Solar panels are valuable and unfortunately the more unscrupulous in our society have realised that too. Around the world there has been a marked increase in the theft of solar panels, with people losing up to tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment in single incidents.
While these incidents may be relatively isolated and a solar array may be covered under your home contents insurance policy (and it’s a good idea to check that it is) , that won’t recompense for the trauma of being a victim of theft and a theft may also increase your insurance premiums.
With a little bit of ingenuity and common sense you can certainly minimize the risk of theft or frustrate a criminal’s efforts without causing grievous bodily harm to offenders, as desirable as that might be.
The following are some solar panel security tips.
- Don’t boast about how much the panels are worth, you may attract unwanted attention
- Install movement detector lights on your roof. No criminal wants a spotlight shining in their face.
- Use anti-theft fixtures*
- Chain the panels together with locks and heavy gauge nylon coated wire.*
- Affix a security cable and lock from the panels to below roof level to the roof trusses*
- Engrave clear identification into the panel frames*
- Do not leave ladders or other items around the house that make it easier for criminals to gain access to your roof
… and for safety’s sake, should you be in the unfortunate position of hearing someone scrabbling on your roof late at night, don’t confront them. Call the Police.
While there is no way to stop someone who is very determined from stealing your panels, most thefts are opportunistic, so the more difficult you can make it, the more likely that the parties will give up in frustration.
Security fittings – points to be aware of
Some system owners use a rail and one way screws to lock all panels in an array to each other in such a way as to make removal of individual panels extremely difficult – the array would have to be moved as a single very heavy row and considering the size of the array, transport is almost impossible
*However, please be aware screwing into the module frame (or engraving) may void your module warranty (check with the supplier). Therefore, anti-theft solutions that use a channel and one-way screws into the module frame are not recommended, unless you’re willing to accept the loss of your module warranty.
Another option that won’t void module warranty is from SunLock (PDF). SunLock end-clamps are available in anti-theft (AT) versions, which use a pin Torx fastener instead of the standard socket head cap screw. The pin Torx fastener is manufactured from grade A2 (304) stainless steel. These anti-theft versions can be requested when ordering a solar panel system from Energy Matters – contact us for details.
Pssst.. wanna buy a cheap solar panel?
At the other end of the spectrum of solar panel theft is a market eager to buy the ill-gotten goods. Stolen solar panels regularly turn up in online classifieds and auction sites. If you’re offered solar panels that are very cheap, perform the necessary due diligence and ensure they have been legally acquired by the seller. Failure to do so may see you lose your money and be charged with receiving stolen goods.
If you’re in the market for solar modules, check out our guide to choosing solar panels!