Solar: Protect against fire

Are you doing enough to protect your solar installation?
Higher voltage + DC = Increased chances of fire and DC arcs

solar panel fire

Solar installers all over the world need to contend with the hazards of installing equipment that is not historically part of the wiring code. Solar panels can be extensively damaged, which is both expensive and avoidable. This one safety tip could save you thousands in repairs.

While fuses remain a preferred solution to protect solar installations, they are not effective in detecting or interrupting a DC arc, which is characteristically similar to the nominal current of the circuit. A sustained DC arc is a sustained fire. This allows the arc to continue burning. Even V0 rated plastics are not safe enough. Flame retardant plastic, despite being self-extinguishing, becomes a fuel source for the flame. That’s why GRP (Glass Reinforced Polyester) should be the material of choice for such circuits.

Allbro is designing products that are safe to use in both commercial and residential solar installations. We design products that are able to support the functional requirements of these installations in a safer way.

Watch a video on DC arcs here

Allbro is designing products that are safe to use in solar installations
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Our Glass Reinforced Polyester is non-flammable and far exceeds a V0 rating.

real life flammability test

We conducted our own “real life flammability” test, which is not part of the standard IEC testing. Two enclosures were exposed to a 4-minute burn, unlike the IEC needle flame test which exposes the material to a 30-second small flame.

The Allbro GRP cabinet on the right retains its structural integrity, while the Thermoplastic cabinet (rated UL94 V0) disintegrates under the sustained fire. Self-extinguishing plastics are only able to extinguish once the source of the fire has been removed. This is not always possible when a DC arc occurs, hence the ability for these plastics to become a fuel source.

These kinds of tests are being used more frequently to test products used in areas susceptible to veld fires. Read about our testing standards here.

Material choice is important

psd solar combiner project

GRP’s flame-retardant properties are not the only reason it’s the safer material choice for solar installers:

  • Designed to withstand harsh outdoor weather conditions
  • UV life of more than 25 years
  • Enhanced strength-to-weight ratio: increased security and durability
  • No rust, no corrosion
  • Large operating temperature range

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Learn about the solar solutions we offer commercial and residential solar installers

Battery Boxes • Distribution Boards • Isolator Switch Housing • Inverter Housing
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