Battery storage systems do have some safety risks, just like your solar panels or any other major piece of electrical equipment. It’s important to be aware of the risks so you can manage them safely.
According to Clean Energy Council (CEC) installation and design guidelines, the main safety hazards to be aware of are:
- electric shock hazard
- energy hazard
- chemical hazard
- explosion hazard
- fire hazard
- gravitational hazard.
These hazards may pose a physical risk to you or your property. They can also pose a risk to others – like workers repairing the electricity network during a blackout. Even minor malfunctions can impact the effectiveness of your system. An over charged or overheated battery may have a reduced battery life, for example.
These hazards can be managed by ensuring your battery system is installed by a CEC accredited installer who follows Australian standards, guidelines and manufacturers’ instructions. A qualified, experienced installer will ensure your system has adequate ventilation, insulation and housing.
Your installer will provide information and signage
When the BESS is installed, the installer must provide signage and labelling for safety purposes. These labels include information about shutdown procedures, the location of the isolator switch, battery chemistry, battery voltage, and the short circuit current rating. Labels should be placed on and around the BESS, as well as in the switchboard, ensuring you have at-a-glance information available.
Your installer should also give you a clear explanation of how to manage and maintain the system, and leave you with documentation like manuals and information sheets to help you understand your BESS.
The CEC and the CSIRO produced a handy consumer FAQ on battery storage safety, including a checklist.
In addition to following all manufacturers’ guidelines, you should be aware of household hazards. If you have small children or curious pets, keep them away from your battery storage system, and don’t store any items on top of your batteries or any wiring.
Your battery system may heat up slightly (like a laptop battery), but shouldn’t become hot to touch. If it seems unusually hot, or you notice other hazard indicators like leaking or corrosion, contact your installer for advice.
For minor incidents, such as a fault alarm or a malfunction, the system should be serviced by your Clean Energy Council-accredited installer. In the case of fire or an explosion call 000 immediately.