Can you get electrocuted whilst cleaning solar panels? The simple answer is absolutely, yes. There are several ways that a person can be electrocuted while cleaning solar panels. It is not a risk that should be ignored. This is why certification of solar panel cleaning safety awareness training from ISCA or similar is vital for anyone seeking to start solar panel cleaning. Solar panel cleaning is not a DIY job and nor should we presume that window cleaners can clean solar panels safely either. On window cleaning forums, window cleaners have given their experiences of being electrocuted whilst cleaning solar panels. So it is important that you only contact professionals for solar panel cleaning and servicing.
What Type Of Electricity Do Solar Panels Produce?
Solar panels create Direct Current (DC) electricity. It is important to note that victims of DC electrocution say they are unable to pull away from the source of the electricity. This is because DC current flows continuously. Many people who intend to clean solar panels, including window cleaners, do not understand this principle. They think that they can turn off the solar panels by flicking a switch by the inverter. This does not switch the solar panels ‘off’. They will still be live and the risk of electrocution still exists.
SEE ALSO: Why “The Only Thing Firefighters Fear More Than Fire Is Solar”
How Can You Get Electrocuted Whilst Cleaning Solar Panels?
There are several ways. Firstly, the solar panels may not be earthed correctly. So as a person cleans the solar panels, they may act as the ‘earth’ and receive an electric shock. Secondly, faulty wiring underneath solar panels is not easy to see. This can cause arcing. Arcing is a serious risk on solar panels. It has the potential for electrocution and the starting of solar panel fires. Thirdly, broken solar panels are not always easy to see, especially if cleaning from ground level. If water is sprayed directly on to a broken solar panel, again, electrocution is a serious risk.
What Effect On The Body Does DC Electrocution Have?
DC electrocution causes muscle contraction. This is the reason a person can often not ‘let go’ of the source of electrocution. As a result, a few things happen to the body. Firstly, electrocution can cause fibrillation of the heart. This is where all of the muscles in your heart start to move indpendently of each other, instead of moving in sync. This can lead to your heart not pumping blood around the body correctly, which can result in brain damage and cardiac arrest. DC shock can be lethal both from the effect it has on the body and also by causing a person to fall from height when cleaning solar panels. Burn injuries can also occur.
How Can Solar Panels Be Cleaned Safely?
Your solar panels should ONLY be cleaned by trained professionals, not window cleaners. How can you tell if they are professionals? Firstly, prior to works commencing they should be able to provide you with a copy of their public liability insurance certificate which specifically has ‘solar panel cleaning’ in it’s wording. This allows you to make a claim from them if they damage your solar array. Secondly, they should be able to present you with a Risk Assessment & Method Statement (RAMS). This document highlights the risks associated with solar panel cleaning and how they intend to reduce these risks, including the electrocution risk. It should also explain to you how they intend to clean your solar panel safely. Thirdly, they should wear suitable PPE that will protect them from electrocution whilst cleaning. Lastly, it is advisable to choose a company with track record. Ask for references of previous clients they have cleaned.
If they cannot provide ALL of the above, DO NOT allow them to clean your solar panels. The risk to themselves and to your system is too great.
Clean Solar Solutions can provide all of the above and have cleaned millions of solar panels on the ground and roofs all over the U.K. and into Europe. Please contact us for pricing if you are a solar array owner and require a service or cleaning. If you are seeking to start up a solar panel cleaning business, please also contact us as we may be able to assist you.