October is National Fire Prevention Month. Through raising awareness and education, we promote solar fire safety as a priority to be taken seriously with simple planning and prevention methods.
Fire safety is an earnest concern in the home. We equip ourselves with smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers. It’s often a ‘set it and forget it’ scenario. Solar array installations sometimes follow the same path. The installation is done, we think our bases are covered, and we sit back feeling good about our economic and environmental decisions. We’ve done our part. Yet, an ounce of prevention can go a long way to maintaining and securing your investment.
According to Fire Engineering magazine, “fires are rarely caused by solar systems.” But when they occur, they carry the same dangers and potential harm to humans and property as the fires we routinely seek to prevent. A proper service and maintenance protocol can prevent issues before they start.
Let’s look at what can go wrong and what can be done.
Solar System Fire Risks Include:
- Wires on sharp edges and laying in water
- Poor terminations in inverters / exposed conductors
- Improperly made or mismatched connectors
- Water ingress into electrical enclosures
- Incomplete or inconsistent training
- Incorrect usage of connectors
- Incomplete or absent inspections
- Improper weather sealing and wire management
Thankfully, these issues can be handled easily with a thorough inspection. Our third party inspections can be important to make sure the work was done right the first time. We can service and inspect your equipment even when we haven’t installed it.
Our CES Service Technicians receive in-depth training in thermography, torquing, and manufacturing specs. Continuing education and training ensure they remain knowledgeable and effective.
A Fire Safety Inspection includes:
- General walk-through to ensure wire management is tidy and enclosures are sealed
- Thermal Imaging of all electrical terminations and home-run PV connectors
- Retorque/ Re-terminate as needed
- Exercise safety switches
- Detailed report of findings and outline of recommendations
CES frequently performs Fire Safety Inspections in conjunction with Preventative Maintenance Inspections (PMI) as a quarterly add-on. This ensures a solar expert has eyes and hands on your system throughout the year at a minimal cost.
Ultimately, only you can make important inspections happen through planning and budgeting. Performing due diligence and preventing fire hazards saves lives and significant costs to productivity and property. This only becomes more important as solar systems age. Our trained professionals have the expertise to optimize the safety and productivity of your systems.