Do Solar Panels Attract Lightning?

August 2, 2023

Property owners often wonder, do solar panels attract lightning? This is an excellent question, as you don’t want to risk severe property damage due to a solar installation. After all, most people invest in solar to save money, not pay more for home repairs.

The quick answer is no, solar panels do not attract lightning. Lightning looks for the path of least resistance to the ground, usually hitting the highest point in its path. In turn, lightning might strike solar panels on a high roof. However, those panels don’t attract lightning any more than any other feature on your property.

Since this is just a brief explanation of lightning and solar panels, you might keep reading. Additional details about those panels and their risks are always helpful. Also, you can talk to a solar panel installation contractor near you for additional information. Their expertise ensures you choose a solar array that’s safe and appropriate for your property.

do solar panels attract lightning

Do Solar Panels Attract Lightning?

Solar panels themselves do not attract lightning, as said. Many people are under the mistaken impression that metal or electrical fixtures attract lightning. This is not correct! Instead, lightning looks for the path of least resistance to the ground.

In turn, buildings, trees, or communication towers are most likely to be struck. These taller objects offer a shorter and more direct path to the ground. Their material and construction are not factors in attracting lightning.

However, under certain circumstances, solar panels can become part of the pathway for a lightning strike. For instance, if they are installed on a home or other structure struck by lightning. The panels themselves might then suffer damage, depending on the lightning force.

What Happens if Lightning Hits Your Solar Panels?

If a lightning strike occurs on or near a building with solar panels, this can risk severe damage. The electrical charge from lightning can travel through the wiring or metal components on its way to the ground. This can risk several outcomes, including:

  • Direct lightning strikes can cause physical damage to the solar panels. This includes cracking or shattering of the photovoltaic cells. Extreme heat generated by a lightning strike can also melt some components of the panels. In turn, they might fail to function completely.
  • Lightning can induce a massive electrical surge in the solar wiring and components. This can damage inverters, charge controllers, batteries, and other electrical equipment. As a result, you might need to repair or just replace the panels.
  • Lightning strikes create intense heat that can risk fires, especially if flammable materials or vegetation are nearby. If panels or their wiring catch fire, it can be a serious safety hazard for the entire property.
  • Lightning can also damage the building or structure on which solar panels are installed. Structural issues, such as damage to the roof or the mounting system holding the solar panels in place, can also damage the panels.
  • A lightning strike can risk electrical shock hazards along the solar wiring.

Do Solar Panels Need Lightning Protection?

Solar panel systems are typically installed with grounding systems. These are designed to redirect an electrical charge safely into the ground. This reduces the chance of damage to the building or electrical equipment in the event of a lightning strike.

Additionally, you might ask your panel installation contractor about surge protectors and lightning arrestors. These absorb and redirect excess electrical energy caused by a lightning strike. This can help prevent damage to the solar panels and electrical components.

Also, remember that manufacturers design solar panels to withstand various environmental dangers, including lightning strikes. Consequently, they are generally safe when installed correctly and maintained properly.

However, in the event of a severe storm, it's always a good idea to follow safety guidelines and disconnect the solar panel system. This reduces the risk of electrical shocks and lets you inspect the panels for needed repairs.

new solar panel installation - ground mount

How Can We Protect Solar Panels From Lightning?

While solar panels have built-in surge protections and grounding, property owners can take added steps to protect them against damage. Check out some steps you can take to increase the lightning resistance for your solar panel system.

What to discuss with your solar installation technician

  • Start by having your solar panels installed by a qualified and experienced solar installer. A pro can ground the system property and ensure it meets safety standards. This minimizes the risk of lightning-related damage.
  • Consider having the installer include a lightning protection system specifically designed for solar panels. This usually includes lightning rods or air terminals mounted on the building. These intercept and conduct lightning strikes safely to the ground.
  • Proper grounding is crucial! This provides a safe pathway for the electrical charge in the event of a lightning strike. Ensure that all metal components of the solar panel system are connected to an effective grounding system.
  • Have your contractor install surge protection devices. These prevent voltage spikes from reaching electrical components, such as inverters and charge controllers. They also redirect excess energy to the ground.
  • Bonding means connecting all metallic components of the solar panel system together. This reduces the risk of electrical damage to the system in the event of a lightning strike. Ask your contractor about bonding if you’re concerned about lightning strike damage to your solar array.
  • Consider installing lightning arrestors in the solar panel system. These devices dissipate and redirect lightning currents safely away from sensitive electronics.

How property owners can protect their solar panels

After installation, property owners can still protect their solar panels from lightning strike damage. First, in extreme weather conditions, disconnect your solar panel system from the electrical grid or battery bank. This step can help protect the system from potential damage.

Second, always schedule regular maintenance checks for your solar panel system. Inspections can identify any signs of wear or damage caused by lightning strikes. Promptly repair or replace any damaged components.

Also, a professional can note if the panels might need relocating. Moving them away from the tallest point of a building can reduce the risk of lightning strikes. Your technician can also suggest how to protect your panels against lightning damage.

Do Storms Damage Solar Panels?

Manufacturers design solar panels to withstand harsh weather conditions, as said. In turn, they’re not likely to suffer cracks or other damage even during heavy rainfall or high winds. However, this doesn’t mean that solar panels are indestructible!

Storms can potentially damage solar panels, especially if they are severe or accompanied by extreme weather conditions. The risk and extent of damage depends on various factors. This includes the storm intensity, quality of the solar panel installation, and durability of the panels. Note some ways storms can impact solar panels:

  • Hailstorms can damage solar panels, especially larger hailstones, and if they’re accompanied by strong winds. Hail can crack or shatter the glass panel surfaces, risking reduced efficiency or complete panel failure.
  • Hurricanes, tornadoes, or severe thunderstorms pose a risk to solar panels. Poorly mounted or improperly secured solar panels are more susceptible to wind damage. For instance, they can get torn off their mounts or damaged by flying debris.
  • Storms can often mean flooding. Those floods can allow water to seep into the solar system’s electrical components, risking electrical shorts and damage.
  • Storms can blow tree branches, leaves, and other debris onto solar panels. While panels can often resist this damage, it can potentially scratch their surfaces, risking damage.

installing a solar panel on a roof

Do Solar Panels Work in Storms?

First, note that solar panels work by collecting and then converting sunlight into usable energy. Second, consider that storms can diminish sunlight, but the amount varies according to its intensity! In other words, solar panels can continue to generate electricity during storms, including rain and cloudy weather. However, the amount of electricity produced may be reduced compared to sunny conditions.

  • Solar panels can still generate electricity during light rain. Raindrops can clean the panels, temporarily improving their efficiency by washing away dust and dirt. However, prolonged periods of rain can mean reduced sunlight exposure and less power produced.
  • Solar panels can still generate electricity on cloudy days. However, their output will be significantly lower compared to sunny days. Cloud cover reduces the amount of sunlight reaching the solar cells. In turn, you can expect decreased energy production.
  • During thunderstorms, solar panels can continue to produce electricity. Their output may fluctuate due to varying cloud cover and intermittent rain.

Overall, while solar panels can still work in various types of storms, their efficiency and output may be affected. Despite reduced performance during adverse weather, solar energy remains a reliable and sustainable source of electricity. Solar provides power in various environmental conditions throughout the year including stormy weather!

A Word From Our Solar Power Team

Go Solar Rhode Island is happy to help answer the question, do solar panels attract lightning? Hopefully we’ve cleared up this issue for you. Also, if you’re ready to enjoy clean, green energy on your property, call our Rhode Island solar installation contractors. We’re happy to schedule a FREE consultation and ensure you understand how solar can benefit you.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In This Article:

clock-omap-markerphoneenvelopecrosschevron-downchevron-down-circlechevron-right-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram