What causes solar power fires?

A Technician checking solar system
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Can solar panels catch on fire? 

Though infrequent, solar power fires are definitely possible. 

Almost one in four households in Australia have solar panels, and the increasing number of panels have also led to an increase in solar fire incidents across the country. 

Fire and Rescue NSW reports that they have extinguished nearly 30 fires in a period of three months. 

But before you start panicking let’s discuss the facts…

First and foremost, solar panels cannot catch on fire on their own. 

So let’s discuss some of the common reasons for solar power fires, and at the end we’ll also cover how to mitigate the risk of a potential solar panel fire…

Solar panels

Improperly installed solar panels

Improperly designed and installed systems are the leading cause of solar panel fires. 

Like any other electrical system, a solar power system can have faults like short circuits, arcs, reverse currents, and ground faults. 

Unless the proper safety systems are installed, any of these can potentially start a fire.

In order to ensure none of these issues can occur, you must ensure that you’re using a fully qualified and licensed installer who won’t cut corners on your system.

Defective photo voltaic junction box

When it comes to components, a defective or malfunctioning junction box also carries a risk of fire even though it is designed to prevent fires. 

It is located behind the panel and enables an electrical connection via an MC4 (or similar) connector. 

Reduce the Risk of Solar Panel Fires

To mitigate the risk of solar fires, it is advised to partner with an installation team that has the necessary experience and a good reputation. 

They should also be from a trusted business and have the proper licenses. 

While you may be comfortable doing DIY in your home, solar panels are not where you prove yourself. 

DIY can indeed cut installation costs, but they also increase the risk of fires with just one wrongly installed component. 

If you already have a solar power system installed at your home or office, then undertaking regular maintenance and servicing will enable you to catch any issues with your system before they become more serious.

You could also consider having one of our solar experts come out to conduct an inspection on your solar system.

This audit could provide you with invaluable information as to the current state of your solar system, and identify any potential risks or hazards.

Conclusion

Over the past few decades, solar systems have gone through many changes and is now a safe and reliable way to generate electricity. 

That said, you need to be aware of the causes of solar power fires so you can actively avoid those situations.

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