How to prevent solar inverter short-circuits and fires

16 August 2023
With many South Africans installing inverters as part of solar power systems to mitigate the impact of loadshedding in homes and at businesses, users need to be aware of the potential fire risk. This includes overheating or short-circuits in the battery or other electrical parts that could result in an explosion, warns ASP Fire CEO Michael van Niekerk.

An essential part of any solar power system, solar inverters convert direct current (DC) power produced by photovoltaic solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity to power appliances and devices at home and in businesses.

“There are various factors that can cause a solar inverter to catch fire,” notes van Niekerk. It can simply be the naturally high temperature of its operating environment, compounded by the equipment generating heat as it inverts and transforms high-voltage electricity.

Potential short-circuits can also be caused by a lack of adequate maintenance and management, improper installation, poor quality equipment, or vegetation, plant debris and even small animals and insects finding their way into equipment.

Grid-tied solar systems are exposed to inrush current when the power is restored after load shedding that can cause damage or fires, so it is important to have the system designed and signed off by a registered electrical engineer.

“Any failed component that short-circuits can result in a fire that spreads throughout the inverter, causing a domino effect,” highlights van Niekerk. Here automatic fire suppression is important to quickly detect and suppress a fire so the inverter is offline before the fire can spread to other components. This reduces the impact of any fire and prevents damage to other equipment and the surrounding area.

The following general safety tips are recommended:

“Fires will happen,” says van Niekerk. Therefore, it is important to prepare for the worst-case scenario by understanding the fire risks, how to best mitigate those risk factors, and then lastly how to manage a solar inverter fire.


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Notes to the Editor
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About ASP Fire
ASP Fire operates across the entire African continent from its Gauteng base, providing professional, accredited fire risk management and support to its clients. ASP Fire designs, installs, and maintains a full range of fire detection and suppression equipment suited to clients’ needs. ASP Fire provides a holistic, proactive, and preventative fire solution based on integrated fire risk assessment, training, and consulting, with the installation and maintenance of fire detection and suppression systems that meet SABS, NFPA, FPASA, and SAQCC standards.

ASP Fire Contact
Michael van Niekerk
ASP Fire

Phone: +27 (0) 11 452 2169
Cell: +27 (0) 83 779 1701
Fax: +27 (0) 86 505 1030
Email: michael [at] aspfire [dot] co [dot] za

Media Contact
Thobile Ndlovu

Account Executive

NGAGE Public Relations
Phone: (011) 867-7763
Cell: 073 574 2931
Email: thobile [at] ngage [dot] co [dot] za

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application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document iconAn essential part of any solar power system, solar inverters convert direct current (DC) power produced by photovoltaic solar pa19.37 KBDownload
PreviewASP Fire CEO Michael van Niekerk3.93 MBDownload
PreviewSolar power systems for homes and businesses are increasingly popular to mitigate the impact of ongoing loadshedding1.56 MBDownload