Your home and its electronic devices have many fail-safes in place to protect the devices and internal wiring from power surges. Surge protectors, circuit breakers, and more are all built-in so that if a sudden surge of electricity—such as from a lightning strike—doesn’t cause serious damage to your electrical systems. This article will tell you more about electrical surges and how to protect your solar array from surge damage as the result of a lightning strike.
What Is a Power Surge?
Electricity travels through your wires with a certain amount of pressure, just like the water through your pipes; and just as a sudden surge in water pressure could burst a pipe, a sudden surge in voltage can cause explosive electrical damage to wires and electronics—including your solar array.
Of course, not all power surges are caused by lightning strikes. Many are caused by issues from the power company, such as during power grid switching or if there’s a malfunction at a nearby transformer. Power surges can also originate from within the home; when a larger appliance, such as an air conditioner switches on, it can cause a slight surge in power. In most cases, these small surges are well within a safe voltage range.
How Do They Cause Damage?
When a boost of electricity exceeding normal operating voltage enters a device, this can cause an arc of electrical current. The heat this arc generates can damage the electronic circuit boards and other electrical components within the device. Small surges can cause incremental damage inside of your electrical devices that you don’t even notice—damage that accumulates over time and leads to the premature death of that device.
Protecting Solar Equipment
Power surges from a lightning strike are not extremely common, but having a solar array does increase the chances of them occurring; after all, you’re mounting a large electronic device with many metal components to the roof of your home. Having lightning strike your device directly could cause instant, explosive damage. But even smaller power surges can cause incremental damage to your solar setup without you realizing it.
When it comes to smaller surges, the best way to protect your solar setup is essentially the same as protecting the rest of your electrical equipment from surge damage—surge protection devices. And the simplest way to ensure sufficient surge protection is through the use of a combiner box. For example, the Schneider Conext XW Pro 6848 inverter comes equipped with 2 classic 150 charge controllers with ground fault protection and arc fault protection built-in, as well as two MNSPD300’s, another type of surge protection device. This will help protect your equipment from surge damage from lightning, grid-tied issues, and more.