Alencon Systems updated its DC-DC optimizer for large-scale solar — here’s what’s improved

Alencon SPOT

Alencon Systems LLC is unveiling the latest generation of its DC-DC optimizer, the SPOT-ES V5, at the Energy Storage Association’s (ESA) Annual Conference, April 18 – 20 in Boston. The newest generation of the SPOT-ES features several exciting features and enhancements specifically targeted at achieving more cost effective and reliable DC-coupled Solar + Storage and Microgrid projects.

The Alencon SPOT – which stands for String Power Optimizer and Transmitter – is a string level DC-DC optimizer which optimizes the power from four PV string inputs with voltages ranging from 600 to 1500 volts. The SPOT outputs power through two outputs at any range of voltage that is completely configurable from one deployment to the next. The ES suffix designates “Energy Storage.” The SPOT-ES family of products has been specifically designed for the needs of DC-coupled Solar + Storage deployments.

The improvements in the SPOT-ES V5 are vast from previous generations of the SPOT family of products. The enhancements include a true 1500-volt input based on 1700 volt rated Silicon Carbide (SiC) rated mosfets, a unique ability to map a wide battery charge/discharge voltage range, reliability enhancements developed in concert with leading Solar + Storage technology providers and integrators as well as more flexible communications options for more better integration with Solar + Storage and Microgrid control systems.

RELATED: How to optimize performance and profit through O&M monitoring 

Higher Input Voltage

The SPOT-ES V5 is the first utility scale PV DC-DC optimizer capable of supporting true 1500-volt string input. The SPOT-ES 1500 can accept four 1500-volt string inputs and provides the two outputs. Two outputs have been provided to allow for the use of standard rated PV connectors at high power and current. The SPOT-ES 1500 can achieve higher voltage input because it is based on state-of-the-art 1700 volt rated Silicon Carbide (SiC) mosfets.

Wide Voltage Control Range

The SPOT-ES V5 takes advantage of Alencon’s patented galvanically isolated design. The SPOT-ES’s galvanic isolation concept completely isolates the PV input from the output by attaching isolation transformers to each PV input. This technique provides for a particularly unique benefit in the DC-coupling of Solar + Storage because the integral magnetics to the SPOT can be easily configured from one deployment to another to easily support a broad battery charge/discharge DC-bus voltage, where the voltage range could vary by as much 20% from complete discharge to full charge. This feature provides a significant benefit when connecting lower voltage batteries to 1500-volt PV systems.
Enhanced Solar + Storage Reliability Features

The SPOT-ES V5 includes a new, ultra-fast circuit to protect the SPOT from sudden system power output overloads. Such overloads can happen with greater frequency in DC-coupled Solar + Storage and Microgrids than traditional PV installations due to the increased complexity of such systems. The result of such occurrences can have very grave consequences to the entire system and hence the SPOT’s ability to better protect itself in such events offers a great deal of additional reliability.

Improved Communications Architecture

Communications between major components in Solar + Storage systems and Microgrids is critical. Such systems typically utilize master system controllers that directly interface with all components in the system including the battery, inverter and of course the SPOTs. The SPOT-ES V5 features enhanced communications features to allow it to be interfaced with third party system controllers via either Modbus TCP, for communicating to the SPOTs wirelessly, or Modbus RTU, which allows for hardwire communication to each SPOT directly. The enhanced communication functionality offered in the SPOT-ES V5 allows for unprecedentedly granular control over the PV including the ability to curtail production at the string level.

— Solar Builder magazine

Tigo Skill connects your PV system to Amazon’s Alexa (enter to win one)

Tigo is now offering its customers the benefits of Amazon Alexa technology via the new Tigo Skill, available on Alexa-enabled products. The Tigo Skill integration allows English- and German-speaking Tigo customers to use their voice to inquire about their PV production or other information collected by Tigo’s SMART website.

How does it work?

Using the Tigo Skill, residential and commercial customers with monitored PV systems can request tailored information from Alexa, the cloud-based voice service by Amazon. For example, simply saying “Alexa, ask Tigo how much power my PV system generated today,” will report a day’s worth of power without the need to log in to Tigo’s SMART website. Other voice commands include: Alexa, ask Tigo…

  • what is my [Daily/Monthly/Yearly] Production Summary?
  • what is my System Total Production Summary?
  • what is my [Average/Peak] Energy Production?
  • what is an optimizer?

“Within seconds, you can know how well your PV system is producing – without logging on to a computer or climbing on the roof,” says Maxym Makhota, Tigo’s VP of Software Development. “Tigo Skill is the first to bridge the gap between solar, artificial intelligence, and the Smart Home mentality in which information is always available.”

Tigo customers now have three options to monitor their PV system: use their voice with Tigo Skill via an Alexa-enabled device; log in to Tigo’s SMART mobile app; or log in to Tigo’s SMART website. Automated monitoring emails with production notifications and reports are still sent to customers using TS4 with monitoring capabilities. The Tigo Skill is available in North America and Europe on Alexa-enabled devices including Amazon’s Echo Dot, Echo, Tap, and via the voice remote on Fire TV. Users can acquire the Tigo Skill by simply searching for and enabling the Tigo Skill in the Amazon Alexa mobile app available on iOS, Android, and Fire tablets or by enabling the Tigo Skill directly from Amazon’s website.

Enter To Win Amazon Echo Dot Giveaway From Tigo

Tigo is giving away a limited number of Amazon Echo Dots to its customers with monitored solar arrays to experience the full benefits of Tigo Skill. This unique opportunity provides PV system owners the additional value of combining Smart Home technology with Smart PV energy. Owners of PV systems utilizing Tigo’s products activated between August 9, 2017 through September 30, 2017 are eligible to participate.

— Solar Builder magazine

Tigo solidifies rapid shutdown certified partnerships with more than 35 inverter types

tigo ts4 mlpe rapid shutdown

Tigo, pioneer of the smart modular Flex MLPE platform, has boosted its portfolio of international inverter partnerships to more than 35 inverter-types that are now Rapid Shutdown certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

SMA was first to adopt Tigo’s portfolio of Rapid Shutdown certified offerings. Additional commercial and residential inverter suppliers that also received the UL certification include:

  • ABB,
  • Fronius,
  • Ginlong Solis,
  • Kaco,
  • Sungrow,
  • Yaskawa – Solectria Solar,
  • and more.

Inverters ranging from 3kW to 30kW are certified with Tigo’s TS4 optimizers with UHD-Core technology and are shipping now. This brings the largest Rapid Shutdown solution offering with the widest adoption to market – providing Installers, EPC, and Owners the most cost-effective response to the NEC 2014 & 2017 code requirements.

“Customers looking for cost effective solutions that comply with strict safety regulations have a solution available. With Tigo’s UL Certification, our partners are exceeding these standards,” said Zvi Alon, CEO of Tigo. “We are excited to add more brands to the most diverse portfolio of approved partners in the industry.”

According to UL’s certification Rapid Shutdown Systems requirements for Distributed Generation Power System Equipment, the rapid shutdown protection is intended to reduce potential hazards and limit exposure to energized PV wiring and equipment to allow emergency first responders to perform work outside the energized area of the PV array. Also, these high reliability PV rapid shutdown systems have a higher system fault tolerance and reliability to perform their intended function under foreseeable single-point component and system failures. Only systems found to comply with these additional functional safety requirements are marked “High Reliability PV Rapid Shutdown System.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Tigo adds two more solar optimizers to UHD-Core lineup

Tigo logo

Tigo’s adding a few more options to its UHD-Core optimizers lineup announced last March. Joining the TS4-L (Long Strings) and TS4-O (Optimization) will be TS4-M (Monitoring) and TS4-S (Safety). The UHD-Core TS4-M is a cost-efficient MLPE monitoring device that produces a high sampling rate. The TS4-S adds to TS4-M’s functionality by providing module-level deactivation capabilities. The company says this release completes its TS4 platform featuring an enhanced design architecture and component rating.

TS4 optimizers explained

Tigo TS4 optimizers with UHD-Core technology support more module types than any other optimizer on the market for three reasons. First, the maximum input voltage at standard testing conditions has improved to 90V which allows for compatibility of modules with up to 96 cells. Second, the maximum input current has increased to 12A which enables the use of the highest efficiency and bifacial modules on the market. Third, the power capacity has upgraded to 475W to support the world’s most powerful modules. These enhanced electrical characteristics of the UHD-Core technology result in higher energy harvest for any module up to 475W.

“The demand for our innovative UHD-Core technology in the TS4-L and TS4-O optimizers was so impressive that we have expanded the offering to include TS4-M and TS4-S,” said Zvi Alon, CEO of Tigo. “Our commercial and utility customers will be pleased with lower O&M costs, safer solutions, and expanded inventory. Now that our TS4 platform has the highest accuracy in remote module-level monitoring, we plan to bring more superior communication solutions to the market in the near future.”

A New Connection: How the cell-optimizer, string inverter combo could change PV systems

This TS4 UHD-Core platform is fully monitored through Tigo’s Cloud Connect Advanced (CCA) data loggers with remotely upgradeable firmware. The high definition sampling rate technology also allows the highest accuracy remote monitoring of voltage and current available in the market – including remote access to individual module information (i.e. panel type, barcode, manufacturing origin, location, and production date). All Tigo TS4 platform products are autonomous and feature selective deployment. They can be fitted to new or existing installations on any string or sub-string size, driving the optimization cost as low as 2 cents per watt. They are compatible with most of Tigo’s inverter partners and any module type including monocrystalline, polycrystalline, thin-film, and bifacial.

— Solar Builder magazine

SolarEdge unveils next-gen optimizer, commercial inverters, residential solution at Intersolar Europe

SolarEdge Technologies is presenting its next-generation power optimizer, new large-capacity commercial inverters, and complete residential solution at Intersolar Europe.

On the cutting-edge of PV safety and module-level power electronics, SolarEdge is unveiling its new S-Series power optimizer, which is an Intersolar Award Finalist in the Photovoltaics category. The S-Series power optimizer has up to 40% higher power density, is 38% smaller, and introduces a new innovative safety feature that extends safety to the connector level. The new safety feature is designed to detect heat abnormalities and initiate shutdown before an arc occurs in order to prevent potential fires. The S-Series power optimizer is expected to be available in 2018.

SolarEdge S-Series Power Optimizer

Based on SolarEdge’s track record of optimizing commercial-scale PV systems, SolarEdge is extending its commercial offering with the launch of larger-capacity, three-phase inverters up to 100 kW. The new inverters enable reduced installation time and cost, while also providing smart energy management control.

Coordinating PV, storage, and home energy, the SolarEdge residential solution manages and monitors solar energy generation, electricity consumption, energy storage, and device control. The complete solution enables homeowners to increase self-consumption and energy independence. SolarEdge will show its portfolio of inverters for residential installations including the award-winning, single-phase HD-Wave inverter, the new three-phase E-Series inverter which is smaller, lighter, quieter, and more efficient than the previous generation, and a new compact residential solution for 4-8 panels.

SolarEdge New Commercial Inverter

“Dedicated to making solar systems smarter, SolarEdge continues to lead the industry in developing innovative technologies that help to make PV more economic around the world,” stated Lior Handelsman, SolarEdge’s VP of Marketing and Product Strategy.

Listed as a finalist for the EES (Electrical Energy Storage) Award, SolarEdge’s StorEdge inverter is one of the only solutions currently available on the market that combines the management of PV, storage for both on-grid and backup power, and home energy management into a single inverter. The StorEdge inverter with backup power is already available in select markets.

Q&A with SolarEdge about new StorEdge storage system

 

— Solar Builder magazine