Are solar batteries a fire risk?

When adding a solar battery system to your home, it’s only natural to consider what risks may be involved. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation around the risk of batteries causing fires; in this post, we’ll have a look at the facts to ease your concerns.

In Australia, there are strict safety standards that regulate not only how a solar battery is built internally, but also the way in which it can be installed.

Within a battery system, a fire can ignite in three ways. The first is when there is a problem with the external electrical components of the system – that is, the wiring. The risk of this occurring is essentially the same as with any other electrical appliance in your home – pretty low.

The second way is ignition within the battery cell itself as a result of damage or internal failure. If the battery becomes pierced or exposed to extreme radiant heat, the chemical elements of the cell may become compromised. This type of fire is extremely uncommon.

The third is chemistry. Choosing a battery with a very stable chemistry, such as lithium iron phosphate (LFP), reduces the risk of fire. It may make the battery system a bit heavier, though LFP can also be lighter than some less stable chemistries, too. Of course, a safer chemistry offers greater protection and peace of mind. For reference, an electric vehicle usually uses a more energy-dense, but less stable, type of lithium battery than a home battery energy storage system.

Risk of fire can be mitigated further by placing the battery in a secondary enclosure to protect it from mechanical damage. A qualified installer will also position your battery in a cool, safe, ventilated place outside your home so it doesn’t overheat.In the unlikely event of a fire, switch your battery system off on the clearly marked switch on the main switchboard (not on the battery itself), and contact the fire department. Remember, never spray water onto an electrical fire; water conducts electricity, and it may shock you.

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