Solar Safety for Flood Affected Systems

August 31, 2016
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Do you have a solar electric system on your home? Has it been damaged by the recent flooding in Louisiana? Whether you are a homeowner, a volunteer, or a worker, if you encounter a solar electric system while working on a flood-damaged home it is important that you identify and deactivate the solar components until they can be professionally inspected. These components could cause a hazard if they have been damaged by flood waters and are reactivated without proper inspection or servicing.  

If possible, identify the individual or company that installed the system and call them for further assistance.  If that individual or company is not available for any reason, call Joule Energy at (504)-586-0625 or email support@joule-energy.com for assistance.



STEPS FOR HOMEOWNER AND/OR SITE LEADERS AND VOLUNTEERS:  

Step 1: Identify and Isolate/Deactivate Solar Equipment

Most residential or small commercial solar electric systems primarily have the following major components: 

  • Solar/PV Modules: photovoltaic (PV) or solar panels, usually bluish-black rectangular component on the roof or ground
  • Disconnects: DC (direct current) and AC (alternating current) - your system may only have an AC Disconnect if it is a microinverter system 
  • Inverter(s): converts DC to AC electrical power

Solar/PV Modules 

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Depending on the severity of flooding and whether your panels are on your roof or the ground, these components may be unharmed or undamaged. Regardless, solar modules have the potential to produce High Voltage DC electricity (300V+) depending on the type of system. If you are unsure about whether the panels were damaged or are functioning properly, contact a qualified solar professional for assistance. 

Solar AC Disconnects 

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The AC disconnects should be labeled with a very prominent marking, typically a red label (see photo above for reference). The AC disconnect functions as an isolation switch between the grid/home’s electrical service and the rest of the PV system.  Find either the AC Disconnect or the breaker of the PV system and inspect it for damage. If it was damaged, or if you are unsure, immediately switch it to the “OFF” position and/or call a qualified solar professional for assistance.  

Solar DC Disconnects 

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The DC disconnects are usually found on the Inverter of a PV system in the form of a switch located towards the bottom of the Inverter.  Inspect these components for damage, and if they were damaged, or if you are unsure, immediately switch these components to the “OFF” position and/or call a qualified solar professional for assistance.

NOTE: not all solar systems will have a visible inverter. In this case, switching the AC disconnect to the "OFF" position is sufficient. From there, reach out to a qualified solar professional for assistance. 


 

Step 2: Contact a solar Professional to Check, Inspect, and Service the system

Other solar components or parts of the home’s electrical system may have been damaged by flood waters and could also potentially cause hazards.  If you are unsure about whether any solar electric system and/or electrical system is safe for operation, call the original contractor/installer or call Joule Energy at (504)-586-0625 or email support@joule-energy.com.



 

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