Winslow Township, New Jersey warehouse fire raises possible problems with solar panels

WINSLOW TWP., New Jersey (WPVI) — Officials are blaming solar panels for a 3-alarm fire in Camden County on Sunday, July 23.

The fire has caused many business owners and consumers to think about the panels on their own roofs.

Solar panels are skyrocketing in popularity. The latest numbers show 2021 broke records for solar panel sales.

But the fire, which broke out at the Michael’s Distribution Center in Winslow Township, is concerning.

Fortunately, no one was hurt. The fire marshal said it was caused by malfunctioning solar panels mounted on the roof of the building.

Over the years, troubleshooters have interviewed a number of consumers who said solar panels caused major damage to their homes, including cracks and leaks.

“Each and every one of the contractors said the solar panels were bearing too much weight on the roof,” said John Catrombon in 2019.

Plus they said the companies fixed the problems only after the troubleshooters got involved.

SEE ALSO: Firefighters battle 3-alarm warehouse fire in Camden County

But a fire over the weekend brings potential concerns about solar panels to the forefront of many minds. There are things to consider before investing thousands of dollars to have panels installed on your roof.

“This is a big problem a lot of homeowners have,” said Kevin Brasler of Consumers’ Checkbook. “Someone has installed a solar panel system on the roof, then they need a new roof and they can’t find a roofing company that’s willing to remove those solar panels, re-roof the home and then reinstall the panels.”

So hire an independent, third party to inspect your roof to make sure it’s a good candidate for solar panels. It needs to be to handle the load, and the panels need to be unobstructed preferably with a southern exposure.

“I think also it makes sense to decide, you know, how much lifetime is left in your shingles. If you have an older roof and you think you might need a new roof installation done in the next five even 10 years, it may be worth considering putting off installing solar panels,” Brasler said.

Also try to get a provision in your contract that if you need roof repair or a new one entirely, for a set fee the solar company will take the panels off and reinstall them.

And remember to shop around, go with a reputable business with a good, established track record and read all of the fine print.

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