How to Protect Solar Energy Technology from Lightning Strikes
Arrays of solar panels get a charge from sunbeams, but lightning strikes are something else. To deter dangerous strikes from solar facilities, LBA Technology, Inc. has developed and is now shipping the new PLP-series of lightning protection masts for rooftop solar arrays. Early adopters of the PLP-series kit include Northrup-Grumman Corp., the Canadian Defence Forces, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Both permanent and portable solar power systems are typically installed in areas free of obstructions, often rooftops. This makes them natural targets for lightning strikes. The PLP lightning masts are now available in both fixed and portable styles to protect all types of solar systems.
According to Byron Johnson, Manager of LBA’s lightning mast program, “For the first time there is a practical, readily deployable, rooftop solar array lightning mast incorporating streamer discharge technology”. He went on to say, “Not only is the PLP lightning mast effective, but it is budget friendly”.
Unlike conventional lightning rods affixed to solar cells, a PLP lightning mast can stand alone with a non-penetrating roof mount and provides a cone of protection, shielding solar cells, electronics, and wiring from discharges.
The UL-listed streamer-retarding air terminal on the PLP-series masts has proven effective in dissipating lightning charges, and can also safely terminate discharges. For example, a single typical PLP-30 lightning protection mast can provide a 40 foot (12m) radius cone of protection for solar panel arrays up to eight feet high. Multiple 30 foot (9m) masts can be situated to protect larger areas: Five PLP-30 masts erected in a designated pattern can protect solar assets in a rooftop area of 25,000 square feet (2320 square meters). The PLP lighting masts are available in 14â€™ (4.3m), 22â€™ (6.7m), 30â€™ (9m), and 38â€™ (11.6m) heights to match a wide range of solar array configurations and budgets.
Fully NFPA and UL compliant, the PLP-series mast is ruggedly fabricated of aluminum alloy and engineered to resist 100 mph (160 kph) winds without guy wires. Optional base systems allow multiple takedown and reuse, or permanent installation. The fixed base option permanently attaches the lightning protection masts to concrete or steel rooftop structures. The PB- base option is intended to be used as a non-penetrating roof mount, but also permits rapid field deployment. Normally, two people can install any PLP-series mast in less than one hour.
All configurations of the lightning mast can be conveniently overnighted by most express services such as UPS or FedEx. Details of the PLP-series lightning masts and other LBA Technology lightning protection products are at http://www.lbagroup.com/international/tower-lightning-protection.php.
About LBA Group Inc.
LBA Group, Inc. has 50 years of experience in providing electromagnetic protection for industrial and telecommunications infrastructure assets. It is comprised of LBA Technology, Inc., a leading manufacturer and integrator of radio frequency systems, lightning protection, and EMC equipment for broadcast, industrial, and government users worldwide; the professional engineering consultancy Lawrence Behr Associates, Inc.; and LBA University, Inc., providing on-site and on-line professional safety training. The companies are based in Greenville, N.C., USA.lighting masts, lightning protection, portable solar power systems, solar array
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