Solar Hacking: Are My Panels Vulnerable to Remote Hackers


The continued rise of the Internet and its growing significance to human life has become both a boon and a bane to society. It’s easy to see how this so-called connectivity is making communication much easier for all humans around the world. News gets passed quicker. Shopping has become a lot easier and more efficient. And even education is now seeing the benefits of this technological masterpiece, especially now that we’re experiencing a global pandemic. 

However, this unstoppable train of digital development also has its downside. People are developing an attention span of fewer than 10 seconds. They are now easily distracted by these sites that pose as entertainment while masking the data mining that’s been going on behind our screens. It also makes our home much more vulnerable to hacking, an event that is quite inevitable with the improvement of technology.

If you suggest even the notion of having all your house lights turned on and off remotely using a single device or having all your appliances be hooked up to a central system to people of the past, let’s say 20 years ago, no one could even think it possible. It’s something that sounds straight out of a science fiction book! 

But now, it’s no longer extraordinary to see homes make such incredible feats. In fact, we even have a term for such advancement: smart home technology. Our smart homes have benefited from the continued tech upgrade that’s been making our lives a lot easier. 

And while there are certain ways we can protect our homes from such outside digital invasions, the next question we should be asking is whether or not our solar panels can also receive such protection?

To be able to figure out the answer to this mind-boggling concern, we need to understand just how we get power from solar energy.

From Panel to Appliance

From our solar panels situated on our roofs to our washer or TV, it’s pretty interesting to know just how solar energy becomes electricity that powers not just our homes but an entire grid.

Basically, solar energy gets captured by solar panels, which actually have several photovoltaic cells that turn photons of solar energy into electricity. This type of energy produced however is a direct current output, which, simply put, isn’t something that our devices can use. So this specific power has to flow through an inverter that does the job of converting the received power into usable energy called alternating current or AC energy.

Solar Hacking?

Now you might be wondering: where does hacking fit into this system? It seems pretty straightforward to me. Truth be told, it is… it really is. However, bright minds from several big companies have integrated the solar panel system to the Internet of Things (IoT) or the smart home technology. If we go back, hacking is only possible through tapping a device that is already connected to the internet (or if someone tries to connect via a wireless connection that is linked to your device in a physical way).

So keeping all this in mind, the only way that your solar panel system can get hacked is if it’s connected through smart home technology which is if it has a smart inverter. 

A smart inverter is actually pretty neat because it’s going to give you relevant information regarding your solar panel system, like how much input each panel is receiving, how much power your entire system is generating, and the amount of power that’s going through your home and through the electricity grid of the company where you bought the system. 

These perks have a caveat, though. Because the solar inverter gets connected to the internet, it becomes vulnerable to data and security breaches that could result in overloading the system that, in turn, could cause power outages.

So should I not invest in Solar Power?

Of course not! The potential risks of internet-connected solar power is far too little as compared to the contribution of renewable energy to society and to our planet. To avoid potential disasters, you can still do basic security checks like changing default passwords for all your smart home systems.

Besides, having your own solar panel is not the only way you can tap into solar power for your home use. There’s also the community solar option that allows you to simply become the end-user of a grid that’s located near your home. For example, if you live in MA, you can search for community solar in Massachusetts that can cater to your needs. 

These systems don’t require you to install panels and won’t even obligate you to deal with security breaches. The company itself could do it for you. So there’s always a choice, and the only thing left to do is to pick and choose your battle.

Khuwalid Khalid
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