There is no short answer to the question: will solar panels survive an EMP? Look around a few forums and blogs and you will see that people have very different ideas on whether or not solar panels will survive and EMP.
Since whatever answer anybody gives to this question is definitely up for debate, this article will instead list some of the reasons why it still very hard to answer this question. This will help you sort through all of the misinformation out there so you know what to do to properly protect your solar panels from an EMP.
Not Enough Data Yet To Determine Exactly How Solar Panels Will Be Affected
According to NASA, we actually came very close to being hit by a massive Carrington-class Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) on July 23, 2012. Fortunately, Earth was out of the way by the time it passed through Earth’s orbit.
The Carrington-class actually got its name from the Carrington Event that happened in September 1859. During that time multiple CMEs hit the Earth, causing massive geomagnetic storms, in turn causing telegraph lines to spark and set fire to multiple telegraph offices.
Fortunately, such damage was not a very big deal at the time. Most of the machines in use back then didn’t have components that were sensitive to EMPs.
If that same thing happened today, it would be a much different story. A lot of the devices that we rely on for daily life, including solar panels have different parts that can be affected in a number of ways.
When it comes to data on nuclear EMPs (which is what most people are really concerned about), there were only ever a few nuclear tests that were done to measure the effects.
The most well-documented tests – namely those in Operation Fishbowl and the Soviet Project K Nuclear Tests – don’t provide enough data, probably because the concept of EMP was not yet well enough understood.
Different Solar Panel Systems Will Be Affected Differently
Since every company or individual assembles solar panels in a different way, almost every person has a setup that is unique. Some people may opt to include some protective measures to keep their system safe.
Some people have come up with solutions such as keeping vulnerable components either in a Faraday cage or underground.
However, this second problem is still connected with the first: there is not yet enough data to prove if the protective measures above are enough to protect a solar panel.
There is also the fact that you can only add so much protection without significantly decreasing the efficiency of the panel you are protecting.
A food way to ensure you will still be able to produce power after an EMP is to keep spare solar panel parts in a faraday cage, and then replace the damaged parts after the electromagnetic pulse event. You have to know what you’re doing though – and luckily you can use a good DIY solar program to understand how to do this (as well as save a lot of money on a residential solar panel system).
All EMPs are Different
In the same way that solar panel systems differ from one another, every EMP event is different from the next.
During peak solar activity, the sun dishes out around three CEMs per day. On minimum solar activity, it produces one every 5 days at the very least.
Most of these ejections don’t even get anywhere near Earth. Those that do, have varying effects.
At the same time, there are also a multitude of factors that affect the strength of a nuclear EMP. These factors – once again – are not yet fully understood due to the lack of accurate data on the subject.
Because of the many variables involved, it is hard to say for sure if a solar panel system will survive an EMP event.
But even though there is no conclusive data on the subject, that does not mean that you should not take steps to protect your system from EMPs.
A solar panel is a big investment, so you should do the best you can to protect it.
What do you think?
How are you protecting your solar panels from an EMP attack or Solar Flare? Will your solar panels survive an EMP or solar flare?