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Will Solar FLares knock out Solar Panels?

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  • Will Solar FLares knock out Solar Panels?

    Ok here's another dumb question.

    With all this talk of solar flares from the sun possibly knocking out power to the masses, what effect will this have on a off grid solar system such as mine? Are there any precautions one can take for this type of occurance?


  • #2
    A large enough flare will destroy all things electronic, and there is nothing you can do about it except pray when it happens you die and taken to heaven. If you live through it and it were to happen being out of electric power would be the least of your problems.
    MSEE, PE


    • #3
      It is less likely than being hit by lightning or being at the epicenter of a large earthquake.

      People trying to create concern are either 1) a bit loony or 2) trying to sell you something


      • #4
        You need hundreds of feet of cables, to begin to pick up the weak currents (which are stronger, the closer you are to the poles). If energies are enough to locally fry a panel, it's likely to begin frying brains too. Generally, solar storms are not a hazard for PV and off grid arrays. It's the local (0~2,000 miles) EMP from a nuke that will get us.
        spreadsheet based voltage drop calculator:

        gen: ,
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        gear :
        Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||

        || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||

        || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A


        • #5
          Originally posted by milezone View Post
          With all this talk of solar flares from the sun possibly knocking out power to the masses, what effect will this have on a off grid solar system such as mine?
          Probably not much. Your risk depends on the "loop size" of your system. If you have miles of wire, then strong currents will be induced by the resulting geomagnetic storm and could blow out things like charge controllers. However, the small size of most systems gives them inherent protection against such induced currents.

          Are there any precautions one can take for this type of occurance?
          Good grounding practice, metal conduit where possible, lighting arrestors all help - and all have benefits other than protecting against the (tiny) risks of a magnetic storm.


          • #6

            Its not likely to, but it depends on many things...


            • #7
              Solar flares have a better potential to take out the Utility transformation system then a small PV system. The weak points are their transformers and capacitors. The magnetic fields built up from the flare will create surges that will over-load the weak points faster then their OC protection can work to isolate them. Depending on how many transformers blow will be the issue since they can't be quickly replaced.

              While the flares are a possibility the odds (as someone previously mentioned) of it happening are pretty high. Better chance getting hit by lightning or winning the lottery. I wouldn't worry about it since the probability of it happening and that it would damage your PV system are both very low.


              • #8
                No Worry

                No need to worry. We are well protected by the Earths magnetic field. If your array were 100 miles above Earths surface it might get damaged by major Solar flare. Only a small amount of the energy reaches the surface of the Earth, most is directed to and absorbed by the Earths magnetic poles.



                • #9
                  no, in a word, but the best reply is the first one


                  • #10
                    I look at it like you have only a .5% chance of something the sun does doing anything here like the Carrington Event, in our lifetimes, and even so, those were very long telegraph lines that caused issues and not local stuff (within the confines of a few hundred square feet. I think the talk is overblown.

                    I also think that in the next 1000 years, earth will be hit by some metorite of anywhere from 200 to 400 feet across. At some time. Somewhere. Will it be next month or 2245? Who knows but there is always the possibility. It's not if but when.

                    (Sometimes, late at night, I listen to the late night radio talk shows where a lot of these topics are covered. I usually just enjoy the theater and nothing they ever predict ever comes true. Good entertainment.)
                    PowerOne 3.6 x 2, 32 SolarWorld 255W mono