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Rising Instances Of Solar Panel Fires Send A Shiver Down Apartment Owners Looking To ‘Go Green’

Expert Opinion piece – Stephen Raff, CEO of Ace Body Corporate Management.



August, 2017
By Stephen Raff

A rise in solar panel fires in several Australian states has prompted a warning for hundreds of apartment owners going green on the cheap.

At Ace, we’re concerned the problem could quickly grow with the huge popularity of solar power only increasing, if owners corporations/bodies corporate continue to put price over quality. Apartment blocks are well suited to solar networks because the energy generated can be used to power common areas creating costs-savings for owners corporations, but the presence of inexperienced market operators using cheap products has unfortunately exposed owners to serious fire risks.

Fire Departments in Queensland have attended over 50 fires in the past 2 years caused by solar panels with New South Wales and Victorian departments also observing a rise in fires started by solar panels.

After hearing advice from our trusted suppliers in the fire safety field, we’re advising strata property owners to understand that savings should start after making energy efficient upgrades, and cutting corners during the upgrade could be a costly mistake. Solar power is becoming increasingly popular for strata properties as more owners corporations/bodies corporate look for alternative ways to power their building, limit their environmental footprint and reduce energy costs.

However, in the rush to ‘go green’ many owners corporations/bodies corporate are exposing themselves to additional fire risks by installing solar panels and battery storage on the cheap.

Ultimately a big motivator in the push to go green comes from the hip pocket, with the promise of savings following energy efficient upgrades, but owners need to understand that the savings start after installation, not before. In the rush to meet the growing demand for these solar installations, we fear that the safety of communities has been compromised in some cases by poorly trained installers using cheap products.

The key benefit of solar as part of a building’s network, is it enables a building’s often costly to maintain common areas to be supplied with renewable energy, reducing the overall cost of electricity supply and creating value for owners. But like any works on common property, owners corporations/bodies corporate must do their research, as we have observed some cases of ‘cowboy’ operators out there trying to take advantage of consumer ignorance. These operators are using cheap products manufactured overseas to drop prices and cut out local quality installers.

Ace Body Corporate Management
This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.Ace Body Corporate Management offers this newsletter to clients to assist in updating them on company and industry news. The content within this newsletter is of a generic nature and may not be applicable to all owners corporations. Ace Body Corporate Management attempts to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information for our clients, however we strongly recommend that individuals and committees seek further advice before acting on any information in this newsletter.