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Old 12-10-2006, 07:26   #1
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Solar panels interfering with VHF

Hi,
I recently installed 2 Kiocera 85W panels with a Blue Sky controller. Works great but it broadcasts static over VHF frequencies. Does anyone have an idea for a solution?
Thanks,
Dave
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Old 12-10-2006, 07:59   #2
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Dave:

VHF or HF? VHF/FM interference (on marine and amateur bands) would be most unusual, though if you're listening to aircraft on VHF/AM it could be a problem.

Some ferrite beads or clamps on the wires to/from the controller would probably trap any stray RF.

Bill
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Old 12-10-2006, 08:15   #3
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Bill,
VHF. Static on the majority of channels including 16. I have added ferrites at the panels and controller (input and output) with no improvrment. I figured it's unusual, I'm lucky that way.

Dave
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Old 12-10-2006, 08:36   #4
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Dave,

Wow! That is REALLY unusual.

I'd verify that it is really the panels/controller causing the interference problem, check all your VHF power and antenna connections carefully to be sure everything is clean and tight.

Then, try contacting the controller manufacturer. I doubt if it's the panels; more likely to be the controller, and nothing should put out that much RF. If you don't get satisfaction from Blue Sky, guess you're left with getting another controller.

Good luck. And, please let us know what the outcome is.

Bill
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Old 12-10-2006, 09:49   #5
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Dave,

If it's any consolation, you're not the only "lucky that way" guy!

Last week, I had a Professional Mariner 50A marine charger in my basement take down the LAN in my house, and make my IBM monitor go crazy!

The good news is that it only does this when under a substantial load, not when it's only pumping out a few amps :-))

Bill
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Old 12-10-2006, 10:35   #6
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VHF RFI

Relatively simple buck converters, like the Blue Sky solar controller, generate significant RFI. Those designs which meet stricter criteria are generally implemented with more complex switch-mode converter designs which lend themselves to confined filtering to deliver high quality dc output. You may notice that the RFI is greater with different amounts of sun, and battery state of charge.

Like many triac-controlled chargers the Pro-Mariner will make more RFI when the triac control makes the shortest turn-on time, conrresponding to the least amount of current delivered to the battery at the highest line voltages. This is why the European standards have essentially eliminated that topology in battery chargers. No amount of economically viable filtering will fix the problem for production designs (I've been through that evaluation).
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Old 12-10-2006, 10:57   #7
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Rick,
Sounds like you know your stuff. Unfortunately you are talking "over my head". Can you put that in simpler terms? Are you sying the problem can't be fixed?
Thanks,
Dave
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Old 12-10-2006, 11:12   #8
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Your problem will not be easily solved by a technically qualified engineer without a complete re-design. Your ability to solve it by adding ferrites, caps, etc is doomed to remain an exercise in frustration.
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Old 12-10-2006, 11:44   #9
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Re: Solar panels interfering with VHF

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
SNIP This is why the European standards have essentially eliminated that topology in battery chargers. No amount of economically viable filtering will fix the problem for production designs (I've been through that evaluation).
How about some URLs of European standards designs as alternatives for those of us about to buy (or replace) panels and controllers?

Will we likely have the same sort of problems with Wind Generator, for example Airex, controllers? If so, how about some URLs of good alternatives for that as well.

John
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Old 12-10-2006, 12:09   #10
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On Windthief we have two kyocera panels on top of our dodger and in front of the VHF antenna, never had any problems. Our controller is a Sunsei 20000cc.
I would also suggest confirmation of the solar panel/controller causing the issue.
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Old 12-10-2006, 12:42   #11
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Rick, if the controller is making RF emissions...doesn't it have to meet certain FCC criteria regardless of which market (home, commercial, etc.) it is sold for?

Which leaves open an avenue for the manufacturer to remedy this, at least if it was sold in the US? (Similar regs in other countries.)
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Old 12-10-2006, 13:01   #12
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Rick,

"Like many triac-controlled chargers the Pro-Mariner will make more RFI when the triac control makes the shortest turn-on time, conrresponding to the least amount of current delivered to the battery at the highest line voltages."

In my case, I verified that the ProMariner was causing the problem back through the AC line, not through RF wireless emissions. I rebooted the network, connected the AC cord from the ProMariner charger to another AC line (not the same one which was powering the hub, cable modem, firewall, router, etc.) and....voila! No further interference problem.

Also, the problem was caused at the HIGHEST amperage output level by the ProMariner, not the lowest. Later on, after the battery banks reached a medium charge level, I reconnected the ProMariner to the same AC line where it had earlier caused the problem and.....no further problem.

Bill
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Old 12-10-2006, 20:00   #13
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RFI problems, US and Euro standards (quickly)

Bill, (et al)
As you may know, RFI is specified as either conducted (over wires, etc.) or radiated (via electromagnetic waves). Either way, you suffered an RFI problem albeit slightly different than the norm associated with line/load variations (mentioned earlier) as I have witnessed over the years with various products having the design aspects of the products like that which you have.

I must point out that Bill's product problem has an inherent design difficulty very difficult to overcome vastly different from the design difficulty difficult to overcome inherent in the very different topology of the solor regulator. Both generate RFI yet both have very different sources of radiation.

Regardless, do not assume that ANY product sold in the US adheres to ANY standards regarding emission or conduction of RFI. Somewhat sadly it is incumbent upon the purchaser to verify the claimed adherence to various standards, including the "minimum" of U/L safety ones (which do nothing to force manufacturers to minimize RF radiation).

For at least thirty years there has been an FCC class "B" standard which, in some industrial US applications must be adhered to, YET does not quite qualify to pass the somewhat equivalent "CE" standards which MUST be adhered to in order to be legally accepted into the European markets. In general the "CE" standards are more stringent. Yes, there are various CE standards and one must be astude as to which one(s) affect/effect products and applications.

Mastervolt is one European manufacturer attempting to make marketing inroads into this country with relatively good product quality that meets such standards. One obvious "problem" is that such products require more engineering and production costs than those not so "quiet" in both the "RF" world as well as presenting the power grid with a unit representing a resistive load (technically referred to as a load not generating unacceptable harmonic components to the generator). There are others, like Xantrex (in some specific cases). So far, I know of no products affordable as consumer solar regualators which provide necessary peak power point tracking. Perhaps others will point out a viable source for this application area.

There is a cost, of course. Instead of paying around 8 dollars per 10 Amps of charging current one will pay around 20 dollars per 10 Amps for a CE rated charger. But, guess what? You probably will not have an RFI problem, although not necessarily so, especially in the case of HF receivers which are particularly sensitive to a "noise floor" caused by ANY existence of switching noise in an immediate area.

The good news is that although for several years various circuit topologies have been identified as being ones which lend themselves to relatively "low" generation of RFI it has only been in the last 5 years or so that the cost of implementing those topologies has come down, largely due to the lower cost of solid-state switching, inductor, and offshore manufacturing (like it or not). In addition, there has been what I call a "fall-out" of designs from industry which make their way into the marine market to give us a benefit in this regard. I have observed for decades that the marine electronics products lags the state of the art industry products by 12 to 20 years. That lag is diminishing for several reasons. One of the main reasons has historically been that the marine market is relatively miniscule compared to the world industrial market for manufacturers, including their ability to attract and retain really good engineers. Maybe I'm getting too far off the original topic, I apologise.
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Old 13-10-2006, 07:00   #14
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All,
Blue sky is being very helpfull trying to resolve this isse. They sent me another controller (at no charge) which has been modified to be quieter. I'll let you know if it works once I put it on the boat.
Dave
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Old 13-10-2006, 17:12   #15
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I have 420 watts of solar generation, all from Kyocera panels connected to a Xantrex/ Trace controller with no RF problems whatever. The simple solution is to replace the controller.
Jim
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