Solar Panel Fires – Information about solar fires caused by DC arc faults on solar systems with string inverters and unprotected DC cabling

Firefighters attend two solar related fires every week in Australia

Solar System Fires

Since 2010, firefighting authorities around Australia have attended more than 400 fires that have been caused by faults in solar power systems. [1] 

There are currently more than 2 fires per week across Australia and this number can be expected to rise as the rate of installations increases and systems age. 

In addition to this, there are dozens, possibly even hundreds of incidents every week that are attended to by solar service personnel that are not formally reported to authorities.

Solar fires are from DC arc faults that occur ONLY on solar systems with conventional string inverters and unprotected DC circuits.  Solar systems that use micro inverters or some DC optimised systems eliminate dangerous DC arc faults and prevent solar fires.

Solar system fires – 2010 to present

 

Total: 414 fires

Consequences

Solar system faults and fires 

DC arc faults on solar systems with conventional string inverters and unprotected DC circuits.

Faults in solar systems originate within the solar system components, but the damage can quickly spread to adjacent building materials.

DC arc faults can reach 1,085°C, easily igniting many building products.

Complete homes have been lost to solar-related fires but thankfully, because solar fires occur during the day when most homes are not occupied, there have been no deaths attributed to solar-related fires in Australia to date.

 

The latest news and information about solar system safety can be found on our blog.

Safe Solar Systems

NOT ALL SOLAR SYSTEMS ARE UNSAFE

Solar system fires are caused by DC arc faults, but there are several solar power technologies that eliminate or minimise this risk.

AC Solar systems, which use microinverter technology do not contain any dangerous DC voltages and are therefore inherently immune to DC arc faults.

Some DC optimised solar power systems utilise failsafe technology to detect and isolate DC arc faults before they can generate enough heat to cause any damage.

These inverter topologies were developed more than a decade ago to address this problem and prevent DC arc faults.  They have been commercially available for use in Australia since 2010.

More information about Safe Solar technologies can be found here.

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