Photovoltaic solar panels absorb sunlight as a source of energy to generate electricity. Solar panels are used in commercial and residential applications to provide a source of carbon-free, renewable energy.
The use of solar energy is becoming increasingly popular and solar power systems now range from small residential outfits, that combine a handful of panels to provide electricity for a particular property, to large-scale photovoltaic power stations, or solar farms, that are designed for the supply of merchant power into the electricity grid as an alternative to fossil or nuclear generating systems.
Solar is also becoming more widely installed on the roofs of large-scale warehouse facilities, stores, distribution centres and industrial buildings to help companies save money and cut their carbon footprint.
Solar farms are huge investments, with millions of pounds spent each year. The time and money invested in developing such huge arrays and the money they generate once up and running means that solar farms must be protected from fire to avoid damage to equipment and loss of revenue.
What are the Challenges?
With limited federal or local regulations for fire detection, solar panels were often left vulnerable. Until recently, the only way to detect a fire on a solar panel was with the human eye. This meant that solar operators and owners were reliant on passers-by reporting fires that they notice.
What are the Risks?
There are many causes of solar panel fires including:
- Short Circuits
- The resulting spark from a short circuit could ignite surrounding foliage or set fire to the panel itself.
- Maintenance and Repairs
- Maintenance work that includes repairs that may involve welding or soldering could easily start a fire.
- Solar panels can be prone to overheating due to excessive solar irradiance and high environmental temperatures. This is a common problem in the Middle East and North African regions.
- Debris and Animal Nests
- Debris may be blown in from surrounding areas and cover the panel and fuel a potential fire. Likewise, animal nests can cause the same problem.
What is the Solution?
Linear heat detection can provide the ideal solution to protecting solar panels from fire.
FyreLine, Eurofyre’s linear heat detection solution, meets all the detection challenges that exist in solar panel installations. FyreLine heat sensing cable can detect heat at any point along its length and provide an accurate location of any fires or events. It is not affected by rapid temperature changes or seasonal fluctuations and it can be integrated into any conventional or addressable fire alarm control panel.
Heat sensing cable can be installed along the highest longitudinal support bar of a solar panel’s metal framework to provide reliable and cost-effective detection.
There are several cable coatings available including a nylon coating, recommended for solar panel installations, which protects the cable from UV light and provides additional mechanical protection.
FyreLine is available in two variations:
FyreLine Digital provides fixed heat protection at rated temperatures of 68°C, 88°C, 105°C or 185°C. Once the cable reaches its rated temperature, a signal is sent to the control panel.
FyreLine Analogue continually monitors for changes in temperature. Once the cable reaches a temperature, pre-defined by the user, a signal of fire is sent to the control panel. FyreLine Analogue also provides the possibility to define a pre-alarm temperature, which allows potential fires to be investigated before the alarm is raised.
Due to the switch-like nature of FyreLine, it can be wirelessly integrated into a new or existing fire alarm system using Wi-Fyre.
Wi-Fyre allows wireless and hardwired technology to operate together and form a complete hybrid fire detection system. Wi-Fyre Wireless Transponders, installed into the fire alarm control panel via a compatible interface module, can communicate with up to 30 mixed wireless field devices including sounders, detectors, manual call points and I/O devices. In this instance, wireless I/O devices can be used to relay the signal from FyreLine linear heat detectors to the fire alarm control panel.
For more information about the FyreLine Linear Heat Detection system, or to discuss any of the other products that Eurofyre have to offer, please feel free to get in touch either by phone on +44 (0) 1329 835 024, by email to [email protected] or via the online enquiry form situated on our contact page.