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we got solarmagic

Have you heard of SolarMagic by National Semiconductor? The “power optimizer” is a new type of device that is gaining popularity in the solar photovoltaic market. Solar panels wired in strings on a central inverter are only as good as their weakest link. For example, if part of a solar panel was shaded due to a chimney, the entire string would lose its ability to harvest the maximum power. With SolarMagic you can “assist” a string for each solar panel to reach it’s MPPT (maximum power point tracking) in which you will harvest the most electricity possible. SolarMagic can also prevent power loss from panel-to-panel mismatch, different panel orientations and tilts, or different string lengths. Mismatches on a string of solar panels are the culprits of power loss and installers minimize mismatches by reducing the size of the solar array to avoid shade, accepting a lower energy output per square foot, or adds extra solar panels in a different part of the solar array, all options either cost money, depreciate efficiency, and lose aesthetic appeal for the system owner. SolarMagic units are used on conjunction of a blocking Diode. You need one SolarMagic unit per solar panel on the string that you want to “assist”. What do you think about...

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solaredge boosts solar panel efficiency

Can adding a simple electronic device on back of each solar panel really squeeze 25% more power output from your solar panel array? SolarEdge, an Israeli upstart claims that they have developed technology that maximizes power loss associated with wiring and placement of panels can cut a solar array’s output by 20 percent to 30 percent. The SolarEdge is a junction box that can be retro fitted on the back of solar panels, the integrated circuit optimizes the voltage coming from the solar panels. A stable voltage eliminates performance issues associated with power losses when different solar panels with a solar array perform differently. The special junction box works with your grid tie inverter to increase power output when the DC power from your solar panels is being converted to AC power. The “smart junction box” by SolarEdge also includes web monitoring software which allows you to visualize and share your solar electric system’s performance data over the Internet. The company’s first version of the SolarEdge product is made for 3kW residential solar electric systems. The SolarEdge is not available to purchase today, although is being beta tested in the field and should hit the market after conformations of a successful field test. The SolarEdge seems quite similar to a product called SolarMagic by National Semiconductor that I wrote about a few weeks ago. What do you think about the SolarEdge and the flood of “power optimizers” products for solar electric systems being offered...

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up close and personal with SolarMagic

When using central inverters there is a lot of room for inefficiencies to creep into the solar array due to factors such as shading, architectural obstructions, shade from intermittent clouds and even bird poop can result in less energy output compared to the solar array’s full potential. Today I spent the afternoon with National Semiconductor’s renewable energy division learning about their new product called SolarMagic. You have to think of a string of solar panels connected to a grid tie inverter similar to Christmas lights, if one bulb goes out on a string of Christmas lights, a group of bulbs are affected. National Semiconductor introduced their solution to solve the “Christmas light syndrome” solar panel arrays face in the real world. SolarMagic a “power optimizer” maximizes energy harvest from a solar array by piggy backing to every solar panel on a single string or the entire array to control the MPPT (maximum power point tracking) on an individual solar panel basis. Think of it as adding a small computer behind each solar panel to get them to work together in harmony and produce more kWh (kilowatt-hours) on a annual basis. Shading has a detrimental effect on the performance of a solar electric system, if 10% of a solar panel array is shaded it can equal up to a 50% power loss! This is one of the key problems that makes SolarMagic a good investment for solar electric systems with power mismatch issues. The technology behind SolarMagic monitors and maximizes the energy harvest of each solar panel and recuperates up to 50% of the energy lost in solar panels that are under performing because of mismatches. I think the magic behind the product is the ease of installation, its so easy this blonde lady (hahaha!) was able to install it under 5 minutes. National Semiconductor did a good job making the process of implementing their product very simple, there is a postive and negtive input and output to the SolarMagic which really takes the guess work out of how it connects up. The field test was where National Semiconductor put their money where their mouth was by showing us a real test of how power output between a SolarMagic “assisted string” versus a traditional string. We got to shade the solar panels to see a side by side comparison of how the SolarMagic works in real world conditions. After we saw the increase in performance, the next question everyone wanted the answer to was, how much?? According to the National Semiconductor team, the MSRP will approximately be $199 per unit. Depending on your situation this product could be a good...

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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...

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