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Solar Panel Fire Safety Risks: How Going Green Could Be a Hazard

“Is a solar roof for me?” That’s a question thousands of Americans will ask themselves this year.

As consumers shift focus to green energy, solar power have seen a surge in demand. Solar panels are continuously becoming more efficient and less expensive.  Building owners can save money on electricity and lower their carbon footprints while increasing the value of their properties by installing solar panels

There are, however, specific hazards associated with installing solar panels on rooftops that should be considered.

Solar Panels: Hurting Those Who Help?

Solar panels cannot just be unplugged and moved out of the way,” Littleton, MA Fire Chief Scott Wodzinski said.  During fires, solar panels still generate electricity, putting firefighters at risk of being electrocuted if they attempt to extinguish the fire with water.  Further, the panels can restrict rooftop access, forcing firefighters to extinguish the flames from below and limiting the ability to cut holes in the roof for venting heat & smoke.

Solar Panel

Green Toxins?

Part of your rationale to purchase solar panels was to help the environment, right?  Would you be surprised to learn that if your solar panels catch fire, they may release toxic gasses?

With the roof being the first part of a building to structurally fail, a fire could pose serious health problems for you and the firefighters trying to save your life.

Green Energy:  The Opposite of Green Eating

Popeye and spinach, what is the image you think of?  Popeye wasn’t lugging around a few extra pounds of excessive weight but solar roofs sure do.

Solar panels can add substantially more weight per square foot to your roof.  This excess weight increases the likelihood of collapse especially when ice, snow and excessive rain are in the mix.

Popeye Spinach

Practice Makes Perfect, Eventually

When the Model T came off the assembly line in 1908, it wasn’t easy to simply drive down the street and find a reputable mechanic.  Similarly, it is taking time for the solar repair and installation industry workforce to catch up to demand.   The labor shortage in turn limits expansion, increases recruitment and training costs, and can lead to botched or substandard installations.

 

Have No Fear

There are risks associated with solar panels, but that does not mean you should throw the idea of powering your house with the sun out the window.

By doing your due diligence and covering your home with the necessary insurance, you too can safely have a home of the future.

Consider the following to keep you and your valuables secure:

  • Business Property Loss to cover reconstruction expenses incurred after an emergency.
  • Business Income Loss to compensate for lost income during the reconstruction period.
  • Worker’s Compensation to cover medical costs should an employee suffer a solar panel-related injury.

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2 Responses to Solar Panel Fire Safety Risks: How Going Green Could Be a Hazard

  1. Rob Koszkalda says:

    Hi David,

    Thank you for the question. I will look into this inquiry for you and we will email you our rationale.

    Thanks again,

    Rob K.

  2. I am off-grid in rural Utah. I initially installed a modest array on the roof of my power shed, basically a modified Conex shipping container housing two diesel gen sets. I quickly learned about snow accumulation! My next array, a1900 watt array, was a pole-top mount on a six inch schedule 80 mast. Eliminates the fire issue of roof arrays, both in causing fires, and frustrating fire fighters. Also allows rapid purging of snow, it sliding off within the first hour of direct sunlight. Roof arrays can’t be adjusted for summer/winter sun trajectories…..but pole-top mounts easily do this. There is nothing not to like about pole-top arrays in my world. Your mileage may vary. If a fire does develop on the array, it’s not close enough to my steel building to affect it.
    I can live well on the pole-top array in the winter while the sun gradually deals with the roof-top array on the Conex. Sometimes this takes a week! Since I live in a wildfire zone, all my buildings and sheds are made of steel. Ugly, but not nearly as ugly as the burned out foundations in CA, NV, UT that were once beautiful homes.

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