It's storm season - is your solar safe and maintained?

Published: 21 Jan 2015 5:17pm

With more than one in five regional Queensland residential houses now utilising a solar photovoltaic (PV) system, safety and maintenance is a must according to Ergon Energy.

"Solar PV systems are now commonplace on our customers' homes, but knowledge of how to help keep these electrical systems safe is perhaps not so common," according to Executive General Manager Customer Service Peter Billing.

The reminder comes in the wake of prohibition notices by Queensland's Electrical Safety Office last year relating to the installation of several types of direct current (DC) isolators on solar PV systems.

Examination of the isolators revealed faults that lead to overheating and fires in some cases.

"The Electrical Safety Office has also highlighted instances where the wrong type of DC isolators have been installed in locations exposed to weather or water ingress, or installed using incorrect techniques," Mr Billing said.

"These incidents are a sobering reminder that solar PV, like many electrical appliances and installations, require maintenance and checks."

Mr Billing said solar PV system checks during regular cleaning of panels should include:

  • Checking panels for damage, discolouration or other defects.
  • Checking supporting frames are secure.
  • Visually checking fittings and cables at the panels and inverter to see if they are secure.
  • Checking the inverter display panel for  recorded faults (manufacturer's manuals should explain how to do these checks).
  • Ensuring emergency procedures for shut down are clearly displayed.
  • Clearing any contamination or debris from inverter cooling vents.
  • Ensuring clear access to isolator switches.

"Never attempt electrical repairs yourself," Mr Billing warned, "contact your electrician to repair any loose fittings, exposed cables or damage to the panels or wiring of any kind."

"Many installers and other businesses now also offer maintenance, checking and cleaning services for solar PV installations so if you are not confident to do it yourself, pay someone who is," Mr Billing said.

Ergon provides safety advice about solar PV systems online here:

https://www.ergon.com.au/network/safety/home-safety/solar-power-safety

Extensive information about maintenance and checks on solar PV systems can be found online at the Queensland Worksafe website here:

https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/injury-prevention-safety/electricity/homeowners-and-consumers/maintaining-your-solar-photovoltaic-pv-system

Information about prohibited and recalled DC isolators used in some solar PV installations can be found here:

https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/injury-prevention-safety/electricity/homeowners-and-consumers/avanco-and-pvpower-dc-isolator-safety-advice

Media Contact: Mark Timmerman
Phone: (07) 4432 8731

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