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How can I prevent my solar PV panels being stolen?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 April 2013 at 9:32 am

Q: I have a holiday home in France and I'd love to install solar. my concern, however, is the risk of theft. The property is quite isolated and we won't be there a lot of the time. Is it easy to take down solar panels? Are there more portable panels that lend themselves to this better?

A: Recently I heard of a case of stolen solar panels for the first time, and I as a result I took some soundings with people about what the risks are and what you can do to prevent theft.

Most of the people I spoke with were shocked to hear about the theft (which was a ground mounted array of solar PV modules, plus the inverter). It does not appear to be common here (yet). I can’t comment about the risk in France. However, I understand that solar fields in Germany do tend to have CCTV and other security measures.

There are fixings that you can get which make it very difficult to remove the panels from the rails or ground mount frame. However, while this makes them more less likely to be stolen, it also makes it difficult to remove a module if something goes wrong with it, so it’s not an ideal solution.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, it’s worth checking with your insurer whether your solar installation is covered under your home insurance, and if not, it may be worth getting separate cover.

I don't know what the system of incentives etc in France is, but here it wouldn't make sense to have portable panels. You want them to be generating all year to maximise the return on your investment. This would not necessarily be the case if you are off grid, and were storing electricity in batteries, and were absent much of the time.

Find out more about solar PV on YouGen

An introduction to solar PV

Financial incentive for solar PV (the feed-in tariff)

Find a local solar PV installer

Photo Credit: david.nikonvscanon via Compfight cc By

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Comments

2 comments - read them below or add one

Renewable Solutions UK Ltd

Renewable Solutions UK LtdComment left on: 17 April 2013 at 1:13 pm

Hello, 

We have a unique patent pending alarm system for solar PV arrays. It was initially devised for comercial installations, but such has been the interest there is a small scale solution too. It is called PV Protect and details can be found at www.pvprotect.co.uk 

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Sarah Gaunt

Sarah GauntComment left on: 17 April 2013 at 10:27 am

Can you get an alarm that sounds (loud enough for nearest neighbours to hear) if the panel is disconnected from the inverter?

Solar thermal could also be a good solution to provide your hot water during the summer months when the holiday home is more likely to be used? Solar thermal panels would also be much more difficult to steal due to the plumbing etc.

Sarah

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