Do Solar Panels Attract Lightning (Shocking Truth!)

The chance of a homeowner’s property getting struck by lightning is unaffected by the installation of solar panels. Your solar panels will be safer from lightning with the proper protection systems, which could cause injury or damage.

Neither solar panels nor their metal racks are lightning magnets. Despite this, many individuals feel that placing electrical equipment on their rooftops makes their homes prime targets for lightning strikes. However, no evidence supports this assumption.

Here are some critical points to take away from this article:

  • Solar panels likely hood of lightning strikes
  • Protect your solar system
  • Grounding cables
  • Lightning rods
  • Lightning arrestors
  • Protect your solar system

Continue reading to find out what you need to know about protecting your solar panels from lightning damage and reducing the likelihood of lightning striking your solar panels.

Lightening Fork In The Sky - Sol Voltaics: Solar Panel Information
Lightening Fork In The Sky

Will My Solar Panels Attract Lightning?

No, because the electricity generated by solar panels does not attract lightning. Lightning occurs when turbulence in the atmosphere builds up a static electrical charge. Lightning can hit any spot on earth, a building, or an electrically charged object.

Electric fields, air currents, and thunderclouds play a role in the lightning process. The lightning will strike whenever and wherever it pleases, and the strike could occur.

However, neither your property nor your solar panels are safe from the threat of lightning strikes. If the conditions are right for it, the energy of a strike has the potential to disrupt or even destroy your solar installation.

You’ve done all you can to avoid lightning strikes if your solar system is built appropriately on mounts intended to resist high winds and has the required lightning protection.

What Attracts Lightning

The significant characteristics regulating where a lightning bolt will strike are height, pointed shape, and isolation. The presence of metal does not influence the location of lightning strikes. For example, mountains are mostly stone, but they are struck by lightning frequently throughout the year.

High Points Attract Lightning

Lightning tries to find the shortest path between the cloud base and the ground to complete the circuit, which means a hilltop or grove of trees is more likely to be struck than a low spot or creek bed. Because of this, mountaintops get frequently struck by lightning.

Lightning Gets Drawn To Points

Consider two identical homes, one with a flat roof and a sharply pitched roof. The steeper roof will likely be struck by lightning because the points allow electrical charges to concentrate, providing a weak spot for lightning to target.

Lightning Enters Your Home Via Conductors

Lightning can enter a house through metal pipes and wires, causing significant damage and danger. Chimneys are also a prime lightning attractor since that is the highest point on a home, and many satellite dishes or aerials get fastened to them. The lightning then travels through the cabling or pipes. Indoor lightning deaths are uncommon, but 32 percent of all lightning injuries occur indoors.

Lightening Bolt In The Night Sky - Sol Voltaics: Solar Panel Information
Lightening Bolt In The Night Sky

What Happens If Lightning Strikes Your Solar Panel?

If lightning strikes your solar panels, you may not immediately notice any damage. Close inspection, however, may reveal that some photovoltaic cells have become damaged and are no longer producing electricity as efficiently as they should.

Because lightning damage can render solar panels unsafe, you should inspect your solar panels immediately following a lightning storm. If you discover damage, you must repair or replace any solar panels that have been struck by lightning as soon as possible.

If lightning strikes your system, contact your installer immediately for help filing an insurance claim and instructions on how to proceed with repairing any damaged equipment. A solar power system has many components, and lightning can damage each in different ways.

Protecting Your Solar Panels From Lightning

Some companies sell lightning protection systems designed explicitly with photovoltaic solar panels. These lightning protection devices shield your solar system from lightning damage by directing lightning currents around your solar panels.

Grounding Solar Panel Cables

Grounding is the most basic method of protecting against lightning damage. Of course, you can’t stop a lightning strike, but you can redirect it and give it a direct path to the ground that avoids your expensive equipment and safely discharges the strike into the earth.

An underground electrical route constantly discharges static energy collected in an aboveground structure. Because of this, lightning attraction is frequently prevented.

Surge protectors and lightning arrestors protect electronic equipment by absorbing electrical surges. These devices, however, are not a replacement for proper grounding. Instead, they are only effective when combined with appropriate grounding.

The grounding system is a critical component of your wiring infrastructure. Install it before or during the installation of the power wiring. Otherwise, it may never get checked off the “to-do” list once the system runs.

Lightning Rod Method

“Lightning rods” are static discharge devices connected to the ground and placed above buildings and solar-electric arrays. They get designed to prevent static charge buildup and eventual ionization of the surrounding atmosphere.

They can help prevent a strike and provide a path for extremely high currents to ground if one occurs. Modern devices are spike-shaped and frequently have multiple points.

Lighting rods are typically only used in areas prone to severe electrical storms. If you believe your site falls into this category, hire a contractor with lightning protection experience. If your system installer is not qualified, consult a lightning protection specialist before installing the system.

Choose a North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certified PV installer if possible. Although this certification is not specific to lightning protection, it gets used to assess an installer’s overall level of competence.

Lightning Arrestors Method

Lightning (surge) arrestors absorb voltage spikes caused by electrical storms (or out-of-spec utility power), effectively bypassing power wiring and your equipment.

Surge protectors should get installed at both ends of any long wire run connected to any component of your system, including AC lines from an inverter.

Make sure you use the correct arrestors for your application. Many system installers routinely use Delta surge arrestors, which are inexpensive and provide protection where lightning is a moderate threat, but these units are no longer UL listed.

PolyPhaser and Transtector arrestors are high-quality products for lightning-prone areas and larger installations. These long-lasting units provide reliable protection and are compatible with a wide range of system voltages. In addition, some devices have indicators that show the various failure modes.

Solar Panels In Strong Winds

Solar power arrays get frequently exposed to the planet’s worst weather, including hurricane-force winds gusting up to 200 miles per hour on the United States’ Eastern seaboard and islands such as Hawaii and Guam.

Calculating wind load is essential in system design, whether the solar panels get mounted on the roof, in a stationary ground array, or moving trackers.

The weakest link in a solar panel system’s wind resistance is rarely the panels themselves – in most cases where wind causes damage to a solar array, failures occur due to flaws in the racking system or the roof.

Resources

General Solar Panel FAQ

What Problems Do Solar Panels Solve?

In environmental terms, solar panels can potentially solve a handful of problems, including;
1. Air pollution
2. Water pollution
3. Greenhouse gases
4. Reduction in fossil fuel use

For individuals, solar energy allows you to become completely self-sufficient when it comes to your electricity needs and can save you a lot of money in the long run.

What Are 3 Important Uses Of Solar Panels?

The three most important uses of solar panels are;
1. Solar electricity. This can be used to power almost any appliance in your home, including TVs, computers, and fridges.
2. Lighting. In addition to the use of low-power, LED lightbulbs, solar panels can provide an efficient, low-cost, and environmentally friendly way to provide lighting to homes. 
3. Portable solar. In our modern, always-connected lives, our phones, tablets, and computers are almost always with us, and all run on batteries. Portable PV chargers can help keep our batteries topped up no matter where we are, as long as there is some sun to charge them.

Do solar panels give you free electricity?

Once the cost of the array is paid in full, the energy it produces is free. There are ongoing maintenance costs, too, such as annual panel cleaning, etc. 

How much will my electric bill be with solar panels?

Suppose your solar array includes a solar battery backup system, and it is large enough to fully cover your energy usage per day. In that case, your monthly electric bill will be next to zero dollars, even with a grid-tied system. 

If your solar array does not include a solar battery backup system, then at night, your house or business will use grid electricity. That cost will vary but expect to pay from 1/3-2/3 of your average electric bill, and that cost will fluctuate seasonally. 

Do you save money with solar panels?

The simple answer is, Yes, you save money with solar panels. There is an initial upfront cost, but since solar panels are warrantied for 25 years, you will save money over time. You will also begin to see monthly savings in energy bills, but there are other ways that solar panels pay you back. Those include:
1. Adding value to your home or commercial building 
2. Monthly decreases in energy costs
3. The ability to add more energy appliances without increased monthly costs
4. The potential for tax credits for going solar

Can solar panels power a house 24-7?

Most definitely! Solar panels can certainly power a house 24-7, with the addition of a high-quality inverter and a suitable battery bank, of course. To power, a house under normal usage will require a massive solar array, though, and there will be a very expensive initial financial outlay.

Do I need to tell my energy supplier I have solar panels?

This depends on where you live, but in most cases, it’s not necessary to inform your energy supplier that you have solar panels. That said, you may be producing excess power with your solar system, in which case you may be able to sell that excess power back to energy companies.

In this case, you’ll naturally need to be in contact with them. 

What Are Solar Cells Known as and Why?

Solar cells are also called photovoltaic (PV) cells. They are called so because the term ‘photovoltaic’ literally means light i.e. photo and electricity i.e. voltaic.

These cells generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect. This effect basically causes the generation of free electrons from the semiconducting silicon material of the solar panel when sunlight hits its surface.

What Type of Solar Panels Are Most Efficient and Why?

There are currently three types of solar panels available in the market that are:
1. Monocrystalline
2. Polycrystalline
3. Thin-filmed

Among these, monocrystalline solar panels are known to be the most efficient among all others.

Does heat enter your home through the roof?

Absolutely. Heat enters your home through your roof, and on a hot day your attic can get up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Through conduction, heat from the sun warms your roof which then warms your attic and the rest of your home.

Sol Voltaics is an affiliate and an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases - at no extra cost to you.

FIND WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR

Sol Voltaics Logo Icon green white
SOL VOLTAICS