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Understanding the risks of Solar Panel (PV) Rooftop Systems

Webinar broadcast date: 4th June 2024

Presented by

Johnny Thomson

Marketing & Communications Associate Director

Paul Farmer

Head of Technical - Risk Engineering & Surveys

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Payton Hillman

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Chloe Wilson

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Jessica Davis

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James Williams

Questions & Answers


What are the average costings to note for rooftop panels on residential/commercial risks?

There are so many variables to the cost of installation, such as number of panels, type of roof, height of roof, number of inverters and other components, capacity etc., it is impossible to quantify. For a typical 4kW system, including installation, ranges between £5,000 - £6,000 plus VAT (no VAT if a residential system). If you require battery storage, typical for residential systems, then this increases to £13,000 - £15,000.

How many solar panel fire related claims do insurers have to deal with in a 12 month period?

What are thoughts on existing systems which are on combustible roofs? Particularly composite panels where there is a metal sheet but combustible insulation. Are LPS1181 approved (Euroclass B s1d0) panels not acceptable?

Is it the case that PV installations should adhere to the British Standard BS 7671 and is this currently considered adequate or should there be a British Standard drawn up specifically for PV systems?

Would 6 monthly thermographic inspections recorded be advisable? i.e examination of inverters?

Is there any legislation in place in terms of how often solar panel systems should be inspected and certified?

Do you tend to issue any risk improvements when surveying around maintenance / inspections of solar panels?

Would you expect professional installers to highlight any challenges on construction prior to installation (should this produce an enhanced fire exposure)?

Where the system is isolated, what happens to the DC current being generated?

What is the approximate split between rooftop-fitted and ground-mounted solar panels and are there different fire risk considerations for ground-mounted solar panels?

Are most of the fires started by the battery that is fed by the solar panels?

My client is a major importer and retailer of solar panels (£300m t/o company). The USA government introduced tariffs on solar panels imported from China in 2023 in an effort to promote USA made panels. China saw sales reduce and in the last 6-12 months China dumped several $billion of panels into various Rotterdam warehouses which have reduced solar PV panel unit prices by 50% across Europe. This is now significantly affecting the UK solar PV market. Prices have dropped a lot. Beware the quality of panels used as a result as the US does not have such stringent fire safety regs as we do.

What is the lifespan of current generation PV systems and does the fire risk increase over time?

Are there any issues with theft of Solar Panels?

I see a lot of roof mounted systems on agricultural buildings. Some are really big. Traditionally, in my area the largest supplier provide maintenance and an attached insurance policy - this does not usually include liability cover. I do the liability on my policies separately, but the installer advises clients that "there can be no liability attaching to PV units".

You've not commented on potential breach of compartmentation within buildings?

I am noticing certain insurers starting to ask for annual inspections where previously they wouldn't have asked anything at all. I can see this becoming common across the market having heard all of this...

A golf club roof has edging installed around the panels for aesthetic purposes. Does this change the risk?

I have a residential system and had to get wiring retro-fitted to prevent pigeons nesting. Are there other "nice to have" controls which we might ask for on larger risks?

Please can you comment on the possibility of linking of panels in to the alarm system to automatically shut down the inverters/modules in the event of a fire condition or even detection relating to excessive heat being generated or short circuits occurring.

We also need to not discourage the use of solar by insurance rates increasing too much, as they are in my opinion one of the most cost effective way of improving the energy efficiency of a home. It needs to be regulated and better guidance and awareness to consumers to be safely used.

I have solar panels on our home however they are not inspected.  Can you let me know who to contact regarding maintenance - never too sure if reliable when going through Google?

Can we check some of the risks on Google Maps? Such as, how straight the strings are? Often looking on Google Maps is the first indication of a PV system being in place when preparing for a survey.

I am under the impression that any panels fitted on a commercial site need fire brigade plans and approval. Is that the case?

I have recently added solar panels to a policy for a client and was not asked any questions by insurers other than replacement value.

For a domestic installation, what if the insurer is not informed about a PV system being present?

Do I need to notify my home insurer if an attached neighbour has solar panels?

From a claims point of view, is there a difference in risk between thermal panels (PV) and solar panels, as they would both generate electricity?




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