Solar panels – a healthy option or not?

Solar panelsSomehow the idea has been spread that green technology is both environmentally friendly and also a much healthier option. It’s assumed the two go hand in hand.

This is certainly true in relation to solar panels used to convert light into direct current (DC) electricity to heat water for domestic use or swimming pools. It’s an excellent idea.

The problems can start when the DC supply is converted to alternating current (AC) so that it can be used to power electrical equipment in the home such as televisions, fridges, computers, and so on. To do this, an inverter has to be installed, and what many people don’t realize is that to avoid any health effects from electromagnetic fields, it needs to be located at least 2 meters (approx. 6.5 feet) away from anywhere people spend much time, especially bedrooms. The same goes for the water pump. And cables running from the inverter need to be sheathed or placed inside metal conduits. Systems vary widely, so it’s advisable to test thoroughly with a good quality EMF meter before installing.

But this is only the beginning. Most inverters also create dirty electricity, which can have many health effects. Surplus electricity can be sold to a utility company and fed into a local or national grid, causing dirty electricity to spread to other people’s homes too. In many countries, governments actively encourage this by giving subsidies to people who want to participate in such a scheme. Ironically, they are usually the most environmentally responsible folk who genuinely want to help and have no idea this can have any side effects.

Then there is the problem of radio frequency (RF) radiation emitted by most inverters. People with electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS – approx. 3% of the population and rising) find this intolerable. In places such as New Jersey, where solar powered lighting linked to a smart grid has been extensively installed, some EHS people report they cannot even stand near to a street light without feeling debilitated. You’d certainly want to research your own level of sensitivity before spending a huge amount of money to install solar panels in your home and discover – as some people have – that you can’t stand to have the system turned on.

Like many technologies, it’s probably possible to design a solar panel system that does not generate high EMFs, dirty electricity, or RFs, but it will cost more. It will therefore only be developed if people become aware of the problems and start asking for a better system that is both green and healthy. Hence this blog article.

Something also needs to be done about the eyesore solar panels create (see top photo), and I recently heard about a company in the UK that has done just that, winning the 2011 award for ‘Product Innovation of the Year’ at the Low Carbon Performance Awards. Solar Slate has designed solar panels that look just like ordinary roof slates, and blend in so well with the local envirnment that they have received planning approval for installation on a Grade II listed property, which is extremely hard to get.

Copyright © Karen Kingston 2012

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11 Responses to Solar panels – a healthy option or not?

  1. m says:

    Thank for his post – and how about an energetical viewpoint on ‘environmentally friendly’ electric cars?

  2. Claire says:

    Thanks for this post – this is an issue that I am currently researching and not finding as much information as I’d hoped. Where did you get your figures from – especially the required 2 meters from commonly inhabited living spaces? I would love to see this original source. I am finding it difficult to locate “source” material on this issue. Thanks.

  3. Laura says:

    Can you please explain what you mean by dirty electricity and provide information for any research articles you have found on electromagnetic fields/health issues and solar panels? Our town is about to place a large amount of panels directly across the street in an open field that is used for our town’s backup water supply. Thank you.

  4. Alex Haua says:

    I am one of the 5% or so of the population that are sensitive to RF radiation, (cell phone), and EMF’s; I actually get physical pain and feel really bad when exposed. I did some research into Solar before installing a system at home and had learned that, aside from the inverters, the panels generate DC power and therefore, no EMF’s. After the system was installed and turned on, I felt significant symptoms throughout my entire house! I took EMF readings and all were pretty normal.

    After researching a bit, I learned about “Dirty Electricity” and how detrimental it is; wish I had known earlier. In either case, I purchased a Stetzer Meter, (on line), which measures Dirty Electricity and have ordered Stetzer Filters, which are suppose to clean up this dirty electricity. After I receive them and install them, I will report back with my findings; I’m really hoping that they work. There is a very informative book entitled “Dirty Electricity” by Dr. Milham which is very informative.

    • Hi Alex

      Here’s a link to a well researched article about Dirty Electricity that you may find helpful. It’s from the Powerwatch online library, which is an excellent resource for this type of information: Dirty Electricity

      • Alex Haua says:

        Thank you Karen! I’ll definitely check it out; I really appreciate people like you who get the word out, as more people should be informed. Keep up the good work:)

  5. Derek says:

    I am EHS and been looking to buy a house here in NJ its hard to find a house in a good price range where you are away from or not close to neighbors or cell towers and such. I found a house would’ve been perfect last house on a dead end street and its an acre of land so the house next to you on one side is 200 ft away and nothing but woods on the other side problem is it has solar panels. I know just the regular meters bother me if I’m in the room where the meter is right outside the house to that room so seeing there are 5 boxes on the side of the house with the solar I’m sure that room would be totally useless but I also wonder about the rest of the house if I’d be bothered. Is there anyway to make solar safe? Shame it has panels would’ve been the perfect location for a house. Thanks, Derek

    • When my husband and I were house hunting a few years ago, we always took our EMF meters with us to each property we viewed – one to measure the level of electromagnetic fields inside the home, and one to measure of microwave radiation from WiFi sources. We would never buy a home without first measuring these two types of EMFs with accurate and reliable meters – More information

  6. Jan says:

    Short and informative. Excellent post.

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