Some people experience signal issues after installing their solar systems. A good chunk of our lives has us rely on technology, so it’s certainly a cause for concern.
But is it even true? Do solar panels interfere with WiFi, TV, and phone reception?
Nope. Solar panels merely convert sunlight into solar power. They don’t produce signal-blocking radiation. So, generally speaking, they shouldn’t cause signal interference.
Like almost anything, however, there can be rare exceptions — and that’s what we’re diving into today, as well as a few other related topics listed below:
- Why your solar system won’t interfere with TV, Wifi signals, and cell phone reception
- Defining electromagnetic interference (EMI)
- Situations where your solar system can produce electromagnetic radiation
- Tips on reducing electromagnetic interference
Solar panels don’t interfere with cell phone, TV, and Wi-Fi signals. Here’s why.
It all boils down to how solar panels work.
Solar panel systems work by harnessing the power of sunlight and converting it into usable electricity. We discuss the entire process in another article but, to summarize:
- Sunlight absorption: Solar panels, typically made of silicon-based photovoltaic cells, absorb sunlight when exposed to it.
- Electron excitation: Photons from the sunlight excite the electrons in the semiconductor material of the solar panels, creating direct current (DC) electricity.
- Electrical connections: Multiple solar panels are connected in series or parallel to form a solar panel array, increasing the overall electricity output.
- Inverter conversion: The DC electricity generated by the solar panels is converted into alternating current (AC) electricity using an inverter. AC electricity is compatible with the electrical grid and most household appliances.
- Electrical load consumption: The AC electricity produced by the inverter can be used to power electrical devices, appliances, lighting, and other electrical loads that your home requires.
As I’ve shown, the process of converting sunlight into solar electricity relies on the movement of electrons within the panels’ cells. This doesn’t cause electromagnetic interference that messes with your wireless devices’ signals.
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Electromagnetic interference? What is that?
Good question. Electromagnetic interference or EMI refers to unwanted noise in an electrical circuit.
Photovoltaic (solar) panels themselves have no circuits and are therefore incapable of producing EMI. Other electronics around your solar modules, such as transformers and cables, are also non-factors because of their low frequency of operation at 60 Hz. (1)
The only component of your solar array that’s capable of radiating EMI is your solar inverter. But, even then, it’s highly unlikely.
This brings us to the next point of our discussion.
Situations where solar systems can cause EMI
Your inverter has issues
Inverters normally don’t produce frequencies that are high enough to cause signal interference. Their frequencies are so low, in fact, that they should be comparable to radio frequency waves from your other electrical appliances.
However, if your inverter isn’t running optimally, it may be a potential source of EMI.
In this case, ask your solar installer to check your inverter’s enclosure grounding, filtering, and circuit layout as these are what further reduce electromagnetic radiation.
Speaking of installers, perhaps your solar system just wasn’t installed right which leads to EMI.
For instance, if your solar array is placed too close to appliances that are prone to EMI, such as antennas and wireless routers, it could be a physical obstruction that leads to weaker signals.
This brings up the importance of hiring CEC-accredited installers in the first place. These solar installers are well-versed in Australia’s standards and are trained to exceed them. Plus, hiring them makes you eligible for rebates, making your solar system cheaper, more durable, and more efficient.
If you need help finding these experts, we have a pre-vetted network of solar installers that are ready to give you 3 FREE quotes.
Solar panel system physical interference
We touched on physical obstructions earlier, so let’s talk more about it.
And, well, it’s exactly what it sounds like: A physical obstruction between your device and its signal reception. These obstructions can be anything like equipment, walls, vegetation, and solar modules.
Imagine driving from your house to your office when there’s traffic versus when the roads are wide open. In this example, traffic is the physical obstruction and you are the signal. Instead of driving 60 km/h, traffic forces you to slow down to 20.
Malfunctioning solar components
While solar inverters are culprits, any malfunctioning part of your solar panel system can generate unwanted electromagnetic noise and contribute to EMI.
This includes damaged cables, faulty AC wires, and loose connectors.
Again, this won’t be a likely issue if your solar panel system was installed according to standards in the first place.
Your AC power cables are installed too close to a coaxial cable
AC cables carry electricity from your inverter to your protection equipment and the grid. A coaxial cable, on the other hand, is what phone and internet providers use to, well… provide you with cell phone reception and wifi reception.
These AC cables generate small electromagnetic fields that can be noisy to coax cables, particularly if they’re installed just inches from each other. This noise is what causes reception interference.
3 tips on how to reduce the chances of EM interference
Truth be told, your installer should already know all about these tips. But, in case you want to install your system yourself (or if you want to micromanage your installer, though we don’t recommend that), here are a few things you should know about:
1. Proper grounding
Adequate grounding is essential in a solar system to ensure the safe dissipation of electrical currents.
Properly grounded components, including panels, inverters, and others, will direct any stray currents or electrical disturbances away from sensitive electronic devices and equipment. Thus, preventing interference.
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2. Shielding and filtering
Shielding and filtering are methods to achieve the same result which is to reduce the chances of EMI.
Shielding, in particular, is when you form a protective barrier around a device. This barrier prevents electromagnetic radiation from going in and out of the device by reflecting the energy and absorbing some of it.
Filtering, on the other hand, works similarly to your tap’s water filter. It’s when unwanted noise is prevented from coursing through your electric currents while letting the ones you need through. This noise is either sent to the ground, absorbed, or diverted back to where it came from.
3. Hire a CEC-accredited professional
I apologize if this is getting repetitive but I can’t stress this enough.
Thoughtfully installed solar panel systems strongly mitigate the risk of radiation interference. A poorly installed one, however, is bound to experience numerous problems.
These professionals are taught Australia’s standards and are trained to go above and beyond.
Recommended: How you should choose your solar installer
To wrap up, it is clear that solar panels do not typically cause interference with your wifi router, TV, or cellular phone reception. The most likely culprit is your solar panel inverter – and even then, it’s still highly unlikely.
However, there are exceptions, including your solar panels physically interfering with signals, faulty solar components, and AC cables being too close to coax cables. All these boil down to poor installation and poor-quality components.