Do Solar Panels Attract Lightning?

Before investing in an expensive solar system, you need answers to several million-dollar questions. For example, do solar panels attract lighting?

One can understand where you are coming from. Solar panels have features assumed to attract lightning.

For example, they are made of metal which is believed to attract lightning. They are also commonly mounted on rooftops, thus often the tallest things, and that’s what lightning strikes.

As convincing as it may sound, that’s far from the truth. They are myths associated with these strikes.

Does Electric Power in Solar Panels Attract Lightning?

Fortunately, solar panels don’t attract lightning. Not even the electricity in the system attracts it.

Lightning occurs naturally and has nothing to do with solar panels. It results from turbulence leading to static electrical charge buildup in the atmosphere.

Once it occurs, it can strike anything as long as it contains an electrical charge. It can strike a building, the ground, trees, oceans, mountains, and even solar panels, to mention a few.

The fact that it can strike your solar panels doesn’t mean they attract them. It is a sheer coincidence that has nothing to do with it.

Not even the electrical current that the panels produce will attract lightning. It can’t even be felt in the atmosphere since it is a direct current.

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What Attracts Lightning?

As much as solar panels don’t attract lightning, some things play a part in determining where it strikes. The main ones include the following;

  • Pointed shape
  • Height

These characteristics affect the striking points in the following ways;

Pointed Shape

The electrical charges concentrate more near points. Consequently, lightning will target such areas due to their high affinity to charged bodies.

That’s why there are higher chances of lightning striking a pitched roof than a flat one.

Height

The higher the point, the bigger the chances of a lightning strike. That’s because it is the shortest path from the clouds to the ground.

Lightning prefers these short distances and will strike them first to complete the circuit. No wonder mountains and trees are often struck.

Can Lightning Destroy Solar Panels

Solar panels don’t attract lightning, but the latter can strike the former any minute. Such an occasion could see your solar panels damaged beyond repair.

For those that can be fixed, the homeowner incurs a huge cost to take it back on track. Lightning is one of the few things that threaten the longevity of solar panels.

It can strike the solar panels in two ways;

  • Direct strike
  • Indirect strike

Regardless of the strike, it is hard to pinpoint the problem immediately. Only a close inspection can help, so you should do it regularly.

In case of a problem, fix it as soon as possible to avoid bigger problems later.

Direct Strike

A direct strike is quite rare, but you won’t forget it once it happens due to its consequences. That’s because its effects are severe and hard to go unnoticed.

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In most cases, direct strikes make solar panels useless. It will destroy the various components of the system by melting them.

That’s due to the high currents the lightning induces upon striking. They lead to overheating, which destroys your solar system.

Indirect Strike

On the other hand, an indirect strike happens relatively often. It will create electromagnetic induction, which will induce a high voltage in the solar system.

As it passes through the wire to the various component, it breaks down various parts of the solar system, including panels and conductors. Other outcomes include sparks due to the high voltage and the possibility of explosives blowing into flames.

Ways of Protecting Solar Panels from Lightning

Installing a solar system will cost you a fortune. As it may, lightning could water down that progress once it strikes.

It explains the importance of looking for ways to avoid such destruction. Here are various ways of protecting solar panels from lightning;

Install Surge Arrestors

Surge arrestors will absorb any voltage that a lightning strike might induce. That’s a perfect way of ensuring that the voltage doesn’t destroy solar panels.

They function in ways;

  • Allowing a surge to bypass the components, including the wiring
  • Directing the lightning to the ground

However, they are only useful when installed on each end of every wire forming the solar system. Don’t compromise on the quality of the surge arrestor for protection and excellent results.

Grounding

This approach is more common than the previous one. Professionals highly recommend it, which is also cost-effective, explaining its popularity.

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It protects your solar panels by redirecting the lightning path. Since a lightning strike is out of your control, divert it from the solar panels to the ground.

It is a method that won’t disappoint you regardless of how often the lightning strike. As long as it is properly installed, your solar panels will be safe.

Conclusion

Do solar panels attract lightning? That’s far from the truth; contrary claims are based on myths, not facts.

Yes, lightning can strike solar panels, but it isn’t due to attraction. It is usually like any other case since lightning can strike any charged body and the panels are no exception.

Not even the electric current in solar panels can attract lightning. Since it has a direct current, not even its presence is felt in the atmosphere, leave alone attracting lightning.

There are two different lightning strikes, direct and indirect. The former is rare, but its impact is severe, and vice versa.

In the unfortunate event that lightning strikes your solar panels, there will be nothing to celebrate because of its aftermath. Some are destroyed completely, whereas others need a lot of time and money to fix.

That’s why you should do everything possible to prevent such a situation. As much as the lightning is out of your control, you can do something about the path it follows.

The common method of protecting solar panels from lightning is grounding. Alternatively, you can install surge arrestors and avoid the dire consequences of such an incident.