It is no secret that a solar inverter will work whether grounded or not. If so, does it mean that grounding this component doesn’t make much difference?
There is only one way to find out: by indulging in a discussion on the same. For instance, does a solar inverter need to be grounded?
Are there any benefits of grounding your solar inverter? What’s the difference between grounded and ungrounded inverters?
Without much ado, let’s dive into this discussion. It is high time we learned the answers to these million-dollar questions regarding grounding solar inverters.
What is Grounding?
Regarding power and energy, grounding is, as the name suggests. It refers to electrically wiring your entire system or connecting part of it to the earth.
Remember that static electric charge often builds up in the clouds when lightning storms occur. Consequently, opposite electric charge accumulates in the objects touching the ground.
The insulated objects will accumulate the opposite charge more than the uninsulated counterparts and their surroundings. How is that a good thing?
It increases the chances of a significantly huge voltage or potential difference between such an object and the sky. Consequently, the lightning jumps to where it is for obvious reasons.
That’s where the grounding comes in. It does several things, and they are as follows;
- Ensures that your system doesn’t attract the lightning strongly by draining the opposite accumulated charges
- Grounding also decreases shock hazard, especially at parts of the system exhibiting relatively high voltage (AC)
- If a high charge builds up or lighting strikes eventually, grounding will ensure the discharge doesn’t go through the system’s wiring. On the contrary, it goes directly to the earth, which is a safe path, all thanks to the ground connection
- Since various devices, including inverters, fluorescent lights, and motors, produce electrical hum, grounding will reduce it drastically
Do You Need to Ground Your Solar Inverter?
Whereas a solar inverter works even when ungrounded, it is important to consider grounding yours. That’s because the potential hazard it poses to users is huge.
This component will have live points if you don’t ground your solar inverter. Consequently, upon touching it, it sends current through one’s body since it completes the loop to the ground or earth.
It often leads to shock as it passes through your body. That’s an experience you wouldn’t even wish for your enemies because of how unpleasant it feels.
In some instances, the experience can be life-threatening since it is fatal. Do you see why your solar inverter needs grounding?
Besides, the international safety standards state earthing or grounding solar installations is mandatory. Earthing the rack becomes a mandatory standard requirement upon mounting it on a metal rack.
As for the solar panels, grounding them isn’t usually important always. After all, they are double isolated and thus only need earthing under certain circumstances.
Did you also know lightning and its static discharge leads to solar system failures? These failures are usually unexpected and sudden, and it is no secret how inconveniencing they can get.
The worst part is that sometimes the lightning doesn’t have to strike your inverter directly for damage to occur. After all, the inverter is quite sensitive, and the same applies to similar electronic equipment, including entertainment systems, radios, and controls.
How do you protect your solar system from such a menace that strikes miles away? In most cases, it is also usually invisible.
Since you wouldn’t know when it strikes next, prevent it together through grounding. After all, fixing the damage will cost you huge compared to what grounding involves by a mile.
How to Ground a Solar Inverter Properly
An inverter has a heatsink designed to dissipate heat, thus avoiding overheating. This aluminum enclosure also houses a grounding terminal.
It comes in handy during grounding as it is the connecting point for your 6 AWG grounding wire. The other crucial connection is to the grounding wire, which should be a single-point connection.
However, some inverters lack the grounding terminal. If that’s your case, use the grounding wires to connect that inverter with the battery bank’s negative terminal on off-grid systems.
On the other hand, you may need a skilled electrician if you are dealing with a grid-tied solar system. After all, grounding an inverter of such a system is complex.
If you have a modern inverter, its grounding terminal connection is most likely in its circuitry. Ensure that you disconnect this grounding point if there is a connection between the grounding and its power distribution panel.
Avoid double grounding at all costs due to the problems that could arise under these circumstances.
Grounding a Solar Inverter of a Grid-tied System Properly
If you are grounding a grid-tied system, ensure that you adhere to the procedures of your particular state or country. It explains why grounding inverters differ from place to place, but local codes will help you know what’s right for you.
Again, grid-tied systems are complex, and whereas manufacturers usually avail installation manuals, they always proceed with caution when installing and grounding their inverters. As a matter of fact, it is advisable to leave it to skilled electricians, especially if you lack the relevant background knowledge.
Where Does the Ground Wire Go on An Inverter?
It is worth noting that the design of a solar inverter differs from one model and manufacturer to another. Some have grounding terminals, whereas others don’t, but grounding is possible if you adhere to the abovementioned solutions.
For example, if you have a 2500-watt inverter, the ground wire goes to its chassis. The ground wire is usually on the front panel of its AC junction box.
What is the Difference Between Grounded and Ungrounded Solar Inverters?
Regarding the difference between grounded and ungrounded solar inverters, there is just one difference, but it makes a huge difference. Someone handling a grounders solar inverter is safer than someone dealing with its ungrounded counterpart.
After all, an ungrounded solar inverter can lead to shocks. Besides being unpleasant, these shocks usually lead to death sometimes.
The bottom line is that you should ground your solar inverter to comply with the requirements of the international standard, but more so for safety reasons. An ungrounded one may work well but better safe than sorry.