Solar Panel Maintenance: How often should they be inspected?

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Rooftop solar panels are increasingly common, offering sustainable energy solutions. Maintenance is vital for safety and efficiency.

Safety Concerns: While generally safe, faulty systems can pose risks like fires if not maintained.

Importance of Maintenance: Regular checks identify issues early, preventing accidents or damage.

Understanding Solar Inverters: String inverters are common but can pose fire risks; microinverters offer safer alternatives.

Rooftop DC Isolator Fires: Faulty isolator switches can cause fires; regular inspection is crucial.

Frequency of Inspections: Recommended every five years, inspections ensure system integrity.

When to Consider Inspection: Moving into a home with solar, suspecting issues, or living in areas with inspection mandates warrant inspections.

Though not always legally required, inspections ensure ongoing safety and efficiency, safeguarding property and occupants.

Understanding Solar Panel Maintenance: Ensuring Safety and Efficiency

In recent years, rooftop solar panels have become a common sight across Australia, offering households a sustainable and cost-effective energy solution. However, as with any electrical system, ensuring the safety and efficiency of solar panels requires regular maintenance and inspection. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of solar panel maintenance frequency and why it’s crucial for the safety of your rooftop solar installation.

Is Rooftop Solar Safe?

To gauge the safety of rooftop solar, it’s essential to consider the risks associated with electrical systems. While statistics show that rooftop solar is relatively safe compared to other everyday activities like driving, it’s not without hazards. If improperly maintained, faulty solar systems can lead to fires and other safety concerns.

The Importance of Maintenance

Regular maintenance helps identify and rectify potential issues before they escalate into safety hazards. Common problems with solar systems include deterioration of cable insulation, component failure, water ingress, corrosion, and damage from animals or natural disasters. By having a professional inspect your system, you can ensure that these issues are addressed promptly, minimising the risk of accidents or damage. This may cost you a small percentage of what it will save you in the long term.

Understanding Solar Inverters

Most rooftop solar systems use string inverters to convert direct current (DC) power from solar panels into alternating (AC) power for household use. While string inverters are standard, they pose a safety risk as DC cables are more prone to arcing and potential fires. Microinverters offer a safer alternative by converting DC power at the panel level, reducing the risk of electrical hazards.

Rooftop DC Isolator Fires

DC isolator switches in rooftop solar systems pose another safety concern. While these switches are designed to prevent fires by disconnecting the system during emergencies, they have been known to malfunction and cause fires themselves. This poses a significant risk to property and occupants. Regular inspection can help identify faulty isolators and prevent potential disasters.

isolator that has caught on fire
This is what happens when an isolator catches fire

Frequency of Inspections

The Clean Energy Council recommends periodic inspections of rooftop solar systems, with some suggesting an interval of every five years. While inspections may seem prohibitive, especially for newer systems, the potential safety benefits outweigh the expense. Inspections typically include checks on connections, cables, panels, mounting, isolator switches, and inverters.

When to Consider an Inspection

Several scenarios warrant a solar panel inspection, including:

  1. Moving into a new home with an existing solar system of unknown condition.
  2. Suspecting substandard installation practices or faulty components.
  3. Living in an area where regulatory requirements mandate periodic inspections.

Final Considerations

While solar panel inspections may not be a legal requirement in all regions, they offer peace of mind and ensure your rooftop solar installation’s ongoing safety and efficiency. Whether you follow regulatory guidelines or schedule inspections based on personal preference, investing in maintenance is a proactive step towards protecting your property and loved ones.

In conclusion, prioritising solar panel maintenance frequency is crucial for ensuring the safety and performance of your rooftop solar system. By staying proactive and addressing potential issues promptly, you can enjoy the benefits of solar energy while minimising risks and maximising efficiency.

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