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Do solar panels make noise?

Francisco CastroMay 13, 20191060

“PNeal” has a problem with his solar power installation.

“I had my solar system installed about 2 months ago and almost immediately started hearings noises from the roof. Asphalt tile roof, plywood underneath, wood trusses. The noises sound like something is adjusting to heat variations, contractions/expansions. I am in south Florida, so the roof can get quite hot during the day. Noises do not appear to be related to wind. These noises sound like popping or creaking. They sound like wood on wood,” he wrote on an online forum dedicated to the solar industry.

”I brought this up with the installation company and they said that they have never heard of such a thing. They did make an effort to check the install to make sure the brackets were attached to the trusses and not just the plywood. They also spend a good amount of time talking the problem over with me. However, the noises have never ceased, and they can be quite loud. The company has since stopped making an effort for me,” he added.

”Has anyone experienced this? If so, is there anything to be done?,” he asked.

Peace and quiet

First off, solar panels are not supposed to make any noise as they absorb sunshine and convert it to power. Apart from fighting air pollution with their clean energy, they’re also fighting noise pollution with their quietness.

Once placed on mounting racking, the panels don’t move and don’t contain any moving parts unless you order a PV array with a tracker that follows the sun throughout the daytime. Even then, however, the noise is barely noticeable.

But depending on how they were installed, airways can be created underneath the solar panels, or between the solar panels and the shape of your roof. This may cause wind noise. 
Just so you know, the solar panels are not directly attached to the roof itself, but to racking that is attached to the roof. This allows for air to flow under the modules and keep them cool.

Also, because the wind can pull and grab at solar panels, you may hear the creaking of your roof from time to time, as the mounting equipment to hold the modules penetrates your actual roof. But this should be infrequent (if ever) and should not make a lot of noise.

On some occasions, they are sometimes reported to “hum” during the day when the energy is converted, but this noise is nearly impossible to hear at a distance of fifty feet away. And the humming noise disappears completely at night when panels don’t produce electricity, so there is never a disturbance in the evening or while neighbors are sleeping.

Could it be the inverter?

The only noise that solar power systems often emit comes from the inverter.

In a string inverter, all the panels are connected to a central unit that converts the Direct Current (DC) electricity into Alternating Current (AC) - which is what appliances use. The machines can produce a soft hum depending on the quality of the inverter. But it’s a soft noise that you won’t be able to discern unless you’re near them.
A typical residential string inverter puts out a maximum of 45 decibels (dB) of noise. Compared that to the 60 db of a normal conversation; soft whisper is 30dB. Your inverter should have a label detailing amount of noise (if any), the equipment will produce.

To minimize noise from an inverter, their best location is an enclosed garage. 

If what you're using is a microinverter that is attached to each individual solar panel, you should not hear any noise.

If your residential solar panel installation starts to make noise, the best course of action is to contact the installer who did the original work, so he can check for any loose mounting racking or connections that could be developing the noise.

Another issue behind the noise could be the actual roofing of the house. While the racking might be solid to the roofing, the roofing could be shaky. 

Something else to pay attention to is whether there’s any diminishing output or change in electricity production when the noise is perceptible, as this could give an indication of what could be causing the noise.

Maybe the solar array is not sized correctly to the needs of the household and the panels are pushing themselves to the max.

To find out the correct size of a solar power system for your home and what it will cost, you can input your home address and monthly electricity bill in the Hahasmart price checker. In just a few seconds, you’ll get a detailed quote that shows how much you can expect to save on your energy bill throughout the life of the solar power system. The price checker will even help you contact a reliable solar installer in your area. 

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