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Peter avatar image

RF noise from 150-60 solar charger

Hi I have bought a Victron Blue 15-60 solar charger and find it has excessive RF noise output up into the low VHF bands (50 MHz). I see others have also seen this but no answer seems to be forthcoming. I have not tried to put any filters on the solar input lines (I suspect the noise is radiated back out the cables to the solar panels). Maybe I should have checked a bit closer to see of the device really lives up to its C Tick status.

Other than me spending endless hours trying to supress the noise this device generates across HF and VHF has anyone else had any luck making these things quiet? I have many other switch mode power supplies but none as noisy as this thing..

Peter

MPPT - Solar Charge Controller
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I have resolved this issue. The MPPT switching of mosfets can create RF if DC and AC earths are not correct. Put simply the switching of the Mosfets to convert a high voltage to a lower voltage generates an Alternating current in the solar panel circuit. Below is a method of stopping these currents becoming an RF issue


Really important The solar panel Positive and Negative wires are run next to each other with ABSOLUTELY NO earth connections in the solar panel wiring circuit. The frame of the solar panel is a separate safety earth.


The main Earth in the circuit is at the Negative battery Terminal. But if the cable length from MPPT is say 5m to battery and 1M to earth then even though there is a low resistance in the cable it can create an RF antenna of 6M. The simple work around is to move the MPPT charger so this antenna is very very short. say 100mm cable to earth then a short cable from the earth piont to the battery . Both cables need fuses.


Not sure of different country wire standard but if you have to have a long cable + earth for the DC circuit then try a short bypass cable for the RF to earth . Think it should have a dc blocking by-pass capacitor selected for the frequency your trying to reduce inference. worked for me.


One more issue is to measure the DC voltage between Solar panel Negative and Positive outputs with respect to the Solar panel frame earth. There should be no voltage with respect to earth on either Try open circuit first then MPPT device on load.


A DC voltage between the solar panel frame earth and say the Negative of asolar panel is a real problem . What is happening is the panel wiring insulation breaks down inside the solar panel and a resistamce conection to is occuring to the Solar pannel frame . This is why it has to be earthed for safety. This is a common failure.


The panel fault must be removed.


The simple way is to make an educated guess use a proportion method.


4 x 30 volt open circuit voltage solar panels in series produce 120 volts. If one of the solar panels is leaking curent to the solar panel frame and you measure 55 volts then the fault is nearly half way in the circuit = Number 2 panel . Do not try and measure the current if you have a voltage. you will blow your meter up.


The reason for the RF noise in this situation is that an earth has been made by the faulty panel to earth part way in the Solar panel circuit


Thus the currents are not equal in Positive and Negative be wires. Oscillations occurs and depending on the resistance of the leakage to ground you have an antenna for 1 or many RF channels.


Hope this helps.

10 Answers
linden avatar image
linden answered ·

Hi, thought I would share some tests we found, not strictly helping with the RF noise but this proved useful in our application.

We had an experience with noise and switching frequency from a customer with several smart solar mppt 75/15 and 100/50's where we received feedback that a proximity sensor they were using was failing when in use running in the system with the mppts. Investigated noise and switching frequency on the output of the MPPT, and could identify switching frequency and noise in the output wires and radiated from the unit from measurements on an oscilloscope. Tried the ferrite beads on the solar and battery wires but couldn't measure much difference (our measurement device was not very accurate at picking up the noise, but could clearly see the switching frequency introduced when the solar was turned on) We found using a Victron Orion DC to DC converter on the output appeared to completely remove the switching frequency measured on the output load wires when solar was turned on and charging the battery. It appeared that the DC to DC converter had better filters on the output which gave a much smoother signal on the output wires removing the switching frequency and apparent noise.




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@Linden was that an isolated DC DC or a non isolated?

non isolated I used

Thanks, very interesting.

Peter Polz avatar image
Peter Polz answered ·

We already had similar problems with an amateur radio group of austrian forces with an 100/50. They searched and made a filter with 15 winds on TX102/66/25-3C1 on each solar input plus and minus... This completly fix their Problems . May be that also fix your problems.



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Thanks Peter for the reply, I am having difficulty identifying the ferrite you mentioned, the ferroxcube web site lists sligthly different numbers and I have no local outlet for that company. from the number I can not identify a size of the core. Would you happen to know more about the core please?

Regards,

Peter

Paul B avatar image
Paul B answered ·

Hi I am not a expert with rf issues by any means.

There are many of these units out there on many many boats and I have never seen or herd of this happening,

some possible suggestions.

1. make sure the frame of the unit is earthed

2. make sure the frame of the panels are earthed

3. try earthing the negative connection on the mppt unit that goes to the battery (for testing only dont leave this permanently connected unless you have proper advise. thats if this unit is on a boat)

4. make sure the unit is on the Latest firmware as a starting point

5. to do this easly you would need a Victron bluetooth dongle, (having this bluetooth connection has a lot of benefits as well, as you can see a full history for the last 30 days plus you can turn the charger off and on remotly via you phone app plus many more benifites

6. If possible see if you can lend/borrow another unit and see if that has the same issue.

7. please advise the part number and serial number of the unit as this may help victron support after the above has been tried


hope the above maybe of some help to you

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ejrossouw avatar image
ejrossouw answered ·

@Peter,@travellerw, @sm6vtz

I have been following this thread and wondered? What common denominators do you all share apart from a MPPT and I do notice a different number of models here. With many thousands of these sold it seems, while being a concern, a very small number and not even the same model It would be interesting if you can find maybe a manufatured date that is similar it could point to some faulty batch of components? Also, what panels do you have in your installations, fuses, or anything else like wiring that may actually cause a problem for the MPPT? Where does the wiring run along etc etc. Did you possibly experiment with another product to just be 100% sure. When did this start or was it from the date of installation? Was the installation done professionally? Are your panels correctly matched for your MPPT and you are not just pushing the boundaries? I did problem solving for a living and too often, the problem is not what it seems. I sincerely do hope you get sorted and can join the thousands of happy Victron users. As you also are aware emergency services and many others use Victron equipment and in mission critical situations across the world where this would have been very evident. Just some more food for thought.


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travellerw avatar image
travellerw answered ·

I made an account just to respond and confirm that I am indeed having the same issues. As are MANY cruisers down here in the Caribbean. If Victron is doing RF testing, then I'm not sure what they are doing wrong.

We have 3 Victron MPPT controllers aboard (2 100/30 and one 75/15). All of them put out noise on the VHF. Generally, its not a problem for voice communication, but it massively reduced our AIS range.

We have verified this interference multiple ways.

1. We turn the solar input off on all 3 controllers and can watch our AIS pick up boats 3 times as far away.

2. At night our AIS range is 3 times as far!


3. Our Vesper AIS has a noise meter built into the software. You can literally watch the interference kick in as we turn on even one of the controllers.

We have tried all the suggestions above to no avail. I have some ferrite beads on order, but it will be a while before I get them (there is no Amazon down here in the islands). Sigh, throw in the numerous software bugs in their firmware and I'm wishing I bought a competing brand!

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I too find that my 100/30’s and 100/50 generate quite a bit of rf noise on the fm band from 88-107mhz. The severity depends on how much current the mppts are pushing. Turning off the charge enable from the victron connect app confirms the mppts to be issue.

billknny avatar image
billknny answered ·

This was an interesting thread. I had never noticed any significant change in AIS range when solar was "ON" or "OFF", but I had never looked for it either. Certainly I have never noted any interference on the voice side of our marine VHF systems which have always had excellent range on both receive and transmit.

I have a single BlueSolar MPPT 100/50. The MPPT sits right next to the AIS and the wires from the panels run in the same space as the coax that leads to the dedicated AIS antenna. No chokes or other measures to control radiation are installed.

I fired up the software to do a deep dive into the AIS reporting. I cycled the MPPT ON and OFF for 15 minute intervals, will looking at the number and maximum range of vessels being seen for both Type A and Type B.

The effect of the running MPPT on the AIS ship reports was: Zero. Zilch. Nada. Turning on the MPPT did not result in the loss of a single long range contact nor a decrease in rate of received updates. For us, in our current location and antenna height, that range is about 30 nautical miles on Type A, and about 15 on Type B.

Just another data point.

Might be interesting to see if there is any consistency of AIS transceiver brands for people with issues.

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sm6vtz avatar image
sm6vtz answered ·

Hi!

I´ve got the same RFI/EMC issue.

The 150/60 is really noisy from HF up to ~100 MHz.

No problems at 144 MHz (I´m a ham radio operator) , but it useless from HF to +50 MHz.

I´ve tried to put several ferrites at the solar inputs and outputs but there´s no difference at all.

The 150/60 is well grounded as the rest of the stuff in my radio schack.

When I shut off the unit the noise is totally gone. (no DC from the solar panels)


I do need help, this product is useless for me, the unit/s must be faulty.

There´s must be a replacement unit for this fault?


Thanks!


Regards,

Christian Åkesson

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timgoodyear avatar image
timgoodyear answered ·

I have two Victron Smart Solar 100/30 MPPT controllers. When enabled, they significantly reduce range or eliminate reception of AIS targets, especially the weaker Class B signals. The ferrites suggested don’t cover the AIS frequencies (161.975-162.025MHz) unless my very bad German is mistaken. Can anyone (hopefully from Victron with an official solution) recommend an alternative choke? A US supplier would be great.

BTW, I am posting this for three boats I know with this issue and Victron controllers.

Thanks,

Tim


Tim Goodyear

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I have confirmed that the panels and the controllers are independently grounded, Removing either or both of these grounds makes absolutely no difference to AIS performance. With *either* of the two controllers on, I saw 16 targets with a maximum range of 4.5nm. Seconds after I switched *both* of the controllers off, I am seeing sea targets from 23nm and land-based targets from 45nm.

I have confirmed grounding, tried multiple units; the units are updated with latest firmware through the App. I think that's all the suggestions above from Paul B covered. Victron, what other options do I have, before moving on to another manufacturer?

Thank you.

Tim

Tim Goodyear

Tim,


If you do find a solution (other than pitching your Victron gear), I would love if you would post it. I'm in the same boat, and have tried the same things with zero results.

I have been doing some testing and the interference is definitely on the PV wires. I have run some temporary wires to the panels through the middle of my boat and away from all other wiring. Although it didn't eliminate the interference, it dropped it by a significant amount.

At this point... I'm out of options other than trying to sell the controllers and replace them with another brand. Victron has completely ignored us.

Peter avatar image
Peter answered ·

Well my Victron is no longer causing RF noise because it failed, caught on fire then damaged by shed to the tune of $20,000 and cooked my batteries to the point they all exploded.

good one Victron, I now know what product not to buy.

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HI Peter, Sent you a mail, please get in touch.

travellerw avatar image travellerw Johannes Boonstra (Victron Energy Staff) ♦♦ ·

Seriously.. The guy saying property was destroyed gets and official response.

All of us with "just radio issues" get ignored! Is this the kind of service Victron offers?

Guy Stewart (Victron Community Manager) avatar image
Guy Stewart (Victron Community Manager) answered ·

Hi Peter,

Firsly, Sorry to hear you are having issues. PJ has given a great list of suggestions.

I need to address something you have raised generally about Victron's compliance and approvals.

Victron takes its radio frequency testing very seriously!

I have visited the testing lab in The Netherlands and they have spared no expense in building an amazing facility. Equipment is designed and refined with power engineers able to immediately see the results of various shielding and EMF emitting parts.

However of course this cannot cover all the variables of the real world installations.

There is something possibly wrong with your unit. I suggest you talk to the distributor where you bought it from and tell them about the symptoms you are seeing and the tests you have conducted that make you think that the Victron part is at fault. For example I have seen wiring of solar arrays also cause EMF issues, regardless of controller. If this is the case here, this can be corrected, but not by fixing the MPPT. So it should be tested independently of the installation.

If you would like to read more about our EMC testing facility, there was a good blog post.

This is it when I visited last year and got to see the testing and improvements with my own eyes:



img-6402.jpeg (1.3 MiB)
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Hello Guy, I can see you are wanting to defend the company but my experience and postings by others tell me they (Victron) have failed in the RFI department. My local supplier has told me they have no idea on the subject and are not willing to assist in any way so I now have a very expensive RFI generator, hence why I have come here for help.


Other than extra toroids externally my other option is to sell the Victron to some unsuspecting person very cheaply and buy another brand of charger that is more expensive but has a known good RFI reputation.

Peter

Hi Peter,

Have you tried the suggestions made to reduce noise in this thread?

sm6vtz avatar image sm6vtz Guy Stewart (Victron Community Manager) ♦♦ ·

Hi Guy!

I have done everything but there´s not difference at all.


* 100% grounded, incl. 150/60 and the frame to the solar panels. (located at a radio site, everything is grounded and using the common ground)

* New firmware

* Several ferrites

When I turn off the unit (using the USB-dongle) the noise disapears.

Please help me, the unit must be faulty.

It can´t be correct that a regulator will produce noise up to 100 MHz.


Thanks!



Unfortunately you are not alone. I have 2 of them that have this problem (Both 100/30). Strangely my 75/15 has the issue, but to a much lesser extent. I could live with the interferrence of the 75/15, but not the 100/30. When my 100/30s kick in, I can literally see my AIS range drop to less than 4 miles. I recently confirmed this on an overnight passage. Watching many ships on AIS, as soon as the sun rose, all the ships beyond about 4 miles just disappeared!

I have done all the same things as you to no avail. The ferrites barely reduced the interference. Victron seems to have no interest in helping us!