Solar During Floods: Management, Cleaning, & Safety
By Peter Sutrin, Electrician
Published November 14, 2022

With an increase in severe weather events, it’s essential to have a clear plan in place for floods or bushfires. Electricity and water are never a good combination, so safety is paramount when preparing for, or cleaning up after a flood. 

Below we’ve outlined some tips on the best way to care for your solar system both before and after flooding. 


Before it Floods

If you’re fortunate enough to receive a warning of impending floods, there are several things you should do to ensure the lowest risk to your home and yourself. 

On your inverter, there should be a shutdown procedure. Follow that. It should instruct you to turn off the AC isolator (if you have one) and the inverter supply main switch. Then turn off the DC isolators. At this stage the inverter is isolated. The cables from the solar panels to the inverter are still live, though. If it’s safe to do so, the rooftop DC isolator or DC connector points can be utilised to isolate this.   


Solar systems during a flood

As long as the solar system has been isolated and switched off, there is a low risk during a flood event. 

The biggest risk comes when power returns to the grid, or in cases where a solar system wasn’t turned off in time before a flood. 

While the AC power to your house (from the grid) has protection in your switchboard, the DC power (from your solar system) has no such protection and thereby poses the greatest risk. Even if the grid isn’t supplying power, any sun on your solar system can generate DC energy which could be dangerous if the system is still on but has been damaged. 

The height of the flood will likely impact how much damage the system sustains and how much of the system needs to be replaced. 


Solar systems after a Flood

Do not attempt to turn on a solar system after a storm or flood and stay away from the area until the system is assessed as safe by a qualified electrician. Even if the network has been turned off, a solar system or wiring may still be live. Don’t attempt to clean up the area until you’re certain the system is safe. 

After being fully submerged, solar system parts such as inverters and isolators will need to be fully replaced. In some cases, solar panels may be salvageable and can be used again in repairing the system. This will depend on the age of the panels, level of damage, and a variety of other safety factors. 


Solar system warranty and insurance after floods

 Where possible, you should check your home insurance policy when first installing a solar system, to ensure that your solar system will be covered in the event of a flood, should the system sustain damage. Some policies will include the solar system, although you may need to increase your coverage, which will mean an increase in your premiums. Review your policy and talk to your insurance broker if you have concerns about what your policy covers. 

Solar inverters have IP (Ingress Protection) ratings which mean they’re suitable for outdoor use and typical weather conditions. Flooding, however, is not classed as a typical weather condition and submersion of your inverter will void the warranty. 

Just as with your inverter, your solar panels are IP rated, but the warranty is voided if they’re submerged. 


Electrical equipment after a flood

If your house has been inundated by water, it’s important that all electrical items are fully replaced. The reason for this isn’t just the water; it’s also the build-up of silt inside the electrical conduits. Even when electric items are fully dry, a piece of silt can block a connection, causing an arc and a fire. 

If you have electrical items which have sustained water damage but haven’t been exposed to dirty water (for instance, items exposed to direct rain), you can dry them out, and have an electrician check them for damage. 

If your location has recently flooded, our team can offer professional advice and an electrical check to ensure your solar and electrical systems are safe to use.