Product profile: Optimised solar panels

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Many solar arrays experience partial shading for part of the day—even a large bird dropping on a single solar panel can reduce that panel’s output considerably.

Until recently the solution for optimising output has been to use either microinverters or solar optimisers on each panel—ie, optimisation at the panel level. Because solar panels have multiple separate strings of solar cells, optimising at the string level produces energy output improvements for panels experiencing shading on one of the strings, as the other two strings may be producing maximum output. With a panel-level optimised panel, the underperforming string will drag down the other two, but with a string-level optimised panel, the third string can be optimised for maximum total output.

Maxim Integrated has developed a small IC for string-level optimisation of solar panels. At least two manufacturers that supply the Australian market incorporate the Maxim optimisers into their panels—Jinko’s Smart Module and Trina’s Honey Maxim (pictured). These panels incorporate three optimiser ICs per panel, giving three separate strings that can be individually optimised.

RRP: POA. Jinko and Trina modules are available from numerous solar installers and are distributed by Krannich Solar (as well as some other distributors), www.krannich.com.au. Also see www.jinkosolar.com, www.trinasolar.com and www.maximintegrated.com

Read more product profiles in ReNew 140.