How to protect solar panels from a Carrington event (EMP)?

I read that hardware cloth might help prevent damage to solar panels during a EMP.

Anything else?

Solar storms aren’t EMPs.

Assuming you mean the former, there’s nothing you really have to do. Crudely put, solar storms induce a small voltage per unit distance–typically much less than a volt per meter. This can still be a huge problem for long-distance transmission and data lines because they go for long distances (1000 km @ 1 V/m is a million volts). But for a small solar installation it just isn’t going to show up. I guess you might want some grid protection, but any grid tie device is going to have that anyway (to protect against lightning strikes, etc.)

A true EMP, as from a nuclear weapon, has basically the opposite problem. It still induces a voltage per distance, and much higher at that (many kilovolts per meter), but the pulse is very short. This is not such a big deal for transmission lines but will tend to fry computer chips and the like.

The solar panel is not “like” a computer chip… its a power device, it has large conductors… the solar panel can take many more units of energy of EMP per unit area … The VLSI chip is probably at risk due to tiny conductors and very thin layers.

A the effects of a Carrington-type event (solar-induced geomagnetic storm) is not very similar to high altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) induced by the detonation of a nuclear weapon in the high atmosphere. The closest it comes is in the E3-portion of a HEMP, although a geomagnetic storm will last considerably longer. There is really no way to protect against this type of pulse other than making equipment robust against it. Fortunately, this mostly effects large scale structures like regional power grids that can develop significant back EMF rather than small or isolated systems.

Actual EMP with the E1 and E2 components is more difficult. However, unless the pulse is very concentrated or directed, I doubt it would do more than minor damage to the energy gathering components of a photovoltaic solar array. It is more likely to damage sensitive components in controllers.

Hardware cloth will not do anything effective to protect against any of the EMP components. It is far too coarse a mesh to form a Faraday cage to protect against quasi-static electrical discharge, and not sufficiently conductive to provide isolation against the highly dynamic EM pulse (which a Faraday cage by itself will not protect against). What is really needed is a highly conductive mesh–preferable made or gilded in copper, gold, or silver–which is grounded to a system that will not be energized by the EM pulse. And the continuity protection provided by such a mesh has to be practically perfect; even a slight gap will render it nearly ineffective.

Please don’t believe anything you read on “prepper” sites about protection against EMP; nearly all of it is badly misinformed verging on completely wrong. Ditto for information on making explosives, improvised propellants, pharmaceuticals, et cetera.


I wasn’t trying to imply that it was, but it’s a fair point of clarification. I suppose a strong enough EMP could affect even a solar panel, but I’d guess that at that point you have other problems to worry about.

bury them.

there are panels now with electronics in them.