TAKO since 1979: Advanced Solar Lightning Protection System in Malaysia

solar lightning protection
Solar Lightning Protection System

What is Solar Lightning Protection System?

A Solar Lightning Protection System is a setup designed to safeguard solar installations from lightning strikes. It typically includes measures like air terminals, down conductors, and surge protection devices to dissipate lightning energy safely away from solar panels and associated equipment.

Introduction

solar lightning protection

Solar energy has become one of the best options to replace conventional power sources in recent years. But this increased popularity also means that there are more concerns to consider, such the possibility of lightning strikes. As such, a solar lightning protection system is crucial in order to maintain and protect the solar panels.

A system known as a Lighting Protection System (LPS) offers a way for a lightning discharge to enter or exit the earth without harming people, electrical machinery, or non-conductive buildings. We’ll dive into the world of solar lightning protection in this in-depth tutorial, covering the risks, tactics, and best practices to protect your solar investments.

Understanding the Risks

Understanding the dangers of lightning strikes on solar installations is crucial before implementing any solar lightning protection. Lightning can cause expensive damage and unplanned downtime, endangering the electrical components of solar panels as well as the infrastructure. Both structural lighting protection and transient overvoltage (electronic system) protection are essential components of a dependable lightning protection system (LPS). In short, transient overvoltage damage to a building’s electronic equipment cannot and will not be prevented by a structural solar lightning protection system.

Risk Factors of lightning strikes includes:

  • Direct flash
  • Step potential
  • Touch potential
  • Side flash
  • Fire and/or explosion triggered by heat of lightning flash
  • Fire and/or explosion triggered by ohmic heating of conductors
  • Punctures of structure roofing due to plasma heat at lightning point of strike,
  • Failure of internal electrical and electronic systems,
  • Mechanical damage including dislodged materials at point of strike.

Assessing Vulnerabilities

It’s critical to determine your solar system’s susceptibility to lightning strikes in order to protect it efficiently. The degree of risk can be affected by variables like installation type, system size, and geographic location.

Types of Solar Lightning Protection

There are three main categories of lightning protection systems for installations and buildings:

  • LPS for Protection for buildings and installations against direct strike by lightning
  • LPS for Protection against overvoltage on incoming conductors and conductor systems
  • LPS for Protection against the electromagnetic pulse of lightning

Protecting Against Lightning Damage

Grounding is vital for safeguarding against lightning strikes. It offers a direct path to Earth, diverting harmful surges away from equipment. Grounding discharges static electricity, deterring lightning attraction.

Lightning arrestors and surge protectors supplement grounding, not replace it. Proper grounding is essential during installation, often overlooked later.

Construct discharge paths by interconnecting metal components, adhering to NEC guidelines. Prevent sharp bends in wires. Use AL/CU connectors and stainless steel fasteners to mitigate corrosion. Connect ground wires of DC and AC circuits.

Understanding NEC Codes and Off-Grid Realities

While following NEC guidelines is important, off-grid setups may require extra precautions. Local inspectors often enforce NEC rules rigidly, though they may not account for off-grid nuances. Zones of protection lack flexibility in lightning scenarios.

Implementing Protection Measures

Now that the dangers and vulnerabilities are well understood, it’s time to put protection measures in place. There are several methods and technologies available to lessen the impact of lightning strikes on solar lightning protection, ranging from surge protection devices and grounding systems to lightning arrestors and bonding procedures.

Surge Protection Device

solar lightning protection- surge protection device

A surge protector, sometimes referred to as a surge suppressor, is a solar lightning protection gadget designed to shield electronic devices against unintentional power surges, or “spikes.” A relatively little voltage increase is sufficient to cause harm to the majority of today’s delicate devices. Numerous things, including lightning strikes, big appliances going on, issues with the wiring in your house, and issues with your local power company, might result in these voltage abnormalities.

One of two devices is used by surge protectors to disperse the harmful voltage.

The most often used type of solar lightning protection is known as a metal oxide varistor (MOV). The MOVs function as a “shunt” resistor to direct any excess current to the ground after being inserted within the surge protector to “absorb” any excess voltage.

The second gadget of solar lightning protection functions similarly to a MOV and is known as a gas discharge arrestor (GDR). The composition of the gas makes it a poor conductor at a given voltage. The electrical power is strong enough to ionize the gas and turn it into an effective conductor when the voltage spikes above that point. It becomes a poor conductor once more after passing electricity to the ground line until the voltage reaches normal levels.

Grounding Systems

solar lightning protection - grounding systems

The most basic defense against lightning harm to your system is grounding. Static electricity that builds up above ground will also be released via an electric path to the earth. Prior to or during the installation of the other solar installation components, we advise establishing your grounding system as a solar lightning protection.

The Purpose of Grounding

Grounding channels lightning away from vital equipment like inverters and TVs. Lightning can wreak havoc without proper grounding, leading to costly repairs. Breakers and fuses don’t shield against lightning strikes.

Grounding fulfills some essential functionalities, including:

• In the event of a lightning strike, your ground protection offers a secure channel for discharge straight to the earth by draining off collected charges, which prevents lightning from being particularly drawn to your system.
• It lessens the risk of shock from your system’s higher voltage components.
• Lessens the hum produced by your motors or inverters.

Grounding Rods

Bury conductive rods in moist soil to ensure efficient grounding. Multiple rods may be necessary, especially in dry areas.

An alternative is burying bare copper wire or spreading it in two directions. Route wiring into wetter areas for better conductivity. Utilize nearby steel well-casings if available.

Concrete footers may not provide adequate grounding in moist climates. Install additional ground rods near concrete bases. Conversely, in dry regions, concrete footings can serve as effective grounding.

Grounding Power Circuits

In the US, grounding power circuits is standard for home systems. DC negative and AC neutral must bond to ground at one point.

For standalone systems, follow manufacturer recommendations regarding power circuit grounding. Array wiring should minimize induction with equal-length positive and negative wires.

Utilize twisted pair technique and metal conduit for added protection. Buried wire runs reduce susceptibility to surges from lightning. Ground communication or control cables properly.

Single Point Grounds

Ensure all equipment shares a single grounding point to prevent voltage disparities. Multiple grounding points increase the risk of arcing between equipment. Exceptions exist for distant panel arrays, requiring separate grounds.

Multiple Ground Rods

In dry climates, one ground rod might not suffice for safety. Tests suggest using multiple rods connected by wire for optimal grounding. NEC mandates a minimum resistance level of 25 ohms.

Grounding and NEC Requirements

All exposed metal surfaces should be grounded, following NEC standards. Inverters often connect AC and DC sides, grounding both simultaneously. Additional grounding improves system resilience, especially in lightning-prone regions.

Surge Arrestors

Surge arrestors safeguard against voltage spikes. DC arrestors protect charge controllers, while AC variants shield inverters. Quality surge protection prevents costly repairs from lightning strikes.

Lightning Arrester

solar lightning protection - lightning arrester

Lightning arresters are solar lightning protection devices installed to protect houses, buildings, and electricity lines from hazardous power surges. The arrester is triggered when a lightning strike occurs, and it directs the lightning to the earth, where it disperses safely. As their name implies, its main purpose is to protect against lightning-related damage. They can, however, also shield the building from additional dangers.

Lightning arresters are one- to two-foot-long cylindrical devices made up of a spark gap and a series inductor.

Difference Between Lightning Arrester and Surge Arrester

Surge arresters and lightning arresters are different, although they both protect electrical systems and appliances from surges and transient voltage. Here are the key differences:

  • Location: Surge arresters are installed indoors (within the main panel board), while lightning arresters are installed outdoors (usually on the panel board).
  • Purpose: Surge arresters handle power spikes encountered on electrical lines, while lightning arresters handle larger surges caused by lightning strikes.
  • Layered defense: In some cases, both types can be used together to provide layered protection.

Solar Lightning Protection: Bonding

Bonding is a process to take all the metallic and electrical masses in a facility, connect them with conductors, and raise their electrical potential to the same level. Personnel safety is the main motivation behind bonding, which ensures that someone handling two pieces of equipment simultaneously won’t get shocked by entering the path of equalization. Bonding prevents unintentional current flow on power and data conductors and manages arcing between equipment pieces at various potentials for the same reasons that it protects people.

Compliance and Standards

IEEE 1547

One of the frequently used standards in the power sector especially solar lightning protection is IEEE 1547, Standard for Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electric Power Systems. At the point of interconnection (POI) or point of common coupling (PCC), it specifies a set of conditions that any DER must fulfill. In order to prevent DER from inadvertently supplying power to nearby electrical users or the utility grid when the grid has lost its power supply from the transmission system, there are rules in place according to IEEE Standard 1547.

UL 1449

For solar lightning protection devices, the Underwriters Laboratories standard UL 1449 has taken precedence as the safety standard (SPDs). It explains the components and installation specifications for SPDs, which are used to safeguard AC electrical lines. The safety standards for SPDs, UL 1449, specify the abnormal conditions that must be met by the devices in order to guarantee complete SPD safety. Sturdy SPD module designs will use thermal disconnects to prevent thermal runaway from damaging the MOVs.

Monitoring and Maintenance

After installation, you should continue to protect your solar investment. Maintaining the efficacy of your solar lightning protection system requires regular monitoring and upkeep. It’s best to keep an eye on the solar lightning protection system performance once a year by performing regular checks to ensure maximum performance.

Upgrading lightning protection system is also important to avoid unnecessary problems that arise because of faulty unmaintained solar lightning protection systems. the button below will provide you the necessary information and guides from professionals in TAKO since 1979 from installation to maintenance.

Protecting Your PV System

  • Surges from thunderstorms damage PV systems, leading to costly repairs.
  • Modules, inverters, and monitoring systems are vulnerable to destruction.
  • Ensure system resilience with comprehensive lightning protection measures.
  • External protection includes air-termination and down conductor systems.
  • Internally, surge protection ensures lightning equipotential bonding for safety.
  • Boost system availability and secure long-term revenue with these measures.

Conclusion

In short, for solar projects to be safe and viable over the long term, solar lightning protection is essential. Solar owners can lessen the effects of lightning strikes and protect their investments for many years to come by being aware of the dangers, putting in place targeted safety measures, and being diligent about monitoring and maintenance.

Why TAKO since 1979?

TAKO since 1979 has certified professional engineers who possess specialized expertise in the design, installation, and maintenance of lightning protection systems. TAKO since 1979 also hold ISO certifications, ensuring that our services adhere to internationally recognized standards of quality and safety.

With their extensive knowledge and experience, they meticulously assess each project’s requirements, develop tailored lightning protection solutions, and oversee the implementation process with precision and diligence.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Do solar panels require lightning protection?

Yes, it does. If lightning hits your solar panels, a catastrophic surge can occur. Lightning is the number one cause of catastrophic failures of solar installations. To protect your system, you’ll need to install a grounding system.

Are solar panels resistant to lightning?

Although solar panels don’t attract lightning, once hit, they might cause several damages that could cost high expenses to fix.

What is the best protection against lightning?

Surge protection devices, grounding systems, lightning arrestors, and bonding procedures are some of the recommended solar lightning protection systems.

What is a lightning arrester in the solar system?

A device used to protect substation equipment from waves is called a surge diverter or lightning arrestor.

Is lightning protection required for solar panels?

Lightning protection isn’t required but highly recommended for solar panels.

How to protect solar from thunder?

To safeguard solar from thunder, install lightning protection systems.

Are solar panels resistant to lightning?

Solar panels aren’t inherently resistant to lightning and can sustain damage.

What is the best protection against lightning?

The best protection against lightning includes comprehensive lightning protection systems.

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