Spate of solar panel fires sparks warnings about dodgy installers

Fire and Rescue NSW has seen four solar panel-related incidents over the last week and an 80 per cent overall increase in fires caused by solar panels over the last five years.

And so far this year, FRNSW has responded to five fires involved solar panels in the St George and Sutherland Shire areas.

Residents with solar panels have been warned to remain observant and take steps to prevent solar panel related fires.

In the past week, a fire was caused at a home in Lalor Park, where the isolating switch for the solar panels was found to have failed.

Another occurred in Maryland, near Newcastle, due to a short-circuiting of a solar power box, resulting in smoke omitting from the box.

A home in Pennant Hills saw solar panels catch alight and FRNSW firefighters arrived to find a smouldering fire.

Solar panels at a school in Parramatta also caused a fire on the roof due to a failure in the isolating switch.

Fire incidents related to solar panels are up by more than 20 per cent from this time last year, with solar isolation switches causing almost half of all solar panel-related fires.

Commissioner for Fair Trading, Rose Webb said it is vital to ensure solar panel systems fare installed by a professional.

"If you're considering installing solar panels at your property, any system you install needs to comply with Australian standards.

"It's also essential that you use a contractor that's qualified to do the installation and wiring, so it's always a good idea to do a licence check with NSW Fair Trading before any work takes place" she said.

Superintendent Graham Kingsland from the Fire Investigation and Research Unit spoke to the importance of taking steps to ensure solar panels are as safe as possible.

"Over the last five years we have seen solar panel related fires increase five-fold, it is not uncommon to see solar panels cause house and building fires.

"By ensuring solar panels are installed by a licensed installer, and are well maintained by a professional, you can prevent a tragedy" he said.

Remember, calling Triple Zero (000) for a fire emergency can be the difference between life and death, or a building or other property being saved or destroyed.

For more information on solar panel safety, visit the Fair Trading website: https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/

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