Lightening Strike

CrystalCrystal Solar Expert Posts: 128 ✭✭✭
We had a lightening storm last night and a couple strikes were incredibly close to us.

We had turned the power switch off for inverter, but this morning it will run a small fan for a minute or so and then start clicking.
Also the generator starts, but revs way up and none of the normal lights turn on.

The Solar panels are still collecting sun and the charge control still seem to be working fine.

Do you think the lightening fried the inverter and gunny?



  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,004 admin
    The short answer is probably yes...

    Longer answer is to do some debugging.

    For the generator, disconnect from your home and run it separately. Use a volt meter to check the AC voltage (typically, 110 to 134 VAC) and the frequency--60+/-5 Hz worst case (mechanical governor). 60 Hz +/- 1 Hz electronic governor and/or Inverter-Generator type. Use a simple resistance type portable heater for a 500-1,500 Watt load (roughly).

    Typically "simple/old style" gensets used a wind van to control RPM (not very accurate, and lightning would not affect). If inverter generator or more modern genset with electronic RPM and/or voltage and/or inverter-generator--More likely to have been damaged by even nearby strikes.

    For the DC to AC inverter--The AC output stage seems to be the most likely to be damaged by a lightning strike--But other devices could be too (solar charge controller, solar panels).

    You need to start testing to see what is working or not. And figure out if you will get parts to repair (more expensive hardware tends to be more repairable at the board replacement level)--Or simply buy a new/replacement device.

    For things like the genset--You may find that a control board can be replaced and perhaps fix both the RPM and Voltage output.

    At some point, you will need to figure out where to spend your time and money... Some products are difficult to source and/or expensive for replacement parts. And the question of how "reliable" are the parts left behind. Electronics (transistors, micro electronics, CPUs, etc.) are all very sensitive to static electricity and voltage spikes. They can be weakened by voltage spikes and have a shortened lifespan (die weeks or months down the road in normal operation).

    Then there is the whole "if you know lighting is coming"... Disconnecting power and for corded equipment, pull the plugs 10 feet or so away from the rest of the home/cabin.

    And--Lightning suppression. Using Surge Suppressors on AC output of inverter & Genset (or where genset power enters the wall of the house--Or on your main breaker panel), on DC solar power (again where wiring enters the wall of the house). Run 6 AWG cable from the surge suppressor to 8-10 foot ground rod next to the foundation, to direct lightning energy down to earth, vs letting it get into your home and electronics.

    Doing other things like lightning rods along roof line, near/above solar array can help too...

    As you have seen--"Correcting" an installation after a strike is painful and expensive.

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mcgivormcgivor Solar Expert Posts: 3,854 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Having previously lost equipment to lightning I would concur with Bill, when selecting SPD's use those with a clamping voltage close to the systems operating voltage. 

    The manufacturer I used, they recommend a 275V  for the 230V inverter and a 175V for the controller input's maximum 150 DC. Many of the array SPD's available  have 600V or higher clamping thresholds, the 600V one I had previously did nothing to prevent the controller.
    1500W, 6× Schutten 250W Poly panels , Schneider MPPT 60 150 CC, Schneider SW 2524 inverter, 400Ah LFP 24V nominal battery with Battery Bodyguard BMS 
    Second system 1890W  3 × 300W No name brand poly, 3×330 Sunsolar Poly panels, Morningstar TS 60 PWM controller, no name 2000W inverter 400Ah LFP 24V nominal battery with Daly BMS, used for water pumping and day time air conditioning.  
    5Kw Yanmar clone single cylinder air cooled diesel generator for rare emergency charging and welding.
  • NANOcontrolNANOcontrol Registered Users Posts: 202 ✭✭✭
    Check your panels.  I had a number of bypass diodes shorted. One panel blew a hole thru the back. Years later it is still working.  I just bought 4 really cheap panels supposedly new old stock.  When I got home I noticed little burn marks at the edge of opposite cells. Each panel had 5-17 of these.  They still worked and they were cheap.  I mounted these next some existing panels of the same make. Lo and behold, these had the same marks. Evidently these were a casualty of that strike too.

    That strike knocked out a lot of my electronics. I'm running around trying to get basics like the refrigerator working.  My wife comes to me and tells me she wants Parmesan popcorn. I did what anyone would do, I made it.  In three hours most everything was working. Good having a parts stock.
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