Can a Solar Panel (PV) System be switched off?
Solar panels cannot be turned off when exposed to light. This means that the panels are always live and can potentially cause electrocution during an emergency situation. The only reliable means of rendering the panels safe is to use the ‘liquid blanket’ PVStop.
How safe is my Solar PV System?
LJW Solar and other CEC accredited solar panel installars conduct solar PV installations throughout Australia and must comply with best industry practices.
Despite regulations for circuit breakers and safety switches the panels themselves do not have an efficient shutdown process. During a fire or flood crisis the only way to render the panels safe is to use PVStop.
What is the DC Danger Zone?
The DC danger zone refers to the safety risk that solar panels pose. Solar panels cannot be turned off when exposed to light. In the event of a short circuit, fire or flood the solar panels continue to generate potentially lethal DC voltage. PVStop is the only safe way to deactivate panels at the source (the solar panels themselves).
How Does it Work?
The liquid blanket covers the solar panels and blocks the light from reaching the solar panel surface, isolating the power in a matter of seconds.
Does PVStop need to cover the whole solar panel/solar panel array to switch off the solar panel system?
No. To reduce DC output to safe levels, only 40% of a panel needs to be covered. However we recommend that you cover 100% of all panels to maximise safety.
How long does PVStop take to switch off my Solar Panel system?
PVStop switches off a panel in seconds. Once PVStop has been applied across 40% of the centre of the solar panels, the solar panel system is electrically safe.
Can PVStop extinguish flames in a fire scenario?
Yes, PVStop is a fire retardant solution and is non-flammable.
Does PVStop work in all weather conditions?
Yes. PVStop works in all weather conditions.
Is PVStop easy to apply?
Yes. The PVStop delivery system is similar to a fire extinguisher: point and spray.
How long does it take for PVStop to dry?
At an ambient temperature of 25°C PVStop is tack dry in 4- 5 minutes. In warmer conditions it dries faster, in cooler conditions it dries slower. . The liquid blanket will completely cure overnight and can be peeled off the following day. Note that the coating does not need to be dry to isolate the power produced by the solar panel system.
Are solar panel isolation switches safe?
When homeowners purchase solar they generally only think of the panels that go on the roof. Did you know, however, that solar PV installations comprise numerous components to enable the system to function?
One feature of a typical solar PV installation is the AC and DC circuit breakers or isolators. These are switches that allow you to isolate your grid-connected system. The AC switch can isolate the inverter from the grid whereas the DC isolator prevents PV module direct current from feeding back to the inverter. This does not, however, turn the panels off because they will naturally continue to generate electricity as long as they are exposed to light.
As the industry has evolved so too has the technology. Unfortunately there are brands and models of isolators that were installed and are now considered to be fire risks. Various rotary DC isolators for example have been identified as fire risks because they tend to arc internally and can start fires.
If you are unable to determine whether your solar PV installation in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide—anywhere in Australia—may contain a recalled product we recommend that you engage with a local CEC accredited installer to inspect your solar PV system.
The PVStop coating was designed to retard fire and to reduce panel DC electricity should a rooftop isolator pose a safety risk and require urgent attention.
How often should I check the inverter?
We recommend that you check the inverter at least once a week. Most inverters display the total number of cumulative kilowatts (KWH) that an inverter has produced as well as an instantaneous watts reading.
At a glance you should be able to see if the system is generating. If there is a problem with the inverter the display should show an event code.
If you are seeing the same total kilowatt reading (KWH) for two or more consecutive days and the weather has been ok there is definitely a problem somewhere. You may need to engage a CEC accredited technician to inspect.
Do panels require maintenance?
All Solar PV installations should be checked on a regular basis. The panel array should be mounted at an angle that is not only optimal for solar exposure but also ideal for self-cleaning via rainfall.
There are circumstances when a panel may require manual cleaning due to dust storms, inadequate rainfall or panel angle. If dirt and dust build up on the panel surface it will affect system performance, which is why it might be worthwhile engaging a roofer or third party to clean the panels.
Another important reason to visually inspect the panels is to check for cracks or any physical damages. A broken solar panel could become a safety issue depending on the severity of the damage.
One damaged panel can affect the performance of an entire string so it is important to deal with any damage as soon as possible.
For your safety, and the safety of others, we recommend that all solar panel owners and emergency personnel should invest in PVStop—a ‘liquid blanket’ fire retardant solution that is the only effective means of shutting panels down and preventing potentially lethal electric shocks during fires and floods or maintenance situations.
If you have any solar PV installation concerns please give us a call or contact a local CEC accredited installer.