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Solar Panels Blamed For 500pc Increase In Rooftop Fires

SYDNEY: Solar panels designed to keep firefighters safe from electric shock may actually be putting them at risk, according to a new report.

It suggests the panels may be responsible for a 500 percent increase in rooftop fires.

Many national watchdogs and firefighters are attributing the majority of incidents to direct-current (DC) isolator switches – designed to isolate the solar panels from the rest of the house – according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.

A record 101,224 of these solar panel systems are said to have been installed in NSW last year, a 26 percent jump on the previous record set in 2011.

A NSW Government spokesperson said Fair Trading inspectors had visited about 100 worksites across Sydney in November during “a blitz targeting wrongdoers in the solar industry”.

Twenty infringement notices worth $19,250 were issued, including for unlicensed work, while seven cautions were issued for less serious offences. Several breaches are still being investigated, the spokesperson said.

SafeWork NSW has recorded two fatalities and 48 serious incidents with solar installatios over the past three years.

Following 619 inspections in 2019-20, inspectors reportedly found some 12 unsafe systems and 117 substandard systems.

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