Sounds like a great idea. Solar power on the house and a wind turbine down the garden, generating power for the house. Having a set up to supplement your energy needs under a grid tie system selling back the excess, makes sense. Even better, off grid, self sufficiency and no more electric bills. These scenarios, many households have opted for with great reasons whether its economic, environmental or simply satisfaction from independence.
However, a serious factor that needs consideration with home generation are the EMFs that are inherent with the systems. These aren’t trivial, in fact they can increase your EMF footprint quite considerably and those of your neighbours.
Just to be clear, we are talking about photovoltaic solar panels, not the glass tube solar collectors for water heating which use completely different technology.
So, what’s the concern here, why amongst the hype of home energy generation, climate change and the green economy are solar PV panels featured in an EMF blog?
There are a number of reasons, which all point towards to increasing the EMF footprint in the home.
Lets take the inverter. These little innocuous looking boxes take a DC current and invert it through switching mechanisms and transformers into a more appliance friendly alternating current. Taking a stable electron flow from the direct current of solar panels or batteries and making them effectively run on the spot is not a perfect man made process. The byproduct of this is the addition of other transient frequencies that come out the other end and piggy back on the electric circuit around the home. This is sometimes referred to as Total Harmonic Distortion or THD. In the EMF world we tend to just call it Dirty Electricity (DE). In the audio world, they prefer line noise. Electronic aficionados use the term electromagnetic interference or EMI. Recognise here the two options are installing micro inverters which are part of each PV panel or a single large inverter.
What this means is that you have just added another bunch of pulsing, square waves frequencies into your living spaces which buzz away with all the other distortions from appliances, switch mode power supplies and what also comes from the outside environment. Dirty electricity is very well studied and linked with high blood glucose, attention deficit disorders, ME and diabetes to name just a few. You can measure this as a simple bell curve. As the sun rises so does the DE, around solar noon the DE will be at its highest, and then drop away as the sun tracks across the sky before setting.
In a grid tie system a solar powered house will add to the downstream dirty electricity for neighbouring houses. Three doors down the line the DE in the house will virtually mirror the DE in the solar home. Not only does this pollute your own environment but you contribute electro pollution to those around you. Your solution here is to install a DE filter for the whole house so remember to add that into your cost estimate.
I have personally been in indoors in high solar DE environments and felt absolutely frazzled during the day. High DE and high electric fields tend to make me feel fried. High magnetic fields feel more like pressure and high frequencies give me head and neck aches and brain fog. Though through my own EHS reducing protocol I’ve developed, these are manageable and I can quickly return back to normal. The big disadvantage of being an EMF surveyor with mild EHS.
So, back to inverters, with the drive for interconnectedness of all things, this now means these inverters also have WiFi monitoring functionality. In many cases this can be turned off if you don't have WiFi. But you need to be tech savvy and be able to get under the hood of the settings to manipulate the virtual switches.
The last thing with inverters is the magnetic fields. They produce big ones, big AC bubbles of magnetic flux. Position and location of these things is important if you are thinking about converting to solar. Having this thing near your bedroom or other places where you spend time will just add to your other household exposures.
And that brings us onto cabling. The connection of the panels to inverters, batteries or other monitoring equipment will have magnetic fields. Solar panels on the roof over your living room ceiling will likely add to the strong magnetic fields from the cabling during the day. If cables are routed through the walls were you sit for example, you may be exposing yourself to undesirable levels of magnetic fields. Depending on the time of day and your electricity use, these fields may well be present all the time.
It is a wise move to consider EMF from these systems before being installed. Work out where the panels will be, the location of the inverter and other boxes and especially the cabling. Consider wireless options, and understand if the function to turn off WiFi is available. If you need to install this stuff in the high use areas of your house ensure there is an adequate distance between you and the equipment, For DE we need to filter out the transient frequencies and that is best achieved with a whole house filter. There are many advantages with this type of filter one of which is future proofing for the constant change in your environment. If in doubt, get an EMF survey of the installation or consult with me before you take the plunge because once its installed its harder to remove, relocate or shield from. Same rules apply to a wind turbine system too.
It is wise to understand what we can control in our own environments and to exercise that control.