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SolarMagic – Get more out of your solar panels

Earlier this week, we talked about how shading can be a big issue for solar panels. Even your neighbor’s trees can cause shading issues that can significantly reduce the performance of your system. SolarMagic a product being developed by National Semiconductor adds onto existing solar panels to increase the efficiency up to 50% in real world environments which face shading and dirt and other issues.

Solar Panels are typically wired in a string fashion, what does that mean? Well remember those pesky Christmas lights? When one of your bulbs went out the whole string of lights would also go out, this is similar to how solar panels work, If even a little part of the system gets shaded, well the whole solar panel system becomes less efficient.

One of these SolarMagic Units sits behind every solar panel, literally working its magic to keep each solar panel in order to maximize the energy harvest in shady or dirty conditions which would typically have a negative effect on the system. According to SolarMagic’s Website:

“National’s SolarMagic technology uses our expertise in power conversion and advanced algorithms to get the most energy possible out of each panel in a solar array. Today’s systems are limited by the weakest link, and one or two compromised panels can take down the entire string or array. This is somewhat similar to a section of Christmas lights that go out when one light fails. However, with SolarMagic technology, if one panel in a solar installation is shaded, dirty, or otherwise compromised, that panel is allowed to produce what little energy it can while the other panels continue to operate at their full potential.”

According to the company the SolarMagic unit measures 10 x 12 cm and is currently being field tested and is already proving that the technology works in real world conditions. Field tests show a 45% increase in solar pv panel efficency! The product will be on the market next year! We’re looking forward to getting our hands one a couple of these puppies to see how they work.

Author: Deep Patel

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  1. what is it about solar panels that they can’t simply be wired in parallel?

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  2. wiring them all in parallel would require tons of copper. higher voltage allows for smaller currents and smaller wires.

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  3. Mattress,

    Stu gave an good response. Solar panels and the solar cells that make up each panels need to be wired in strings to reach a certain voltage and produce the right current to work with an inverter an ultimately make up an entire system. A solar power system is more then just solar panels, the multiple pieces, inverter, panels and the connection between panels have to work together to produce electricity, therefore they are strung together.

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