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August 14, 2022

Solar panels pose danger in floods, even when power is out

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The array of PV panels on the rooftop of the regional sport and cultural facility (Cavanbah Centre).

People with solar panels in flood affected areas were warned on Monday of injuries and potentially deaths associated with inundanted electrical systems.

Master Electricians Australia CEO Malcolm Richards said in an urgent warning issued Monday morning that solar panels continued to produce electricity during a flood event, even if the power supply was cut off and the panels turned off at the switchboard.

‘Homeowners who are forced onto their roof due to flooding need to be extremely careful around solar panels as they present a real electrical safety risk,’ Mr Richards said.

‘This also applies to people in boats or other craft moving around near submerged homes,’ he said.

Mr Richards said the threat was very serious and affected thousands of homes.

‘Flood-affected residents can use the shutdown instructions to safely turn off the isolation switches located next to the Solar Inverter and these instructions are usually located on the switchboard,’ the CEO said.

‘If you’re unsure of anything we urgently recommend engaging a fully qualified electrician.’

Free electrician hotline

MEA had a free hotline to connect home owners affected by flooding with local electricians:1300 889 198.

Mr Richards said it was vital residents made sure solar systems were electrically safe before being recommissioned.

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  1. Hi,
    my system at home does not have a risk because it is Solar Edge, which uses optimisers. For excess voltages to be generated, the inverter must see power from the grid. Otherwise the maximum string voltage is 1v/panel, so usually a max of 30-40v.
    The high voltage is a factor with string inverter systems. The voltage there is usually a max of 600v, or up to 1000V with recent systems.

    • 1000v? are they trying to use speaker wire or something.
      Standard 18v panels in parallel is nice and safe. Line losses are tolerable with a decent gauge wire.
      I have multiple 12v battery systems and am completely off grid. Nice and safe, and you can legally do your own electrical.
      These commercial grid systems are scary stuff. Pays to look at the specs before you buy for sure.
      Building on a hill with a nice standoff distance from trees also helps.

  2. Quick! Call the electrician to switch of the panels, we need to get up on the roof now!
    Can’t see it happening that way though, we have been waiting or an electrician to come here and install some power points for about the last 5 months, he never shows up as promised and I am sure he never will….so we just make do with yet more extension leads and power boards. At least we are not in flood zone, so lucky……


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