Your commercial solar array represents a significant financial investment, but it could be an attractive and easy target for thieves, depending upon its placement.
In an hour or two, thieves could easily dismantle — and disappear with — a large photovoltaic array. Commercial solar panel systems take time to install, but removal can happen quickly.
Fortunately, you can use some simple strategies to cut your risks.
It may sound simple, but motion-detecting lights can be effective for deterring most thieves.
Theft of commercial photovoltaic panels typically happens at night, when criminals can hide under the cover of darkness. No thief wants to work under a bright spotlight, so installing motion detectors near your solar array could help stop theft.
Add an extra layer of protection to your solar array by installing an alarm system. If the alarm goes off when someone tries to disturb your photovoltaic panels, chances are the would-be thieves will not risk staying around until the police show up.
If you don’t want to spend the money to install an alarm, you could post a sign that says your photovoltaic system is protected by an alarm. Most criminals read, and they may be less likely to risk a theft if they see a branded alarm company sign.
Another potentially effective approach — albeit less high-tech — is to physically connect your photovoltaic module racks together.
Using heavy-gauge, nylon-coated wire, interconnect the photovoltaic panel racks and secure them with strong padlocks. If all your panels are connected this way, thieves will realize that a lot of extra work will be required to remove the solar array. This may be enough to inspire them to choose another target.
If you use this approach, take care to avoid covering any panel surfaces or interfering with the wiring.
Installing a fence around your photovoltaic system is another potential anti-theft strategy.
If criminals see that they’ll have to scale or cut through a fence to access the panels and to remove them, they may decide against stealing your photovoltaic system. The extra work involved in lifting the heavy modules over or through fencing may make the theft too time-consuming and complex.
Be cautious about the exact placement of a fence, however, to avoid shading on the panels during peak sun hours.
Some companies sell specialized nuts and bolts designed to guard against residential and commercial solar panel theft. Regular wrenches and screwdrivers don’t work on these locking fasteners. In fact, a special key is required to remove the hardware.
Upgrading to these security fasteners does add a bit to the cost of a PV solar installation, but the price is minimal when compared to the cost of replacing stolen photovoltaic panels.
The professional team at Intermountain Wind & Solar, the region’s leading photovoltaic contractor, can help you determine the best way to protect your investment. Contact us today to schedule your complimentary commercial solar consultation.
"All of the photos on this website are of real projects that Intermountain Wind & Solar has designed and installed.
We are proud to show off and stand behind our work."