Solar Panels And Floods – Safety Advice

With parts of NSW expecting flooding over the coming days, Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts has reminded New South Wales residents whose homes are damaged by storms to take care if their house has a solar power system installed.

“Damage to a roof by debris can interfere with normal solar panel operation,” he said. “There can be electrical hazards with solar panels or Photovoltaic Arrays (PV Arrays), which can generate an electrical current regardless of whether or not the electrical supply from the state grid has been turned off.”

Minister Roberts urged affected system owners to ensure they are armed with the correct advice.

“Solar panels can continue to generate electricity during daylight hours. If you are unsure about the state of your solar panel installation, contact the installer or get the advice of a licensed electrician. Do not turn on the equipment without checking first.”

The Minister also warned consumers to be on their guard against shonky tradesman offering to repair any flood damage – whether solar-related or otherwise.

“Unlicensed repairers are quick on the scene, often door-knocking residents with the offer to help,” stated Minister Roberts. “Consumers should only ever contract with licensed tradespeople and can check trade licences online at the Fair Trading website or call 13 32 20.”

During flooding events in Australia in January last year, The Clean Energy Council (CEC)  produced a basic safety bulletin in regard to solar power systems that can be downloaded here (PDF). The brief guide contains advice for systems owners on action that should be taken prior to, during and after a flood event.

While some systems may only feature one isolator next to the solar inverter – which may be under water in a flooding event – national solar power solutions provider Energy Matters says systems it has installed throughout the nation also include roof top isolators, allowing an array of solar panels to be more easily and safely switched off in a situation where the inverter is submerged.