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Author Topic: 10M RFI from Tracer solar charge controller  (Read 5319 times)
K8AC
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« on: October 25, 2015, 06:48:50 AM »

I'm using a Tracer 2215RN solar charge controller from EPSolar.  This is an MPPT controller.  Below 10M, I don't see any RFI at all from the controller, but on 10M it generates a strong discrete signal approximately every 5 KHz across the band.  Ferrites on all connecting leads have not made a dent in the RFI signal levels.  Has anyone else run into this with this line of controllers, or do you know of an MPPT controller that does NOT generate any RFI?

73, Floyd - K8AC
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K8AC
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« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2015, 06:50:09 AM »

Forgot to mention - there is no inverter involved.  DC for the rig is being taken directly from the battery.
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QRP4U2
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« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2015, 02:56:52 PM »

Your controller most likely has a regulator that uses pulse modulation (switching) current pulses to the battery.

These pulses contain a lot of harmonics.

Phil - AC0B
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AC7CW
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« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2015, 04:49:25 PM »

An Amazon reviewer said he had to move his radio 15' away from the unit http://www.amazon.com/Tracer-Controller-Regulators-Display-Regulator/dp/B008R6TG2W#customerReviews
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K8AC
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« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2015, 05:35:38 AM »

I would have expected to have problems on lower frequencies as well if the unit used PWM.  Somewhere I had read that the unit did NOT use PWM, but that wasn't a factory source so could easily have been wrong.  I somehow missed the one guy's comment on having to keep it away from the radio.  Another fellow elsewhere commented that ALL the Chinese units had RFI problems whereas the German made units do not.  Hard to find reliable info about any of the charge controllers and that's why I was looking for comments from someone who actually owned one.  May look into returning this one.
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WB8VLC
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« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2015, 09:33:56 PM »

I had the same problem with a similar noise source.

My fix is to use an MFJ-1026 Noise canceller, with the aux/noise sense antenna which is a small tuned 10 meter loop,  right at the noise source as close as you can get it to the controller.

For an MFJ product I have to say that it is well worth it.
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AD1ET
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« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2015, 08:33:42 AM »

Have exactly the same problem.  My system involves two Trace Charge Controllers and an Outback Inverter.  Killing the Inverter stops the 60 cycle noise every 5 to 8 khz on 10 and 17 m.  I have this even during darkness when charge controllers are pretty idle.  Have put a Faraday cage over the inverter to no affect and low pass filters on power lines into house.  RFI chokes have proved worthless so far.  The MFJ noise canceller sounds promising.  Running on a battery does not fix the problem.  Not a power line noise issue.  This is a broadcast issue from someplace e - likely the Inverter in my application.  As I noted, on battery with inverter operating I still have the problem.
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AD1ET
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« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2015, 09:39:04 AM »

Additional note.  Noise is present from 20 meters through 10 meters all bands.  Every 20 khz over a spread of 5 to 8 khz.  Sounds like 60 cycle audio.  Leaving the Inverter on but turning off all power to house and putting radios on battery, solves the problem.  Under these conditions, charge controllers are working.  When the Inverter is working and powering house, it acts as though any periodic noise that it generates is transmitted to the house wiring which then acts like a large antenna array.  Just guessing here.
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W9IQ
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« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2015, 01:01:29 PM »

Despite conjecture to the contrary,  all MPPT controllers are DC to DC converters that utilize PWM.  The problems are similar to RFI from a switching supply and are often difficult to remedy in the field.

- Glenn W9IQ
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- Glenn W9IQ

I never make a mistake. I thought I did once but I was wrong.
W9IQ
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« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2015, 02:45:01 PM »

Floyd,

As I mentioned in my earlier post, all MPPT controllers are PWM DC to DC converters. The RFI from the controller could be common mode or differential mode. The common mode problem is easier to solve so I recommend that you start there to see if it gives you relief.

For common mode RFI in the frequency range you mentioned, you should try using type 43 or 73 ferrite material in a full toroid (not split core) form. In general, the more turns of the wire or cable that you can wind on the toroid, the better. So consider using a 240 (2.40 inch) form. Wind the DC input leads (plus and minus) from the solar panels on one form, wind the DC to battery leads (plus and minus) on another, and wind the load leads (plus and minus) on a third. Six to eight turns is a good start, more if it can fit in the core. Keep the leads parallel to one another as you wind - avoid twists in the leads.

For differential mode interference, you need to deploy a brute force type filter. This will look like a low pass filter designed for the currents and voltages involved in your solar system. You should consider one for the solar panel connections, one for the battery connections, and one for the load connections. You may be able to use a suitably rated AC power line filter for this purpose. Take a look at this schematic for an idea of something you could scale up to your current requirements (from ARRL publication Setting Up Your Station, DeMaw, QST July 1984). Increasing the gauge of the wire and using sound construction techniques may be all that is required for your situation. Do take note of the grounded, metal enclosure.



I do not recommend building this filter as shown for an AC power line application. It presents a shock hazard if the ground is not connected. That is not an issue for circuits up to 48 volts such as typical solar applications although the ground is still required to be effective.

You can substantially improve the performance (and ease of building) of this filter if you have access to suitable feedthrough capacitors. Mount these through the walls of the enclosure as the input and output connection points and connect the inductors between each pair. See the API Technologies PSM4-103Z-20B series from Mouser (http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/API-Technologies-Spectrum-Control/PSM4-103Z-20B) as a 20 Amp/200 VDC example. You can also add turns to the inductors if you wish since you are operating in a DC environment.

The common mode and differential mode filters should be installed as close as practical to your MPPT controller in order to squelch the RFI before it is radiated or conducted elsewhere. With a little clever engineering, you could combine the common mode and differential filters into a common assembly.

If you have the remote metering feature, add common mode filtering to this connection as well. Unless you are aware of the baud rates involved for the communications, I would avoid the use of a differential brute force filter since this could impede proper communications.

- Glenn W9IQ

« Last Edit: November 09, 2015, 04:54:51 AM by W9IQ » Logged

- Glenn W9IQ

I never make a mistake. I thought I did once but I was wrong.
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