Is there a downside to ‘going solar’? Those upfront costs are compensated with rebates and slashed bills, you’re doing your bit to get off harmful fossil fuels, a solar power system is easy and cheap to maintain, and you’re boldly marching into our inevitable shared future. One thing that does make people stop and pause, though, is solar electrical safety. So today, we tackle the question head-on:
Is solar power safe?
As with absolutely anything in the electrical realm, it would be a lie to pretend that solar is 100% safe. But that doesn’t mean the chances of you, your family or your home getting damaged or worse is much more than 0%.
Actually, it’s only really a topic at all because predominantly those with vested interests in the fossil fuel industry would like it to be so. But that doesn’t change the fact that the panels on your roof are producing the exact same type of electricity for your power points and appliances that you already have when connected to the ordinary supply grid:
- A non-solar home gets its power from the pole out the front or an underground line that connects straight into your home grid.
- A solar home gets its power from clean, green, free sunlight, which is converted into useable electricity by an inverter … that connects straight to your home grid.
But to give the devil it’s due, no solar advocate has ever pretended that electricity generation – whether conventionally or with renewable energy – can be completely safe. Where there is electricity, there is the risk of fires, electrical hazards, arc faults, explosions and electrocution. As for any specific solar power system electrical safety issues, we think there are 3 of them you should know about as you consider making the big, clean, smart switch:
1. A wet emergency
Queensland has been through a lot lately, and the latest terrible challenge was once-in-a-generation flooding. While your panels are specifically designed to withstand a soaking, the same is not true of your ground-level inverter – the component that turns your panels’ DC power into the AC power required for our powerpoints.
If you’re caught out in a flood, your inverter will need to be powered down – and the way to do that is to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or take the guidance of a licensed solar electrician. If it’s too late and the inverter is already damp, soaked or under water, give Static Electrics a call right away.
2. Your roof
We all know solar installers are taking a risk by working on your roof. But alongside the risk of falling is the solar system electrical safety risk posed by the electrical components and connections both on the roof and inside the roof cavity. Unfortunately, we hear about professionals getting zapped now and then, but it’s much more common for the homeowner to underestimate all the live supply lines that aren’t necessarily powered down with the isolating switches or even the main switch at the power box.
3. Inverter recalls
From time to time, solar power inverters are recalled – normally because of faulty DC isolator switches. In fact, there are a few inverters listed at the Australian government’s ACCC recall check website right now. Want to check your solar inverter brand and model? It’s as simple as typing it in a box and retrieving the instant information.
How to ensure solar power system electrical safety?
Has it been a while since your solar setup was checked by a professional? Beyond checking for debris and maybe giving those panels a wash with the garden hose now and then, it’s crucial to also consider:
- Checking cooling vents
- Testing panel condition, secure mountings & operational switches
- Checking for wear, damage, compromised wiring
- Checking all main solar power components including inverters & any storage batteries.
Also, check to see if your manufacturer or installer has prepared or provided you with a proper maintenance schedule – or consider getting the licensed, experienced local electricians at Static Electrics to carry out a thorough solar power system inspection for you. We are your local masters in all matters solar, including solar panel cleaning, servicing, repairs, installations and more. We check for burned-out isolators, water-ingressed isolators, melted solar plugs & wiring, broken glass, burned lines, earthing problems, installation issues and much, much more.