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What should I do with my solar power system in a flood?

Flood waters can pose all sorts of threats to the electrical safety of you and your property, which is why it's important to know what steps to take if an incident does occur.

Solar panels are becoming increasingly popular all over the country, so if you have a system installed at your home, you'll need to be aware of what you should do if there's the threat of a flood in your area.

Always check the manufacturer's instructions, or if you're unsure of exactly what to do, get in touch with a licensed contractor who'll be able to perform the task for you.

Electricity suppliers may cut off the connection to your area, but it's up to you to make sure your solar power system isn't still live when a flood hits.

Shutting down the system

The safest action to take when there's a flood in your area is to shut down your solar power system entirely. Even if the network supply is switched off, the panels will continue to produce electricity and could pose a threat to your safety.

Firstly locate the inverter AC mains isolator, which is generally found inside the meter box. This should be followed by turning of the PV array isolator - you should find this next to the inverter.

If there's a rooftop array isolator associated with your system, make sure you switch this off as well should there be any chance of the water level reaching as high as the cables and inverters.

Each solar power system will come with its own set of instructions. It's recommended you consult the manual if you have it to hand to make sure you're doing everything correctly.

Some solar power systems will turn off automatically in the event of flooding, but don't presume yours will. It's always best to check, otherwise you and your property could be put at serious risk.

Make sure you don't go near any of the components during a flood. If you're forced to flee to your roof, stay as far away from any solar panels and wiring as possible, as they may still be live. The same goes for any electrical equipment that might be inside your home.

Once the flood waters have passed

Your solar panels will still pose a threat even after the flooding has gone, so don't be in too much of a rush to reconnect your system.

The water may have cause certain components of your solar power system to become live and by going near, you're putting yourself at risk of electric shock.

Wait for a licensed electrical installer or contractor to tell you the system is safe before reconnecting it. While it might appear sound at face value, trapped moisture may mean this isn't the case.

Should any component have become submerged during the flood, you'll need to ascertain it is in full working order. There's a chance some items might need to be replaced if they are damaged beyond repair.

There is no substitute for professional advice in these situations. Your solar power system is likely to have been a significant investment, so taking steps to make sure it's working property will prolong its life and protect you from danger.

Your installation will need to be certified as safe before it can be reconnected, so ask your neighbours for personal recommendations for someone who can do the job for you. Alternatively, take a look at the list of accredited installers provided by the Clean Energy Council for extra reassurance.

Posted by Liam Tunney