(703) 686-5621

Do I need to protect my solar system from lightning strikes?

As Fleetwood Mac said, “Lightning strikes, maybe once maybe twice.” But if it strikes at or near your house, what’s going to happen to your solar energy panels? We dug into the question in-depth, reviewing solar equipment manufacturer data and real-world stories, to offer you this professional advice on how to make sure your clean energy system will withstand a mighty bolt from the blue, and what to do in the rare case it doesn’t.

Solar panels don’t attract lightning, but don’t skip grounding

Unless your home is the sole building for miles and miles around or is at a higher elevation than surrounding structures, lighting won’t be any more likely to strike your solar home compared to any other. That means that there’s no reason to ask for a lightning rod for the sake of protecting your solar panels.

However, your solar investment could be unduly vulnerable to surges from the grid if those are common in your area, and we all know that weird weather due to climate instability is becoming more frequent too. Combining best practices in your electrical work with anti-surge equipment will help keep your solar installation safe from getting zapped, so let’s start there.

Right off the bat, proper standard grounding of the main electrical panel is crucial for any home to go solar, and should be checked by the solar technician who performs the site survey on your property early in your solar pre-installation process. Electricians working with the rooftop crew on your solar install day achieve good grounding on a solar system by connecting a wire to the metal racking that supports the solar panels. Grounding wires often run to a rod deep in the dirt, or to the home’s water pipe, just like grounding any breaker box.

Our in-house experts wanted to clarify: it’s a misconception that the main reason for grounding is is to deal with lightning strikes. The purpose is to protect anyone who touches the home’s electrical conduits if the live solar wires were to ever energize them. Whether by accident or normal wear and tear, if this situation came about the simple copper grounding conductor gives that electricity a safe path, rather than through a person. 

Surge protection for solar and the whole home

To make sure that you’re doing all you can to guard your energy solar system, particularly the microinverters which handle and monitor the solar panels’ production, surge protectors are recommended. Guidance from Enphase, maker of solar inverters and energy storage systems, specifies a few types:

In our area, qualified electricians that perform upgrades for homes in conjunction with solar, energy storage, or EV charger installations frequently offer whole home surge protectors right off the truck. Select a robust product in this price range to safeguard every circuit in your home successfully.

Expect the unexpected: look at upping insurance coverage for your solar in the event of lighting

A lightning strike so powerful it damages a solar array is an “act of god” under the Enphase warranty and as such is not covered, so in the unlikely event of some components getting fried, you’d look to insurance to pay out for repairs or replacement.

As part of your solar contract signing, you likely reviewed your homeowner’s insurance plan and may have even increased the claims limit to account for the cost of the solar system attached to the home, though usually no changes are needed. You would contact your insurer to start the process through documentation and inspection, as with any storm damage to a dwelling. 

Paraphrasing the great Fleetwood Mac one last time in closing, thunder (and lightning) only happens when it’s raining. When it does, remain confident with the knowledge that your solar panel system has multiple protections against the worst shocks that nature can dish out.

Share the Post:

Related Posts