Are solar panels susceptible to strong RF?

Discussion in 'On the Road' started by N5USR, Apr 19, 2019.

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  1. N5USR

    N5USR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Note this is the OPPOSITE question to what is usually asked about solar panels!

    Has anyone had solar panels or charge controllers that had issues with a transmitter antenna being in very close proximity - inches away, even mounted to the same rail the panel itself is mounted to? This would most likely just be VHF/UHF, since it's a high-roof van.

    My on-again/off-again affair with ham radio is heating back up and in the interim I got a new vehicle so now need to install antennas. The current ride is a full-size Transit cargo van kitted out as a camper / kayak hauler and has two 130W solar panels on the roof feeding a Morningstar MPPT charge controller that maintains the 200AH house bank.

    There are precious few locations "approved" by Ford to install transmitter antennas. The panels and ventilation fan eat up most of the horizontal roof space. About the only good spot available is the racking that holds the panels on the roof. I know the panels wouldn't care about being *near* antennas (have had some on the house for years, one of which powers the home shack) but this would be the first time I had a setup where they'd be just an inch or so away.

    I'm inclined to think there shouldn't be a problem, but thought I'd ask to see if anyone has had issues related to this before I go blowing things up... :D
    YF8RQN likes this.
  2. AC0GV

    AC0GV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Charge controllers produce BAD RF noise, I use solar in the RV and unplug all charging when playing radio. I have not tried hooking the panel directly to the battery but will this summer. RV converters are also bad about this.
    N8ZL, K7WFM and K0UO like this.
  3. K0UO

    K0UO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    The panne can take the RF but as AC0GV said above, "Charge controllers produce BAD RF noise".
    over a 1000 of us ham meet in Q-side AZ every winter and the RFI gets worst every year. You can see the noise floor go from S1 to 20 over 9 at sun rise.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
    KE5PPH likes this.
  4. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes, I have a Morningstar that needed to have the leads choked with beads, because on some HF bands, the RF interfered with the voltage sense. Once I choked the leads, it was happy again.

    A good charge controller should not create any detectable RF interference. I run large Morningstar charge controllers just a few feet away from multiple HF antennas with no issues from the charge controller, even when under considerable load. I can't say that for some of the gadgets in my neighbors' houses, though. :(
    AA5LS likes this.
  5. K1LKP

    K1LKP Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

  6. NG1H

    NG1H XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    FWIW the field sites for oil & gas pipelines use RF links for control and monitoring. They use Morningstar charge controllers. The primary factor for that brand is durability and dependability but in addition there have been no noted problems with RF both in emissions and susceptibility. Though this was at UHF frequencies, not HF.
    KD9WR likes this.
  7. KD0CAC

    KD0CAC Ham Member QRZ Page

    SWAG , theoretically with enough power & the right frequency - you probably could have some effect on a solar panel , maybe melt solder joints .
    But I've never heard of such a thing , not that I'm a clearing house of info , but I've been into alternative energy / solar for almost 40 yrs.
    To address the question " will RF affect solar panels " ?
    But into ham radio for a little over 10 yrs. and have been looking for what the best gear [ low RFI ] for most of that time .
    Generally the RFI comes from a few components - charge controllers , inverters and some control devices - and the cheap junk is going to be the worst at making interference .
    So using quality equipment is best to start , so far no one makes totally clean gear , so the cleaning is done by the installer - after buying better gear .
    Sometimes opening up the boxes and doing things like twisting wire-pairs , shielding & choking - inside & out .
  8. KP4SX

    KP4SX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    My panels start at about 3 feet away from the base of my vertical. I don't experience any effects at all from the RF. I guess if anything the wiring *could* pick up some RF and dump it into the controller but I haven't ever seen or heard any evidence of that. My controller is an Outback FlexMax 60.
    LU5ELR likes this.
  9. AA1VX

    AA1VX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm thinking of installing a beam antenna in my attic for 10/17/20 meters. The antenna would be about 20 feet from the roof that has solar panels using Enphase Inverters. Do you think transmitting would damage the panels or inverters? I'm unable to find an email link for the Enphase technical folks so I could ask them directly. Thanks for any input.
  10. N5USR

    N5USR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Odd, I got notifications for the first two posts then nothing since... Just happened to browse this section and saw more replies!

    Glad to hear it shouldn't be a problem. Now if the weather would just cooperate so I could actually get around to installing the antennas... SO MUCH RAIN the past few weeks!

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