Photovoltaic Cells & Systems
Approximate reading time: 0.5 Hours
Approximate online time: 0.5 Hours
The increasing popularity of residential solar energy systems, large photovoltaic arrays powering institutions like universities and hospitals, and commercial solar farms in rural areas pose new challenges for fire investigators responding to scenes where photovoltaic systems are present. Photovoltaic systems pose a safety hazard that must be addressed prior to an investigation. Investigators must be familiar with how photovoltaic systems work, how these systems are designed and installed, and how to safely interact with them when investigating the scene. This module provides a basic introduction to all these topics. The module also is a pre-requisite for the IAAI's residential course on solar power systems.
Prior to starting this module, CFITrainer.Net recommends first completing three modules on basic electricity as a foundation for understanding photovoltaic cells and systems: "Electrical Safety," "Basic Electricity," "Residential Electrical Systems," and "Lithium-Ion Battery Fires."
IMPORTANT SAFETY WARNING: A fire investigation involving photovoltaic cells or a photovoltaic or solar power system SHOULD NOT proceed unless the system has been made safe according to applicable industry guides and/or standards such as NFPA 70E. The manufacturer's instructions may also provide guidance. Depending on their condition, the solar cells could continue to produce electricity and the associated systems may contain stored energy that could be discharged, posing a shock or electrocution hazard.