The popularity of solar panels continues to grow as more people are adopting the technology. Just like any new technology, people will be curious to understand the working principles, make assumptions on how the technology works, and question its impact on their homes and neighborhoods. A popular question about solar panels is whether they make noise or not.
Solar panels typically do not make noise simply because they have no moving parts. However, a structural issue with the installation could cause your solar panels to make a noise. Your inverter on the other hand may make noise. It sounds like a low humming or buzzing. This is from the electricity converting from DC to AC power. That is normal and does not mean it is defective.
One of the benefits of solar panels is that they are designed to operate noiselessly. So it is understandable when people are concerned when they think their panels are making a noise. In this guide, we will look into the issue of solar panels making a noise, the causes, and potential solutions.
Do Solar Panels Make Noise At Night?
As we discussed in the introduction to the article, solar panels shouldn’t produce any noise on their own. This doesn’t change when the sun goes down.
The conversion of solar energy into electricity happens during the day. So there shouldn’t be any humming noise at night. The inverter should be more active during the day, as well.
Most times, the noise people hear is created by wind. As wind passes through the airways between your panels and roof, you may hear a noise and think it’s your panel that’s producing it.
If there are consistent noises coming from your roof, the angle of the solar installation could be adjusted. If there is a rattling sound, then the installation should be inspected. Solar panels, if properly installed properly, should be stationary.
But even when wind causes a noise, it shouldn’t be loud enough that it constitutes a nuisance to yourself and your neighbors. The noise caused by the wind would be louder bristling through trees than it would against the solar panels.
Do Solar Panels Make Noise During The Day?
Solar panels generate electricity during the day when photons are hitting the panels. However, the process of generating the electricity is quiet. There should not be a hum or buzzing sound coming from your solar panels.
If this is the case, you should call the installer of your solar panels to come and inspect the issue.
The inverter is the likely culprit behind the humming sound you might be hearing. This sound occurs as it converts DC electrical currents into AC electrical currents. It is the AC currents that will now power all the appliances in your home.
Do All Inverters Make Noise?
Not all inverters make noise loud enough for you to hear it. Quality inverters are less likely to make humming sounds. This is due to higher quality sound attenuating enclosures.
Also, inverters for small solar panel systems should not make loud sounds. They are converting smaller amounts of electricity. This should lead to quieter buzzing sounds.
Humming sounds are more common with string inverters. And even then, the noise should not exceed 45 decibels. At this level, the humming noise will be whisper quiet. This isn’t loud enough to distract or disturb you.
If you are using a micro-inverter, you shouldn’t hear any noise. And if you do, you’ll need to contact the manufacturer or installer for help.
Typically, inverters are installed in areas where there is less foot traffic. So even if it is making a buzzing sound, you shouldn’t hear it in your house.
Are Solar Panels Noisy In The Rain?
Solar panels should actually reduce the sound of rain heard inside your house. They are installed in such a way that they are not directly attached to the roof. As a result, you will have an extra sound barrier from the rain.
Instead of rain hitting your roof directly, it will hit the solar panels. Then there is a small air gap between the panels and your roof. Lastly, you have your attic to reduce the sound of rain. So solar panels should actually make rain quieter in your home.
Should you feel your panel sound noisier than usual whenever it is raining, then you should contact your installer and schedule an inspection.
Why Are My Solar Panels Making A Noise?
There are a few common causes of noise from a solar system. We will discuss each of the likely culprit below.
Inverter fans can make buzzing noise
It seems everything is circling back to the good ol inverter, right? It’s because it’s an essential part of the set up when utilizing solar energy in your home. As you know, inverters are about the size of a briefcase and are meant to be installed on a side of your house.
While solar panels should always be exposed to sunlight, inverters are designed to be in cooler shaded areas. Placing your inverter somewhere where it is exposed to sunlight will cause the fan to overwork as it attempts to cool the unit down and this will result in some noise being produced. High electricity demand can also run your inverter’s fan.
New inverters models no longer use fans but instead utilize an innovative heat-sink design for passive cooling.
Inverter might need maintenance
If you are hearing anything above a quiet humming noise during the day from your inverter, say a loud buzzing or crackling, then there’s a high chance that your inverter needs maintenance. The reason for this could be a low-quality products or direct exposure to sunlight.
It’s important to properly size the solar generator to make sure you are storing all of the electricity the solar panels produce. If the solar generator is undersized of oversized, it could produce added noise.
Solar rack may need screws tightened
Should your installer not properly screw the racking into a rafter, it could become loose. This will cause the racking to move around or shake on a windy day thereby producing a noise. If the wind is really strong, there’s a chance that the racking could even be blown away. You’ll need the services of a professional to properly install the racking.
Loose cabling could cause noise on your roof
There are cables running between your solar panels if you have more than one which then continues down into your roof. During installation, these cables will be clipped at intervals to keep them secure. Should the installer not properly clip the cables, then it is free to move. It could hit the roof and make a noise. You’ll need a qualified electrician to help you clip the cables back in place.
Birds and animal noise could be mistaken for solar panel noise
You probably didn’t think birds or some other small animals could be making noise that people think is coming from the panels. Birds may colonize your panel if it is at an angle to the roof instead of being flat against it. Birds may even make a nest there due to the shade available under the panel.
The efficiency of your solar panels will be reduced by bird droppings which will coat the surface of the panel and affect the amount of area exposed to the sun. So it’s important to position your panel in a position that doesn’t attract birds.
Larger solar systems can cause humming noise
Noises could be made by larger inverters in large installations such as big commercial buildings or solar farms. The noise in such buildings or locations may be increased because of the high demand for electricity. Higher voltage can create humming sounds.
How To Reduce Noise From Solar Panels?
You can’t really do much about the soft humming that inverters make. And most times, you’ll hardly notice the humming if the inverter is in good shape.
The key to reducing noise from solar panels is mainly proper installation. I’ve talked about a number of installation problems that may cause your panels to make noise above.
Ensure that the racking of your panel is properly installed as this is often the reason for rattling and metal sounds on windy days. The solution to this is to ask your installer to inspect the racking and ensure it is properly tightened on the rafter.
Proper Solar Panel Installation Reduces Noises
Proper installation will also eliminate noises created by the wind as it makes its way through the modules. Wind can also make your panel penetrate your roof thereby damaging it. However, proper installation will avoid all these problems. It’s also common to see people installing rubber pads between their roof and the panel. This will help eliminate or reduce noise while protecting your roof at the same time. It’s also a good idea to talk to your installer about common wind noises and how to avoid them.
There’s also the issue of loose cabling. Ensure all cables are effectively pinned down using installer chips. This will prevent noises caused by loose cables and wind.
More Solar Panel Information
When your solar panels have reached the end of their life, make sure to dispose of the solar panels properly. Many of the materials used in the solar panel can be recycled and reused.
Wondering if your solar panels work in the winter? In most situations, they can. But there are a few scenarios where they will not work.