I fitted 3 x 100W solar panels on a roof at some stables last Wednesday. It's the second time I have been to the site. Last time I installed 3 slightly smaller solar panels on a ground mount system. Unfortunately the reason for returning was that the original solar panels were recently stolen.
I am very pleased to say that I have heard of very few problems with theft of solar panels from off-grid solar systems that I have supplied, but, this recent incidence got me to thinking about solar panel security and how we could make solar panels less vulnerable to being stolen.
Most of my customers install the solar panels I supply at height on a roof or wall. I think this in itself is perhaps the single best deterrent to theft as the panels are physically difficult to get at without ladders and access equipment. This is why the solar panels were moved to the roof on this occassion even though the solar array had to be made slightly larger to make up for less than ideal orientation of the roof in question.
We also fitted a security cable through all three panel frames and secured this to a security anchor on the concrete base of the stables. My customer is going to paint the solar panels and mark them with smart water as well.
In summary my recommendations to minimise the risk of your solar panels being stolen are as follows:
- Install solar panels on a roof or at height if possible
- Install solar panels where they cannot be easily seen from public areas if possible
- Ensure general site security is good - lock access gates, provide security lighting etc
- Use a security chain to join solar panels together making removal cumbersome/ difficult (ask me for details!)
- Use security fixings (require special tools) or, once installed, make solar panel fixings difficult to remove by grinding edges off nuts and bolt heads.
- Make solar panels less saleable by painting the frame an unusual colour
- Mark solar panels with smart water or your property name.
Remember 12V batteries are also easy pickings for those who might be looking. Batteries are difficult to secure but are best kept well out of sight.
If you are concerned theft may be an issue at your stables or off grid solar project please get in touch and I will be advise further.