You may have heard about it, or a neighbor complains about their TV reception acting weird after installing solar panels. It sounds funny at first, but they generate enough energy for a house, which may be enough to disrupt electronic devices, right? So, is it true that solar panels can affect TV reception?
Solar panels do not affect TV reception. However, the inverters needed as part of the solar panel systems can affect TV reception because they create electromagnetic interference (EMI). However, it’s no longer as common because manufacturers already know how to minimize the noise they make.
Before we jump to any conclusion and think that solar panel systems are responsible for the interference, it would be best to learn how and why it happens. Stick around because you may think of solar panels a bit differently by the end of this article.
Solar Panels: How It Works
Solar panels have an outer covering that protects the thin silicone sheets underneath called solar cells. These cells convert sunlight into electrons that move in a straight path we call direct current (DC) electricity. The problem is that everything in our house needs alternating current (AC), and you’ll need an inverter to convert DC to AC.
Solar panels convert sunlight to DC that moves in a straight path, and it doesn’t cause interference with your TV reception. But your house can’t use DC, so it needs to go into an inverter to generate the AC that you need for your electrical devices. This rapid switching can create an interference that affects not only your TV and radio reception but also other electronics.
Solar panels don’t cause interference with your TV and radio reception directly. But these panels won’t be useful without the inverter that may create interference. So, an easy way to answer your question is: solar panels don’t affect TV reception, but a solar panel system can.
Solar Panel Interference
An inverter converts the DC power that your solar panels harvest into AC power that your household equipment needs. Although it’s not as common today as it once was, this operation can still create substantial broadband noise in an extensive frequency range, which can cause the following:
- Interference with your TV and radio receptions
- Malfunctions in grid-tied electronics
- Degradation in your solar panels
- EMI radiations beyond safe levels
Aside from the inverter, you’ll also experience significant interference if you’re using loft aerial and you install solar panels on your roof. Sometimes, the interference can travel at a large distance that can also affect your neighbors. But it doesn’t mean that you have to compromise one over the other. It’s still possible for you to get excellent TV reception and still have a reliable solar panel system in place.
Here are the two crucial things that you need to have to ensure that your solar panels won’t produce interferences:
- Reliable equipment: This is one of the most significant factors that can affect TV receptions. A poorly designed solar panel system will cause interference, even if you have it installed by a qualified technician. Sometimes, it can go over a large area, affecting multiple households.
- Qualified professionals: Having the best solar panel system doesn’t guarantee that it won’t affect TV receptions. It would be best to have a professional install your photovoltaic panels to shield your inverter properly and get rid of or, at least, minimize the interference it creates. Before completion, they’ll conduct tests to ensure that your system won’t produce EMI.
In the past, solar panels had a high tendency to create inferences that could affect most electronics. But as solar technology has improved and designs have gotten better, it has become less of a factor that homeowners need to consider. However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be careful when installing PV panels.
If you want to get rid of the interference, you need both, and not choose between reliable equipment and professional installation. There are too many things that could go wrong if you’re using poorly designed equipment or installing solar panels without a qualified technician.
Although it’s possible, you may not want to consider it because of the issues you may encounter. Remember, we’re not only talking about the things that could go wrong in your house but the interference that it can cause to your neighbors as well.
Is EMI Always Tied to Solar Panels?
Interferences caused by solar panel systems are unlikely, especially if you have reliable equipment installed professionally. Even if you add more solar panels to your system, it’s still unlikely to cause interference. The only drawback you have to worry about is not the interference, but having more wires inside your house, carrying high current electricity.
If you’re experiencing interference inside your house, it could be because of smart devices, laptops, baby monitors, and even cordless phones. These things are more likely to cause interference than a properly installed solar panel with a shielded inverter.
Weak TV Signal Can Be the Problem
Solar panels may cause interference, even if you have reliable equipment. But it’s not strong enough to cause problems inside your house. Sometimes, you’re having problems with your TV reception because the signal wasn’t good enough in the first place. If you only have a borderline TV signal and experienced weak interference, it may be overwhelmed, causing problems that may otherwise be unnoticeable if you have a strong TV signal.
You can conduct some tests to determine how strong the interference is and how much it affects your TV reception. Again, even a weak interference that won’t affect a strong TV signal may be enough to overwhelm a weak TV signal. Conducting these tests will help you figure out how to handle the issue better.
Do you need better shielding for your inverter, or do you need a better antenna for your TV? You can only answer these things by conducting tests. It’s another benefit that you can get from hiring a professional to install your solar panels. In most cases, technicians will do these tests before they complete the project to determine whether there’s still something they need to do to minimize the interference you’re getting.
Ways to Reduce Electromagnetic Interference
If you already have a strong TV signal, and you’re sure that none of the devices you have causes the interference, then your inverter may be the reason for it. Here are the four things that you can do to reduce the EMI you’re experiencing:
- Shielding: this is a technique that uses metal casing to block the noise that the inverter generates. Although it’s an effective way to reduce the EMI you’re experiencing, it won’t really help you reduce the noise that travels from the cable to the device.
- Suppression: this is a technique that uses ferrites—a combination of iron oxide, copper, zinc, and other metal oxides. The ferrite core converts the EMI into heat and dissipates, effectively suppressing any interference that you’re experiencing.
- Cancellation: this technique is the simplest and easiest to do because you can do it with a few twisted wire pairs. Theoretically, noise that passes through the twisted wires gets canceled, which reduces the EMI you’re getting. Although it doesn’t always work, it’s the cheapest and easiest method that you can use.
- Filtering: this technique is the same as what we use for other electronics to reduce noise. Usually, we use capacitors to get rid of the EMI. Although it’s an effective way to help you solve the problem, it will make your system bulkier and more expensive to set up.
Solar panels can affect TV reception, but it’s not as common as you’d think. The inverter that we use nowadays has proper shielding that helps in minimizing the interference. Installers also conduct tests to determine how strong the EMI is and how they can mitigate it.
With all the steps that we do to ensure that they won’t affect TV and radio receptions and other electronics in the house, solar panels are unlikely to be causing it. Many devices inside a modern house can cause EMI, which is another factor that you need to consider before shielding your inverter.
- Solar Electric: How to Reduce Electromagnetic Interference in Solar Systems
- Jim’s Antennas: Can an Antenna Affect the Output of My Solar Panels?
- Radio and TV Help: Solar Panels Affect Reception
- FUSECO: Can Solar Installations Effect Radio & TV Reception?
- The Solar Nerd: Can Solar Panels Interfere with WiFi, TV, or Cell Phone Reception?
- Whirlpool: Can S/Panels Interfere with TV Signal?
- AVS Forum: Would Solar Panels Interfere with Attic Antenna?