The following are some potential structural risks that you may face in a PV system incident.
- Access limitations: PV equipment can block access to parts of a structure and/or impede operations. For instance, arrays may interfere with vertical ventilation. And arrays can sometimes be inhabited by stinging insects or rodents.
- Structural failure: The average PV array adds up to 2.5 pounds per square foot, so a 40’ by 50’ array can add about 5,000 pounds of load to the structure, often without any re-engineering of the structural carrying capacity. This increases the risks of structural failure and falling panels.
- Trip or slip hazards: Ultra-smooth PV-integrated roofing materials and other components can compound the risk of falling. These can reduce traction or pose a tripping hazard, especially if you are also moving quickly or in a low-visibility situation.
- Enhanced flame spread: Flames can grow at an accelerated rate near PV arrays, and this in turn can lead to rapid and unexpected structural failure. Extreme heat may also damage microinverters, insulation and other equipment. PV panels may fall off the roof if their fasteners give way.