If there was an electromagnetic pulse, would you know how to protect your solar panels from an EMP?
According to sunrun.com, the cost of an averaged-sized solar panel systems is between $15,000 and $29,000. If you have a bigger home and have bigger energy demands, it will cost even more.
Because of the high cost of installing a solar panel system and because you’ll want to ensure that you can still produce power with your solar panels after an EMP, it is very important that you take steps to protect that investment against the dangerous effects of EMPs.
*note: new simple DIY solar programs like DIY Home Energy are making professional quality solar panels much less expensive and easy to use at home, but even if you use their program and your solar panels don’t cost much, you’ll want to protect your small investment and ensure you can produce power after an EMP (that’s one of the main reasons you have them, right?!). So, that’s what we’ll discuss how to do in this article.
Nuclear or Solar EMP: What Should I be Worried About?
There is a lot of wrong information on EMPs circulating on the web. A lot of that information is due to the efforts of well-meaning but ignorant individuals (*note: in this article, we helped sort out the truth about how solar panels will be effected by an EMP).
Another reason for all of the misinformation is the fact that we still know very little about all of the factors that come into play when an EMP event occurs. It is also quite difficult to guess the effects that such an event would have on our modern technology.
Because of a multitude of factors that would affect solar panels during an EMP, such as the magnitude of the EMP event, it’s difficult to say for sure what kind of protection is needed to completely protect electronics from the its effects.
What we do know is that EMPs are caused by both nuclear explosions and by the sun (i.e. Solar Flares). Both events have the potential to damage our solar panels, and both need to be protected against.
Take Your System Off-The-Grid
Making sure that your system isn’t connected to the power grid is one of the best ways to minimize, if not eliminate, the damage that can be caused by an EMP.
The way an EMP damages electronics is by causing short but powerful voltage in electrical conductors. Though there are no specific guidelines, the shorter the conductor, the better the protection against the high voltage.
If your system is connected to the grid, which is one big conductor, it has a greater chance of being damaged.
Of course, making your system off-the-grid isn’t exactly convenient.
Disconnecting your system from the power grid means that you won’t get the chance to sell the excess power that you produce back to power companies.
But it’s the price you have to pay to better protect your solar panel system against an EMP.
Protect it With a Faraday Cage
It is actually very simple to put together a Faraday Cage. It’s actually just a sealed container with an outer layer of conductive material like metal, and an interior insulator like wood, rubber and plastic.
You can even use old trash cans, as long as they can be properly sealed.
The only problem with using a Faraday Cage is that it’s impossible to cover the whole solar panel while still keeping it in the Sun and running.
Unless you are planning on keeping the entire system as a back-up and pulling it out after the electromagnetic pulse, you won’t be able to completely protect the whole thing.
But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t shield what you can. An EMP will affect the different parts of the solar system differently, so you should make sure to shield the parts of the system that you can.
In the event that the cells are damaged, you can easily replace them without having to take apart the whole thing.
Partial Protection is Better Than No Protection
Unfortunately, there are no magic devices or special tricks that will fully protect your solar panel system against an EMP while also allowing you to use the solar panel system to its full capacity before the EMP event occurs. There haven’t been any large-scale nuclear explosions or solar EMP in recent history, so it is difficult to be sure that something is completely immune to the effects of an EMP.
However, the protective measures mentioned above will significantly reduce the potential damage that your solar equipment will incur if an EMP does occur. These measures, along with an adequate stash of spare parts (solar cells, wiring, solar encapsulant), will help you survive the worst effects of an EMP event.
*note: knowing how to replace solar panel parts that are damaged by an EMP is another benefit of using a DIY solar program. If you buy overpriced solar panels from a solar retailer, they probably won’t come out to services your system after an EMP if society is in shambles and power is out everywhere. So it’s important you know how to Do-It-Yourself (luckily it’s not that hard).
What do you think?
Do you think you’re ready for an EMP? What about your off-grid power? Do you think you know how to protect your solar panels from an EMP? Are you already using our recommendations in this article already? Let us know in the comments below…