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Solar Panel Theft Prevention



Around the world, solar panel theft is on the rise. Most solar panels are stolen from installations in remote areas. It happened to us!  It could happen to you!

Solar Panel Thief

The first line of defense in solar panel theft prevention is having your building or remote site fenced if possible. Outdoor security cameras are a good option, but they draw extra power and are sometimes not suited to remote solar powered sites, use them if you can. Installing a locking chain or cable system to secure your solar panels to the building is a must! The use of Security Fasteners to attach the solar panels to each other and to the building will also help prevent solar panel theft.


Security Fence    Security Camera    Security Cable    Security Fasteners


A determined thief will spend the time to steal your solar panels that are worth hundreds of dollars each. Armed with bolt cutters, hack saws, and grinders, thieves can eventually remove your precious solar panels despite your best efforts to prevent them. Unfortunately, there is no way to stop a determined thief. The best thing you can do is make your solar panels hard to steal!

There is another layer of defense that you can add to your solar panel array if you have an RMS-200 board from Ethertek Circuits. The RMS-200 remote site monitoring board has a five zone burglar alarm that can be used to alert you to solar panel tampering and removal. Knowing when your solar panels were removed can give the police a valuable lead in apprehending the criminals. In fact, it is often the first question the police ask. Being alerted to solar panel removal can give you valuable time to visit the location and perhaps stop or scare away the criminals yourself.

This remote monitoring project was based on the need to alert us as to when our solar panels were being tampered with or removed. This project makes use of the Alarm Pins on the RMS-200 remote monitoring board. We are determined to be ready if the thieves ever strike again!

The diagram below illustrates how to use alarm input five on the RMS-200 board to create a security loop wire that is threaded through the frame rails of each solar panel. If the security loop wire is ever disconnected, even for a split second, the RMS-200 board will know immediately and can alert you or the police by email or sms message. The RMS-200 board could also toggle a relay to sound a siren, turn on a camera, or run a custom program.


Solar Panel Security Loop Wire

Installing the Security Loop Wire



Drill holes in the frame of the solar panel. Be careful not to damage the solar panel with the drill bit. Insert rubber grommets into the holes so that the detection wires will not chafe when the wind is blowing. Run the detection wire through the solar panel frame of each panel, make it impossible for theives to remove the solar panels without cutting or breaking the security loop wire. To prevent bypassing the security loop wire, be clever, hide the security loop wire in the frame rail or disguise it with the rest of the wires. Make an easy to spot fake security loop wire, or use two or more alarm input wires to have several independent security loop wires. Use insulated plastic coated steel cable as the security loop wire, make it look like a tie down cable that is just begging to be cut. Connect each end of the wire to the RMS-200 board alarm pins as shown above. Create email or sms alerts and set the RMS-200 board to fire these alerts when the detection wire loop is broken. Have the RMS-200 board toggle one of its relays to sound a siren or alarm. This same technique can be used on other remote equipment such as generators, radio gear, antennas, etc. The alarm inputs can also be used with common door contacts to monitor entry points into the building.


Hints for Solar Panel Security





WARNING

Because the use of an RMS-200 remote site monitoring board can give early warning to solar panel tampering or removal, it may be possible to catch criminals in the act of stealing your panels! Play it safe! DO NOT try to apprehend the criminals yourself!

Observe and report to the local police, get a description or license plate number, take pictures if possible.


Solar Panel Thief Got Busted!