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Ever wondered if those shiny new solar panels you’re considering installing on your roof might make weird noises?
You might have heard rumors that solar equipment like inverters can buzz, hum or click, and you’ll want to get to the bottom of that before you shell out thousands of dollars on them.
Will your new solar system transform your home into a symphony of strange noises, or can you install it with confidence that you will continue to enjoy peace and quiet?
Also read; Do Solar Panels Work on Cloudy Days?
The good news is modern solar panels themselves don’t make much noise. They have no moving parts and just convert sunlight into energy.
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However, solar inverters, the devices that convert the DC power from the panels into usable AC power for your home, can emit some noise.
The level of noise depends on the specific equipment and installation, but in most cases, it’s minimal.
Here’s what you need to know about noise that might be emitted by solar panels and inverters, and how to minimize it so you can enjoy the benefits of going solar without any inconvenience.
When installed properly, solar panels themselves shouldn’t make any noise.
They simply absorb sunlight and convert it to energy. The solar components that might generate sound are the inverters, which convert the DC power generated by the panels into AC power for your home.
Inverters typically have cooling fans that run when the inverter is operating to prevent overheating. These fans can produce a low humming sound.
Newer inverters are designed to minimize noise, but you may still notice a faint buzzing coming from the inverter, especially on very hot days.
Inverters are needed to convert the DC power generated by solar panels into AC power that can be used in your home.
As the inverter is actively working to convert energy, it does emit some noise. However, for most people the noise produced by a solar inverter is minimal and not disruptive.
In general, the level of noise from a solar inverter depends on the following:
- The type of inverter: String inverters, which connect multiple panels, can produce more noise from their larger fans. String inverters convert energy from multiple solar panels at once, so they have larger components that can hum or buzz and they tend to be a bit louder than microinverters. Microinverters, which are small inverters attached to each panel, handle energy conversion for individual panels, so they have smaller components that are quieter.
- The inverter’s power rating: More powerful inverters that can handle more solar panels will have larger components that often generate more noise. Inverters for small to mid-size residential systems should not produce much noise.
- The inverter’s location: The place where the inverter is installed impacts how noisy it sounds. Installing the solar inverter in a location far from the residential area, such as a garage or garden can reduce the perception of noise. The surrounding area and any insulation can also amplify or muffle the inverter noise, where placing sound dampening materials like insulation around the inverter can help muffle any noises.
- Fan operation: Many inverters have built-in fans that only run when needed to cool the components. The fans can increase the noise level temporarily while operating.
Solar panels and inverters are designed to operate quietly, but some noise is inevitable. Here are some tips to help reduce noise from your solar system:
Place solar panels, inverters, and batteries as far as possible from living areas like bedrooms. The farther away the components are, the less noticeable any noise will be. If possible, install them in a garage, shed, or utility room.
Choose High-quality Noise-optimized Equipment
Higher quality solar equipment is built to minimize noise. Look for components specifically designed to reduce buzzing, humming and clicking sounds. Choosing premium, noise-optimized inverters and microinverters can make a big difference.
Also read; What is a Solar Power Calculator
Incorrect grounding and bonding are a common cause of excess noise from solar systems.
Proper grounding provides a path for stray electrical current to flow to the ground, reducing buzzing and humming.
Bonding connects components like panels, racks, and inverters to prevent current flow between them. Have an electrician inspect your system to ensure all components are properly grounded and bonded.
For existing systems where noise is an issue, adding soundproofing materials like insulation, acoustic panels or barriers can help muffle the sounds.
Place soundproofing directly on or around the noisy components. Weather-resistant, fire-rated materials should be used for components installed outdoors or in hot areas like attics.
Maintain your System
Over time, loose or corroded connections can lead to increased buzzing, humming or clicking noises. Perform regular inspections of your entire solar system, especially after extreme weather events.
Look for any loose wiring or connections and tighten or replace as needed. Well-maintained solar equipment will operate more quietly and efficiently.
While solar panels themselves are silent, inverters are the solar components that can create some noise. The good news is that technology and design have improved a lot, and modern inverters are very quiet.
Noise from a properly installed solar system should be negligible and not discernable for most people.
At the end of the day, the benefits of solar energy far outweigh any minor noise concerns for most homes and businesses.
If noise is a serious issue for you, be upfront with your solar installer about your needs and concerns.
They should be able to recommend equipment and an installation plan to keep things as quiet as possible so you can enjoy the rewards of lower energy bills and a greener footprint in peace.
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