To: Electrical Standards Authorities
Remove the Solar DC Isolator from the Roof!
Please remove the need to install a DC Isolator on the roof alongside a Solar PV Array.
Please mandate that all DC Isolators are removed from current installations before we have more fires or worse a solar fire related fatality.
Why is this important?
In mid-2012, Australia and New Zealand together issued a new standard for the installation of solar arrays. This standard mandated the use of a specific piece of equipment called the "rooftop DC isolator" in Australia, and by some interpretations also in New Zealand. They did this despite evidence showing that the practice is unsafe.
A study from an international testing laboratory found that DC isolators are not safe in a firefighting situation, as they can’t withstand the high-pressure water used to extinguish a fire. The California State Office of the Fire Marshall frowns upon their use, because they give a false sense of security. And Europe, the most mature solar market, opted never to adopt them, also for safety reasons.
More than 70 fires in Australia have been caused by this isolator since 2012 -- that is, since it became mandatory! To put this into perspective, there were only 3 fires related to PV systems in Australia prior to the mandatory requirement to install a rooftop DC isolator.
The Australian government has responded with product recalls on DC isolators, at least 5 so far, showing this crisis isn’t just limited to a single manufacturer, but to the device itself. There is no evidence to suggest the device improves the safety of a PV system: all it does is increase costs and the risk to homeowners trying to do the right thing. And that's not to mention the catch-22 for PV installers who are both legally bound to comply and obliged to keep their clients safe.
Master Electricians Australia chief executive Malcolm Richards in an interview with the ABC late last year said that he says he knows of about 40 to 50 fires that have been started by the faulty isolators.
"We're warning home owners to carefully check the brand of isolator that is connected to your solar panels," he said.
"If it carries one of these two (recalled) brands ... undertake the isolation procedure until your electrician can come around and fix that up to eliminate or replace it."
How it will be delivered