Solar Security

Some people go with solar power to provide energy security to their home or business, especially in areas with a crumbling power grid. But what about the physical security of your solar equipment?

I have given a little thought to protecting my solar investment, but it does a lot to protect itself. For example, the main batteries weight about 250 lbs. each and there are a bunch of them. You’ve gotta be dedicated to haul off those things. The panels are big and bulky. Other things are not. Then there are all the tools and things in the Solar Shed. Much of it is not even behind a door you can lock. On the other hand, common wisdom out here in the country is that if you lock the door a thief will just break it or a window, in addition to stealing your stuff. ‘Tis a quandry.

The reason I am thinking so much about it today is that yesterday I called Stan-the-Hermit, to check on him, just as he was calling me. You’ve seen me writing about him before. He has a cabin way out in the woods and it has been solar powered since the beginning. He also has a house out on the island. He’s been concentrating on that one since the hurricane messed it up and wiped out his truck. He’s been too busy to visit the cabin.

The other day he went to the cabin to get some stuff and discovered he’d been robbed. Being in the woods can prevent people from knowing you are there. Those who know your stuff is there may not touch it, fearing you and a shotgun might be there, too. But Stan wasn’t there and he wasn’t there long enough for someone to figure that out after clearcutting on neighboring land made one of his structures visible from a road. These guys had time to work and they came back day after day.

They got his tools, guns, 2 Honda generators, a trailer, logsplitter….all kinds of stuff, none of which was insured. Then they started picking off pieces of his solar power system. They just cut the wires on the 12v system inverter. They got the 24v inverter, too, and it looks like they just ripped down one of the charge controllers. Too bad they didn’t get ahold of the raw DC string voltage from the solar panels. They didn’t take the batteries or the panels, but they came back while he was there. He gave chase, but they escaped. Hopefully they have decided to quit while they are ahead.

I gave Stan a 2kw inverter for the 12v system, which was otherwise mostly intact. He has lights and power for the TV. They didn’t take the 32″ TV. Probably not big enough. Yeah, he’s sort of back in business, but plenty demoralized. I would be, too.

Thinking about site security I shudder to think about losing all I have built and collected over the years. Then I think about neighbor Brad, who FINALLY got the co-op to sign off on his megabucks system. He has 3 Tesla Powerwall batteries on the side of his house. They are not very heavy and how hard would it be for a thief to make of with them? If I am not mistaken, that’s over $20,000 right there and easy picking. No, I don’t think you have to worry much about having the panels swiped off your roof, but it wouldn’t hurt to lock the barn while the horse is still inside.

I am going to start with a game cam or two in strategic locations and add a DVR video system at the house and shed. They are cheap and pretty easy to install. A DVR should be hidden. It won’t do much good if your thief sees it and hauls it off with your stereo or inverter. Older systems were not very clear, but the last system I put in with a friend was a 1080 HD and that makes ID of faces and license plates a lot easier.

Some game cams can be accessed by smart phone over the cell network, if you don’t have regular Internet service, like me. They blend in to the landscape easily. Ring cameras, and similar products could be great if you do have Internet.

A hail storm, lightning or hurricane is probably the biggest threat to your system. Still, you might want to think a little bit about threats from n’er-do-wells and scoundrels. As for me, I filled the pintle ring of the Mobile Solar Generator trailer in my care with chain and locked it. It’s a start.