When installed correctly, solar panels are very safe and pose a minimal fire risk. In fact, solar panels are less of a fire risk than common household appliances, such as the toaster, washing machine, dryer and dishwasher.
Informational website SolarBlogger has analysed fire statistics using figures published by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO).
According to SolarBlogger’s evaluation of the figures, there are just 15 fires per million cumulative solar installations in the UK each year. Compare that to 85 fires per million toasters in England, 48 per million dryers, 28 per million washing machines and 28 per million dishwashers, and it's easy to see that solar systems are less of a fire risk than many of the other items found in your home.
Improving the fire safety of solar panels
While solar panels are generally safe appliances to have on your home, there are ways to help mitigate the risk and improve the fire safety of the installation.
Most fires related to solar installations are the result of electrical faults caused by poor-quality installation. Since solar panel products are required to meet UK quality standards and safety requirements, the solar panels themselves are rarely at fault. Therefore, the best way to ensure the safety of solar panels is to hire a professional installer and ensure that a qualified electrician takes care of all the electrical connections.
One common mistake when installing solar panels is mixing the DC connectors. Safety regulations do not permit DC connectors from different manufacturers to be used together. M4-style plugs and sockets are made by a number of different manufacturers; they all look very similar and many low-cost versions are on the market. It may seem like they should be interchangeable, but there is no standard and that's why it's considered unsafe to mix connectors from different manufacturers
To further improve the safety of your solar installation, Marley also offers the ArcBox™. This enclosure snaps around the DC connectors to ensure that if an electrical arc ever occurs, it is safely contained and doesn't spread to any combustible materials. Marley’s SolarTile is a roof-integrated solar panel that uses Staubli MC4 connectors; these have been thoroughly tested with ArcBox to ensure compatibility.
To learn more, please view the ArcBox product page. You can also learn more about the Marley SolarTile and how it makes up part of our complete roofing system by downloading our product catalogue.