Although, due to increased interest in solar energy, the market of solar panels is changing before our very eyes and the prices are dropping accordingly with the emergence of new technologies and expansion of competition among solar panel manufacturers, it still is quite costly investment to make for any average-income household. As it happens with most of the things that are both expensive and valuable, solar panels also have become attractive object to thieves. If not protected and secured properly, the thieves can remove numerous panels within a matter of just couple of hours which would then provide them enormous profit for relatively small effort.
There is still a lot to learn about thefts of solar panels as photovoltaic panels have appeared on our rooftops and yards quite recently but while there still are not any extensive, precise and concrete statistics on how many solar panels have been stolen in each state per year, it is more than clear that there ARE people out there who will take the risk to steal solar panels for selling them on black market.
Very few of solar panel retailers and installers will have any solution or extra products to provide in order to increase the safety of your solar panels. Yes, it means that most probably you will have to take the initiative yourself and seek out for some possibilities on your own, but luckily for you, at least some new technologies for protecting solar panels from thieves are actually appearing making the future perspectives related to this matter a lot more positive and promising.
Does every solar panel require protection?
First things first. Before actually purchasing some additional systems that would keep your solar panels protected, you probably would like to know answers to some seemingly basic questions such as “does every solar panel require special alarm system or expensive lock attached to it?”, “how great is the risk of my solar panels to be stolen?” and “in which cases this risk is minimal?“. As mentioned, the thefts of solar panels specifically have been under-researched as the product itself has been introduced to middle-class consumer very recently.
Though since solar panels are so incredibly valuable, more and more attention is being paid to photovoltaic thefts, which means that perhaps in not so distant future there will be not only more data and statistics available but also more new inventions related with the protection.
However from the cases that have emerged and have been recorded thus far, we can already obtain some valuable information. For example it is clear now that someone most likely will try to take your solar panels off if you live in a remote and unsecured location. It means that if you live in a remote area, the chances that you might lose your solar panels are a lot higher than in case if you live in a neighborhood where someone could actually spot some strange activities occurring on your rooftop.
Most of the solar panel protection systems made up until now are also quite costly (not nearly costly as the panels themselves, though) nevertheless it is not a good reason for you to be careless about preventing your panels from thieves, especially if you recognize yourself as living in the area where the chances are a lot higher.
The answer to all these questions is, indeed, tricky and you have to give it a proper thought yourself. Does your neighbors would raise any alert if they would spot someone ‘being busy’ on your rooftop? Would they give you a call in that case? How easily your rooftop can be accessed from outside? These are just some of the hints that should help you understand how much exactly you should invest in protecting your solar panels.
The solutions below are actually suggestions from the industry experts; nevertheless even they have to admit that there is still a lot of work ahead for us to come up with efficient, safe and reliable security systems tailored for protecting solar panels specifically.
Ways how to protect your solar panel from thieves
- Attach alarm system. When searching around, you will realize that the offer for solar panel alarm systems is not nearly as varied and rich as the one meant for protecting for instance homes or vehicles, nevertheless some reasonable options are available out there. Most of these systems can be installed so that you get notified (for instance an automatic call is being made to you) if some movement in your solar systems has been recognized. Another solution which slowly is being acknowledged and applied is motion sensitive cameras that not only detect any movements but also visually record the actions of thieves.
- Think about the serial number. First of all – know the serial numbers of all your panels. Even if the thieves will actually manage to detach and carry all or some of your solar panels away, some might be stupid enough not to get rid of the serial number which would simply ease some of the trouble that you would have to go through if the case reaches legal justice system. If you are ready to go for more advanced options, some companies, for example CodeSource, have actually come up the service which offers you to etch the bar code and serial number on the label. This means that the thieves won’t be able to really get rid of the serial number and if you will manage to trace the stolen solar panels, it will be a lot easier to prove that those panels are actually yours.
Attach stainless steel bolts. There are some reliable companies out there such as Bryce Fastener, Inc. that offer fastener systems with unique keys. It means that basically there is no way that a person who does not have the unique key will be able to break the bolts. The prices are not the lowest (the price can vary from $300 to $500) but it does make sense considering such option if you have solar panels on your rooftop worth several tens of thousands of dollars.
- Block the access to the panels. If you have your solar panels installed on your rooftop, make sure that you have not made the access to them very easy. If you have on-ground solar panels, secure the perimeter for safety and security reasons. Sometimes a simple fence around solar panel will deter thieves as it will require extra effort and time for them until they actually can carry on with detaching the panels.
- Put the panels under home-owners insurance. Let your insurers know that your home comes equipped with solar panels. This should save you a bit of headache and money if some of your panels have actually been purloined.