When you are looking into solar energy solutions, you may have heard the term; Power Optimizer. But what is it? And why do you want to make sure that your solar panels are accompanied by power optimizers? Read more about this in our blog
The most important components of a solar energy utility are usually solar panels, inverters and racks. And so it has been traditionally; solar energy utilities are built with this composition until the 21st century. The development of digitization and data usage at the beginning of the millennium also enabled further development of components for solar energy utilities. In doing so, the introduction of power optimizers has added many new functions to traditional solar power plants.
The Power Optimizer brings intelligence to your utility. Solar panels are not very smart in themselves, they just generate electricity. You can compare a chain of solar panels with a cord with a series of Christmas tree lights. If one of the lights stops working, the whole series will no longer light up. You also have no idea which light is the cause of the problem. The same logic applies to a conventional solar energy utility. The weakest link determines the beat of the rest of the orchestra. The most shaded, dirty, obsolete or damaged panel determines the output of the entire series. Power optimizers circumvent this logic. With the help of power optimizers, each solar panel (or a pair) becomes its own production unit to squeeze out the best possible power. Each power optimizer has its own MPPT controller that adjusts the panel output to an optimal level. When each panel operates within its own maximum range, the whole series produces more too
Power optimizers collect data from the output of solar panels. You can track how each individual panel is performing throughout its lifecycle. In a conventional PV system, you can only track production with the accuracy of one series of panels. For large systems, this usually means a chain of 20-40 panels. Panel-specific monitoring with power optimizers brings transparency to your investment.
Solar panels have a long warranty period, usually 25 years. For the property owner, it's a good thing to be able to easily check that panels are working under the terms of the warranty. This also makes it easier to perform the technical due diligence process in the case of a real estate transaction.
Panel-level monitoring is an essential feature of property maintenance. System monitoring and potential troubleshooting become much easier and more cost-effective when the system collects data at component level. Comprehensive information eliminates the need for troubleshooting using thermal imaging or rooftop mechanical measurements.
Also, the potential loss of income during an outage is less, because the operation of other panels is not affected by a single damaged solar panel. The automation can bypass faults and the system reports all faults.
By collecting data, you can also use that data. The power optimizers continuously collect data on the operation of your photovoltaic utility. In the event of a failure, defective components are automatically bypassed and their voltage is reduced.
For the safety of your property, it is important that your solar energy utility is automatically monitored 24/7 and responds to any malfunctions. Power optimizers identify the most common problems, such as the arc flash. In the case of an arc, the voltage supplied by the panels is automatically reduced and the arc is terminated. In a conventional system, the arc only turns off when the cable is cut or the sun sets.
With power optimizers, the voltage of the solar energy system can also be reduced to a safe level. This ensures safe working conditions for maintenance personnel at all times. It is also an important feature if a fire starts in the building and the fire brigade has to do its job. By reducing the voltage on the roof, the firefighters have safer conditions to carry out their work.
Power optimizers offer more flexibility in the design of systems. More panels can fit on the same roof as partially shaded areas can also be used. The shade of one panel does not affect the performance of the other panels. Thanks to the power optimizers, the panels in the same chain can also be oriented in different directions. The weakest panel does not determine the strength of the entire chain. This flexibility also makes it possible to use a roof-friendly racking solution, as the racking can follow the shape of the roof and all panels do not have to be at the same angle to the sun.
The benefits of power optimizers are many
Power optimizers are a practical example of how the use of data and IoT can change traditional ways of working. For solar energy utilities the basic function of the system is similar: it generates electricity. But in terms of functions, an optimized system is a completely different product.
The benefits of power optimizers are undeniable. We personally think that solar panels should not be installed on any roofs of real estate without power optimizers. Several international real estate owners, authorities and insurance companies endorse this.