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.
Damaged solar panels
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
- Advice from the Clean Energy Council AustraliaThe 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.
- 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.