As Germany continues its rapid transition to renewable energy, home battery storage systems have proliferated with over 650,000 units installed to date. However, a small number of high-profile safety incidents have raised concerns. Media reports have exaggerated the fire risk, with only around a dozen serious incidents out of the many thousands of installations. Other common household items like refrigerators and power strips are statistically more likely to cause house fires.
Nonetheless, lithium-ion batteries do carry an inherent fire risk. But safety technologies have improved and incidents are declining as the industry matures. Proper installation and maintenance conducted by qualified personnel can drastically reduce risks. Homeowners should contact insurers when adding photovoltaic solar panels and batteries to ensure adequate coverage in case of damage. Premiums are largely unaffected, but higher coverage limits are advised given the added value of the equipment. Insurers say the overall risk is manageable as long as proper precautions are taken.
Installation guidelines from solar industry groups recommend locating battery storage units in dry areas away from combustible materials. Maintaining the manufacturer's recommended service intervals is also critical to minimizing hazards. Extending liability insurance to cover potential damage to neighboring properties is worth considering given the severe consequences possible.
Despite enduring major damage from an exploding battery storage system, one affected homeowner replaced the equipment and says insurers remain unconcerned about coverage. He plans to exercise his rights to sue the manufacturer for recovery of expenses not covered by insurance.
Overall, insurers and firefighters say risks from properly installed and maintained battery storage systems are overblown. Reasonable caution coupled with following safety best practices is advised, but the technology itself is not inherently hazardous. As Germany's renewable energy transition continues to accelerate, home storage systems will play a key role in supporting the growth of distributed solar power. Homeowners interested in installing storage should not be deterred, but ensure proper safeguards are in place. With prudent precautions, battery storage can be safely added to homes across the country.