Horror House: Cheap Solar Install Creates Huge Fire Hazard
Last week, one of our service teams was called out to a home to inspect a solar power system that the owner had reported to not be seeing the return on what he believed he should be getting. This solar power system was installed by a local competitor, it was a 5kW system installed in 2016. In most circumstances, we expect to see a little bit of debris on the panels or some minor shading issues that have popped up over time.
When our team arrived at the property, they inspected the inverter and went onto the roof to take a closer look at what the issue may be. When tending to the inverter, one of our team members brushed a cobweb off of the inverter before inspecting it and got a small tingle. Something was definitely not right. The inverter had also put itself into protection mode. What we found when inspecting the roof was far worse however.
Straight away, we noticed burn marks on the panels, likely caused by scratched laminate upon installation. One of the panels had actually caught fire at some stage and damaged other panels in the system, even panels on the opposite side of the roof exhibited similar signs. Beyond the damaged panels lied other serious hazards. We observed exposed wiring, panels and racking system not properly earthed (hence the tingle) and cables touching the roof completely un-protected.
Luckily for the homeowner, the electrical issues were isolated only to the solar system. In fact, the report from our service team indicated that all that was need for the roof to catch light was a little bit of debris caught up under the panels.
Whose fault is this?
The persons responsible are those who installed the system. The installers mishandled the panels, causing damages that created long and short-term hazards, along with taking shortcuts and not caring about the clients’ house, which resulted in exposed DC cables, cables touching the roof, burnt back sheets on panels and dangerous live DC voltages present on the roof.
What were the risks?
One panel actually caught fire and it wouldn’t have been difficult for the whole roof to follow. All it needed was a bit of debris to catch light and cause some serious fire damage. Because of the faulty wiring, disregard for safety and cheap shortcuts, the inverter casing was live and shocked one of our installers. It may have only given him a small zap, but it could have easily been much worse.
The short-term effects on the house/system is that now the homeowner will have to replace that system. If the company that did the original install is out of business or has changed business names in a sneaky liquidation attempt, then the customer will have to pay for a whole new system and can’t claim any warranties or malpractice. The long-term effects are quite the same as the short-term, this is going to be a financial burden as he’s missed out on generating electricity and collecting the revenue, having to pay for a faulty system, and now also pay for a new system and the removal of the old system.
The installers of this system were not qualified, they took shortcuts and had no regard for quality or safety. As a result, this client is having to pay twice. We urge you all to please ALWAYS check the qualifications of your installers and monitor your system for issues just like these. We’re fortunate enough to have discovered the issue before any more damage had been done.
If you’re unsure about the condition and quality of your solar power system, or think maybe it just needs a clean, call us on 1800 20 29 30. Our service team will do a full system diagnostic and inspection to ensure that your system is safe, secure, and operating at its greatest ability.