Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems offer numerous benefits for commercial buildings, from significant energy cost savings to reduced carbon footprints. However, as with any substantial investment, understanding and mitigating the associated risks is crucial to ensure the long-term success and safety of the installation. This blog will delve into the primary risks associated with solar PV systems on commercial properties and provide strategies to mitigate them effectively.

Construction risks

The construction phase of a solar PV installation is critical and involves multiple stakeholders, including contractors, engineers, and project managers. During this phase, risks can arise that have to be managed dynamically and in conjunction with the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, and The Work at Height Regulations 2005, among other relations and relevant legislation.

Overcoming Project Delays: Whilst PV installation programmes are usually relatively efficient, delays can occur due to numerous factors, such as inclement weather, supply chain disruptions, or permitting issues. These delays can increase costs and impact the overall timeline of the project. A credible and efficient installer will ensure a comprehensive planning process with a detailed project plan that includes timelines, milestones, and contingencies for potential delays.

Ensuring Quality Control: The quality of materials and installation is crucial. Substandard components or poor installation practices can lead to long-term issues such as system inefficiency or failures. Vet your contractors and partners thoroughly. Use internal resource where possible, but work with experienced and reputable contractors with a proven track record in solar PV installations. Be clear in the communication about the expectations to be set upon them. Reputable contractors will ensure quality assurance and implement stringent quality control measures, including regular inspections and third-party audits. Still, it is critical to provide management, oversight and guidance throughout a project to ensure the project is delivered to the highest possible standard for the client.

Structure overloading

Installing solar panels adds additional weight to a building’s existing structure, which can pose a risk of overloading, particularly for older buildings not initially designed to support such loads. The stress of overloading can damage your roof, resulting, at best, in leaks and, at worst, a partial or entire roof collapse. It could also damage other parts of the superstructure, including load-bearing walls.

Before considering installation, it is critical to conduct a thorough structural assessment of the building to determine its load-bearing capacity. Some businesses, like ours, can do a complete evaluation using drones, internal mapping and measuring and provide recommendations on improving your roof and structure to accommodate PV. When we undertake structural analysis, we often find that older buildings do not meet today’s design codes. Where we encounter this, we offer turnkey solutions that make the building code compliant and provide reinforcement solutions that support the additional weight of PV. This is a more desirable approach for landlords, owners and insurers. It’s also a better experience for tenants who only have a few contractors on-site for a shorter period of time.

Wind uplift

PV panels are durable and can take all weather conditions. However, wind uplift is a significant risk for rooftop solar installations. It is essential to ensure that the correct fixing system is selected for the correct application and that the mounting system manufacturer carries out a site- and building-specific wind uplift calculation. This includes geographical information, terrain type, building height and size. It will ensure that the system is designed with enough resistance to the uplift forces to ensure that the system will stay in place for its design life once maintained. 

There are two primary methods of fixing: mechanical fixing and ballasted systems.

Mechanical fixing secures the panels to the roof structure using mechanical fasteners, ensuring they are adequately anchored to withstand high winds. This can be done by fixing into the roof sheet, through-fixing to the liner or purlin, or, in some instances, mechanically welding.

Ballasted systems are weight-based systems that hold the panels in place without penetrating the roof membrane. They can often sit around the edges of the panels, ensuring they are resistant to wind uplift, but they must be secure so that they don’t become dislodged or removed by other contractors. All of these must be inspected at least annually to ensure that the fixings are not moved or compromised through thermal expansion and contraction or wind vibration throughout the seasonal change. 

Fire risk

Fire risk is very low but is a serious concern with any electrical installation, including solar PV systems. Potential causes include faulty wiring, component failures, or improper installation. As this is a serious issue, we will discuss it in more detail in a separate blog, but for now, there are ways to mitigate fire potential.

Ensuring the installation complies with all relevant fire safety codes and standards is essential, and your installer should know these standards inside and out. Once installed, you should conduct regular inspections and maintenance to identify and rectify potential fire hazards, such as water buildup, leaves, and dirt. If you haven’t already, you could install interconnected fire alarms to ensure occupants are alerted to the fire and a fire-fighter switch that isolates and disconnects the power or module level optimisation to the PV to make controlling the fire easier.

Mechanical failure

Mechanical failure of solar PV components, such as inverters, panels, or mounting systems, happens. Age, weather and occasionally defects can cause the panels and systems to degrade. Failure can lead to system downtime and increased maintenance costs.

To reduce the risk of this happening, always invest in high-quality, reliable components from reputable manufacturers and have them installed by a reputable firm. Introducing a regular maintenance schedule and using a monitoring system will identify and address potential issues before they lead to failure, allowing you to take preventative action.


Electrocution can be risky when installing and maintaining solar PV systems, as we work with high-voltage equipment.

Your installation contractor will ensure all personnel installing the system are fully trained in electrical safety protocols.

All workers will receive the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) will be given to all workers. When your maintenance team assesses and services the system, they will implement lockout/tagout procedures to disconnect the system from the power.


Solar panels and related equipment are valuable items that thieves can resell, and theft is an increasing issue for solar farms, often in rural locations further away from police. Theft can result in significant financial losses and extensive insurance claims and disrupt the system’s energy production, potentially leaving you with reduced or no power.

Installing security measures such as fencing, surveillance cameras, and alarm systems around the installation will deter thieves or catch them in the act. Asset tracking technology and software to monitor the location of solar panels and other valuable equipment will also help.

The benefits of PV outweigh the risks.

Installing solar PV systems on commercial buildings offers numerous benefits, and we should remember this when assessing the risks. Property owners and managers can ensure their solar investments’ safety, reliability, and financial viability by understanding these risks and implementing effective mitigation strategies. From comprehensive planning during the construction phase to regular maintenance and robust security measures, proactively addressing these risks will pave the way for a successful solar PV installation that delivers long-term benefits.

Don’t hesitate to contact us to understand how we can help your business benefit from PV.