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Mitigating noise from neighbor's solar panel system

Wayne W5GIEWayne W5GIE Member ✭✭
I returned from vacation to find that my next door neighbor had a new solar panel installation.  I get severe noise on 40, 30, and especially 20 meters.  I can work around the problem on 40 and 30 by playing with the display controls and setting a TNF.  But on 20 meters, many of the noise signals are above desired signals.
Anybody else had to deal with this?  Would a MFJ noise cancellation box do any good?

Answers

  • Neal_K3NCNeal_K3NC Member ✭✭
    edited July 2019
    Thinking of some solar panels myself so this is very interesting! Cannot wait to hear experiences.
  • MackMack Member ✭✭
    edited July 2019
    Have you tried using the Wideband Noise Filter in the software? Works great here. 73 , Mack W4AX Alpha Team
  • Wayne W5GIEWayne W5GIE Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    Apparently the main culprit is not the panels themselves, but the circuitry such as inverters that manipulate some square waves.  There was a related QST article April 2016.
  • Wayne W5GIEWayne W5GIE Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    Yes it does help, sometimes much better than others.

  • Jamie WW3SJamie WW3S Member
    edited July 2019
    The problem is usually the optimizers and the way they are wired. I’m dealing with the same thing myself, never thought I’d see it in NW PA, based on our latitude and perpetual cloudy weather. Nevertheless, my neighbor directly across the street had a 21 panel 6.3 kw array mounted on his roof. There are 2 sources of noise, the inverter and the optimizers. First, find out the manufacturer. Second , work with Paul at the ARRL. The good news for me is the array across the street is SolarEdge, typically they have good response to fixing it, but it takes time. I was fortunate enough to see the installers when they first arrived, so I started taking screenshots before anything went live. Look for noise every 200 kc, that’s the optimizers, shows up real good in SSDR. I don’t have much switching noise, it’s every 36 kc. Somewhat different than what others have experienced ( every 18 kc) but the installer told me this system is the latest, called HD Wave, which is supposed to have some rfi filtering built in. From what I’m told, every panel has an optimizer, and every optimizer needs to have twisted wiring, and three turns through ferrite, per the QST article(s). Please, find out the manufacturer, and get with Paul at the rfi desk at the arrl , he is awesome to work with
  • KY6LA_HowardKY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited June 2019
    There is an excellent article in May or April 2019 QST about a study of this issue (I was one of the participants) and solutions Basicallu it’s the Neighbors and the Solar Vendors problem to fix because their optimizers/inverters are illegally transmitting RFI in The Ham Bands. Most solar vendors are aware of the issue and should easily / quickly fix it. If not, there is always recourse to the FCC which the vendors do not want None of the filters solutions such as the MFJ are going to fix the issue. Killing the noise at the sources as per above will.
  • Jon_KF2EJon_KF2E Member ✭✭
    edited July 2019
    I don't think what you are experiencing is normal for solar systems. I've had a solar system for 13 years and never get any noise from it. Look at my QRZ page and see how close my panels are to my Steppir. The inverters art less than 50 feet from the antenna.

    I would definitely talk to your neighbor and his solar installer. Perhaps start by shutting his system down to ensure it is the source of the problem.

    Jon...kf2e
  • edited June 2019
    I had a similar problem a few years ago from a house 20 yards away
    The neighbor refused to help.
    I discovered if I transmitted a 5 watt mains frequency tone (locked to my incoming powerline) on 80m it shut the inverters down, after a few weeks they fitted new control gear, problem is now fixed .
    Chris G3VjV
  • Lewis CheekLewis Cheek Member
    edited June 2019
    Neal, I looked into Solar Panels, and it was a NO-START in SC. Bill was going to be higher ( abt $ 50 month ), plus a programmed rate increase each year.

    Another factor, at least in NC & SC, is that after a certain number of customers are connected power company does not have to buy back excess you generate.

    If the power grid is down, solar panels will not work, i.e. you have NO power source. That was the last straw for me, if I can't charge batteries and use system when grid is down, why would I want this? This can be worked around, but will not pass inspection, as power company is concerned over back feeding.

    If I were going solar, I would make it a DIY project, which appears to be less than half cost from solar installers around here, really closer to one third.

    Other than getting permits and inspections it's not a big problem. Just hire a few day workers for the heavy lifting and remainder looks easy. If you can install a tower, you can surly install a solar system.
    Lew
  • Neal_K3NCNeal_K3NC Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    Thats staggering that you do not have power from battery backup, I agree whats the point?
  • Michael N3LIMichael N3LI Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    Hi Wayne, The CQ RFI list that I belong to has some ongoing discussions about this very thing. What is great is that Ed Hare ARRL's RFI guy is also there. There are individual circuits on each panel - I think they call them conditioners. but here's the link to sign up. Some of the companies like SolarEdge are very responsive to the issues http://lists.contesting.com/mailman/listinfo/rfi is the signup link for the list.
  • edited June 2019
    My friend had the same issue. Lucky it was his own solar panel system. But as said earlier its not the panels them self, but the charging system. He narrowed it down to the charging system and got a new one which was a lot better all the way around. If you need more information let me know. However dealing with a neighbor maybe the biggest issue.
  • Wayne W5GIEWayne W5GIE Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    Starting in 2020, all new homes built in California will be required to have solar panels.  I live in an established neighborhood, but more neighbors are having solar installed.  Thus, the problem of RFi will be getting worse.

  • Wayne W5GIEWayne W5GIE Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    Thanks for the info.  I did take a couple of screen shots before and they make nice comparisons.  Also, there is a huge difference from before sunrise and after the panels get fully lit.  It's not the same as having the system completely shut off, but the difference is obvious.
  • Wayne W5GIEWayne W5GIE Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    Thanks.  I plan to do that.  So far, I've compared the display before and after sunrise.  There is definitely much more RFI with the lit up panels.  
  • Wayne W5GIEWayne W5GIE Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    When I first was aware of the next door neighbor's interference, the waterfall on my 6600M was nearly overlapping yellow strips all the way across the screen.  That would have been an intolerable situation.  Reducing the display gain setting (from whatever the default) made a huge difference and I breathed a sigh of relief!

  • Jamie WW3SJamie WW3S Member
    edited June 2019
    Jon, first, thanks for your service. I’m curious as to what manufacturer array you have, as other than antenna restrictions, solar rfi is the biggest threat to hf amateur communications. Was yours the stock install, or did they modify it, like the twisted wiring/ferrite as in the QST articles? Also , here is a link , which is similar to the noise I’m getting.....
  • Wayne W5GIEWayne W5GIE Member ✭✭
    edited July 2019
    I saw the solar company next door this AM and the neighbor was home so I dropped by.  The activity today was to actually connect the panels to the rest of the system and turn it on for the first time.  The service tech said that the panels have some circuitry in each (I forgot the term he used for the circuit).  Thus, I may have been seeing noise from the panels themselves.

    The RFI is not any worse with the full system up and running.  I still suspect the RFI source is from the system, as the RFI is much diminished at night.  Not done yet with looking for a better resolution.  However, the FLEX adjustments let me work around most of the problems.

  • Michael WheatleyMichael Wheatley Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    I was getting what I think was a lot RFI noise from my solar array (27 panels, ~7kW).  I spoke to Palomar (palomar-engineers.com) and they suggested installing a Common Mode Coax Noise Filter (#CMNF-5000HF) in my shack.  I've just done that and despite the sunny weather and current production at about 6.4kW, I am seeing a lot less noise on 20M in my panadapters.

    I plan to install a ****-Choker (#MC-1-3000) at my antenna feed point in the next couple of days and I hope it will further improve my system's performance.  

    Michael Wheatley - KM6LHD
  • Wayne W5GIEWayne W5GIE Member ✭✭
    edited July 2019
    Thanks, I'll take a look at that also.  I have vertical antennas with chokes at the feedpoint and at the window entrance.  More choking is probably better.

  • Wayne W5GIEWayne W5GIE Member ✭✭
    edited June 2019
    Since I made the above comment, I saw the solar installers next door and went over for a chat.  When I first noticed the RFI, they had not fully wired up the system to the mains.  So, it would seem that the optimizers in the panels were generating the noise.
    Now, with the full system up and running, there isn't much additional noise, except on 40 meters.  The inverter is a HD Wave model, with Solar Edge.
  • KY6LA_HowardKY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited June 2019
    They are required by FCC rules to fix any RFI. Most reputable vendors are aware of this requirement.

    Hams tend to be too nice and try to correct somebody else’s problem by installing filters in their own equipment rather than dealing with the source of RFI
  • KY6LA_HowardKY6LA_Howard La Jolla, CA. Paris and Sablet FranceMember ✭✭✭
    edited June 2019
    By the way I have a 63 Panel 20.6KW system. No RFI once I got the vendor to fix his RFI issues.

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