Solar Safety: Water & Floods

2021 has already taken off with a massive rush with everyone keen to get their solar systems installed before the days really start drawing in. The job board has only a few spots open on it so if anyone is thinking about getting onto crushing their power bills, just give DMS Energy a call on 1300 502 599 or pop into our showroom at 56 Sheffield Rd and we can get the ball rolling for you.

 

This year, apart from the usual seasonal energy saving tips, we will be giving you the inside scoop on how the Marinus link is progressing, wind farm developments and talking about a few of our own exciting projects. We might and even see if we can organise a live site visit to one of them.

 

But since the recent weather event of heavy rains and flood warnings, it has made me think of what we should do to make solar systems as safe as they can be if exposed to flood water or water submersion.

 

In the unlikely event that this could happen, there a few things we can do to reduce risk to ourselves and any SES workers who may be called out to your house.

 

Now, you have to remember solar panels are their own source of energy. So if there is any daylight around they will make significant voltage and some current. With the majority of solar systems, you can’t actually ‘turn them off’ so to speak.

 

So if you thought your house was at risk of flood you would turn your inverter off at the switchboard. That circuit breaker will typically be marked solar main switch. Turn that one off.

 

Ideally (and this only works with some inverters) you would then turn off the DC isolator next to the inverter. Unplug the black DC connectors under the inverter and plug them into each other and turn the DC isolator back on. This now puts the DC cables into a ‘dead short’ position. I know that sounds bad as we are programmed to associate the words ‘dead short’ with bad stuff like smoke and fire but in the case of solar the ‘dead short’ capacity for a string is never much more than 10 amps and the everything in that string should be rated to contain at least twice that amount.

 

The important part of this is while in ‘dead short’ this kills the string voltage so it has less potential to push through resistance of insulation etc. The MC 4 plugs are water proof while inverters are not which also helps.

 

That’s about all you can do. Yes you could go up on the roof and turn the DC isolator off but if it’s flooding it means its most likely wet and windy and to be honest you are more likely to do yourself some damage on a roof in those conditions than a flooded inverter could ever do to you.

 

At the very least just make sure you have the circuit breaker for the solar turned off in the switchboard as a minimum.

 

So if you do have a solar system and it ever does get immersed never ever turn it back on until an electrician comes and looks at it and opens it up to see if the internals got wet.

 

Or like wise if your pretty sure your house is ever at risk of flood and your not confident or able to put your solar system in a safe state call DMS Energy and we will send someone to do it for you, free of charge along the North West coast and surrounding areas of Devonport.

 

Now this is where it gets cool. If you have one of our SolarEdge systems all you have to do is turn the switch off underneath and the circuit breaker in your switchboard and that is it. The optimisers shut the solar panel power off at the panel. The safety aspects of the SolarEdge system (while we hope no one ever needs to use them) gives myself, you and everyone else some added peace of mind over the unforeseen things that can happen over the quarter of a century or so we expect to see out of these products.

 

I have put up on our DMS Energy Facebook page a video I did during the 2016 floods which is still relevant today to show you what to do. So check that out.

 

As always if you have any doubts call DMS Energy on 1300 502 599 and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding this or any other issue you may have.