Daily blackouts, more recently for up to 10 hours a day, have prompted many South African households to invest in alternative power sources including solar systems, generators, and trusty inverters and UPS devices. However, no investment is without risk and insurance players have urged homeowners to be vigilant when using, storing and insuring these devices.
According to Ricardo Coetzee, Head of Auto & General the risks include:
Solar panel theft: An emerging trend - one that we are keeping a close eye on. When it comes to insurance, homeowners should keep in mind that solar panels, and some generators, are fixed to the property and therefore, covered under a buildings insurance policy. They do not need to be specified separately.
Homeowners do however need to inform their insurers and adjust their total sum insured accordingly. If a device is not fixed – like an inverter or UPS for example, it would be insured under home contents cover. These devices do not need to be specified but the overall total sum insured should be reviewed to ensure it is sufficient to cover the replacement of the items.
Solar panel and battery risk: Solar panels and batteries can be a fire hazard if not installed properly. Homeowners are advised to ensure that their solar panels and battery systems are installed by experienced installers and are maintained regularly, following these guidelines:
Maintain Clear Surroundings: Ensure that the area surrounding the system is free from clutter and highly flammable materials to reduce the risk of fire.
Store Batteries Safely: Store batteries in a designated area that is well-ventilated, away from any potential ignition sources, and follow manufacturer guidelines for safe storage.
Fire Alarm Installation: Install fire alarms in the vicinity of the system to provide early detection of any potential fire incidents.
Fire Extinguishers: Ensure the presence of appropriate fire extinguishers, that are appropriate for the type if installation (consult your installer).
Regular Inspection and Maintenance: Schedule regular inspections and maintenance by a qualified electrician to identify any signs of wear, damage, or potential fire risks.
Stay Informed on Safety Measures: Stay updated on safety guidelines and best practices related to systems to stay proactive in reducing risks and addressing potential issues.