A solar power optimizer is an electronic device that maximizes the power output of each solar panel in a photovoltaic system to improve energy efficiency and performance.
It uses MPPT technology to minimize the impact of shading and other factors, resulting in increased energy production and lower costs over time.
Solar optimizers are one of the many options for your solar energy systems. Like micro-inverters, solar optimizers help your system get the most energy daily.
🔑 Key Takeaways:
1️⃣ Solar optimizers, like the SolarEdge Power Optimizer, are DC/DC converters that installers hook up to a solar module to turn it into a smart module.
2️⃣ Each optimizer in the system functions independently of the others since they are next to the solar panels themselves, making it a hybrid of a string inverter and a micro inverter.
3️⃣ The enhanced efficiency and performance solar optimizers bring are irreplaceable when it comes to monitoring and maintaining your solar panels.
So, that’s the short version. Now the detailed deep dive begins, but feel free to jump straight to a section below:
🎓 How Solar Power Optimizers Work
A solar optimizer is a DC/DC converter that installers connect to your solar module and use DC power to turn it into a smart module.
The solar optimizers will increase the power output your solar photovoltaic system gets. In addition, it will track every module separately, and you can monitor the system.
The optimizers use a type of technology called Maximum Power Point Tracking, or MPPT for short.
The optimizers will also regulate the DC voltage before it transmits to the solar inverter in your solar power system.
You also have a few solar optimizers, including a microinverter, a maxim panel, and a discrete DC optimizer. The microinverters are the most expensive, and the maxim panels are the cheapest.
📖 Related Article: Types Of Solar Inverters
🔩 Components Of A Solar Power Optimizer
A solar optimizer has quite a few parts. This module-level power device is a combination of a string inverter and a micro inverter.
Since they are new technology, it might be hard for some people to understand their whole concept.
You might also get confused when you need to replace something on them. Here’s what you need to know:
- Each optimizer will work separately in the system directly on the solar panel site.
- The solar optimizer is a little rectangular box with a few wires at the bottom.
- The wires will connect to the rest of the solar panels. The two wires will connect to each module.
- The solar optimizer is similar to a microinverter in many ways, including the components and overall look.
- When you open the solar optimizer, you will have a heat sync and a thermal compound inside. There will also be a non-static plastic and waterproof cover.
- When you open the other side, there will be a rubber cover before any other parts. A computer chip and some coils are under the rubber cover. They will regulate the voltage of the solar optimizer.
- Lastly, there will be a PCB board with the chip and coils.
⚡ Functionality Of A Solar Optimizer
Since the power optimizers maximize the energy you get out of the system, it will allow your solar panel system to use more energy.
It will boost solar panel production, and you don’t have to worry about any shade an individual panel might experience.
You can monitor the entire system via a mobile app and see when your optimizer might have a problem, and you can also know the amount of energy it optimizes daily.
A solar optimizer will also allow you to use panels that support higher wattage, like the M10.
👍 Advantages Of Using A Solar Optimizer
A solar optimizer will give you many benefits. Your solar PV system will be better than ever when you decide to get an optimizer for additional usage.
Increased Energy Efficiency
A solar optimizer’s job is to give your solar system a higher energy production. A power optimizer has 97.1% efficiency, and that efficiency will allow your solar system to perform better.
A solar panel’s voltage reduces when it’s shaded for any time throughout the day, whether by a tree, chimney, or cloud in the sky.
Voltage naturally dips to zero at night and does not recover until sunrise. Therefore, the lowest voltage the inverter needs will determine your system’s maximum output while capturing electricity from solar panels.
So, the solar optimizer can help with these problems.
Improved Panel Performance
The primary advantage of a power optimizer is that it improves the efficiency of each solar panel.
Optimizers may boost the energy output of your PV plant by keeping track of each solar module’s maximum production capability, which might increase power production and, in return, decrease the system’s payback period.
Better Monitoring And Maintenance
Power optimizers will allow you to monitor the system. So you can check the module and string levels on the system even when you aren’t at home.
You can monitor the system-wide performance from your phone to provide comfort and put your mind at ease when you are on vacation or at work.
Not only is there better monitoring with these systems, but there is also better maintenance on them. There is almost no maintenance on the power optimizers, and it’s easy to do when there is.
A power optimizer will last between 20 and 25 years, so you will likely need to replace the central inverter well before the optimizers.
💡 Additional Benefits Compared With Micro-Inverters
One of the things that solar optimizers has over microinverters is their heat.
While optimizers generate their heat at the central inverter located in a garage or outside, a microinverter will have the inverter directly in the sunlight, which is more dangerous.
Power optimizers are more reliable as they have fewer moving parts than microinverters. They also have a higher energy production rate of 97.1%, while the microinverter has a 96.5%.
Finally, microinverters are expensive. They are about 2 – 3 times more costly than a power optimizer.
How Much Does A Solar Optimizer Cost?
A solar optimizer can cost between $1600 and $2000.
Buying from a reliable supplier would be best, or your optimizers might turn out to be a lemon.
Most hardware shops or even Home Depot will have them in stock. Read this guide to solar inverter sizing so you can buy with confidence.
You can also buy from online solar companies, where you can purchase other solar equipment you might need, like solar panels, batteries, or spare parts when something needs replacing.
Are Solar Optimizers Worth It?
Getting a solar optimizer isn’t a must, but it will help you with your solar system.
You can get so much more energy out of your solar system, and you won’t have to worry about your solar panels when they get shade.
A solar optimizer will help when some of your solar panels are in the shade, and your system won’t be affected as much as opposed to one without a solar optimizer.
What Happens When My Solar Optimizers Suddenly Break?
If your solar optimizer malfunctions, its connected panels will experience only minor effects. This is in contrast to microinverters, which fail entirely when they break down.
The panel will still generate and produce the electricity it should, and you will still have power from that specific panel.
Overall your PV system will generate less electricity as it won’t be optimized like before.
Solar optimizers were created so you can still use and collect solar energy even if the optimizer breaks.
Are Solar Optimizers Safe To Use?
Solar optimizers are safe to use since they have a secure voltage function. The function will reduce automatically on the optimizer when it reaches a too-high voltage.
It can happen when the optimizer is faulty and the modules are disconnected from the optimizer.
If the safety switch is off, the feature will also trigger when the inverter AC breaker is off.
So solar optimizers are safe to use, and you don’t have to worry when you leave them on when you aren’t at home.
🔑 Key Takeaways
Solar optimizers use MPPT technology to minimize the impact of shading and other factors, resulting in increased energy production and lower costs over time.
1️⃣ A solar optimizer is like a microinverter and a string inverter combined. However, it mostly leans towards the microinverter.
2️⃣ A solar optimizer under each solar panel will maximize the daily energy you get from the solar system.
3️⃣ You can monitor every panel on your phone.
4️⃣ They are less expensive than microinverters and have more benefits than them.