Insurance and Finance

Solar Safety  

By Kristy Alpert 8.27.14

With increasing incentives to embrace green energy around Texas, more and more consumers are turning to solar panels to help cut costs while going green. But did you know these energy saving panels could end up hindering the safety of your home in an emergency?

Several organizations, including the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), have acknowledged fire safety concerns in regards to solar panels, noting that the panels themselves aren’t the main concern for fire safety, but rather it’s the actual placement of the panels that determines whether or not a home would be at risk during an emergency.

Across the United States, solar panels installed on roofs have hindered fire teams from fighting fires due to electrocution risks and the inability to cut through the panels to create ventilation holes. Aside from those cases, many insurance agents are looking at the potential risks of the added weight from solar panels on a roof, posing concerns about possible property damage — or worse — if the structure collapses during a fire or other emergency.

While most Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agents are still very pro-solar (the Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Companies love saving clients money!), they recommend homeowners consider the following when on installing panels for solar safety:

  • Placement. In terms of sheer sun power, Texas-based Pecan Street Research Institute recommends Texans reduce stress on the utility grid during summertime peak demand periods by aiming their panels westward. In terms of safety, firefighters recommend solar users to have the panels installed on either the side of the home or on another existing structure on the property like a barn to keep the roof free from obstruction in the case of an emergency.
  • Insurance. When adding any large ticket item to the home, always make sure to contact your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent to update your policy and make sure you’re covered on all fronts, but in this case it’s also a great idea to notify your local fire department as well so they can update their database of solar homes.