Solar Panels & Lightning: All You Need to Know

When researching solar panels, you’re likely to come across a persistent myth that installing solar panels can increase the risk of your home being struck by lightning. 

No, having solar panels will not make your home more susceptible to lightning strikes. That being said, if you live in a thunderstorm-prone area, you may want to take measures to protect your solar panels and your home from lightning damage

No matter if you live near Riverside, San Marcos or  Chula Vista, CA , considering solar panels for your home is a viable option. Having knowledge on lightning protection can benefit your solar system during hazardous weather.

Do solar panels need to be grounded?

Solar panels are built to withstand strong winds and remain safe from hail and heavy rain. They are also as safe from lightning as any other structure. 

Solar panels do not attract lightning, but they can still get damaged when hit. The materials used to construct solar panels are highly durable, yet no structure can withstand the certain levels of force and heat generated by lightning. 

Both direct and indirect lightning strikes can result in solar panel downtime and damage. Direct strikes, although rare, can melt your panels and inverters. Indirect strikes, on the other hand, are much more common. They can induce high voltages into your system, potentially damaging its components and creating a fire hazard. 

The importance of proper grounding 

According to the National Electrical Code, Article 690, your home solar panels must be grounded. This means that a grounding rod should be installed several feet into the ground and connected to a wire attached to the solar array’s metal racking. 

As the most fundamental method of protection against lightning, proper grounding ensures that a lightning surge will bypass your solar equipment and be safely discharged into the earth. A grounding rod can also prevent static electricity from accumulating in your solar panels. 

How do you protect solar panels from lightning?

Unfortunately, a standard grounding system is not guaranteed to protect your panels from a direct lightning strike and the massive electrical current it can produce. To handle such a current, you would have to get a dedicated solar panel lightning protection system. There are various types of extra lightning protection that can vary in terms of quality and cost. 

The two main lightning protection measures are: 

Surge protectors 

As an addition to a proper grounding system, surge protectors can help keep your panels safe from direct and indirect strikes. They are typically installed at both ends of any inverter communication cable and the inverter power circuit, including ethernet communication cables and the lines leading from your AC to the inverter. Surge protectors work by absorbing voltage spikes and allowing the surge to bypass your equipment and power wiring. 

Lightning rods

Lightning rods are designed to protect your solar panels from direct strikes. They are static discharge devices typically installed above a solar system and connected to the ground. A lightning rod is designed to prevent static charge buildup and reduce the risk of lightning strikes. Additionally, they can provide an alternative direct path to ground if a lightning strike does occur. 

Both lightning rods and surge protectors are typically only recommended at sites with an increased risk of lightning strikes. These include homes that are: 

  • Isolated on high ground in a thunderstorm-prone area
  • Located on dry and rocky soil 
  • Connected to wires running longer than 100 feet 

Contact our experts serving residents from Corona to  Chula Vista, CA and learn more about solar panels

Whether you already own solar panels or plan on having them installed, it’s only natural that you’d want to learn as much as you can about the best ways to protect your investment. When in doubt, contact experienced solar panel professionals in your area to provide you with reliable information. 

At Action Solar, we are known for offering high-quality solar panel installation and repair in Chula Vista and the surrounding cities in South Riverside and  San Diego County. We can also provide our customers with any advice they may need, whether they’d like to know about weather protection or if solar panels can work with artificial light. Get in touch with Action Solar today.