Solar PV Rooftop Isolator Standard causes fires?

Worth the read for anyone with a rooftop solar PV installation. The most common explanation for the fires is moisture accumulation in the rooftop solar panel isolation switches. It’s not a new issue, but now highlighted by a decision the switches are not required.

Shonky because the risk your rooftop PV system can start a house fire is a direct result of installers doing as directed to provide a compliant installation.

Is how consumers best respond to the legacy issues a suitable subject for Choice to take to Government? @BrendanMays
It’s evident the requirement for the switches was inadequately risk assessed. It’s a failure by the regulators (Government Ministers) and most of all the committee advising Standards Australia. All consumers should be able to rely upon such committees when making such an important decision to deliver safer outcomes. Choice can demonstrate through other causes it has taken up, consumer action is still required to ensure products safely meet consumers needs.

For those of us with potentially unsafe rooftop switches the ABC highlights the prospect of regular costly inspections. Also the possibility of additional costs to remedy any defect found. How practical/costly it is to upgrade the install and eliminate the hazard (remove the switches) is another question?


If the housing is waterproof, it should just be a matter of removing the isolator switch and joining the cables- should be an hour or less work. Dodgy leaking housings are the problem, so if there is evidence of water ingress, they would need replacement, adding maybe 30 mins to time + cost of the new housing.


Yes, originally the isolation switch (2012 requirement) housings were not required to be water proof. Subsequently the housing requirements were upgraded to include water proof glands. A further update recognised even these housings could accumulate moisture through internal condensation. Hence breather valves were added to the requirements for the switch enclosures in 2018.

Our typical SE QLD coastal conditions cause the verandah roof tops to rain freely into the gutters on many mornings. It’s open to suggest with the addition of breathers the conditions inside the housings moisture corrosion of the switches is an ongoing risk. Time will tell.

Yes, there’s every good reason for owners to have their systems inspected and updated if necessary.

If it was a motor vehicle, as we have seen with the Takata airbag cylinder recalls, it would be a zero cost item to the current owners, irrespective of vehicle age. Whether the isolation switch caused fires can reasonably be compared to the tragedies arising from poor management of the roofing insulation scheme (pink batts) might be a stretch too far. Although the risk of loss of life is real. For one state only, ref the previous ABC linked article.

Data from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services shows there were 60 fires relating to solar panels last year — 37 of those were believed to have been caused by isolators.


Thanks for sharing this @mark_m, I’ll be sure to send it on to the relevant teams for consideration.