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