Surge Protection Devices For PV Systems 

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While there is no doubt that photovoltaic (PV) systems need to be protected from lightning strikes and the resultant power surges on the industrial level, it cannot be ignored that there are far more residential PV systems in operation.  While the magnitude of loss in an industrial facility is far greater than any individual system that is being used in the residential capacity, the sheer volume of residential systems that produce power using solar capabilities far outweighs the industrial installations.  Because of the large numbers of residential systems in operation, it must be noted that there are specific complications that come into play in a large amount of these installations.  The fact that solar power panels are essentially at risk in the same ways in both kinds of applications brings to light the issue that the protection systems being used in industrial installations are far more widely considered than in residential systems.  Because of the large amounts of expense that can be created by a lightning strike to an industrial facility’s solar panels, the industrial operators take protection measures or more seriously.  The problem is that most residential systems can also create a significant amount of repair costs that must be covered by the homeowner, and the failures in installation may create costs that are difficult to recover from.  Protection systems are much like insurance, and people will continually choose the lowest price to pay a monthly, not considering that in the case where if the coverage that is omitted becomes necessary, they have reduced their ability to get out from underneath losses, just by choosing the lowest monthly bill.  With regard to solar installations in residential homes poor grounding is often a cause of issues that are presented.  Lightning discharges the static electricity surge that seeks the most optimal path to the ground.  If the systems have not been grounded properly due to poor conditions or faulty installation, a single lightning strike to the panels can cause an overload that moves through the entire system, causing catastrophic failure.  Only through the installation of surge protection devices at the service entrance, at junction boxes and along potential travel pathways can you ensure that the strike damage is isolated to the strike point.  As a matter of fact, even a lightning strike that happens some distance away can still discharge enough static electricity to damage equipment if it is able to couple into the lines and cables that join the system to the panels.  These cables are optimal for the transfer of electricity and are also a perfect mechanism to allow the power surge of damaging levels to move from the point of a lightning strike through the equipment involved in the process.  By failing to provide adequate amounts of surge protection that is only utilized in the event of a lightning strike or power surge a homeowner risks creating significant down times as well as costly repairs that defeat the purpose of installing the solar system in the first place.  If you decide to invest in a power generation system that will ultimately produce more than it consumes as far as costs, insure your investment wisely with adequate surge protection. 

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