A device designed to increase the safety of solar systems called a roof top isolator actually adds a fire risk to solar systems on the roof.
Despite the lack of fires or any demonstrable harm from solar panels themselves, and in spite of the evidence showing the fire risk from DC switches, Standards Australia moved to mandate the rooftop DC switch nationwide in 2012, in the name of fire safety. Australian roofs being a high UV and high temperature environment is unforgiving to plastic switches designed for shadowed areas in switchboards and under verandas. In 2012, soon after the roof top isolator became a mandatory requirement, roof top fires, started in the isolators.
The Australian newspaper reported in 2014, that in the period 2012 to Nov 2014 – 167 roof top isolator fires were reported in Queensland alone, and the issue continues unabated in 2019.
Australia is the only place in the world that mandates roof top isolators. Germany, itself a world leader in solar electricity, had once required a practice similar to Australia’s rooftop DC isolator requirement but eventually stopped it, because it was causing too many fires. The Germans found that placing DC switches in exposed places creates a degenerative process that, without regular maintenance, causes the switches to heat up, and eventually, to catch fire – even the high-quality German DC switches.
Solar PV industry experts are asking Standards Australia to issue an amendment to the technical standard for installing solar panels, eliminating the requirement for a rooftop DC isolator. Furthermore, all existing rooftop DC isolators should be removed. The rooftop DC isolator requirement isn’t working and must be amended, with urgency, as it increases the risk factor of solar systems.per home, 1 time – finished.