Solar installations are increasingly finding a way in homes and industries to replace the conventional forms of power. This is an encouraging sign and is a must for the protection of our environment. However, several aspects have to be considered before you proceed to install solar panels. One such feature is earthing. In this blog, you will learn what is earthing in electricity and why it is important to provide for it while installing your solar panel system.

What is earthing?

Earthing, also known as grounding, is a safety mechanism where the discharge of electrical energy is directed to the ground with the help of low-resistance wires.

solar installations

It is highly essential to protect human lives and electrical equipment from sudden surges of voltage and lightning strikes. 

In the case of solar plants, specific parts of solar equipment are connected to the ground, having no electrical potential. Earth has zero electrical potential, and any stray charges can be easily discharged to it without causing any harm. 

Benefits of earthing:

Earthing is used for domestic and industrial electrical installations. This is due to the following benefits:

  • It protects your equipment from damage due to sudden surges in voltage.
  • In the case of solar panels, it improves the lifespan of PV modules by protecting them from lightning.
  • It protects people from the risk of electric shocks. 
  • Earthing helps the equipment to function efficiently by avoiding any degradation in quality.

Why do solar installations need earthing?

Before moving into the importance of earthing for solar installations, we will learn the major components used in solar installations. 

  • Solar panels: The panels are a prominent part of a solar energy system. The most commonly used panels are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells. The PV cell panels are wired to create an electrical circuit for the flow of current. 
  • Inverter: These are another crucial part of the solar power installation that converts DC electricity that is produced by the solar panels into electricity used by homes and industries.
  • Racking: This is an important component that attaches the panels to the roof securely. 
  • Batteries: Batteries are used to store the energy generated by the panels to be used in times of power outage and at night when the solar energy system does not generate power. 
  • System disconnects: These are electrical switches that control the solar system. It helps to cut off power output from the solar array. 

The list of components and their connection to electricity imparts the necessity for earthing. Let us discuss the need for earthing going forward:

  • Earthing is required to protect the equipment, such as inverters, junction boxes, and panels, from high voltage surges. The stray current can be discharged to the earth without any damage to the electrical components of the solar power installation.
  • Many people are employed around the solar power plants. It is important to ensure the safety of these personnel through proper earthing. They are protected from any kind of electrical shock that could arise due to a sudden increase in voltage.
  • Solar installations are exposed to nature and are prone to damage caused by lightning. To prevent this from happening, the solar power installations are protected with proper earthing. 
  • All electrical faults are easily prevented with the help of earthing. This can otherwise impact the efficiency of the solar system. 
  • Some sensitive parts in the solar installation may interfere with electromagnetic fields. This can reduce the efficiency of the plant. To mitigate this interference, earthing acts as a barrier.
  • The components of a solar plant function efficiently for a long time if they are in good condition. This can happen only if they are not affected by voltage disturbances and lightning. So, earthing helps maintain the functionality of solar power systems.
  • It is also the requirement under the law of many countries to provide proper earthing for solar systems. This they do to ensure the utmost safety of personnel and equipment.
  • A potential difference in voltage can occur between the components and metal parts used in the setup of a solar system. This is dangerous as it can lead to electric shocks, which ultimately damage the equipment. Earthing helps prevent this situation.

Types of earthing for solar installations:

The following are some of the types of earthing generally followed:

Pipe earthing:

This is the commonly used method of earthing, where steel pipes are used to connect to the electrical conductors of the earth. Galvanized steel pipes with openings are buried deep into the ground to achieve this earthing.

Mat earthing:

An earth mat made of bare metallic conductors is buried in the soil. Mat earthing joins the horizontal and vertical electrodes.

Plate earthing:

Plate earthing is helpful in preventing static charges and stray current issues. A plate made up of copper or G.I. is buried deep into the ground. This type of earthing protects AC power systems and electronic devices.

Marconite earthing:

Marconite is a grey substance mixed with cement and water to create earthing. This is one of the safest and most efficient earthing systems used in solar installations. Low-resistant copper earth electrodes are used to make marconite earthing, which improves the effect of copper earth electrodes and lowers resistance to earth.

Bottom line:

It is thus evident that earthing is imperative for the safety of solar power plants and the people working around them. Solar panel installation cost is quite high, and if care is not taken to provide proper earthing, the life of the equipment will face severe impact. Consult a solar installation company to guide you on the importance of earthing, and make sure you make provision for the same in your solar power system.

FAQ

Most frequent questions and answers

Earthing is highly imperative to protect equipment, and men working around them from stray current.

Yes, by protecting the components from sudden voltage surges and lightning strikes, earthing improves the longevity of the components.

As per Rule 90 of the Indian Electricity Rules and Safety Procedures mentions that all metal supports and metallic fittings should be permanently and efficiently earthed.

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