ESV reminds Victorians to have rooftop solar systems serviced following three fires

Published:
Sunday, 15 January 2023 at 10:24 am

Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) is reminding Victorians using solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to have them serviced every two years, following three house fires over the past two weeks.

Faults that cause fires are a risk, particularly in older solar PV systems that have not been properly maintained or serviced by a licensed A-grade electrician regularly.

Over the past two weeks, ESV has investigated three fires involving older solar PV systems, which haven’t been serviced over the previous two years.

In all three incidences the fires were caused by faulty or malfunctioning d.c. isolators.

  • On 4 January, fire crews were called to a Mt Evelyn home to find a seven-year-old solar system on fire. A faulty d.c. isolator started the fire, which spread into the roof space, causing significant damage to the property.
  • On 27 December, firefighters were called to a property in Ferntree Gully after a five-year-old solar system d.c. isolator caught fire, damaging a balcony and external cladding.
  • On 25 December, firefighters attended a property in Mentone where a 10-year-old solar system caught fire.

Investigations found the malfunctioning d.c. isolator caused burning and the fusing of wires with only the solar panels themselves impacted.

All of these systems were installed prior to the commencement of the Victorian Government’s Solar Homes Program in 2018.

ESV Acting CEO Ian Burgwin said that like all electrical equipment, solar installations needed to be looked after to keep them safe and working at their optimum level. Especially as they are subject to wind, rain and other extreme weather events.

“These avoidable fires serve as important reminders, that just like a car, rooftop solar installations need to be serviced regularly to ensure they’re always running safely,” Mr Burgwin said.

“If you are one of the growing number of Victorians embracing solar power, please ensure your system is serviced by a licensed A-Grade electrician at least once every two years.”

ESV launched its Show Your Solar Some Love campaign last year, urging Victorians to have their solar systems serviced by a licensed A-Grade electrician every two years to prevent faults. Solar PV systems are installed by a licensed A-Grade electrician and verified by a licensed electrical inspector.

ESV and Solar Victoria also carry out audits to ensure solar PV systems are safe and compliant. However, these initial checks after the system is first installed do not prevent problems developing over time. Only regular maintenance and servicing can ensure they remain safe.

Since the beginning of 2020, solar system audits of new installations under the Solar Homes Program have shown a reduction in the number of unsafe installations from 2.2 per cent to zero as a result of education and enforcement by Victorian Government agencies such as ESV and Solar Victoria.

Servicing involves detailed electrical testing of the components that make up a solar PV system, including d.c. isolators, as well as a thorough visual inspection of the system to ensure the integrity of equipment and cabling. It also includes the clearing of debris or leaf litter under the solar panels and around the inverter. Details: esv.vic.gov.au/campaigns/solar-safety

Media contact: Adrian Bernecich 0437 729 194 | adrian.bernecich@energysafe.vic.gov.au

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