With solar energy becoming a more popular topic every day, questions about this renewable energy source keep piling up. Apart from wanting to know the basics, people also want to know about things that aren’t as straightforward. One of such topics is a surge protector. What is a surge protector, you may ask? Well, we are here to tell you. Read on to find out.
Surge Protector Defined
Generally speaking, a surge protector is a device that is a part of your power system. Its purpose is to protect all your electrical appliances from voltage spikes in AC circuits. These voltage spikes occur from time to time due to different factors and last from 1 second to 30 microseconds.
Though the duration of the voltage spikes might seem insignificant, it is actually anything but. These events can reach over 1,000 volts in ordinary conditions or over 100,000 volts if they, for example, happen because of lightning. The latter option can cause fires and severe injuries for anyone nearby.
But even the lower spikes can wreak havoc in your home and destroy your electronic devices. Computers, modems, TVs, and anything else that is plugged in at the time of the spike will be ruined if something doesn’t divert the electricity away from the outlets.
Luckily, a surge protector does just that, ensuring you and all your appliances stay safe, regardless of any voltage spikes.
Can Lightning Hit Your Solar Panels?
Solar panels go on your roof, and as such, they are quite prone to lightning strikes. If you also take into consideration the large surface area they cover, the danger increases even further.
The placement of solar panels may not seem like a massive problem for, for example, California, which has the lowest risks of lightning strikes in the US. However, places in the Southeastern parts of the country where lightning strikes are quite common are a different story.
Installing solar panels in these parts of the US poses a considerable risk, and it is one that many solar providers aren’t even aware of. If lightning strikes your solar panels directly, it could burn through them completely or cause an explosion. That is, of course, a dangerous situation for your entire home and neighborhood, not to mention for your family.
Surge Protectors Can Help
As voltage spikes and the risk of lightning strikes are common for all electrical equipment, surge protectors are available for all solar users. Your solar provider should install a surge protector network on both the DC inputs and AC outputs in your circuit.
AC protection should be guaranteed for each power conductor in your home. In addition, combiner circuits also need to be protected, as do monitoring and tracking systems. That way, your appliances will stay safe in case of a voltage spike, and any interference with the way your system runs will also be prevented.
Where Does a Surge Protector Go?
For systems with DC cabling that is under 10 m, the surge protector should go either near the inverters, combiner boxes, or the solar modules. Systems with DC cabling over 10 m need to have a protector at both the inverter and the module side of the cables.
A Few Parting Words
Now that you know the answer to the question what is a surge protector? you can start planning your own solar journey. Though there is still a lot of debate on the safety of solar panels, it is clear that there are solutions for everything, including voltage spikes and lightning strikes. Make sure to discuss your options with your solar provider, and ensure you get the safest bargain possible.
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