Solar on multicoloured roofs from birds eye view

solar panels

With lower installation costs and government schemes such as the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) which help with the purchase price of solar panels, more households are opting to use renewable solar power. As they increase in popularity, have you ever thought about how to stay safe around solar panels?
Over 3.9 million solar PV (photovoltaic) systems have been installed across Australia in the past 20 years.

Solar panel maintenance

If you've installed solar panels to your home it's important to also think about their maintenance. As solar panels age, they should be checked more frequently, and a licenced electrician must perform maintenance according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. 

Visit Clean Energy Council to find a licensed solar-trained electrician near you. 

Two workers repairing solar panel


Electric shocks

Solar panels don’t come without risk. They generate electricity and if contact is made with the wiring or the terminal output, they have the potential to cause serious injury.
Man on ladder checking gutter


Home repairs

Homeowners should be careful not to touch solar panels during roof repairs, gutter cleaning, when using ladders, hanging lights, and other tasks that require roof access (or other locations where solar panels are located).
Smashed solar panel


Damaged solar panels

A licenced electrician must repair damage such as cracked panels, loose fittings, or exposed cables. Leaving solar panels damaged can result in electrical failure, electric shocks, and fires.

Storms and floods

Storms can be incredibly ferocious; they often bring down trees and powerlines, and solar panels are no different. Solar panels on your property can be damaged during severe weather and are especially susceptible to hail, falling trees and branches. 

It's important to remember that solar panels will continue generating electricity if exposed to light. Even if your power supply has been switched off, solar panels will remain "live" until they're disconnected and removed. Artificial light from emergency services flood lights, or streetlights for example can also produce small amounts of electricity. 

In instances where homeowners are forced onto their roofs due to flooding, they must be extremely careful around solar panels as they can cause death or severe injury if contact is made with the wiring or the output. This also applies to people in boats or other craft moving around submerged homes. 


Fires caused by solar installation

According to Queensland’s Electrical Safety Office, 50 fires were reported in solar installations in 2020, and 79 in 2021.

In one reported incident, a family home was engulfed in smoke and flames after water from recent wet weather seeped into the panel isolator box, causing it to spark and burn. In another incident, a Sydney factory’s solar panel system sustained hail damage during a storm. The power was isolated, but as hot and sunny conditions returned, the damaged panels began to produce electricity which sparked a significant fire putting the entire factory at risk. 

Damaged solar panels present an ongoing fire risk until they are disconnected and removed. If you suspect your panels are hail or water damaged, engage a solar-trained and licenced electrician to check them. If left unchecked, damaged, or cracked panels have the potential to spark fires or give electric shocks. Check with your home insurance provider if you are eligible to claim the repairs through your policy. 

Cleaning up after severe weather

  1. Advice from the Clean Energy Council Australia
    The Clean Energy Council Australia stresses that homeowners should not attempt to restart their solar PV system until it is professionally assessed following a storm or flood. You can find more information on The Clean Energy Australia website.
  2. Support from Master Electricians Australia

    Master Electricians Australia provides a free hotline which connects homeowners affected by flooding with local electricians. Residents can call 1300 889 198 or visit Master Electricians Australia.

Person in gloves cleaning leaves from gutter

Electrical safety outdoors

Whether it's DIY or spring cleaning, painting the awnings or cleaning leaf matter from gutters, it's important to consider electrical safety before you get started.
Learn more

In an emergency call 000

your electricity distributor

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Check your electricity distributor's website or social media for updates on power outages.
Electricity distributors in Australia have resources including outage maps that can be accessed online. Many also give live updates via social media.
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Contact your electricity distributor to report fallen wires or damaged poles and powerlines.
If you notice an electrical hazard, report it to your electricity distributor immediately, either online or by phone.