Solar Panels and Lightning
February 1, 2024 | Reading Time: 7 minutes
Most solar panels are mounted on rooftops and made of conductive and semi-conductive materials like metal and silicon. While they do not attract lightning or increase your home’s chance of being hit, it is possible for solar panels to be struck by lightning. Here’s what you need to know:
Why do solar panels get struck by lightning?
Solar panels can be struck by lightning primarily due to their location and the materials they’re made of.
Rooftop panel are one of the highest points of a home. Given that solar panels work best in an environment that isn’t highly populated by tall trees, they’re unobstructed to maximize their sun exposure. This positioning makes them more likely to be targets for lightning.
Large Surface Area
Solar arrays often cover a significant area, giving more space for lightning to strike them.
Conductive and Semi-Conductive Materials
Solar panels are mostly made of glass, aluminum, and silicon. While glass is an insulator and has a high resistance to electrical current, metal and silicon are conductive materials that provide a minimally resistant path for lightning to travel.
The internal electrical wiring of solar panels increases the probability of lightning striking them. As a rule, electricity is attracted to more electricity so direct currents from the panels make them more susceptible to lightning.
What happens if solar panels get struck by lightning?
If solar panels get struck by lightning, there is a chance they can sustain damage. This is dependent on the severity and directness of the lightning strike.
Direct hits are more likely to cause severe damage to the entire system but luckily, these strikes are quite rare. Indirect strikes are more common but less severe as they may damage the panels internally by causing a high-voltage surge in the system.
There are some preventative measures you can take to protect your panels from these surges.
How do I prevent my solar panels from lightning damage?
Protecting Your Panels from High-Voltage Surges
While 100% protection can never be guaranteed, there are several ways to maximize the safety of your system through extreme weather.
Simply installing your system by a professional solar company can avoid most solar panel damage. Work with an experienced and knowledgeable solar company that has installed hundreds of successful systems so you’ll feel confident that yours will do the same.
A grounding system creates an effective and safe pathway for excess electricity to flow directly into the ground. Installing a grounding system can protect your panels from the high-voltage surges often caused by lightning strikes.
Surge Protection Devices
Solar surge protection devices are installed on your panels and detect voltage spikes. If high-voltage is detected, they divert excess energy to ground and away from your panels. Some devices are able to reset themselves after diverting a surge while others have to be replaced.
What should I do if my solar panels get struck by lightning?
When you believe your panels have been struck by lightning, call your solar installer or servicer as soon as possible. It’s important to check out your system and ensure it’s working properly in a timely manner to avoid spikes in electricity bills due to long-term low production.
A solar servicer can take a look at your panels’ performance, note any surges, inspect your inverter, and make sure your panels did not sustain any visible damage. It is not recommended you attempt to service your own panels to avoid the risk of electrocution.
Isaksen Solar: Service Is What We Do
At Isaksen Solar, we have an entire team dedicated to service work. We know that our job goes beyond the installation, so that’s why we monitor your panels 24/7 and let you know when we see any issues.
As uncommon as it is for us to repair solar panels struck by lightning, if it happens we’ll be there to help. If your system is already installed (even by another company) or you’re just beginning your solar journey, we’re happy to answer any questions. Give us a call, (508) 717-3820, or get your free quote for more information.