olar energy has made a quantum leap over the recent years: it took only a decade for global solar capacity to hit 1 TW, from 100 GW in 2012. But as a great number of people are waking up to the whole new world of harnessing solar energy, they are naturally worried about the dangers PV panels may pose.
Is solar energy safe?
The first question one might have about solar is whether solar energy can be dangerous per se, for example, in terms of radioactivity. In fact, photovoltaic panels do emit a certain amount of electromagnetic radiation (EMR). However, the electromagnetic field produced by solar systems is extremely weak and doesn’t create any risks to human health.
In all other aspects, solar energy clearly represents a healthier and safer alternative to coal, oil, and gas. Air pollution, mainly from burning fossil fuels, is causing over seven million premature deaths yearly. By contrast, solar offers an infinite source of clean energy that doesn’t affect human health.
Tips for harvesting solar power in the safest way
We hope by now you are clear with any doubt you had in your mind regarding solar panels safety. But when it comes to installing a solar energy system at home, you will surely want to know whether solar panels can create any hazards to homeowners. But rest assured: PV modules are utterly safe if basic precautions are taken. Now let’s look at some tips to avoid the risks associated with installing and using solar panels.
Tip 1: Take precautions to prevent solar electrical fires
When you're a solar owner, you obviously want to know whether PV panels present a fire hazard. Well, technically, yes. But the fire risk is low – solar systems are at least as hazardous as any other type of home as electrical equipment and appliances. There's not much research available on this matter, but the latest industry statistics show that fewer than one PV system catches fire per 10,000 installations.
Nevertheless, to reduce the risk to zero, you need to follow some necessary rules. First, choose your photovoltaic panels and other solar equipment wisely – cheaper low-quality models are usually more hazardous.
Second, find a trustworthy installer. Solar systems are subject to electrical faults such as arc faults, open-circuit faults, ground faults, etc. This means a qualified specialist must carry out electrical work to minimize the risk of fire-related hazards.
And finally, make sure your solar energy system is regularly inspected and maintained by a licensed electrician. This will allow you to reveal potential malfunctions and get them fixed at the earliest possible stage.
Tip 2: Avoid trips and falls during PV panel cleaning and upkeep
Generally, rooftop solar panels can be reached from the ground using a long-handled brush and a hose. But some cases, such as visual checks, require climbing up on the roof. This creates a high risk of slipping or falling.
First, identify all potential slip and trip hazards before working on the roof. Make sure there are no loose shingles, electrical cables, or poorly-placed hardware. Your pathways shouldn’t be slippery, so clear them from the ice. And finally, avoid working in windy or rainy conditions.
Tip 3: Follow ladder safety rules
Climbing on the roof usually involves using a ladder, which also is associated with the risk of falling. Use the right ladder, to begin with. Learn about different ladder types and determine the best option for the job. Inspect the ladder before use and set it on a stable surface. Make sure to place it correctly: put the base so that the distance to the wall is one-quarter of the ladder’s height, creating a 75-degree angle. And, of course, climb up and down the ladder with caution to avoid the risk of serious injury.
- Solar panels are designed to be perfectly safe and undergo rigorous testing and certification. Still, choose high-quality options that have proved themselves in the solar market
- Choose a reliable installer to set up your solar energy system safely
- Do not neglect regular maintenance
- Minimize the need for climbing on the roof. When it is unavoidable, do the job carefully to prevent slips, trips, and falls
- Remember basic ladder safety. Position the ladder correctly, and climb up and down with caution.