17 May 2024

Photovoltaic panels catch fire? Trienergia answers

Fire safety in photovoltaic panels

In the transition to more sustainable practices, the use of solar energy plays a crucial role. One of the issues that concerns investors and owners is the safety of photovoltaic panels, in particular the possibility of them catching fire. However, it is important to recognise that such accidents are extremely rare and can be attributed to specific causes such as lightning strikes, poor maintenance, installation errors or the use of substandard components. Therefore, compliance with safety regulations, correct installation and siting are essential to further minimise the risk and ensure that the switch to solar energy is not only environmentally beneficial, but also completely safe for everyone.


Why do photovoltaic panels catch fire?

Photovoltaic panels are generally considered to be very safe, but as with any technology, there are circumstances in which risks can arise. Here are some of the main reasons why a photovoltaic panel can catch fire:


Photovoltaic panels catch fire
  • Poor quality of materials used in the production of panels: strong competition from the Asian market could lead some manufacturers to use cheaper components, which may not guarantee the same quality and safety. For example, a backsheet that is cheap but not able to withstand certain voltages could ignite in the presence of localised hotspots. Similarly, inferior solar cells may be aesthetically pleasing, but may conceal manufacturing defects that cause serious problems for the system in the long term.


  • Manufacturing defects: rare but possible manufacturing defects can lead to internal short circuits which, in extreme situations, can cause a fire. It is therefore important to stress the importance of using electroluminescence: the only tool that allows manufacturers to verify the true quality of their work and identify any defects that may not be apparent during standard performance tests.


  • Incorrect installation: Incorrect installation can cause electrical problems, such as loose or inadequate connections, which increase the risk of sparking or overheating. It is also important to note the bad habit of some installers of walking on the modules during installation, which can damage the solar cells and compromise the integrity and safety of the panel.  


  • Failure of electrical components: Inverters and connectors, vital elements of a photovoltaic system, can fail and overheat, especially if they are of poor quality or have been incorrectly installed. Some common mistakes, such as cutting connectors to connect cables directly or extending them to the switchboard in photovoltaic systems, should be avoided at all costs.


  • Accumulation of flammable materials: leaves, debris or other flammable materials that accumulate near the panels can ignite due to overheating of the components, especially during periods of strong sunlight.


  • External factors and environment: photovoltaic panels can be exposed to risks from atmospheric events such as storms, hail and lightning, as well as extreme heat or damage caused by rodents. These elements can compromise the integrity of the system, causing short circuits or overheating which, in the worst cases, can lead to fires. Protection and regular maintenance of the system are essential to significantly reduce these risks.


  • Lack of maintenance, incorrect maintenance or maintenance by untrained personnel: lack of maintenance or incorrect maintenance can lead to the accumulation of dirt and debris on the panels or the degradation of electrical components, increasing the risk of malfunction and fire.

How can the risk of photovoltaic fires be prevented and reduced?

To minimise the risk of fire associated with photovoltaic systems, it is essential to comply with safety regulations and adopt appropriate installation and maintenance practices. Although photovoltaic systems are not among the activities subject to fire prevention controls defined by Presidential Decree 151 of 1 August 2011, they can influence the level of fire risk in a building. Here are some essential measures to prevent panels from catching fire:


  • Maintenance and inspection: ensure that the system is accessible for periodic maintenance and inspection, in accordance with fire brigade regulations and the relevant technical standards.


  • Correct installation: design and construct the systems in accordance with the technical documents of the Italian Electrotechnical Commission and international standards, ensuring that all components comply with the regulations in force, in particular with CEI EN IEC 61730-1 and CEI EN IEC 61730-2 for photovoltaic modules.


  • Structural precautions: install the panels on non-combustible structures and roof elements, or place a layer of non-combustible material with a fire resistance of at least EI 30 between the photovoltaic modules and the supporting surface.


  • Distance from sensitive elements: maintain a safe distance of more than 1 metre from smoke and heat vents and vertical fire compartmentation elements, in addition to complying with the provisions for the protection of enclosures.

By taking these precautions, you can effectively reduce the risk of panels catching fire and ensure the safe and sustainable use of solar energy.

Trienergia photovoltaic panels: CL1 certified fire safety

For those looking for a safe and reliable photovoltaic solution, Trienergia photovoltaic modules are the ideal choice. Certified CL1 in accordance with UNI 9177 and having passed the tests required by UNI 8457, UNI 9174 and UNI 9174/A1, they offer excellent fire resistance, guaranteeing not only energy efficiency but also absolute safety. In fact, these standards certify that the panels have passed rigorous fire resistance tests and that, in the event of a fire, the panels help to limit the spread of flames, allowing valuable time for evacuation and intervention.

At Trienergia, we are committed to offering cutting-edge products that meet sustainability requirements without neglecting the protection aspect. Contact us to find out how our panels can enhance spaces while respecting the environment and ensuring maximum safety.

Photovoltaic panels catch fire