Insuring Solar Installation

I was wondering how everyone is insuring their solar systems. Hopefully I can get some advise and maybe hear from others about past experiences. I am trying to gauge the risk involved with power surge.

A little bit of background. I live in a complex and five years ago I got a quote to specify my solar installation as an addition on my house policy. The specified items quote was very expensive (obviously) so the broker at the time recommended the value of the system be added to the house value and assured me the system was covered.

We have since moved the policy to a new broker and the new broker now says that I would not enjoy full cover for the system as indicated. I will be limited to the R50 000 electrical surge protection which is shared by the entire complex.

I currently have surge protection installed on the eskom input to the inverter as well as surge protection for the PV strings.

How prevalent is power surge damage to inverters and should I specify the inverter on the policy?
@plonkster would a surge from Eskom damage MPPT’s and Pylontechs or should they be spared?

I have a Victron Multiplus 2, Victron MPPT’s and Pylontech battery bank.

Obviously lightning will wipe out anything in its path, but I will be covered for lightning and hail damage to the panels.

Find a insurance broker that has placed cover for solar systems with insurers.

Normally it falls under the building section as it is part and parcel of the home, as fixtures and fittings.

Re. surge protection, it is advisable to add a surge protection device in the main DB, to protect the house and inverter AND a surge protection device in the Critical Loads DB, to protect any surges back from like say telephone or DSTV.

Effectively the inverter is protected between two surge devices. My supplier recommended such, especially for Gauteng.

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OK, disclaimer first. I’m not an expert and this is not expert advice. You are still on your own with this decision… :slight_smile:

But… The Multiplus is an old-school low-frequency design, which means it has a big old transformer between the electronics and the grid. It also has an AC power supply (so the inverter will start even if the battery is dead) which is your usual SMPS type thing.

So damage to the inverter is about on the same probability level as damage to other similar components, and it will depend how big a surge we’re talking about. If we’re talking 1000V… it’s probably going to be toast. If we’re talking 280V, it will probably survive. What I can tell you is that it is more robust and more likely to survive than the more modern HF designs.

Overall and for the most part with plenty of handwaving.

The odds of such a surge – as long as it isn’t lightening – making it onto the DC bus and blowing up the batteries, is very low.

But if you are concerned about lightening… nothing stops that.

Regarding first question, whether my stuff is insured? No. But I live in the Western Cape. The last time I’ve had lightening damage was in 2004. I personally lost a modem (connected to an overhead phone line) and in the building where I worked we lost about 100k worth of network equipment… but it was a 6-story building and apparently the building itself took a hit.

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Go to Santam…

I had the same question and we put it in an e-mail to Sanlam (our insurer) and they stated that it is fully covered. No strings, nothing. (So probably if we end up having a failure we will have to fight, at least we have that e-mail).

Then on surge protection, plonkster is 100% correct on the DC bus being protected from AC surges. It will be very difficult for it to get onto the DC.

As for lightning, well if you followed the right lightning standards for the area you are in (having air terminations, multiple paths for the lightning and type 1+2 combined surge protection) you would be okay for anything but a direct hit on the panels.

For AC surges, well a type 2 surge protection on your DB (as you have it) should suffice (unless very lightning prone, then get a type1+2 combined unit).

Only time additional surge protection would be required is if your inverter is “some ways” away from the main DB. Then it is advised to add surge protection additionally.

TTT does also have a point, if you have “external” equipment connected onto the back-up then surge protection would be required. However, if you only have internal components that is isolated from external inputs then surge protection might not be required.

But the rule is, if you are a bit uncertain then put it in!

If you have followed these rules, you have a CoC in place and your system was professionally installed then the insurance should not have any issue with paying out any damage claims.

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Santam … Sanlam is not a shortterm insurer.

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Hehe, ja ja… (Made the edit just after posting, you were just too damn quick!)

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Ek los die post, want baie mense meng die twee name.

I put this on the DC side, between panels and inverter because cause CPT is getting more and more thunder …
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Thank you for all the replies. Unfortunately as the property insurance is for a sectional title complex, I am not at liberty to move the policy or make any amendments without consent from the other owners without a vote at the AGM.

Also, since I am the only owner with solar installed, I’m out on a limb.

You could just specify it on your normal insurance. Just like a laptop computer for instance.

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Same disclaimer as @plonkster

It is your right to ask another broker if you can maybe insure the solar system addition separately as it may appear that insurers and insurance seem like cast in stone, till you get a broker who can look at things differently, one who has arrange appropriate cover for their clients, especially ones that specialize in solar systems insurance.

Now some things are just not possible, but as @Paul and I always say: “Vra is verniet … so ook die nee.”
(Asking is free … so is the No.)

AND what @Louisvdw said …

Will just revive an existing thread…

Please read this.
Alternative energy.pdf (45.8 KB)

I can’t even spel ekspurt BUT if you were told a couple of years ago that your panels were covered as part of the roof or whatever else, that may or may not be valid now. Seek advice and, as @TheTerribleTriplet said some time back, from a broker who has placed this cover before.

Also read the documents you get when your policy renews (usually this is annually), you will find that all sorts of terms and conditions have changed. The insurers are expected to explain these as clearly as possible in regular English rather than in legalese.

Don’t take anything for granted, if you want to insure the system. Get a COC, signed off by a competent party. If you really want to be sure then ask your insurer if they would send an inspector - some of them do offer this service.

Be prepared for adverse findings. As I have related in another thread, I am busy seeking SSEG approval for my system. It has served me well for 4.5 years, and as far as I know the guys who did it took proper care (and did give me a COC, and did put in SPDs and etc), but if the City’s inspector came today then my system would not pass the test because some important labelling is not present.

wonder how many installs will have an oopsie on this clausse:

To ensure cover, the structure of the building on which the solar panels are placed, must be signed off by a structural engineer.

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Ja. Because some roofs have acquired an interesting curve after panels have been placed up there.

Did a meteor hit this garage??

No, the roof structure was BARELY capable of holding the roof up to begin with. I remember this case. I believe the owner had to redo the roof on the right-hand side too, for it was in the same poor state.

If I recall correctly, he simply didn’t have enough beams to hold the roof up (and also down). You’re supposed to have a truss every 1.5 meters, and rafters every 600mm (depends on roof pitch and some other factors).

@JacoDeJongh , I think you told me about this case?

Yes it was me. If you look at width of a panel being 1 to 1,2 meters depending on the size, you can clearly see the trusses are about 1.2 to 1.5 meters apart. That might be sufficient to carry the weight of a thin corrugated roof. To carry the weight of tiles, trusses is normally 700 to 750 Mm apart. Then this guy went and install what seems to be 28 panels at between 23 and 27 kg each on top of a already under designed roof. All you need is a nice strong wind to add enough pressure to land you in this predicament.

Years ago, while my dad was still a civil engineer he was part of a team that had to investigate why corrugated roofs of homes and buildings in Cape Town CBD caved in like this. In short they concluded that the increase of high risers in the CBD deflected the winds in an unnatural downwards way resulting in excessive downwards pressure causing the roof to collapse. All those roof designed had to change to the 700-750mm method to handle the pressure.

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aaah yes, I knew there was more to it. I’ve never seen any of the houses I’ve owned have trusses spaced any less than 850mm apart, and they all had tile roofs. I looked up the regulations last night and say that you could have the trusses up to 1.5 meters apart and rafters as wide as 1.4 meter apart (if the roof was flat enough), but of course that falls under the “some other factors” mentioned, and indeed, for tile roofs it’s at least double :slight_smile: