Are Solar Panels a Fire Risk?

In the news this week, a £70million Lidl warehouse went up in flames. Caused by their hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of solar panels installed on their roof. A devastating fire that would have likely caused millions of pounds worth of repairs and downtime for the global retailer.

But how did it happen? And are solar panels safe? Do solar panels cause fires? We’ve sat down with our friends in the Your Choice Fire & Security team to get the facts.

It Starts with the Proposal...

With industrial projects like this, it’s always advised to commission a fire risk assessment to ensure that your site has all the necessary fire detection systems in place. This is required by law in Great Britain. With brand new sites, this will be a straight forward job because the systems installed will all be brand new from the build. But there may be cases of things changing to suit the specifications for the buildings use. For example, if a manufacturer needs to focus on output and efficiency then fire safety may be less of a priority and thus be neglected.

A fire risk assessment will tell building owners the state of their current fire safety, but also will be able to advise upon the installation of solar panels. With any major infrastructure project, it comes with inherent risks that should be assessed by a professional. Often it will be a requirement by the insurance providers.

Following a fire risk assessment, a solar system proposal should take necessary precautions as established by fire risk professionals. This includes electrical isolators to reduce the impact of electrical malfunctions on your solar system.

We recommend proposing a system that separates solar panels in rows of two or three. This gives electrical engineers the necessary space to maintain a solar system to keep the risk of fire low. The added benefit of separating panels by a space means that the solar panels have space to cool with increased airflow between the rows.

Birds Nesting

In 2023, there was a high-profile fire at Bristol museum, We The Curious. This fire broke out on the roof of a listed building in the centre of Bristol, on a building with high occupancy at he time. Luckily, no one was injured and the Fire Service were able to evacuate everyone. Nevertheless, the fire caused extraordinary damage to the roof of the museum. Leaving it unable to open for some time. Not to mention the loss of several thousands of pounds worth of solar panel equipment that had been powering the museum.

The fire was caused by birds nesting under the solar panels. Pigeons and other urban birds have found solar panels to be a great place to nest away from predators. Unfortunately, nests made excellent kindling for fires. With solar panels often exceeding temperatures of 30 degrees during UK summers, the combination of fire starting materials and hot metal can be very dangerous.

There is a solution, that’s very cost effective and doesn’t reduce the efficiency of solar panels. Anti-nesting cages are plastic attachments to the frame of solar panels that stop birds and other animals from going underneath. 


The very best way to avoid fires caused by solar panels is to keep them properly maintained by an accredited provider. Regular maintenance can spot when solar panels start to develop issues that need attention, such as wiring degradation, damage, debris, or even just dirt build up that can stop solar panels regulating heat.

Most commercial solar panels will be maintained, it makes perfect business sense to protect your investment for the long term. A commercial solar panel system can cost millions of pounds to install, which is lost in an instant if a fire breaks out. Luckily, this is incredibly rare, however to avoid it happening to your solar system ensure your fire risk assessment is up-to-date, your fire detection system is maintained by a BAFE accredited provider and your solar system is maintained by an NICEIC MCS accredited partner.

Free Maintenance Package

There’s a way to guarantee your solar system is maintained to the best standard. With a Power Purchase Agreement, you get free solar panels on your roof. The catch is, you don’t own them. Which means you’re not responsible for keeping them maintained. Our finance partner that pays for the system, also pays for a full maintenance package for up to 25 years.

Written in coordination with Your Choice Fire & Security

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