Fire safety recommendations for solar PV installations

Case Studies

A draft version of RC62, concerning the safe and efficient generation of electricity via solar PV systems, highlighting fire safety issues, was issued for review to the the UK solar industry on 1st December 2021, led by Robert Harley, Director of Helios Solar Operations & Maintenance Ltd.

Having been reviewed by representatives of the UK Insurance industry, this peer review process finished on 19th January 2022, with the final document being published as a preview to a Joint Code of practice between the UK Solar and Insurance sectors, later this year.

What is it?

In essence the RC62 provides guidance on how all solar PV systems should be designed, installed, commissioned, maintained and de-commissioned to ensure that the correct processes are followed so that electricity is generated by these systems both safely and efficiently.

According to Mr Harley, some installers have not been overly diligent in ensuring that their installations meet all of the required regulations, so this guide highlights a number of these important regulations.

Who’s it by?

Mr Robert Harley, Director of Helios, is leading the process. The document itself has been written by James Hoare CEng FIET FEI, arguably one of the UK’s most senior PV technical experts. It has been jointly funded by the MCS, the UK’s foremost renewable energy standards organisation, and the Fire Protection Association (FPA). 

Robert Harley of Helios, Howard Passey of the FPA, James Hoare CEng FIET FEI and Chris Roberts, Technical Director of the MCS at the Solar & Storage Live 2021 event

How will it affect me?

Providing your original installer complied with the correct quality standards and are still trading you shouldn’t be affected.

If they or you are however not complying with the correct design, installation and maintenance guidelines, insurance cover may be void in the event of a claim on fire damage caused by your solar PV system.

Reportedly fire damage from a PV system at a farmhouse in Devon resulted in uninsured losses of over £800,000.

Fire damage caused by a PV system at Westleigh Methodist School Fire

What do I need to do?  

You should already be aware if your solar PV system is inspected & tested annually and whether a comprehensive report is issued, together with any recommendations. 

Helios Solar Operations & Maintenance Ltd have been instrumental in the development of the UK’s testing and inspection guidelines that have been recommended by the trade body Solar Energy UK and the MCS and can provide these services together with a comprehensive report on the current condition of your solar PV system from both a safety and performance perspective.

The company also carries out series resistance testing – not part of the current guidelines, but part of the soon to be released Joint Code of Practice – helping to identify potential hazards before they pose a fire risk.

Helios are ready to help you with any related queries. They can be reached on 01525 664665, robert@helios-om.com or via their website – www.helios-om.com

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