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FCC issues a Notice of Violation to Solar City for RFI Inteferance

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by NS6Q, Mar 16, 2017.

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  1. NS6Q

    NS6Q Ham Member QRZ Page

    After an on-site visit and testing by an FCC Enforcement Agent of the ~S9 interference cause to my station by a Solar City solar array located 2 houses away, the FCC issued Solar City a Notice of Violation.

    It appears that at least one of the primary interference generating components is a load balancing device called an "optimizer" which is attached to back of each solar panel. Testing by the FCC Agent showed that the interference does not stop until the optimizer is detached from the solar panel. Attempts by Solar City to add filters were unsuccessful and only resulted in a few DB of change.

    The optimizer (as well as the the rest of the system) is manufactured by Solar Edge. I was told by Solar City when I inquired about them installing a different type of system that this is the only kind of system that Solar City installs. Given this it's not hard to envision that many Solar City installations are causing this type of interference. Fortunately the FCC is concerned about this issue and is actively working to resolve it.

    Got an interference issue? Do your homework and file an FCC complaint. It's what starts the process.
    N7LP, N3JTN, KC5JSR and 33 others like this.
  2. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the update. Very interesting.

    Can you remind us what contact information you used to contact FCC to get enforcement? That would be good information to keep handy in case something like this happens to other hams.
    N9PWM, N4GST, VE3EDY and 4 others like this.
  3. AB3TQ

    AB3TQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    OK, they got a Notice of Violation. Does that have any teeth? When are you going to see relief?
    N9PWM, N8RQ, VE3EEI and 1 other person like this.
  4. N0TZU

    N0TZU Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's fantastic! This news is very encouraging for more vigorous RFI enforcement by the FCC. There are many administrative steps and we will see what the results eventually are, but it is a good step.
    N4GST, KO6KL, N8RQ and 1 other person like this.
  5. NK7Z

    NK7Z Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Nice job on your part, keeping notes, etc., to a standard that the FCC will work from them!
  6. WF9Q

    WF9Q Ham Member QRZ Page

    After reading the description on their site, I don't see the value in the device, it seems like a BS device that sounds technically valuable as to trick the buyer so the seller can jack the price up.
    XM2210664 and N3HOE like this.
  7. NK7Z

    NK7Z Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    KL5DV, KM4NOW, KB1GKN and 6 others like this.
  8. KE0CAA

    KE0CAA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Fortunately Solar City has no interest in doing business in my state. Something about the panels being covered by snow and ice half the year and a very low rate of return keeps them out of the market. Screen Shot 03-17-17 at 07.32 AM.PNG
    KC1FUG, AD0MI, NN6EE and 2 others like this.
  9. WA8FOZ

    WA8FOZ Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Given the diligent homework that he has done, I suspect that the OP knows that he will have to follow up with this. In this type of situation, you can never just file a complaint of expect things to be fixed. Eternal vigilance.
    KO6KL likes this.
  10. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    ALWAYS be suspicious of those who 'talk with their hands'.

    If you want to hear the SECRET both videos at the same time...

    "its not cheap, but...;-)"
  11. WH6DWF

    WH6DWF Ham Member QRZ Page

    How were you able to track down the source of your interference?
  12. K3RW

    K3RW Ham Member QRZ Page

    We've got several houses with panels nearby. I was even thinking of doing some but one stroke of the pen, the 58cent/kW subsidy goes to a lower amount or is goes away, and its no longer economic to have them. Plus hams have noted RFI from some of the components.

    How close would a panel have to be to create nouse I would notice? What would it looks like, where would it show up?

    I'm thinking I may be seeing some of it but not sure how to tell.

    I wondered if we would have to push Solar City to change that device on all their known installations, or run the risk of accusing a neighbor of a noisy setup. I can't tell which panel type is which or if they have a device like that on them.

    There is supposedly another RFI component that causes a lot of problems, but not sure if its mfr specific.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2017
  13. W3WN

    W3WN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Funny thing,

    SolarCity was in our neighborhood last fall, recruiting homes for solar panels. We were one of them. I specifically asked about RFI issues such as the one cited here, and the rep had no clue but promised to find out.

    We ended up not following through with them.

    House up the street from us got them. My noise floor has gone up, though not enough to prevent communications. More of an annoyance.
  14. WF9Q

    WF9Q Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yep, the charge controller. Square wave and PWM or on/off pulsation. Solar panels alone are quiet, if you could thermally manage all the current when the battery is charged/ charging you could use an analog solution for charging. In a ham radio application that might be worth the effort if you want it noise free.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
    W5MJF and K3RW like this.
  15. K1KP

    K1KP Ham Member QRZ Page

    This sounds like the system featured in the article that appeared in the April, 2016 QST. The techniques described in the article have been proven effective at reducing interference at several similar installations. For further info contact the author (me).

    -Tony, K1KP
    N2EY, AG5DB and WF9Q like this.

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