[RFI] Alternative Power Source Questions

Roger (K8RI) k8ri at rogerhalstead.com
Tue Feb 10 01:43:30 EST 2009

Eric - VE3GSI wrote:
> Questions for those in the know on alternative power sources.
> Our local Amateur Radio Club is having a guest speaker come in from the
> following company:
> http://www.sunvoltssolar.com/
 From what I could see on the page they deal with photovoltaic systems. 
IE, "solar panels"
> >From something I remember reading on this reflector, 'RFI' generated from a
> wind generator may have cause one of our fellow Amateur Radio Ops to go QRT.
I believe the one problem discussed was from the inverter running with 
solar panels wiping out the bands a city block away.
> Also, from a friend of mine who once dabbled with battery storage and
> invertors of an earlier day, he once told me the DC to AC inverters were so
> bad that AM radio was out of the question and their TV would show 'sparkles'
> on weaker television signals caused from the invertors.
Depends on what you mean by old.  There were mechanical inverters used 
to power radios that worked fairly well. Car radios used them in the 
"tube days". For high power there were the old Dynamotors.

In later years we finally went to solid state inverters.  It was pretty 
much, you got what you paid for.  They ran the gauntlet from great and 
noiseless to so bad you couldn't get a receiver near one. Most were some 
where in between.

Now we are seeing a wide range again.  Solar installations run from 
simple and relatively inexpensive to elaborate and very expensive that 
provide enough power to make a rather large home independent of the 
power mains.  The latter may run as much as  $50,000 or more.  
Unfortunately it appears the size and cost of the new systems does not 
determine whether the output from the inverter(s) is going to be clean 
according to reports. A "dirty" high power inverter is something you'd 
not want for even a distant neighbor.

I can't really say things have improved or not. There are too many 
variables.  What muddies the waters is these things are not normally 
considered an RF generator and making them clean may be forgotten, 
particularly with imported ones.

What would I ask?  I'd ask your question "Do these things create any 
interference and if not will you guarantee they won't?". I'd want to ask 
for a demonstration close to a good all band receiver  that covers from 
LF through network frequencies.
In other words you should ask are the ones you don't want to: Would this 
system be practical for me as a ham running a station on all bands?  Can 
you guarantee if I purchase one of these systems it will not interfere 
with my radio station. 

Whether you purchase one or not is not the point.  If your close by 
neighbor does and it creates a problem it's worst then if you had it 
your self where you have some control over it. Besides if you had one 
and it created a problem it would be very poor publicity for them.


Roger (K8RI)
>  So my questions are.
> Have things improved with these type of devices from an earlier time, or can
> a fellow still expect RFI generated problems?
> Would I as a Radio Op on the HF bands wish to live near someone with such
> off-the-grid equipment?
> If anyone of you good people could ask our guest speaker about a RFI problem
> with alternative source power, what would it be?
> Please, my questions are aimed at potential RFI problems only, not if it is
> practical to do purchase such solar/wind equipment.
> Many thanks,
> Eric - VE3GSI
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