Fire Prevention and Solar: A Case Study in Newcastle, CA
1) Replacing the existing Zinsco Service panel.
2) Adding a 10’ fire break/weed barrier around the ground mount array.
Here’s a picture of the old Zinsco panel that we found on the job site, next to a new, empty 200A solar-ready service panel, waiting for breakers.
The fire break/weed barrier around the solar array serves two functions:
- Protects the solar panels in the event of a wildfire that moves through the property.
- Prevents vegetation growing up under and around the array from shading the lower panels of the system.
Hazard: The open field in which the solar array was installed is in a rural area. It is Westward-sloping toward a forested area and rife with Star Thistle. So the potential for a wildfire in the area that could affect the array and property is not negligible.
Construction details: We installed 23 yards of 3/4” cut rock under and around the solar array. It was surrounded by a 2×4 pressure treated perimeter retainer and underlaid with weed cloth to prevent plants from growing up through the gravel bed.
Finished Product: A 32-panel ground mount array that will provide power for the home and is protected against intrusion from vegetation and fire.
As a Grass Valley, CA based solar company, we pride ourselves in doing expert work meant to withstand local weather and environmental conditions. For example, we install fire-ready solar arrays in areas where dead vegetation threatens to burn the natural landscape. We acknowledge that Northern California solar companies must consider wildfire hazards and build accordingly.