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5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Solar Panel Theft

Envision this: You get a white truck, a few magnets made for $40 that say “Joe’s Solar” or whatever, then you go to people’s homes who have solar systems and snatch the solar panels right off the roof in broad daylight. All the neighbors think you’re doing maintenance.

Scary huh? Solar panel theft is extremely rare in the US, but it happens (probably not ever in the above scenario… most thieves lack solid planning). It also usually happens on properties with ground mounted systems (thieves are lazy).  In Europe, where solar is much more prolific, solar panel theft is a more common phenomenon.

The good news is there’s no good way to sell stolen solar panels. Often, the people who try get busted.  But there will undoubtedly be a secondary market for used solar panels within a few years, as people upgrade or return leased systems.

How do you protect yourself against solar panel theft?

  1. TELL YOUR HOME INSURANCE PEOPLE!  This is number one.  If you told them you installed solar panels, you’re covered.  If not, you’re not.  Often times they won’t even raise your premium.
  2. You could essentially create The Viper for solar with a wire that alarms if removed… or you could even use your solar monitoring system to alert you (although that would only work in the day).  You could video them, but then is that really realistic?
  3. They have serial numbers, but that probably doesn’t help stop them from getting stolen, and may not be that great a help in getting them tracked down. However, asking for them when installed won’t hurt.
  4. Here’s a good one:  there is a company that makes lockable hex nuts with their own unique key (which I can’t find at the moment…. I’m bad at the internet) … without that unique key you can just go to Home Depot and get a set of 40 attachments which would pretty much cover all possible hex nuts.   This will be a unique selling point of some solar installers to come I am sure.
  5. Put some sticker on them that says “protected by blah blah blah alarm” whether it’s true or not. Deterrence, yo.  Just make sure you don’t put the sticker on the face of the panel :-)

Last modified: February 4, 2016

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Jordan
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Jordan

For #4, Bryce Fastener might be what you are looking for. They have custom security screws and nuts. You can only buy the bits through them rather than pick up at your local hardware store. Think I saw them advertise for solar security once.

Bill
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Bill

Try rottweilers! They work :) .

Patrick Dullea (@pdullea)
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Patrick Dullea (@pdullea)

Neighbor has been robbed twice of solar panels / controllers / wiring / generators as have others in California.

Clinton
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Clinton

To answer Jaco from South Africa, there is a way to protect and trace solar panels in SA now. Wireless RF system with a battery life of 3 to 5 years. You can find out where your panel ends up and go and retrieve it.

Jay
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Jay

Build and install the the panels so removal without proper keys or tools unavoidadly causes irreprepable damage with warning signs of this all over. So stealing will result in possession of an unsellable totally damaged panel making there no money in doing it.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

There are some good tips for solar panel theft prevention here: http://www.solarpaneltheft.ca

Anonymous
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Anonymous

i think i have sorted the stealing of solar panels out by making a special bracket so far it ha worked okay roy

jaco
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jaco

Hi guys, I’m from south Africa, I work for a WISP here, we run our towers of solar systems, and we tried everything we could, but doesn’t matter what we do they end up stealing the panels, have done alarm systems, pepper spray, cameras, all 3 together, and with the police and a security company on call, they still get away with the panels. we do to much to try and save the panels, come to a point, where I rather them break the panel then to get away with it. they will spend the time and actually cut the… Read more »

Tim
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Tim

I pity the jerk that steals in daylight and risks being killed! DC voltage un-like AC @60 cycles per second; Will kill, a zap from a DC single module can kill. When exposed to a dc current the muscles contract and hold tighter. YOU will DIE!..So my 2 cents. If the sign says DANGER DC or High voltage! Consider that your first warning to change professions from a thief to another line of work.

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