Many people complain about cell phone and WiFi signal disturbances shortly after installing a solar system. Solar panels capture and convert energy from the sun to power the appliances in your house, but they don’t produce electromagnetic radiation to do so.
In short, the answer is no. Solar panels generally don’t interfere with cell phone or WiFi reception, but there are some instances where this may not be true.
Read on to find out how cell phone and WiFi signals are disturbed, what role solar panel systems can play in this, and how to avoid it best.
Cell Phone and WiFi Disturbances: What and How?
Electromagnetic waves are the main culprit of cell phone and WiFi interference. These waves form when signals from an electric field cross paths with those in a magnetic field.
Cell phone and WiFi signals can jam when a device produces electromagnetic waves. The “noise” created by these waves destructively interferes with cell phone and WiFi waves trying to communicate with their signal towers. When equipment emits electromagnetic waves, they can affect any devices in their radius.
How Do Solar Panel Systems Work?
A typical solar system consists of panels, an inverter, batteries, and wires. This is how they all work together:
- The solar panels collect energy from sun rays in their cells.
- They convert this energy to Direct Current (DC) and pass it on to the inverter.
- The electric current is used as-is for devices with a corresponding DC.
- Most household devices use Alternating Current (AC), which means the DC is passed through the inverter and converted to AC.
- The AC is then used to power your household devices.
Note: Electromagnetic waves run through the wires that transport AC.
Solar System Interferences
It’s rare, but sometimes something in a solar system can slightly influence the strength of your cell phone or WiFi signals. If your solar system is in the wrong, you can make a few tweaks to fix it.
Solar Panel Interference with Cell Phone Reception
Cell phones use a low-frequency signal to communicate with cell towers, and some solar panels and system designs interfere with this process.
Solar panels are typically installed on your roof, and depending on their location, they may cause a physical or electromagnetic interference with cell phone signals. Interferences aren’t frequent, but if you notice sudden issues with your cell phone signal after installing solar panels, these might be the reasons:
When solar panels are positioned between you and the cell tower your cell phone communicates with, it may cause an unstable signal. Luckily, the solution to this is pretty simple: move away!
Unlike the panels, solar equipment is usually installed inside your house, and they can generate electromagnetic interference, but this too is rare. When your solar system’s inverter and AC wires generate electromagnetic interference, it can bounce your cell phone’s attempts to connect with the cell tower away from it. This disruption will cause a weaker signal.
Solar Panel Interference with WiFi
It’s possible for solar panels to interfere with your WiFi if they obstruct the antenna signal. Before installation, you should show the technicians where all your device antennas are so they can work around it.
If your panels aren’t blocking the antenna signals and you still experience issues, your solar system inverter is likely the culprit. Similar to what happens with cell phones, the inverter can disrupt communication between your WiFi router and the tower feeding it a signal.
Solar Panel Interference with TV Reception
Televisions use radio frequency waves, and solar panels don’t emit any kind of these. They cannot affect TV transmission, but the electromagnetic interference from the inverters used with them, might.
If you have a loft aerial, you may also experience interference. To avoid this, consider moving your aerial to the roof (you’ll get a better signal from here) and asking your solar panel installer to position the panels away from it.
Avoiding Solar System Interferences
There are two things you can do to ensure that your solar system won’t interfere with your WiFi, cell phone, or TV signals.
Use Reliable Equipment
Using reliable equipment is crucial in preventing solar interference. Equipment with a poor design will sometimes cause interferences that can affect a large area.
Get Qualified Technicians
A reputable solar installer will shield your solar system’s inverter and AC wires to prevent interferences from happening. They’ll also position your panels in a way that doesn’t cause physical obstructions to any antennas.
Note: After installation, a qualified installer will conduct tests on your solar system to ensure it doesn’t produce electromagnetic interferences.
Things That Can Cause Cell Phone and WiFi Interferences
You’ll be surprised to know that other devices could interfere with your cell phone and WiFi signals. If your solar panels are positioned away from relevant antennas, and your inverter wires are shielded, these household appliances, devices, and obstacles may be causing your problem!
Luckily, most physical interferences can be repositioned or worked around. Here they are:
- Floor Heating
- Metal Structures
Wireless signals can have trouble getting through thick walls, metal, heat, and water. Move your router and cellular device away from these if possible.
Electromagnetic Wave Interferences
If you’re still using some appliances and devices that use lower bandwidths, these may cause interference with your newer ones.
- Baby Monitor
- Microwave Oven
- Other Routers
- Your Neighbour’s Network
You can’t necessarily dump these devices, but you can upgrade them to improve the overall signal communication in your house.
Unless your solar panels physically obstruct your WiFi antenna or cell phone, they can’t cause signal interferences. The solar system, however, can.
You need to ensure that your solar panel and system installers know what they’re doing and run all the necessary tests to ensure that no signal interference occurs before they leave your house.