Safely Cover PV Arrays

PV panels will continue to produce power as long as they are exposed to light. Even without sunlight, they may generate power when exposed to other light sources, such as emergency scene lighting or intense flame fronts.

Although not utilized at most firefighting incidents, it is important to understand how to safely cover PV arrays to prevent power production and frustrate light transmission. To properly block solar panels, a salvage cover must be:

  • Opaque.
  • Black or dark green.
  • Heavy-duty. All but the heaviest salvage covers will allow some light penetration.
  • Tested and verified safe for use on PV systems. Many jurisdictions will mark salvage covers that have already been tested and proven to be sufficiently opaque.
  • Placed over the entire system. If any part is left exposed, the system can still generate power.

Do NOT use foam blankets or untested salvage covers. Light will penetrate a foam blanket, and the coverage will deteriorate over time. Light can also penetrate lightweight to medium tarps and salvage covers. Even a heavy cover should be tested and proven opaque prior to being used in a PV system incident.

Be aware that covered PV arrays will contain stranded energy and remain a shock hazard.