The California Division of the State Architect recently notified school districts and solar contractors of three instances where solar panels dislodged from solar array racking structures during moderate wind events. In a subsequent memo, DSA released new requirements for further review of solar panel attachment details (full text here). Loose solar panel connections can create a safety hazard if not detected and corrected in a timely manner. Such issues can be identified in advance if appropriate annual inspection and monitoring measures are in place.
TerraVerde performs real time monitoring and comprehensive preventative maintenance activities to ensure solar installations are maintained properly and risk of failure is minimized.
Our annual inspection scope includes several ways that a dislodged panel could be detected, including:
- Visual inspection – every panel and racking structure is visually inspected during the preventative maintenance procedure. A misaligned solar panel or loose clip would be noticed during this inspection.
- Electrical testing – every year each string in a system is tested for connectivity. A dislodged and unconnected panel would be detected through voltage testing.
- Wiring inspection – wire management is noted throughout our inspections. A dislodged panel is likely to create noticeable wiring issues.
In addition to annual inspections, we review installation processes and commissioning tests with the contractors that work with TerraVerde customers. As an additional measure, we are also confirming that all contractors constructing new solar installations are aware of these incidents, especially as they relate to newer and thinner solar panels.
It is worth noting that in our most recent annual inspection for our customers (which involves inspection of over 150,000 solar panels), we identified one misaligned solar panel. The solar panel was readjusted and safely secured to the racking structure upon discovery.
If you have an operating solar installation and are not certain about the condition of your solar panels, feel free to contact us to learn more. We can help you evaluate if your current maintenance activities include inspection activities that would capture solar panel misalignment issues.