I was just notified that some solar photovoltaic (electric) panels were stolen from a doctor’s office in Naples, FL yesterday. NBC 2 News asked me to comment on the story. Although we did not install the panels, I appeared on the evening news giving my take on stolen solar panels.
NBC-2 Story Here
Here is what you need to know:
Homeowners and Business Owners
- Your homeowners insurance normally covers solar panels that are properly permitted and installed on your home or business. They become part of the structure and property, and are every bit as insurable as the air conditioning unit and other parts of your home.
- It isn’t easy to steal solar panels. While basic hand tools or battery operated tools are all that’s required, the panels weigh almost 50 pounds, and maneuvering them on the roof is not for the faint of heart.
- This is the first incident of solar photovoltaic panel theft that I have heard of in Southwest Florida.
- There are theft mitigation options like security bolts and cables, but these are easily thwarted with cutting tools. I would generally not recommend these options unless there is a serious risk of theft due to location or the location is unattended and isolated.
- The solar panels represent a small fraction of the total cost of the system in today’s market. The other components, services, and labor represent a far greater share of the cost.
- In most solar electric systems, a suitable replacement panel must be found. Because the industry changes quickly, this can be a challenge. Not only is the same size solar module important, but the electrical characteristics must match. If you are lucky, the same module is still available. If not, there are options. You will need an experienced solar dealer to help you through the replacement.
- You are nuts. You risk electrocution by up to 600V exposed electrical wires on the roof.
- If the electricity does not kill you, the fall probably will.
- The value of a solar panel is about 1/4 what it was just a few years ago. It only represents 25%-33% of the total cost of a solar energy system. It is silly to steal the panels, because without “everything else,” you aren’t going to be able to use it in your home. You can’t steal “everything else.”
- There is essentially no scrap value for the panel.
The risk of solar panel theft is low based on the historical record. If you do experience a loss, call your insurance carrier immediately, then call us at (239) 491-8010 to get a replacement quote!