.
There are actions we recommend you take so you get the right partner for you, which includes getting at least three quotes. We also suggest checking online reviews of your solar installer and asking them to attend your home to quote in person so you can have a chat and ask any questions that come to mind.
The Clean Energy Council (CEC) provides accreditation to solar installers. Clean Energy Council accredited installers are certified and trained to ensure systems meet industry best practice standards and all relevant Australian Standards.
You can check if your installer is accredited on the CEC website.
Get all the information on your solar panels and keep up to date with recalls.
If you had your solar panels installed a few years ago, it’s a good idea to check whether any of the products have been recalled.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) provides a recall list. If your product is on the list, reach out to your installer to see what next steps are available to you.
Installation and maintenance checklist
While your solar installer should take care of the installation, according to Solar Market, there are a few things you can look out for when your solar system is being installed:
- Inverters and isolators aren’t placed in direct sunlight for long durations
- Isolators and other parts don’t have any electrically exposed entries that could be damaged by rain
- The cabling is neat and out of the way
- Your inverter is set to detect any issues (tip: ask about this when your installer arrives and make sure you understand what it would look like if any issue was detected)
You can maintain your solar panel system by completing the following:
- Cleaning your panels: Organise a licensed electrician to turn off your system and inspect your solar panels, whilst they are inspecting your system you can also ask them to lightly clean away any dirt or remove any leaves that created shading across your solar panels.
- Inspection schedule: every 5 years or so, you should organise for a licensed electrician to check your solar power system
Monitoring of your solar panels:
Once you have your panels set up it is important to make sure they are working at their best performance levels. Make sure you request monitoring of your system as a requirement to your solar panel installer, monitoring of your system will allow you to see:
- How much electricity your panels are producing in real time
- How much electricity your panels produce in a full day and over longer periods of time
Monitoring of your system will also indicate if you have an issue with your panels if they drop in efficiency, or provide insights into when it is best to time appliances for optimal efficiency.
Impacted by natural disasters?
“Upon returning to your house, do not attempt to turn your solar power system back on. Contact your Clean Energy Council-accredited installer to have your system recommissioned. If your installer is not available, contact a licensed electrician who can check your system to ensure it is safe”.
According to the Clean Energy Council, attempting to turn on your system after a natural disaster “could result in a lethal electric shock”, noting that even if the network supply is turned off, solar systems and associated wiring may still be live, with the system continuing to produce voltage.
Following these steps can help you keep your solar panel system in top shape, so your household can enjoy the benefits of clean solar energy for years to come.