SMA America offers Sunny Tripower CORE1 inverter in two new commercial power classes


SMA America has new comprehensive commercial solar solutions now available for ordering. SMA’s popular Sunny Tripower CORE1 inverter is getting an upgrade with two new power classes. In addition to the currently available 50-kW CORE1 model, a new higher power 62.5-kW model is optimized for large projects utilizing higher efficiency modules, and a 33-kW model will be available for projects with smaller or highly segmented arrays as well as 600 V repowering projects.

All three models of the CORE1 will be upgraded with SMA’s latest performance and safety technologies. The new CORE1 series will include advanced smart inverter capabilities to fulfill utility grid support interconnection requirements, as well as SMA’s next-generation DC AFCI technology for compliance to the new UL 1699B standard for arc-fault protection.

The CORE1’s industry leading safety features will be further enhanced with support for the new SunSpec Power Line Communication (PLC) signal for module-level rapid shutdown — a communications interoperability specification developed by the SunSpec consortium of industry stakeholders. Based on this industry standard, the Sunny Tripower CORE1 combined with SMA’s new TS4-F module-level device provide a reliable, cost-effective solution to achieve compliance with 2017 NEC module-level rapid shutdown requirements in commercial rooftop systems.

New Data Manager

To digitize commercial energy management and bring greater energy independence to system owners, SMA recently introduced a new, future-proof generation of monitoring and control solutions with the Data Manager M. In combination with Sunny Portal powered by ennexOS, an Internet-of-things (IoT) platform that manages all energy generation sources and data on a single platform, the Data Manager M is the ideal solution for commercial system owners and operators. It optimizes communication, monitoring and control of decentralized PV systems, and with a new, highly efficient user interface, the Data Manager M simplifies system configuration and commissioning. The ennexOS energy management platform recently won the smarter E AWARD given out for the first time at Intersolar Europe 2018 in Munich.

New monitoring and service support

Finally, SMA is pleased to introduce SMA Smart Connected for its commercial inverter solutions. SMA Smart Connected is a proactive monitoring and service support solution that saves integrators time and money while increasing system performance and simplifying O&M. It automatically detects and diagnoses plant-wide events and initiates corrective actions or repair activities, reducing truck rolls and saving commercial system integrators and owners up to $6 million in service costs across the lifetime of a 100 MW portfolio.

For more info on the newest inverters on the market download our free 2018 Inverter Buyer’s Guide

— Solar Builder magazine

How a Virginia Tech researcher plans to use smart inverters to change the grid

grid probe smart inverters

The U.S. power grid, after faithfully delivering electricity to our neighborhoods for generations, is facing significant changes to how it operates — thanks to solar installations, wind farms, new energy storage systems and electric vehicles. As utilities meet the challenges of incorporating distributed energy sources on the low- and medium-voltage grids, however, they are hindered by incomplete knowledge.

“Limited instrumentation and their sheer size has kept a full picture of distribution grids out of focus,” said Vassilis Kekatos, an assistant professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Kekatos and his team hit upon a novel technique called grid probing to generate the information needed about what is often called the world’s largest machine. Their pioneering process engages smart inverters — devices that convert the direct current output of renewable sources into the alternating current used by consumers — outside their intended function.

For this effort, Kekatos, who specializes in power systems and smart grids, was awarded the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award.


The state of the grid

Today’s residential electricity networks are sprawling configurations and reconfigurations of decades-old infrastructure strung through a patchwork of smart updates. A utility company may own 3,000 feeders, each of which transfers power from substations to thousands of nodes. Half of those nodes may be outfitted with smart meters, but those are only sampled hourly.

To accomplish any meaningful grid-wide optimization, we need to know the power consumed or generated at every node, the line and transformer parameters, and the grid layout — all in real time, said Kekatos.
“Utility companies do not have information this detailed,” he said. “But we must acquire it to bring about the smart grids of the future.”

Grid probing explained

Kekatos plans to close the information gap with an original and potentially transformative solution he calls grid probing.

“Grid probing casts smart inverters in a second role,” explained Kekatos. “This is in addition to their standard conversion and control functionality.”

Smart inverters are found in solar panels, energy storage devices, and electric vehicles and come with unprecedented capabilities in sensing, actuation, and communication. Kekatos wants to use them for learning tasks as well. He plans to direct smart inverters to inject a short burst of power through the grid, eliciting additional grid readings at the inverter meter. By comparing “probed” voltage responses with baseline voltages, he expects to discover non-metered loads and unknown network parameters.

The power injections will be minimally invasive, causing no harm, but could yield significant information for understanding the nonlinear behavior of power grids.

Kekatos and his team will combine data from the grid probing with data from existing smart metering and grid sensing. Coupling power system modeling with data analytics, they plan to map the connectivity and line parameters of the distribution networks.

Outreach and education

All CAREER awards have an educational component and Kekatos has designed an integrated approach. Undergraduate students are actively involved in this research via grid visualization and cross-validation tasks. The students will also work with graduate students in testing and cross-validating grid learning schemes.
Kekatos has designed a new graduate-level course on power distribution systems with emphasis on multi-phase analysis, optimization, and learning.

— Solar Builder magazine

SolarEdge files lawsuit against Huawei for patent infringement

solaria solar module lawsuit

SolarEdge Technologies has filed a lawsuit for patent infringement against Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., a Chinese entity, Huawei Technologies Düsseldorf GmbH, a German entity, and WATTKRAFT Solar GmbH, a German distributor for Huawei.

The lawsuit, filed in the Regional Court of Mannheim in Germany, one of the most pre-eminent German patent courts, asserts unauthorized use of patented technology, which is prohibited by law, and is intended to protect SolarEdge’s significant investment in its innovative DC optimized inverter technology. Seeking monetary damages, an injunction, and recall of infringing Huawei inverters from the German market, the lawsuit is intended to prevent the defendants from selling any multi-level inverters infringing upon SolarEdge’s PV inverter technology protected in the asserted patent in Germany.

— Solar Builder magazine

Soligent partners with Chilicon Power for grid-support inverter, monitoring solutions

Soligent Distribution, the leading distributor of solar equipment in the United States, has partnered with Chilicon Power, a tech-forward designer and manufacturer of grid-support inverter and monitoring solutions, to expand its quality product menu.

Soligent, a pure play solar distributor, financier and technology platform supplies over 5,000 solar installers with best-in-class panels, inverters, racking and balance of systems across the U.S. and over 45 countries. Soligent is eager to partner with Chilicon Power in part due to the CP100 gateway monitoring system created so customers can view and manage their solar power systems 24 hours a day from the comfort of anywhere in their home. Soligent is dedicated in providing its customers with high quality products and Chilicon Power has met and exceeded that standard. Together, Soligent and Chilicon Power strive toward a brighter, clean-tech future.

“We believe in providing quality products to our customers and Chilicon Power has met and exceeded our standards,” said Thomas Enzendorfer, President at Soligent, “We look forward to a long and successful partnership with them.”

“Soligent and Chilicon share similar visions for the evolution of inversion and monitoring systems and we are pleased to partner with them”, commented Alexandre Kral and Dr. Christopher R. Jones, Co-Founders of Chilicon Power.

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar project logistics: Calculating the value of an efficient supply chain

solar inverter supply chain

What is a supply chain? It is the flow of all components that go into a given product, and then the flow of that product from its manufacturing origin to its end destination. In a global economy (yes, there still is one, despite Trump’s best efforts) the path from cradle to application can get wildly complex. Inverters are a great example. Modern inverters have thousands of components, integrated into sub-assemblies and then into the inverter product. Sometimes this is happening countries and oceans away from the final point of installation.

As inverters become more homogenous in their basic functions and reliability, finer elements of performance will define the strengths and weaknesses of inverter suppliers. Each supplier’s own ‘supply chain’ is one of those competitive performance variables that buyers and system designers need to consider.

RELATED: How to maximize large-scale PV site value with string design


An optimized supply chain is valuable to project owners for all of the inherent benefits of efficiency:

  • Costs will likely be lower
  • Lead times will likely be shorter
  • Fewer steps from A to Z means less risk of errors occurring
  • Adjustments will be easier to make on the fly

As it relates to inverter suppliers specifically, developers and EPCs should consider the following.

1. Follow the path of the inverter in reverse, from PV application location, upstream to the site of manufacture.

Does the path make sense? Consider how many stops and warehouses are involved because every stop and transition slathers on another layer of risk and cost.

Beyond the physical transition from place to place, how many changes of ownership are involved in the movement of goods? Is a third-party warehouse used, or a third-party distributor required? Every hand-off means transition of ownership (title and/or process) and usually means added cost and markup by each party. The end owner of the inverter pays for all this, so make sure whether or not you are paying for added risk or added value.


2. Product line strategy – the higher quality inverter could come at a better price point depending on the product line and the supply chain.

How many options, variables and models are you dealing with? Sometimes too many variables means an increased risk of management mistakes and costs, as well as more overhead to manage more parts. Contrast that with a line of a few feature-rich, flexible product models that work for a variety of applications. This can be easier to manage and is helpful for designers.

Now, will feature-rich options add to costs? Not necessarily because of the economies of scale gained from producing fewer models. A localized inventory is more feasible with fewer products to focus on, leading to shorter lead times and ready-to-go stock and reduced inventory investment. Applications engineering, service and life-cycle support is also easier to manage with fewer products for both buyer and seller.

3. Get a full picture of all variables.

Weigh the pros and cons of a supplier manufacturer versus a third-party contract manufacturer. Consider the proximity of the fulfillment hub to the user and the carriers used (is it FedEx or some random company?). Just remember that a fulfillment hub or “Made in the USA” sticker doesn’t give the full picture. The global center of power electronic component production is Asia. So an inverter fully pieced together in Asia that ships to a U.S. fulfillment hub may actually be the most efficient supply chain you could find.

We will also dive into this in MUCH greater detail in this upcoming free webinar. Sign up here.

Utility-Scale String Design

Wed, Jun 20, 2018 2:00 PM EDT

When designing a large site one consideration is String or Central. Both have well defined benefits. Historically, the large utility-scale sites have mainly relied upon central inverters. Now a third option, the Virtual Central, is paving the way for string inverters into this space. In this webinar, we will discuss the benefits and disadvantages to both the distributed and centralized string architectures and how the design choice affects installers, developers and site owners. Sign up here.

— Solar Builder magazine