Some Australian households with solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are located in areas under threat from bushfires or floods.
These are usually in regional and rural areas, but can be in metro areas where isolated fires and floods are possible.
Fire and flood emergency situations
If you have solar panels on your roof and are faced with an emergency fire or flood situation, there are only two things you need to remember:
- If you need to evacuate, leave your house immediately
- Upon returning to your house, do not attempt to turn your solar power system back on. Contact your Clean Energy Council-accredited installer to have your system recommissioned. If your installer is not available, contact a licensed electrician who can check your system to ensure it is safe.
If your solar panels have suffered fire or flood damage, attempting to turn them back on (including operating any switches) could result in a lethal electric shock. An accredited installer needs to check that your system is safe.
Planning ahead for fire and flood situations
If you are planning for a possible fire or flood, and are likely to receive a day or more warning to leave your house, there may be some extra precautionary measures you can take.
You can follow the 'shutdown procedure' when leaving your house. This should be marked on your inverter or meter box.
A general guide to the procedure is as follows:
- Turn off the solar supply mains switch (this is usually found in the meter box)
- Turn off the normal supply main switch (this is usually found in the meter box)
- Turn off the PV array isolator (this is usually found next to the inverter)
Some stand-alone solar power systems may include battery storage that can also be disconnected.
If you are planning for a possible fire or flood, and are likely to receive a day or more warning to leave your house, you can take the following steps to shut down your stand-alone solar system and battery storage:
- Turn off solar array
- Turn off inverter
- Follow battery shutdown procedures to isolate the battery bank
- Disable the generator from starting if it has auto start.
For further information on fire and flood emergency management plans, contact your local emergency services.