The solar power industry is growing steadily every year. Total solar systems installed up through the 3rd quarter of 2012 have already surpassed the total amount of systems installed in 2011. These numbers are expected to continue to grow in the near future as more and more homeowners, businesses and local governments are investing in green energy.
As these photo-voltaic solar arrays are becoming more numerous, so are the chances of incurring damage from lightning. Weather and lightning experts are saying that the number and the severity of lightning strikes are going to continue to increase as our weather patterns continue to change. Photo-voltaic Solar Arrays, or PV Solar Arrays, as with any electronic controlled devices, are susceptible to system failures from time to time.
It is estimated that from one third to one half of all failures of PV solar arrays are caused by lightning. Here is a fairly simple but graphic description of why they are so susceptible to lightning damage. PV Solar arrays, are essentially low voltage circuit boards designed to turn the light from the sun into low voltage electricity. Now, imagine taking an assortment of your favorite electronics, mounting them to a metal framework on your roof, running wires between them to connect them all together, and then connecting this system into the electrical service of your home or business. This is essentially how most solar arrays are installed. It’s similar to putting your computer or home entertainment system on your roof and not expecting it to be affected by lightning.
The typical PV Solar Array does not come with any special form of structural lightning protection or grounding, and most do not even come with surge protection devices of any kind. It is easy to understand why PV Solar Arrays should be protected from lightning. ALP Systems has been working with PV solar array installations for years and we have developed our own specific and specialized lightning protection design to protect these systems from the direct and indirect effects of lightning.
A properly engineered and designed system includes a custom grounding system engineered to the specific needs of the site, a structural lighting protection system to protect the solar arrays from direct lightning strikes, and a series of surge protection devices to protect the wiring systems. ALP Systems can perform design, engineering, and installation services for all types of Solar Array systems including, rooftop metal frame systems, flexible roof adhered systems, and free standing ground mounted systems.