The Swedish Electrical Safety Authority (Elsäkerhetsverket) has issued a warning about the risks posed by plug-in solar modules, which are often used on balconies. It said electrocution and fire are the main risks associated with faulty plug-in panels.
“For these products, there are a number of situations that may cause these risks,” Elsäkerhetsverket spokesperson Mikael Carlson told pv magazine. “The regulations state that a single fault shall not lead to electrocution or fire. Since these products use plugs with accessible pins, this is not fulfilled.”
Elsäkerhetsverket said that the pins on plugs could become dangerous even when they are not in sockets.
“There is also a risk of electrocution for electricians doing electrical installation work in the building, not knowing that there could be local PV-generators connected to the system that may be faulty,” Carlson said. “If there are local generators that incorrectly feed disconnected networks, there is a risk of electrocuting for technicians during work.”
Elsäkerhetsverket said that plug-in panels could catch fire because their current could exceed the electrical design of systems.
“It is possible to consume more power than the electrical wires are dimensioned for if the fuse for the feed-in outlet also supplies another outlet, which can result in fires,” Carlson said. “If many apartments connect these products and they all end up feeding into the same phase, it could also cause problems in the electrical system of the building, such as fires.”
Elsäkerhetsverket told homeowners to rely on professional installers for PV system dimensioning.
“The standard SS 43640400 does not allow for plug-in solutions, so the product must be permanently connected to the property's electrical system,” Carlson said. “The affected parts of the electrical system must be dimensioned for this change and warning signs shall be applied at appropriate places in the building.”
He said it is the responsibility of manufacturers to be well informed about regulatory frameworks and comply with legal requirements.
“The ‘Blue Guide’ from the European Commission is a good starting point and applicable standards can be ordered from SEK Svensk Elstandard,” said Carlson.
Elsäkerhetsverket said that there might be other legal requirements, such as building permits or requests from the local emergency services, that should be considered when placing solar panels on balconies.
“The installation may also need pre-approval from the grid owner, and the electricity meter may need to be changed so that any feed to the grid is measured,” concluded Carlson.
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