TS4 and RF interferences

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    Harry Cline

    A useful discussion of this topic is https://palomar-engineers.com/rfi-kits/solar-system-rfi

    The optimizers and inverters may produce RFI conducted and radiated by the PV system wiring, and installing these wires, particularly the home-run wiring, inside steel conduit has been seen to reduce the amount of RFI radiated.

    Any 2.4 GHz ISM Radio Band signals will not interfere with HAM radio bands as they are at a very much higher frequency and at only a few hundred milli-watts ERP.
    Harry (K4YR)

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    Curtis

    Hello Pietro, 

    Thank you for your question and contribution to the Tigo Community!

    The Tigo TS4 systems use PAN (personal area network) communications that broadcasts a 2.4 GHz signal within a range of 10 m (33 ft). 

    Since Ham Radio usually broadcasts at 420 – 450MHz, you should not incur significant interference. However, please be aware that some Transducer or Broadcast devices (antennas, dishes, etc) still have the ability to cause other signal disruptions, due to general EMI (electro-magnetic interference) issues.

    The best rule of thumb is to move the broadcast device as far away from the the array, as possible. 

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    Greg Smith

    Great question, Pietro! This is a very common concern for HAM radio enthusiasts or people who use remote-controlled devices or home automation systems. 

    Curtis covered the main points and recommended actions to lessen the possibility of interference. Along with distancing the radio transmitter from the array (TS4s), it is also a good idea to keep a good distance from the PV inverter or battery system, if installed.

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    Barry Leitch

    Hello Pietro, 

    Speaking as a Ham with the Tigo system, I must add a note of caution.  My system is from 2013 so some of the components may differ. I have a 10.5 KWh system with 42 Solar World 250 panels ground mounted about 100 yards away from the house.  The original Tigo maximizers I have are MM-ES50 and 4 are TS4-O that replaced the failed ES-50's under warranty. 

    When the sun is strong and the array is producing, I lose 1/3rd to 1/2 of each and every HF band from at least 80 meters through 2 meters, with noise levels ranging from S5 to S9.  When I hit the emergency shutdown on the Tigo controller, the noise is gone instantly.  When the system is re-energized, the noise creeps back up over the next couple of minutes. It doesn't seem to be coming from the inverters located directly behind the array.  Remember, all that cable connecting the panels makes a very large antenna.   If your array is not shaded much of the day, I would suggest avoiding any of the optimizing systems from a Ham perspective.  I have tree lines on both sides (East and West) of my property and would lose a couple of hours of production each day.

    About the network communications for this system using PAN, I can't really comment.  Mine is hard-wired all the way back to the house, and internet access is also hard-wired to my router.  My Maximizer controller in my basement is model MMU-ESW does cause a noise on a portion of 40 meters between 7.240 and 7.257, but nowhere else that I have found.

    Feel free to reach out to me, you know where to find the info.

    Barry KD3X

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    Curtis

    Hello Barry Leitch

    Thank you for your contribution!

    The older ES50 series MLPEs operate within the same frequency as the modern TS4 systems, so there should not be any additional concerns, regarding radio interference. Although a PAN signal is guaranteed for up to 50 ft in every direction, it can travel a bit further (if unobstructed). 

    The Operational Noise you mentioned is coming from the entire matrix of devices that are part of the Tigo, plus any other nearby broadcasting device. Each of the Tigo MLPEs and Gateways have a repeating channel and slot pattern. Together, these can cause quite a bit of chatter. When you shut down the data logger, the signal of the units and gateways cease, which is why the noise dissipates.

    All of these bands are in much higher frequencies than HAMM radio, so they shouldn't interfere with the overall signal. But as Greg Smith said in his reply, "it is also a good idea to keep a good distance from the PV inverter or Battery system" as they may also offer additional 2.4Ghz communications and/or functionality. 

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    Harry Cline

    Know that the primary RFI noise generator (transmitter) is the switched mode power supply circuitry (SMPS) used by the inverter and the optimizers.  This is due to the 'square' waves generated by the fast switching on/off of the PV module supply current.  Square waves are composed of the fundamental switching frequency of typically .1 to 3 MHz, and all of the infinite (theoretically) harmonics of the fundamental switching frequency which comprise a square wave.

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    ToothyChris

    I agree with Harry, that the biggest RFI risks are the DC-DC converters in the optimisers (since they are often on the roof, with long wire 'antennas') and to a lesser extent the inverters.  I was also worried about this, before I had optimisers fitted to all of my solar panels.  We did suffer from some RFI on the UK consumer FM (87.5MHz - 108MHz) band, but it only lasted a few days, so I'm not certain that it was related.  I do have an old hp spectrum analyser, but I have not yet had the chance to close the system down fully, to see what it does to the RF spectrum/noise floor.  And I'm not even sure if the optimisers would shut down, under those circumstances - so I may need to try it during the darkness hours.

    I did observe some odd-looking oscillations in the FM band, which could have been some kind of beating effect - possibly interactions between the multiple DC-DC converters, all operating at about the same (but not identical) frequencies.

    My guess is that there will be some RFI radiated, floating around in the HF bands, and possibly some in the VHF bands as well.  But with RFI coming from so many different electrical items these days, it is often difficult to isolate the sources with certainty, when you can't turn off your neighbours equipment, to prove/disprove a link.

    If you are operating after dark, on HF, you may be lucky!

     

    Chris

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    JP Ouellette

    Hello, another Ham Operator here with a Tigo system.

    I'm finding a lot of intermod interference on a lot of the ham bands including 2m, 6m, 10m, 12m, 15m, and gets less on 20m and lower frequencies.  Intermod happens every 50Hz.  As soon as the array output is gone, the intermod is gone.  

    I have 32 TS4-A-O for optimization because of some shading.  I don't have the monitoring system yet as my installer has told me the parts (CTs) are backordered.

    JP - VE9ADV

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    Harry Cline

    This high rate of occurrence is not normal IMHO.

    If a CCA with TAP is not installed, the MLPE is constantly 'hunting' for a gateway (transmitting on the different channels and waiting for a response). After Discovery (which assigns channels to be used) it is possible the RFI will be reduced by a significant amount, at least in the 2.4GHz ISM band, but possibly in the HF frequencies.

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    Curtis

    Hello,

    I'm pleasantly surprised at how many Ham Radio Operators are part of the Tigo family! It's topics like these, that make our community a fun place for all. 

    Barry Leitch was correct in his reply stating: "Remember, all that cable connecting the panels makes a very large antenna."

    The radio broadcast of Tigo MLPEs is in the 2.4 Ghz range and the distance is only 10 m (33 ft). When Barry puts his system into PV-Off mode, the interference stops, and when he reactivates it (disarms the PV-Off), the system it slowly creeps back. This is very important information, because all Tigo Systems continue to communicate (when in PV-Off mode), even though the MLPEs are no longer passing voltage to the string. 

    'But, if the Tigo MLPEs are still communicating, where did all of that interference go?'

    It appears that this may be a by-product of solar production (itself). Here is a video I have found, where a Ham Radio Operator has tested for interference on a basic solar system (on top of a mobile RV), out in an open field:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFmmwQTVG54

    He is able to verify the differences in interference, before and after his charge controller has been activated. 

    So, it is plausible that this EMF, is caused by the general resonance from the physics of DC Solar production. It would be interesting to see if anyone with a Ham Radio has tested for interference with (and without) Tigo MLPEs on their modules, to see if Tigo added to the frequency issues... 

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    JP Ouellette

    Tigo optimizers are used in systems that provide DC power to an inverter. DC power will not cause any RF. RF is created using AC signals at a given frequency. The only device would be the inverter. In my case, i have a Fronius Primo unit which is transformerless. It is possible it is the inverter, but none of googling so far points that Fronius has caused interference in the ham bands.  This is what lead me to the Tigo system and its design which is what i’m trying to understand how it works so I can attempt to attenuate the intermod. If the base frequency is in a certain band, it will help me decide in which ferrite mix to use to attenuate the problem.

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