Grounding Wire in Your Solar Energy System

As they become increasingly popular among both homeowners and businesses, solar energy systems are helping to create a world full with the possibilities of clean, renewable energy.

The efficiency, affordability, and environmentally friendliness of solar panels and accessories are a far cry from the costly, wasteful, and polluting methods of power generation traditionally used to secure energy for the booming population around the world. But this innovative technology is not without its perils, the foremost of which is the danger of electrical shock and related fires. This serious risk is easily mitigated by the practice of grounding a solar energy system. It’s easy, fast, and inexpensive, and in many places, including the United States, it’s required by NEC laws for most systems and applications.

To “ground” a given electrical system means that it is connected to the earth, which provides a shield between the power conductors and a person or separate object. The practice of grounding solar energy systems is important for a variety of reasons. Most modern systems are installed on rooftops and other similarly elevated spaces to achieve maximum sunlight exposure. While this positioning is optimal for efficient solar panel usage, it also exposes systems to electric wiring, antennae and satellite equipment, and telephone and cable systems which can be prone to breakage and hanging, especially in areas that experience turbulent weather. The common positioning also exposes systems to objects such as tree limbs and debris.

These objects, if brought into contact with a non-grounded solar energy system, can contribute to shortages and create a fire risk too dangerous to ignore. In addition to these accidents, non-grounded systems can cause electric shock when touched by humans and animals, especially those systems which carry a high voltage or are in their veteran years of use.

The process of grounding a solar energy system is a basic one; a “ground” or rod is driven into the earth, preferably at a depth of at least a foot or two, and a proper grounding wire is tied to it. This wire is then attached to the solar energy system, completing the barrier. It is important to note that the grounding set ups of AC and DC systems must absolutely be kept separate, and that excess grounding wire can become a hazard all its own.

With the proper length grounding wire, a simple rod, and a careful attention to detail, you can render your solar panel system both safe and reliable while complying with important regulations.

The post above is offered as an opinion. If you are installing a solar energy system, please consult an expert for exact instructions to protect yourself and your property. West Florida Components accepts no liability for you, your property or your solar system.