We all know solar panels are a great way to save money on your electric bill while also being environmentally friendly.
But can you get electrocuted from solar panels?
It’s a question that has crossed many people’s minds. After all, it is electricity and we’re talking about solar panels.
So, the short answer is yes! There have been some reports of people getting zapped by electric current when they touched metal parts on their solar power system.
However, this only happens when there is a problem with your solar panels grounding.
Solar panel systems are grounded (connected to the ground) to neutralize any stray electrons that might cause an electric shock, so there is nothing to worry about when it comes to safety with your home or business solar system.
In this article, we will go through:
- Why do you get electrocuted when you touch a solar panel?
- Can a solar panel kill you?
- Safety measures to prevent electrocution
What Happens If You Touch A Solar Panel?
To understand what happens when you touch a solar panel, first, you need to know how solar panels work.
Solar panels are made of 3 main parts:
- The solar cells
- The glass sheets
- The metal frame
Here is how solar panels work in very simple terms:
Solar panels are made of semiconductor materials that have 4 electrons on the conductive level.
Light is made of small particles called photons, these photons have energy and can be absorbed by solar cells.
When a photon hits an electron, it gives the electron some energy, and if this energy is bigger than the band gap (the magnetic force between the nucleus and the electron), then the electron will have enough energy to break free from the atom’s force and become a free electron.
This can happen thousands of times in just seconds!
Many free electrons = Current = Electricity to power your home.
These freed up electrons start to flow towards the back of your solar panel where they are collected in wires and brought together so that electricity can be created.
And that’s exactly how solar cells generate electricity!
So, why do you get electrocuted when you touch the solar panel?
First of all, you don’t get electrocuted from touching the solar panel, you get electrocuted when you touch the metal frame, and here is why:
Solar cells have a lot of free electrons and as we learned in schools, electrons like to take the shortest path (who doesn’t!).
This means that they always flow in the path with the lowest resistance.
So as an electron, you have 2 options:
- Flow to the inverter or the charge controller
- Flow to the metal frame
Normally, the electrons flow in the direction of the inverter, as the metal frame is an open circuit, which means that it has very high resistance.
However, when you touch the metal frame with your hand, you close the circuit, so the electrons will find that your body is the shortest path!
Thus, they will flow from the solar cells to the metal frame to your hand and electrocute you!
Can A Solar Panel Kill You?
The amount of electricity needed to kill a human can vary depending on the person’s size, age, and health.
Normally, you can die from 100 mA of current going through your chest for just a few seconds and 500-1000mA can kill someone in less than 0.005s!
So, can you die from touching a solar panel?
Yes, but it depends on the solar panel’s wattage and how much sunlight is available at the time.
For instance, a 1.5 watt solar panel won’t cause you any harm, as its open circuit voltage would be too low. On the other hand, a 300 watt solar panel can do some serious damage to you if you touched it.
Similarly, if there is no sunlight, then the panels won’t generate any electricity and that’s why large utility solar installers often cover the solar panels with black sheets when installing or maintaining them.
Safety Measures To Prevent Electrocution
So can you get electrocuted from solar panels?
Yes, but only if you touch the metal frame. And it can happen mostly when installing or maintaining solar systems.
However, there are some measures that can be taken to reduce this risk:
- Wear safety gloves and shoes while working on a solar panel system
- Properly ground the solar system and insulate the grounding wires
- If working with ladders, then do not contact any part of the solar panel system
- Cover the solar panels with dark sheets to prevent them from generating electricity
Solar panel installations have been going up in the last few years, but can you get electrocuted from solar panels?
Yes, if you touch the metal frame. However, there are some safety measures that can be taken to reduce this risk, and today we have learned them all!
Do you have any questions about solar panels?
If so, please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
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