Remember the days before the safety switch became compulsory to install in new homes? At the time, we just relied on several standard circuit breakers in the fuse box to keep us safe. Provided we didn’t accidentally electrocute ourselves, it was a bullet we could easily dodge, and a price we didn’t have to pay. Or was it?
Before long, and after a string of tragic deaths, the safety switch became a mandatory safety device to prevent accidental electrocution. And it has since proven to be very successful in saving lives – I know, because it recently saved mine!
The reality is that no one plans to give themselves a potentially lethal electric shock when carrying out a home remedy on the extension cord, or on the outdoor light that ‘just’ needs a couple of wires connected to the mains. Even ‘just’ changing a light bulb has served up plenty of unsuspecting jolts over the years.
Nowadays, the decision to install a safety switch for the home fuse box has become a ‘no-brainer’. However, a new problem has recently emerged. Many homeowners are at risk to an additional lethal Voltage electrical power supply in their home – the solar array on their roof.
In fact, the average domestic solar installation can supply up to 600 volts d.c. That’s enough power to deliver a lethal electric shock. And since a solar array can never be turned off while the sun is shining, homeowners are at risk when they access the roof area. Think of all those homeowners who were rescued from their roofs during the recent Queensland floods.
Solar panels have also been reported to cause roof fires. More alarming is that in many cases the Fire Brigade have needed to implement extra precautions to extinguish roof fires where solar panels are installed – for fear they may receive a lethal electric shock – whether the panels were the cause of the fire or not.
And yet, many homeowners (and solar installers) still have not learnt their lesson of hindsight from the safety switch genesis…
“I’m careful, it won’t happen to me.”
“When do I need to get on the roof?”
“I won’t be affected by floods.”
“It’s not worth spending the money.”
“I can always call the Fire Brigade if there’s a fire on the roof.”
“My solar installer says it’s already safe.”
Already safe? The current method of switching off the d.c. isolator in an emergency does not shut down the ability of the solar panels to generate lethal Voltage. This only stops current flow to the inverter, and does nothing to ensure the safety on the roof.
Fortunately, there is now a safety switch for a solar array known as the Solar Safety ShutOFF (RSIA2) by Remote Solar Isolator™. When a RSIA2 is correctly fitted to a new or existing solar installation the homeowner can easily de-activate the array from combining its power and reduce it to the safety of Extra Low Voltage. This enables the homeowner to safely work near the array or the solar wiring from the roof. It also allows emergency personnel to gain safe access to your roof area.
For added control and safety, the RSIA2 can be remotely activated from the local power station by disconnecting the incoming a.c. mains to the home. This may be particularly useful during flood emergencies, since homeowners would not be placing themselves or emergency personnel at further risk by gaining access to the roof area to escape rising water.
The RSIA2 also comes fitted with a thermal detector in case of fire, which will stop the solar panels combining when a predetermined temperature is reached. This makes the roof area safe for fire fighters to focus on fighting the blaze, without fear of electrocution.
One thing becomes certain. Complacency around electrical safety levels is like a game of Russian roulette. It will only be a matter of time before a life is lost as a result of a solar array electrocution. Let us learn the lessons of the past to anticipate the pitfalls of the future, and eliminate those areas of risk we actually do have control over.
Like the safety switch for your home, the Remote Solar Isolator™ is a safety switch for your solar installation on your roof, and an inexpensive solution for those unexpected events.