Solar systems may make noise for various reasons, including the type of inverter used, loose panels or cabling, poor quality installation, or the presence of birds or other animals.
Inverters, particularly modified sine wave inverters, can make a humming or buzzing sound. In addition, loose panels or cabling can cause noise if they move in high winds or are improperly secured.
Poor installation, such as using low-quality racking or insufficient brackets, can also lead to noise. Finally, birds or other animals on the roof may cause noise if they move around or build nests on the panels.
Noise issues can often be resolved by addressing the underlying cause, such as installing a better-quality inverter or securing loose panels.
My solar system makes noises – is that normal?
Solar systems are becoming much more common globally, and this is especially true for Australia. But, like all innovative technologies, people will make assumptions and ask questions about how these new systems work. Regarding solar systems, some frequent questions are how they will impact a home and its neighbourhood. One common question that incorporates this concept is whether solar systems make noise.
So is it a yes or a no?
The answer to this question varies depending on several factors. Still, the clear-cut and straightforward answer is YES if you have a string inverter and NO if you use microinverters or optimised systems.
A string inverter makes noise (particularly modified sine wave inverters), while solar panels don’t. The reason for this is unlike the inverter, solar panels have no moving parts. So unless there are problems with the structural integrity of the panels, there is no way for them to make any noise.
What can cause a solar system to make noise?
A familiar noise that many solar homeowners report is a humming sound. Inverters sometimes make a quiet humming sound throughout the day. However, in many cases, this won’t be heard because it does not exceed the average noise levels of a home and its surrounding environment.
Nevertheless, if this humming is louder and seems to turn into a buzzing sound, that may be a sign that the inverter needs to be inspected. Some inverter models also contain fans.
If the inverter has been placed in a location with direct sunlight or a large amount of energy is converted in the middle of the day. The fans may be running strongly to prevent the inverter from overheating.
As your solar system is not producing electricity at night, the inverter will not make any noise. Therefore, even if the unit is installed near a bedroom window, there should be no issue if the bedroom is not extensively used during daylight hours.
We recommend not installing the inverter near any bedroom window to avoid issues.
If you believe your inverter is the reason for your solar system producing noise, several shielding and noise-reducing options can also be installed. One would be to put a shade over the inverter if the unit gets exposed to direct sunlight.
The shade cover will ensure the inverter works less complicated to cool down and be less noisy.
Loose panels or cabling
The second way a solar system may make noise is through loose cabling or loose panels. Again, this is unlikely but possible. The connecting cables run between each solar panel and then into your roof. If cabling or any panel have not been professionally installed and secured. High winds can move them about and bang on the roof. If you think you notice this, make sure you contact an installer for investigation.
The third way a solar system can make noise is through low-quality installation or short-change in the racking. If you, as a homeowner, decided to choose a cheaper solar system installation, your solar installer may have taken shortcuts.
In this case, if the racking has not been properly screwed in or they reduced the number of brackets. The system should be properly fastened to the timber rafters. On windy days it is then possible that the racking moves which can cause a rattling sound from your roof.
Birds and other animals can affect the system
The final way a solar system can produce noise is through birds and other small animals. If your roof only allows solar panels to be installed at an angle called a tilt frame rather than flat on the top, this can become a welcome shelter for birds and other animals.
If your solar system has become the home to a flog of pigeons, then not only can bird droppings reduce the efficiency of your panels. However, the constant movement of these animals on your roof may cause noise.
Therefore you must organise a maintenance check on your solar system every few years to check on all the abovementioned issues.
So do solar systems make noise?
The only acceptable noise that should be coming from your solar system is from the inverter. Most noise from an inverter should be at a very low level rather than noisy and obvious.