Understanding the Threat: Lightning-Driven Surges and Your Solar SystemAs more and more homeowners transition to clean energy solutions, the installation of solar panels has become increasingly popular. However, as with any electrical system, solar systems are vulnerable to lightning-driven power surges, which can cause serious damage not only to the system but also to the structure of the home it’s attached to. These surges can result in overvoltage, overheating, and even fires.
The Importance of Protecting Your Home and Solar InvestmentInvesting in a solar system represents a significant financial commitment for most homeowners, and it’s essential to protect that investment. The cost of repairing or replacing damaged equipment and addressing any structural damage resulting from a surge can be significant. These expenses can quickly erode any savings realized through a solar installation. Additionally, without proper surge protection, a lightning strike or other electrical event can cause a power outage or damage to other electronics in your home, amplifying the impact of the event. Therefore, protecting your solar system with surge protection is not only a good idea, but it’s essential for preventing costly damage and ensuring your household’s safety.
What Are Surge Protectors (SPDs) and How Do They Work in Solar?Surge protectors, sometimes referred to as transient voltage surge suppressors (TVSS), are devices that are designed to protect electrical equipment from voltage spikes and surges. In a solar system, an SPD is installed between the solar panel system and the electrical service panel, typically in the form of a compact unit mounted on or near the service panel. When a surge occurs, the SPD detects the incoming surge and serves as a buffer between the system and the excess voltage. Without an SPD, the excess energy and heat generated by a power surge can cause significant damage, potentially leading to the failure of expensive components within the solar system.
- Ensure that the SPD meets the latest surge protection standards and certifications, such as UL 1449.
- Look for surge protectors specifically made for use in solar systems. Not all surge protectors are designed for use with renewable energy systems.
- Choose an SPD with a high surge current rating, at least 20 kA or higher, to ensure protection from powerful surges.
- Select SPDs with multiple levels of protection to provide comprehensive protection against power surges.
Installation Tips and Best Practices for Solar Surge ProtectionProper installation is important for ensuring the effective operation of surge protection devices. Here are some installation tips and best practices to keep in mind:
- Only licensed electricians should install SPDs.
- Install the SPD as close to the inverter as possible for comprehensive protection because that is the equipment that houses most expensive electronic components in a solar system.
- Consider using a retrofitting model when installing an SPD to avoid any significant alteration to your electrical infrastructure.
- Do not install an SPD inside a damaged panel, as this can cause significant damage.