Do solar panels emit harmful EMFs?

Hi folks, I'm a newbie, and about to install a bunch of solar panels on my home's roof. I've been hearing some news lately that some people are saying that solar panels may emit harmful EMF (electro-magnetic fields) and should not be installed wherer people live.

Can anyone provide a response to this worrying assertion?

My first thought was, yes, perhaps they do emit EMFs, but nothing more than a TV, or a cell phone. But I have no technical understanding of this at all...

Any ideas or advice would be helpful ...

cheers, Mark


  • BB.BB. Just some guy Posts: 24,213Super Moderators admin
    Re: Do solar panels emit harmful EMFs?

    In general, Solar panels are DC devices, so you do not have the alternating magnetic fields of AC (alternating current) power (your home wiring and appliances).

    There may be some ripple (variable DC current)--but if this is a Grid Tied system, those levels will still be pretty low when compared to you running a toaster or electric mixer.

    If this was an off-grid system, you would have some DC switching currents (caused by the solar charge controllers) that could be higher levels--but they should be no worst than normal AC home wiring.

    The only time I have ever seen any "obvious" issues with large AC magnetic fields was when the company installed a new office that backup to the AC Mains Transformer closet that supply power to the office complex.

    A couple of software engineers had Monitors (the "old" picture tube type) that "swam" because of the magnetic fields from the power transformer.

    On the whole, the electrical field issues with DC solar panels should be much less than the typical AC fields in your home, and less than the earths magnetic field (when you are more than a couple inches or feet from the wiring/panels).

    There are people that appear to be susceptible to EM fields--but many of those folks seem to even have issues with normal house wiring too...

    Cell phones, microwave ovens, and even computers emit electrical fields... Typically, for low frequency fields (less than 180 MHz) they come the cabling. Above 180 MHz, the fields come from gaps in sheet metal cases and such.

    The high frequency fields (microwave type) are the ones that heat food (causing polar molecules like water H2O to flip back and forth) and damage eyes (i.e., radar operators exposed to early microwave radar systems during WWII) have levels are many 100's to 1,000's (or even millions) of times higher than is typically allowed in commercial equipment.

    The fundimental frequencies from the DC side solar power systems is probably down in the 100's of Hz--Quite a huge difference.

    Typical Grid Tied inverters these days should be rated to meet EMI requirements to prevent interference with radios/tv's/aircraft navigation equipment/etc.

    To give you a very rough idea of how low the radio frequency transmission (30MHz and above) levels from computers (electronics) are--I would setup an antenna ~10 feet away from our computer under test. This was in San Jose CA (major city)--If I could see any emissions from our computer that was above all of the 1,000's of radio transmissions in the air around us--Then I would assume that those frequencies I saw were probably going to cause us problems in open field testing later (50 miles away, in a deep sheltered valley with the antenna 10 meters away).

    I would not worry specifically about the emissions from solar panels and power systems over that of normal AC house wiring or your cell phone (which are hugely higher power levels--from an engineering point of view).

    If you start reading around post #7 in this thread--this person has tremendous issues being around any "modern" devices because of his health issues... If you where in his shoes--then I would be worried about more than just the solar panels.

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Do solar panels emit harmful EMFs?

    BB, your reply is most re-assuring.

    I don't know if I'm mixing issues, but I used the term EMF - are these the same as EMR (electro-magnetic radiation), or are they are a different thing to worry about?

    Again, I suspect there are no issues with EMRs emitted from solar panels, but will ask anyway...

    cheers, Mark
  • BB.BB. Just some guy Posts: 24,213Super Moderators admin
    Re: Do solar panels emit harmful EMFs?

    EMF (electro magnetic field), emi (electro magnetic emissions) are all similar words describing aspects of electromagnetic waves...

    And, while I, personally, am not too worried about normal fields around the home--it is not to say that I am somebody in authority to say that there is no concern/danger from such exposure...

    For example, if I had a choice, I would not place my bed right next to electrical wiring in the wall (especially heavy current like to an electric heater or air conditioning power supply). And, I am not terribly thrilled to use an electric blank / heating pad unless I am ill.

    There is lots of information out there and people on both sides of the safety issue. Here are a few links:
    The potential health effects of the very low frequency EMFs surrounding power lines and electrical devices are the subject of on-going research and a significant amount of public debate. In workplace environments, where EMF exposures can be up to 10,000 times greater than the average, the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has issued some cautionary advisories but stresses that the data is currently too limited to draw good conclusions.[4]
    The potential effects of electromagnetic fields on human health vary widely depending on the frequency and intensity of the fields. For more information on the health effects due to specific parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, see the following articles:
    Each frequency range of EM fields has its own issues/dangers.

    But, from an "engineering point of view"--There is nothing of special concern from EM emissions from a solar system that is any different than normal house wiring and home electronics.

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nielniel Solar Shotgun Posts: 10,309Solar Expert ✭✭
    Re: Do solar panels emit harmful EMFs?

    in a nutshell, don't worry about it as it won't harm you. there's nothing harmful being emitted from pvs.
  • dwhdwh Solar Stumblebum Posts: 1,332Solar Expert
    Re: Do solar panels emit harmful EMFs?

    Voodoo science and urban legend. The EMR/EMF hokum was mythbusted/debunked long ago.
  • bryanlbryanl New User Posts: 175Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Do solar panels emit harmful EMFs?
    Voodoo science and urban legend.
    the thing is that electrical and magnetic fields and radiation from man made things represent technology and are not 'natural' and therefore must be bad someway or somehow.

    When it comes to solar and related 'alternative' energy production, this ideology produces dissonance and that results in all sorts of 'interesting' adaptive behavior. One the one side is the FUD such as in the OP and on the other is the obsessive efforts to reduce energy consumption.

    There has been a considerable amount of research done to detect hazards or harm from non-ionizing radiation and electrical and magnetic fields. More research is planned because there has been nothing found that definitely shows any harm (usual caveats for nominal circumstances). Some folks will not accept the evidence and insist there must be something there, so they will keep looking no matter how much money or how much effort must be expended. (another indication of the emotional dissonance)

    It's be OK with me if they kept their fears to themselves, but they don't. A lot tax monies end up going to help them handle their dissonance in areas such as research, subsidies, and regulation. That hurts.
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