STAY SAFE: Troy Lobegeiger from The Power Shop says solar panel components need to be inspected at least every two years to maintain safety.
STAY SAFE: Troy Lobegeiger from The Power Shop says solar panel components need to be inspected at least every two years to maintain safety. Allan Reinikka Rokasolar

Concern after solar component starts fire

ARE they ticking time bombs?

A fire that was started by a faulty solar panel component in north Rockhampton this week has raised safety concerns in some quarters.

An industry source contacted The Morning Bulletin to say there were greater concerns that more fires could be sparked in the future, particularly as panels and components aged.

Figures released by the Australian Government's Clean Energy Regulator in August showed out of 3508 solar systems inspected in Queensland since May 2011, 116 were deemed unsafe.

Unsafe systems were defined as possible safety hazards, posing an "imminent risk of damage to property or persons".

The Morning Bulletin sought some answers.

A spokesman from Queensland's Electrical Safety Office said it was rare for the panels themselves to catch fire, but some brands of DC isolators had caught fire.

Of the more than 50 brands of DC isolators on the market, six had been recalled after internal faults were found to cause overheating and fires.

The spokesman said there had been three fires associated with solar PV systems in Rockhampton in the past year and 13 fires in the Central Queensland region (including Rockhampton).

Troy Lobegeiger, manager of Rockhampton's The Power Shop, said maintenance was the key to keeping solar panels safe.

He said qualified installers should check the system's wiring and components at least every two years.

Regular checks could identify potential hazards, including components which had been recalled.

While Mr Lobegeiger said in the past there had been "some cowboys that got in it for the quick dollar", the Clean Energy Regulator's close monitoring of businesses had cleaned up the industry.

Mr Lobegeiger said if solar panel owners had any concern over the brand of DC isolator installed or about the system itself, they should contact a reputable installer.

Solar safety

How many fires have been associated with solar PV systems?

  • Rockhampton
  • Past year: three
  • Past five years: five

Central Queensland (including Rockhampton)

  • Past year: 13
  • Past five years: 18
  • Queensland
  • Past year: 92
  • Past five years: 167

Recalled DC isolator brands: Avanco, PVPower, SPM, Gen3, NHP and ISO Max

Source: Queensland Electrical Safety Office



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