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"High Voltage" in the Roof Pillar?

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  • "High Voltage" in the Roof Pillar?

    A question from a Missouri state fire instructor shows that sometimes students may get only a part of the story and not accurately understand a new technology. Here's the question just so you can expect it from others within your department...

    "During one of my last classes I had a gentleman state that he had read or
    seen an article by you about a hybrid car that had the high voltage lines in the roof rail. So cutting the roof off was a problem. Can you shed some light on this?"

    The whole story is this...

    The cable he is speaking of is not the high voltage used for hybrid vehicle propulsion. On the new 2010 Toyota Prius, there is a customer option to order the vehicle with a new "solar-powered" sunroof feature. The black sunroof is actually a solar panel that gathers sunlight and converts it to electricity only to run a small fan inside the car. By running the fan when the vehicle is sitting in sunlight, Toyota claims that it keeps the interior of the car 10 degrees cooler.

    The roof pillar that he is talking about is the driver's side rear C-pillar. The power cable from the sunroof runs inside this pillar as it goes down to the electric fan inside the car's interior.

    There is no shutoff for this panel; no switch. Rescuers would have to place a heavy tarp or solid cover of some sort over the roof panel in order for it to not be generating electricity.

    Go online and download the free Toyota Prius 2010 Emergency Response Guide to get the word straight from the manufacturer.

    The University of Extrication article that covered this is the January 2010 edition.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by rmoore; 11-01-2010, 09:44 AM.
    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator

  • #2
    Ron, do you know what kind of voltage and current that thing is sending down the wires in direct sunlight? Also, I would assume there is a fuse or circuit breaker up at the solar panel itself that should trip if the wires are cut/shorted. Can you confirm?

    My thinking is that this thing can't possibly be producing a whole hell of a lot of juice. If it is low power to begin with, and protected by a fuse, I would probably not let it stop me from cutting the post.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.


    • #3
      ERG pages 16/17 address the solar panel and pages 26/27 roof removal issues

      Last edited by rmoore; 11-02-2010, 10:29 PM.


      • #4

        It can produce anything upto 27 volts

        The main issue for rescue is when we cut through the c-post with it still producing power, this may then cause a short etc which could deploy un activated srs

        Once the solar panel is covered it instantly stops giving out any power so there is no need to wait for drain times etc,

        Once covered the risk is gone.



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