Solar panels and equipment are easily damaged, and they may carry live electrical current even when the sun is not shining. Follow these tips to protect system components and to protect yourself from electrical shock.
Ask the building owner or property manager to point out solar panels, conduits, batteries and all related equipment. Once you know the location of system components, take care to keep ladders, tools and supplies away from them.
- Watch out for conduits. The conduits that lead away from an array of solar panels carry electrical current at voltages strong enough to severely injure or kill you if you contact the wires inside. Note that conduits may run from a rooftop down the outside of a building.
- Stay away from solar panels. The top surfaces of solar panels are made of glass that will crack or break if a heavy object falls on them. If possible, maintain a two- to three-foot safety perimeter around panels and mounts.
- Protect thermal systems. Thermal solar systems move water through an array of narrow pipes on which sunlight is focused through glass. Take care around these installations and their input and output pipes.
Buried cables that carry electricity from privately owned ground-level solar panels to homes and businesses may not be recognizably marked. In addition, the 811 Call Before You Dig system may not have a record of them.
So if you’re digging or moving earth in any way near a ground-level solar array, call 811 well in advance of digging. Also be sure to consult property owners regarding the location of buried electric cables so you can dig a safe distance away from them.
Additional digging and overhead guidelines, case studies, instructional videos and training tools can all be found, at no charge to you, on Duke Energy’s e-SMARTworkers website.
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