Solar power and battery storage safety
A solar photovoltaic (PV) system converts sunlight into electricity. During normal conditions, your solar PV system is a valued source of power for your home or business. But during severe weather, it can become a potentially deadly electrical hazard.
This is because your solar panels continue to produce electricity when the mains power is disconnected. Combined with flood water or storm damage, a ‘live’ solar PV system can pose a serious electric shock risk to anyone who enters your property.
IMPORTANT: Always treat solar modules and their cables as if they were ‘live’.
For detailed information and solar PV safety checklists, download our handy electrical safety guide (PDF 2.2 mb) and Solar PV and battery storage safety brochure (PDF 2.4 mb).
Solar power safety in severe weather
Take the following steps to stay safe around your solar PV system during severe weather.
Before the weather event
When you know a storm or flood is coming, it’s a good idea to shut down your solar power system.
You should always follow your installer’s shutdown procedures. These can usually be found at the inverter and/or on the main switchboard.
Most shut down procedures will ask you to:
- turn off the inverter AC mains isolator (usually found in the meter box)
- turn off the photovoltaic (PV) array isolator (usually found next to the inverter) .
WARNING: If there’s a risk that flood water will reach inverters and cables, ask a licensed electrical contractor or a Clean Energy Council accredited installer to fully shut down your PV array.
Contact your solar system’s manufacturer or installer if you have questions about your solar system’s shutdown procedure.
During the weather event
If your solar PV system becomes wet or submerged while it’s still switched on, you must treat it as a serious electrical hazard. Remember, even if your mains power supply is disconnected, your solar system will continue producing electricity during daylight hours.
Take the following precautions to stay safe around your solar PV system during a flood:
- If any part of your system is underwater or wet, assume it is dangerous and keep your distance
- Don’t attempt to turn it off or touch any components or wiring
- Stay away from solar panels and wiring if you’re forced onto a rooftop.
After the weather event
If your solar PV system has been submerged
If any part of your solar PV system was inundated by rain or floodwater, residual moisture could cause it to become live. It could give you a serious electric shock, even if your mains power is disconnected.
Take these precautions to make sure it’s reconnected safely:
- Assume the system is live and stay away
- Do not touch the system or try to switch it on or off, even if it looks dry
- Have your system recommissioned by a Clean Energy Council accredited installer
- If an accredited installer isn’t available, have it tested by a licensed electrical contractor
- Replace the solar PV system inverter if it’s been submerged or partly submerged.
IMPORTANT: Don’t reconnect any solar PV system unless a licensed electrical contractor has certified the installation is safe. Treat all solar PV installations as energised.
If your roof has been damaged
Don’t try to connect your solar PV system if your roof has been damaged. In this situation, any part of your system or roof could be live. You could get a serious electric shock from making contact, even if your mains power is disconnected.
Take the following steps to stay safe:
- Inspect the system carefully from a distance
- If you see damage or other cause for concern, contact your installer or a licensed electrical contractor immediately
- Once the system is safe to turn on, check the inverter regularly.
Need more information?
Visit the Electrical Safety Office for more detailed information about reconnecting your solar PV system.