How would an EMP affect a solar electricity set-up?

Can solar electricity survive a EMP?


  • Comments (23)

    • 5

      Hi John, Do you mean if a solar panel gets fried by an EMP, or the battery where the electricity is stored? Good question.

    • 6

      Hi John, great topic! In my opinion an EMP could surely affect any solar panel (be it rooftop, or a portable one), so you’d need to keep spare panels in a Faraday cage if you really wanted to make sure that you had some functioning ones after an event. What do you think?

      FWIW When we researched our article on EMPs, we realised that the likelyhood of an EMP (natural, or man-made) so disruptive that it would affect your solar panels (or car, etc) is minimal, so there’s at least a bit of good news 🙂

      And here are few links to relevant stuff we and other community members wrote about the topic, if helpful:

      How to think about, protect against, and survive an EMP attack

      Your car will probably be fine after an EMP

      Making and testing a trash can Faraday cage

      The best faraday cages and sleeves

      p.s. I’ve lightly edited your post (capitals, punctuation) to help it make it clearer – hope you don’t mind!

    • 4

      Looks like good info from the prepared here.  I’ve seen it argued online and seems like their was a FERC appointee saying panels were fairly safe from EMP. Maybe I can shake those brain cells loose and remember where I saw it.  

      At least one inverter company claims to be EMP proof on this trade website. I hope we never have a real world test. I’d be worried about substation equipment damage as well. And with multi year leads for substation equipment, well…. I’m already worried about grid reliability,  and just got a fresh reminder when my part of Iowa became a part of the Texas storm issues a few months back. The EMP is a whole different issue, but things like cyber attacks, aging grid components, etc , already have the potential to keep us in the dark for a while. We didn’t have the problems that Texas did, but look how close we came. Minutes from crashing the Rural electric coops  grid.   

      rec grid


    • 5

      If all connected & not properly shielded, a solar system would likely fail due to EMP.  You might find this testing interesting:

      • 4

        Yes ,  I saw there was a video on the the sol ark website, but didn’t have time to watch until now.  Also not surprised the military has a standard here. My strengths are cash flows, tax and regulatory policy, system sizing, grid connection, but not this. I’m wondering if a local or regional emp would damage equipment but stop at a certain point after substation damage. If you see my map above, an EMP might take critical generation off line and cause a cascading grid failure way beyond the EMP damage. So your solar and electronics might be fine  if you weren’t residing where the EMP occured but the grid might be dark for quite a while.  As the prepared noted, A major EMP attack would probably give us much more to worry about than no electricity.

        I’ll have to do some research (ask engineer pal 🙂 ).  Having extra equipment stored protectively is on my list. For you electricians here, is it the diodes -electrical box on the panels that’s taking the hit  ?              

      • 4

        I think it important to realize an EMP event is not a local occurrence but on a very large scale.  My understanding is two super EMP weapons would cover our whole country.  A local or regional EMP would probably go hand in hand with a normal near ground burst nuclear weapon.  Nuclear weapons designed to provide maximum EMP are detonated high in the atmosphere.  Many years ago, when I served as a Minuteman launch officer, we called such a detonation as a high altitude fusing burst. 

      • 3

        Thanks very much for the info (and for your service). I’ve seen this debated at conferences and online over the years with most saying that while an EMP would travel far over the transmission system, it would damage substation equipment and not continue onto the distribution grid. 

        If what what you describe happens then, the only protection would be to have extra equipment on hand properly protected.   

      • 3

        Good morning Iowa Guy,

        Ref the mentioned cascading grid failure and the local or regional area;

        Now add the secondary hazards.  

        One’s dwelling survived with electricity reaching the appliances. Other places do not have this good news – to include some regional hospitals, ag vet clinic and waste disposal sites to include sewer systems management.

        Contageous diseases could be arriving to the dwellings still with electricity and working appliances.

        It’s our weak link in the hardening chain.

        Here, critical military / governmental (eg water ports) and critical private sector facilities already EMP-protected.  …… at least this is what the  reports say. 

      • 4

        This thread is shaking loose some brain cobwebs. I wrote about this a few years back on the blog, and remember referencing  this article. I don’t care for the website formatting, but the info is good. Follow the link on J Woolsey to get more info to what Redneck and you are talking about. And also for a description of what starts to happen after a few months without electricity . Not pretty. 

        The main article is an interview with former FERC chair Wellinghoff ( who I think is the one who mentioned that solar panels were fairly resistant to EMP ).  

        There are just a lot of instances that can take the large portions  of the electric down for long periods. wellinghoff’s opinion was that the only solution was to break up the current grid into thousands of smaller ones.

        Since a lot of big monopolized entities would no longer control things in that scenario, little has happened in the 20 years or so that I have been paying attention. Wellinghoff bought solar panels and batteries for his house since nothing was happening 🙂 .

        Again , not my intent to head into politics, but we should all be relaying concerns about this to public officials, because even if we have properly prepared, we don’t want to  contend with a lot of  hungry sick people without electricity who haven’t. A big part of being prepared is helping other people from being affected by these things IMO….

        I’ve seen estimates of several trillion dollars to modernize the grid in this country. Not much is actually happening in this space, but what is happening , is towards a more centralized grid, not a distributed one. 

        Check what is going on in California in regards to grid modernization after the fires a couple years ago . A friend who lost her home then sent me this link.  I watched the first four news videos on this a while back. There’s a bunch more now that i haven’t watched.

        Anyway….. there’s a lot of good reasons to generate your electricity.

      • 1

        I actually liked the formatting of that article. Question, then answer. It was a good article, so thank you for sharing it. After seeing how most of the Texas grid was wiped out this year and the pipeline attack over on the east coast, it has made me realize that smaller state or county wide grids could be a decent way to harden and protect ourselves. 

        If the grid goes out in your county, then you have 4 or so neighboring counties you could go to that probably would have their individual grids still up and running. Much easier than going over a state or multiple states to get to somewhere with power if you really needed to. And yet an even better solution is to have your own individual power creation needs through things like solar.

      • 1

        You’re welcome. by formatting I meant the web page was loading badly and inserting ads. I’d was reading a paragraph and an ad popped in .Must need a better ad blocker.

        I’ve been a 20 yr plus advocate for more distributed grid generation. When the former FERC chair buys solar panels and batteries for his home, It’s telling…. he obviously thinks there are going to be some big grid problems before things improve.

        I just don’t see the monopolies who control the grid as willing to allow this to happen.

        The grid is really needing to be modernized.  A lot of large energy users (google , amazon) are starting to generate their own electricity, as well as a lot of residential and small businesses. People are also leaving the grid entirely (small numbers so far). An ever smaller customer base to pay for the trillions of dollars needed for this fix. If you check the youtube link above, California wants federal money to address this cause they can’t afford it.  

        What I’m fairly certain of is that electricity costs will continue to rise and states will argue for years to come about who pays and how this gets done (again , see California). So far , we’re getting a more  centralized (and more vulnerable IMO) grid, and we haven’t begun to address hardening the grid for weather and security issues. Add in all that new demand for electrifying autos and everything else, well… 🙂    

        This picture below doesn’t address new electric load from EVs and fuel switching appliances, But Steve Pullins at DOE showed the trend we are on several years ago.  

        half of all electric meters “leaving the grid” ? so far, It looks like utilities are still at the “fight” stage, so the trend is probably slower than he predicted. Apologies, as this has little to do with EMPs, unless we want to discuss who will pay for repairs if we actually have a limited EMP event in this country.  

        steve pullins doe


      • 1


        Good morning Iowa Guy,

        You hit it precisely – with a micromicrometer.

        Above link mentions the 2020 Virginia version of a “Highway Use Fee”.  This is not spectulative, conjecture or probabilities.  The revenue streams must be maintained.

        Appreciated studying your above material.

      • 2

        You’re welcome. And thanks for the electric car fee link. Iowa passed one of these as well this year.  I think they passed one . Really, I don’t think my little hybrid car damages the road as much as an 18 wheeler but… 🙂 .

        Also keep an eye on the regulatory dockets in addition to the legislature. Utilities push for fees if you charge your electric car with your solar panels.  Or not give you fair value for your electricity supplied to the grid. And more …. you get the idea. 

    • 3

      I updated the title to hopefully make it a bit more clear for people about what the topic is about. Feel free to edit it more if you want. 

      As many have said here, to add an additional layer of protection to your setup, have a spare charge controller and panels in a faraday cage to hopefully keep them safe from an EMP. I would throw a multi meter in there as well to help you diagnose damaged parts after the blast. 

    • 3

      EMP’s are very interesting and very unknown from what I understand. I’ve been reading about them for years from multiple prepping and news websites and from what I see, it’s quite a bit of speculation and guessing of the author and individuals. 

      There are so many factors, blast size, blast altitude, amount of material between you and the blast, amount of wiring in your device, age and complexity of your device, and more. I don’t think there is a definitive answer out there that yes your TV and wrist watch will fail. 

      Best we can do, in my opinion, is to have your preps in order (food, water, shelter, fire…) and not heavily rely on electronic devices and machines in those preps. If an EMP happens and fries everything then life will suck but you will be able to stay alive for a while with your basic preps. If only a few devices die or none in your area, then great, you can keep using things.

      • 3

        Good sound advice Bradical. Get your basics in order and then you can worry about the more extreme. I hope that if one ever does occur that it won’t be as bad as we think it may be.

    • 6

      Hi…In all probability clear it out. Practically all charge regulators are chip controlled, so they’re history. Likewise the actual boards could get seared since electromagnetic field produced might actually cause voltage spikes in the follows in the actual boards. I couldn’t say whether this has at any point been tried, yet dependent on hypothesis the entire arrangement could get seared without safeguarding.

      • 2

        Good morning Jeth,

        Welcome to the TP.com forum.

        You’ve got a great post above. Had guess this is so because around here the Federal agencies, the military and critical contractors are all going “off grid” with hardened systems.

        Question: Is “chip controlled” akin to term “fly by wire” like AirBus civil aircraft ?

        Again, welcome to the forum. Looking forward to your posts …………

      • 2

        I could see many boards being fried as well with how intricate the wiring on pcb’s are. Can you even start to imagine what life would be like after so many boards and chips get fried? There is a worldwide chip shortage right now which is bumping up prices for computers, graphics cards, appliances, and cars. Imagine if a entire country’s electronic system needs to be replaced. That would be 5+ years probably of 24/7 manufacturing to get things back to how they were before.

      • 3

        And take into account that any EMP strike could lead to a counter EMP strike elsewhere in the world, and also ponder where our chips and their raw materials come from…….