Solar panels pose an extremely low fire risk. In fact, Photon magazine hasn't recorded more than 1 incident for every 10,000 installations. Therefore, a house equipped with properly installed solar panels will not catch fire. Explore the current issue and archived issues of Solar Power World in an easy-to-use, high-quality format.
Both technological advances in equipment and the stricter requirements of the electrical code have contributed to making solar photovoltaic systems safer. In the approximately 1,000 low-income homes that have solar energy owned by APS on their roofs, including those in the city of Flagstaff, an area considered to be at greater risk of wildfires, infrared tests are not performed as part of annual system safety checks. Inspectors may find these photovoltaic (PV) panels more and more frequently and may want to learn about the ways in which an installed photovoltaic panel can pose a fire hazard to a home. For this reason, Shaw believes that the solar industry urgently needs a standard for residential preventive maintenance that includes annual visual inspections and infrared images to detect critical points in the system.
It is important to note that, in practice, the main fire risk of solar panels is related to poorly installed solar collectors. Of those 430, 210 fires were caused by the solar panel itself, the rest were damaged as a result of a fire. Last week, 20 solar panels caught fire on the roof of an Amazon logistics center in Fresno (California), although authorities have not yet released the official cause of the fire. Therefore, while the utility company expressly values infrared tests, performs infrared tests on large scale assets and requires them from solar energy owners at its service, it neglects the systems of low-income homeowners in high-risk areas.
Because solar panels have power cables, there will always be some level of fire risk, as is the case with any electrical device. As for the components, the main cause of fires is related to the overheating of the faulty junction box. The French guide UTE C15-712-1 (for photovoltaic installations connected to the public distribution network) provides the necessary measures to limit the risk of electric shocks and fires in solar panels. It is also important to note that the solar systems installed at the beginning of the decade have notable differences from those installed today due to the evolution of safety in the industry.
Along with safer code requirements, there have been significant advances in solar design and technology that have improved fire safety.