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Author Topic: Do you use solar power generation? Any RFI issues from the inverters?  (Read 8280 times)
WA2GO
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Posts: 6




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« on: September 02, 2011, 02:04:45 PM »

I am considering installing a 7.77 KW solar power generation system on my home.
The system consists of about 42 panels on the roof, and one or more inverters installed near the electric meter.

I am a DXer and contester, and my concern is around the potential for RFI.
The manufacturer of the proposed inverters (Kaco) says the following in their Class B statement in the product brochure:

"This equipment generates, uses and can radiate radio frequency energy and, if not installed and used in accordance with the instructions, may cause harmful interference to radio communications. However, there is no guarantee that interference will not occur in a particular installation."

Since they say there is "no guarantee", I am a little nervous about proceeding. What I am looking for is anybody who has direct experience or knowledge with your own solar power generating system or a very nearby neighbor's, or direct knowledge about another ham who is in a similar situation. I am wondering whether or not you experience any RFI issues from the system. (I am assuming that if there is RFI, the source would be the inverters, but someone more knowledgeable can please correct me if I'm wrong.) Please state what brand of inverters (and panels, if that is relevant) your experience is with, and describe any interference issues you experienced, if any. Please describe what bands/frequencies have the interference, how strong it is, what receive antenna(s) you are using, and how close they are to the inverter(s). Also, is the interference all day, or only when the sun is at its peak, or what is the pattern?

Thanks very much and 73,

John
W2ID
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W8JX
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Posts: 6678




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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2011, 04:21:06 PM »

Perhaps you should research actual model inverter they plan to use. It could be a real HF RFI can of worms.
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WX7G
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Posts: 6328




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« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2011, 09:57:36 AM »

The solar panel controlers do use switching power supplies. I strongly suspect that the system will be a real RFI generator.
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WB4BYQ
Member

Posts: 180




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« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2011, 11:03:23 AM »

there is a amateur in my area that has a large solar panel, charge controller, and 6kw inverter.
rfi every where on the amateur and shortwave bands. 
the arrl within the last 2 years did a review of several inverters in QST with the results.  you need to reference that review.
the book on emergency power from QST has several good articles on charge controlls, the
author has a kit for a charge controller that does not cause rfi.  the charge controller does
no use pulse width modulation to charge the batteries.
just remember that you are converting dc into square waves somewhere in the inverter and some inverters are modified sine waves, and some are call pure sine wave units.
their is also a review in QST where several hams in the state of Tenn, or Kentucky built a solar power repeater power supply, had rfi from the charge controller, then changed to another
charge controll with no rfi.  each had a different way of charging the batteries.
on the rfi-contesting group e-mail exchange, another ham has reported that a neighbor about
400 feet away has install a solar power system, and now he has rfi on the bands from that neighbor during the day from the charge controller.

richard WB4BYQ
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W7VO
Member

Posts: 198


WWW

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« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2011, 08:57:19 PM »

Well, I actually have a 4 kW solar panel system in use for almost a year now, and I have absolutely no issues with it (that I know of...). Now, the controller is in the garage of the house (near the panel and meter), and my ham shack is in my shop, about 40 feet away. The tower is about 50 feet away from my garage. The controller was professionally installed, and the box itself is well shielded and grounded. The controller turns itself off at night, so if there were any problems on the low bands from square wave or modified square wave 60 Hz harmonics they would not be seen when I am on those at night.

The controller is a Power One Aurora, Model number PVI-4.2-OUTD-S-US. A 7 kW system would require two controllers, as the 4.2 kW is the largest one they make.

My system back feeds the grid when I generate excess power, so I cannot imagine that it would put out anything other than a pretty clean sine wave. That said though, I have never checked it.... Grin

73;

Mike, W7VO
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AA4PB
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Posts: 13032




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« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2011, 07:33:56 AM »

Both the charge controller for the batteries and the inverter used to create the AC power use switching regulators so there is a high probability of RFI in the HF bands. The key is what W7VO implies - physical separation between the RFI source and the ham equipment, especially the antennas.

The issue is *usually* switching regulators used within the controller rather than how clean of a sine wave is generated on the output. I've experienced crystal controlled, pure sine wave inverters (much smaller than what you are considering) that create a good deal of RFI in the HF bands. 50-100 feet of antenna separation can do wonders.

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KB6GZ
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Posts: 14


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« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2011, 11:47:47 AM »

When I moved into my new QTH with solar power I had S-7 noise of the 14 MHZ band. My vertical antenna is 165 feet away from the rig and the inverter is 45 feet from the transceiver. I tried everything to no avail. The manufacturer is PvPowered. They claimed they complied with FCC noise requirements.
The other bands seemed to be okay. It's a grid tied system, 2.5 KWH output.

Meanwhile I received a letter from the manufacturer of the solar panels, a different vendor, telling me to immediately turn my system off because of a connector issue with the panels that has caused two houses to catch fire. Obviously I turned the entire system off and all the noise went away!

Meanwhile they are paying me over $350.00 a month for the electricity I can't produce until they solve the connector problem! It's the best investment I have.

Technically speaking the inverter vendor says the solar panels, when turned on, are acting as a 14MHZ loop antenna transmitting all the noise from the switching transistors.

I purchased 6 formula 43 toroids to install on the panel leads in hopes of eliminating the RFI. I haven't tried them yet.

Rick
San Diego
Email for more details: KB6GZ@mindspring.com
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K2CMH
Member

Posts: 278




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« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2011, 12:55:27 PM »

I have a Xantrex whole house inverter that causes S9+20 noise on 20m whether it is actually inverting or just 'floating' the battery bank. 
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KD6KWZ
Member

Posts: 276




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« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2011, 11:48:20 PM »

Do any of you who have RF noise from your Solar panel have your house wiring in conduits?

Also, I'm curious about which bands have the most noise from these. General electrical noise seemed to
be worse on 160-80-40 meters in my SWL days.
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N3PM
Member

Posts: 31




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« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2011, 06:24:56 AM »

Both my Rogue 3024 controller and Xantrex SW600 generate RFI, but not objectionable more than 10 feet from either unit.
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