Micro-inverters had their share of the limelight, but the victor of the battle
panel level add-on electronics may be the power optimizers.
In a traditional solar power system, DC power from the panels is transmitted to
a central unit called a solar inverter, which then converts it to 240V AC,
suitable for use in the home or for export to the mains grid.
solar panel" outputs DC, but on the reverse of the module is a
micro-inverter converting the DC to AC, which removes the need for a central
A power optimizer is a different beastie again. It's also a small box attached
to the back of a panel, but it's not an inverter, rather a device that works
with an inverter to address some of the issues with traditional inverters,
enabling maximum energy harvesting from an array.
Founded in 2006, SolarEdge established the DC power optimizer segment and leads
it with over 70% market share.
SolarEdge Power Optimizers ensure each solar module is constantly kept at maximum power point
(MPP), preventing losses attributable to issues including mismatched panels or partial shading
conditions; therefore accelerating system investment payback time
While solar power systems are generally safe, the Solar Edge Power Optimizer
enhances this safety, featuring very rapid automatic DC shutdown once the inverter is turned off,
after grid disconnection or in reaction to high temperature.
Included with the SolarEdge system is access to an online portal, allowing
system owners to monitor their array anytime, anywhere. In addition to
performance data; module level, real-time alerts of system issues are pinpointed on a virtual map
available via the portal.
The Solar Edge Power Optimizer can be retrofitted to existing PV systems to solve mismatch challenges
and given the features, also finally frees owners of challenging rooftops to be
able to make more use of their rooftop real estate.
With regard to a comparison to micro-inverters, Solar Edge says there is no need to add an inverter to every module
as a Power Optimizer can achieve all the same benefits at lower cost, higher efficiency and
with higher reliability.
Having shipped over 1.6 million Power Optimizers and a winner of the prestigious
Intersolar 2012 Innovation Award, SolarEdge's claim appears to
be no idle boast.