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An Approaching RF Shinola Storm?




 
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KB2WIG
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« Reply #50 on: October 09, 2018, 04:01:07 PM »



The solar sys sounds a lot like a "time share" .... sounds OK at the begining but the more one looks at it.....

KLC
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« Reply #51 on: October 09, 2018, 10:04:10 PM »

That's my take on it, even without the RF noise concerns. But I'm seeing a lot of houses with them on them around here. We're very 'green' ya know.

Seriously, we'd probably have made an offer on the house but for this issue. We may end up walking away because of it.  Sad
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73 de Kevin, WB2EMS
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« Reply #52 on: October 09, 2018, 10:52:41 PM »



well, ya can always bite the bullet and install your own system.


5,300-Watt Expandable Poly-Crystalline PV Grid-Tied Solar Power Kit

The Grape Solar 5,300-Watt Polycrystalline Grid-Tied Solar Power Kit can generate between 3,800 kWh and 8,900 kWh of electricity per year. Unlike other power generators, there are no mechanical moving components; therefore, maintenance is virtually non-existent. The kit consists of high efficiency Grape Solar 265-Watt Polycrystalline panels and Enphase IQ6 micro inverters (including accessories).

$10184. 99 at the friendly homely despot.........


klc

batteries not included.


klc
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« Reply #53 on: October 10, 2018, 01:04:09 AM »

Sorry I didn't get to your pm earlier....  But I figure I'll address it here for those whom may be in n a similar situation in the future.

Enphase.  I love them.  Great product.  As to rfi, I was able to sit in my mobile unit and work 40 to 10 meters at lunch.

This was installed correctly, in a sunny day.  This in no way means your system will be installed correctly, however.


Big problems to look for:

Grounding / bonding.  The pipe needs to have the ground wire, via a 'bonding bushing' connected at BOTH ENDS!  Even the 'loose end' on the roof.  If not, you've created a huge choke that will have a quarter wave of impedance at whatever the length of the pipe.....  Give or take.  This is in the case of an insulated ground wire, pulled through the conduit.  If they use an uninsulated, then by code you cannot pull that wire in conduit with any other wires.  And if they did, it can create millions of areas to arc or short to the pipe, causing scratchiness in your receiver.

Loop ferrite in and out of the micro inverters.  The Enphase system uses a 'string system' at 240 volts.  Each panel is optimized and converted to line level voltage at the panel.  This, and optimizers, are the most efficient systems.  The ferrite used will determine the freq you want to use.  I wouldn't use type 43, if all you are interested in is 600 meters.  Jim Brown's rfi tutorial will be emminsely valuable in choosing the correct ferrite, but think type 43 and 61.  Use as many turns through the core as possible.

Make sure EVERY rail in the roof is bonded.  Make sure every panel is using 'bonding clamps', which have 3 to 5 teeth that bite into each panel when torqued down.  They can be reused once, so keep that in mind if panels have to be removed. After the first reuse, the nubs start to wear down and don't bite into the aluminum frames all that well.

There are so many variables that it's impossible to cover every scenario.  But, Enphase is a good system.

As to how they make their money?  Lots of different ways.  I know of one solar company that sells the lease to you, then turns around and sells the owned by them system to investors.  In that case, it's almost impossible to buy the system.

As to purchasing it in 20 years, that's a fools dream.  The power production of the panels will be down far enough coupled with continually rising energy rates that the current system won't be able to cover a third to half your bill in fifteen years, much less 20.

Typically your 'lease timeframe' matches whatever production guarantee time they get from the solar panel mfg.

And none of them have been in business for 20 years, none of the panel te h has been around 20 years, so it's all a guess at this point.







My advice?  Get an air band receiver and on a VERY sunny day, drive towards the house.  Turn the air band in about a mile away.  If you notice the ambient noise getting louder (or increasing the s meter),I'd say you are going to have some work to do.

In rfi work, yiu almost ALWAYS want to start at the highest discernable frequency.  Allows zeroing in n a lot easier!


--Shane
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« Reply #54 on: October 11, 2018, 01:09:20 PM »

Hi Shane, thanks for the detailed reply, and for sharing it with others who may come across the need in the future.

I don't know how much access I'll have to the roof and wiring details, I'll bring a pair of binoculars. It's possible the owner, who is a tech guy, might have paid attention to how things were installed. Ferrites if they are there I can probably see with the binoculars, but not tell the type obviously. I'm primarily interested in 160-17 meters. If I end up climbing the roof in the future to surreptitiously add ferrites I'll keep that in mind.

I set the TM700 on airband and picked a quiet frequency and did a drive by yesterday. The house is remote from the road, but you said from a mile out one might hear things. At 1000' I didn't notice any change in the background noise on 122.95. I had the HF rig on 40 meters, and at one point going near a power line I heard what sounded like some buzzing or frying noise, but I don't know if that was injected by the solar system into the line, or coming from one of the other houses or what. My old neighbor had a kiln with a temp control that must have been a grown up version of a fish tank heater with it's buzzing and arcing. That would inject noise into the lines that I could hear for blocks, and it peaked up at her house. Fortunately she mostly did that in the day time while I was at work, but some weekends were pretty noisy for radio.

I may bring along an HT that is multi mode, or an FT817. That on AM plus a satellite yagi might let me zero in on noisy bits.

Saturday's weather isn't looking to be too sunny, but I presume they will be active and making some power even in overcast conditions, right? We have limited ability to schedule a visit and no ability to schedule the weather, so we have to take what we can get.

As far as how they make their money - I know a lot of it is in harvesting the subsidy at install. And obviously a lot is in the lease payments over time. As you say, probably none of them have done any buyouts at the end because it's a new industry. I'm thinking that between the subsidy and the lease payments, that's the bulk of the money they are making. So maybe they would be open to some sort of early termination arrangement if they got their money, and enough to make it worth while. Else if we go forward, they can look forward me bugging them to make the system quiet. I don't know how much of a stick the FCC can be used as in that process. Based on how they treat other part 15 problems, probably not much.

Yesterday was a sunny day, and as I said, I didn't see too much issue on HF, maybe some buzzy near the power line, 1000 feet away. I suppose I could set up a receiving array a fair distance from the house, maybe with a loop antenna to null out noise, if the worst case situation came up. (Hmmm, build an upconverter from 0-30 mhz, to 420-450 mhz, beam it to the house, and downconvert and feed into the RX only input on the Anan200. Hmmmm.) 

I do wonder how far away I would have to put a receive antenna. If it's only a couple of hundred feet, that might be doable on a coax run. I do have a Pixel loop at the current qth about 100' of RG6 away from the house for a low noise antenna for dealing with the neighbors kiln and other noises. Plus this property would have some room for beverages in several directions...

Hopefully some of this will become clearer on Saturday. Or maybe there will be another show stopper and it will be a moot point.

Thanks again for the helpful info.


 


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73 de Kevin, WB2EMS
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« Reply #55 on: October 15, 2018, 04:04:21 PM »

Update - went to the house Saturday to do some RFI studies and a more detailed walk through. Still love the house, and enjoyed the land tour,  but...

The day was overcast and rainy. Despite that, as we pulled up, we could hear a noticeable increase in noise on an Airband clear frequency on the D700. It sounded like a 60hz rasp coming up out of the rush of background noise.

RSP1 running SDRuno or SDR-radio showed a not too bad noise floor on a 48 inch vertical whip on the car, but every once in a while there was a burst of noise peaks like a picket fence across the whole band on various bands. I think it was the microinverter(s) trying to start in the dim light conditions - firing up and then quenching when they couldn't sustain the load. The peaks were a Khz or two apart and as I recall not that narrow a spike. Looked like it would pretty effectively remove any radio reception. When they weren't present, I could hear various nets on 75 meters without much trouble. I couldn't tell much about the bonding of the panels, and couldn't see where the microinverters or wiring were to look for toroids or anything. But the conduit coming off the panels down into the house was all plastic.  Angry  No bonding or RFI suppression there. Kind of made me think it was a cheap and dirty install with no concern for RFI. 

Seller wasn't too forthcoming on the system. Basically the whole shebang saves him about $40/YR on electricity.   Shocked   Wow, to encumber the house with all that and the lease for that little amount of money? They did it to 'do their part' being green. When I inquired about the noise issue his answer was "well I can't do anything about that".   Sad

Going to try to reach out to the lease company and installers to see what I can learn about options there. But this may have just blown his sale to us. Too bad because otherwise we'd be making an offer. Maybe we'll make one contingent on the solar being GONE and make it his problem.



 
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73 de Kevin, WB2EMS
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« Reply #56 on: October 15, 2018, 05:49:56 PM »



Well, $40 worth 'O juice. For that amount of green, they should have kept the lights off.

"              Maybe we'll make one contingent on the solar being GONE and make it his problem.        "

It's worth a try.  Good Luck........... Ya know, you could move up here.... ..

klc
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« Reply #57 on: October 15, 2018, 10:15:33 PM »

bad biz to pay for a lease receiving no tangible good while others make the money off your payments for doing nothing. parasitic setup looks like. I'd run the other way!
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« Reply #58 on: October 15, 2018, 10:50:01 PM »

run Forrest....RUN!!
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« Reply #59 on: October 16, 2018, 07:25:52 AM »



I dont think Kevin has no stinkin forest.


KLC
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« Reply #60 on: October 16, 2018, 09:14:18 AM »

Here in NJ, most of these "deals" have the home owner sign away any rebates and energy credits to the leasing company. The saving to the home owner is a fraction of what you could save if you own the system.
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« Reply #61 on: October 16, 2018, 10:28:59 AM »

Yeah, I'm trying to understand what the lease company gets and when. I know they get the 30% subsidy, which makes it worth their while to over price the system. Then they get lease payments for 20 years. And at the end they want to sell you the degraded system at the new inflated price, or you can pay them a kilobuck to come remove it. It is a pretty bad lease, the only benefit they really got out of it was 'greenie points' with their friends.

One of the lease transfer options is for the seller to prepay the lease to it's end - and no doubt pass the cost to the buyer. Then all the lease company has to look forward to is 16 years of managing and fixing the system for a $1k  payoff at the end. Seems that there might be room there to pay them to walk away so we could take over the hardware and make it RF quiet.

Don't know if we can make all that work or not. I'm going to explore it a bit more before we give up. The property has enough other advantages to be worth a little more digging on my part.

And Kevin, we have 8 acres of Forest at the current QTH. But the new one would have room and trees to hang Rhombics.  Grin
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73 de Kevin, WB2EMS
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« Reply #62 on: October 16, 2018, 10:51:23 AM »

I've got a good friend (W2CET) who bought his system outright. I think the payback was ~ 7 years, but I've seen his monthly bills, which during the summer are often $20-$30. He's also accruing energy credits which he can hold on to or cash them out. He's the one who told me to stay away from the lease deals. If you install a system it's also advised you have a new roof, otherwise replacing the roof down the line will be a very expensive job.
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« Reply #63 on: October 17, 2018, 02:50:55 PM »

Spent a fruitless lunch hour trying to talk to one of the solar companies about the lease. First the shell game of changing company names about 3 deep, then the shuffle off to you can only talk to the lease company about stuff, then their layers of name changing to finally fetch up against "We can't talk to you without the homeowner approving it"  Can't talk structure of the leases, can't talk part 15 details, can't talk about any of the general things I want to know, until the homeowner says it's ok. Riiiight. Based on their customer service attitude alone I don't want anything to do with these people.

Friday is supposed to be sunny so I'll try to get a better idea on the magnitude of the noise problem.

The Rhombic prospects are beginning to dim.   Sad

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73 de Kevin, WB2EMS
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