Princeton Power Systems earns big capital investment and new ISO certification

princeton-power-systemsPrinceton Power Systems (PPS), is a global designer and manufacturer of technology products and embedded software for energy storage, microgrid operations, and electric vehicle charging, and it must be doing something right as the company was just recognized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for its process driven design and manufacturing through the designation of a ISO 9001:2008 Certification. The certification was received in December 2015.

The ISO 9001: 2008 certification indicates that the ISO acknowledges that PPS is meeting the ISO 9001:2008 standard for Quality Management Systems with their design, manufacturing and distribution of power inverters and energy storage systems. ISO certification is based on quality management principles that include a strong customer focus, motivation and implication of top management, process approach, continual improvement and review. The company’s quality policy maintains those principles by declaring that all employees must be committed to providing customers with empowering and innovative technology solutions. These goals are continuously met by providing world-class quality in products, services, and people.

RELATED: New York’s new utility approach causes industry buzz 

“Investing in the ISO certification is a direct response to customer demand for the highest quality products. We are very excited to have achieved this milestone in our efforts to drive continuous improvement in our company-wide culture of innovation and quality,” said Paul Heavener, director of quality assurance and project management at Princeton Power Systems. “As a pioneer in inverters and embedded software for energy storage, adopting and maintaining ISO certification enables our unique products to be deployed in mission-critical applications for enterprise customers.”

Princeton Power Systems also received a capital investment from GHO Ventures, which has had a sustained investment in Princeton over the past 15 years and has seen the company through its initial set of revenue milestones. This latest investment indicates continued long-term support for the company, its leadership and its products. Princeton will use this funding to develop new and improved products as well as expand the company’s sales capabilities. Special emphasis will be placed upon planned shipments of energy management systems using a new Silicon Carbide-based inverter platform that is quiet, more efficient and significantly smaller and lighter than existing models.

“GHO Ventures has been a loyal investor since our inception and we appreciate their confidence in our ability to outpace the competition by leveraging their investment commitment,” says Darren Hammell, president, Princeton Power Systems. “With this raise in capital from GHO, we have been given the opportunity to continue our role as an innovation flash point and demonstrate industry leadership.”

For more on Princeton Power Systems, head to their website.

— Solar Builder magazine

How inverters are changing PV systems with bundled services

Fronius inverters

Fronius conducts extensive testing during the development stages of a product as well as during the production process.

There’s that joke about smartphones that’s kind of a cliché now: Why are they called “phones” still? The phone part is like 1 percent of its usefulness. Inverters are kind of trending in that direction, too. Defining an inverter as merely a device that converts direct current from a solar panel into alternating current is now limiting.

Inverter manufacturers have driven innovation past DC-to-AC functionality to create multifaceted hubs that determine the success of a system and are engineered for additional responsibilities such as grid interaction, safety and monitoring. Some of these performance changes are responses to changing utility connection requirements, which has provided the largest technical challenges for inverters, all while standards and codes (UL, NEC or IEC) update at a feverish pace. But many of these advancements are just examples of innovation at its finest.

Grid Management

On a recent SEPA webinar, the panel mentioned the case study of Hawaii, which had an issue with frequency control — an issue that started to cause blackouts. But a significant majority of the solar arrays put on the grid over the past few years were installed with Enphase microinverters with frequency ride control settings. So, a vast majority of the systems received a software update all at once (about 800,000), which had a dramatic effect on grid stability.

This story from Hawaii illustrates the very real power inverters have in driving the industry forward.

Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) Rule 14H and California’s Rule 21 are driving inverters to need to incorporate more smart grid functionality,” says Teff Reed, senior director of microinverter systems, Enphase Energy. The company addressed these needs with the release of its S-Series inverters. SolarEdge and Fronius also have HECO and California Rule 21-compliant products.

“Inverters are now interacting with the grid to enable distributed generation on a large scale,” says Tristan Kreager, director of Solar Energy for Fronius.

RELATED: Hawaii residents asked to choose ‘self-supply’ or ‘grid-supply’ in next move to smart grid 

Princeton Power is moving toward capabilities for both bi-directional operation and off-grid operation, which will add hardware components but also significant new software features. SMA’s Sunny Boy, Sunny Tripower and Sunny Central inverters offer a full suite of grid management features that meet even the strictest regulatory requirements.

“Now, the most technologically advanced inverters for the residential, commercial and utility-scale sectors are utility compliant and can operate in any market, including Hawaii and California,” says Brad Dore, director of marketing for SMA America.

OutBack Power has developed an entire lineup of products and system features that both play with the grid and storage in different ways, a mix of integrating grid-tied economics with off-grid independence. With OutBack’s FlexTime programming, for example, users can master time-of-use variables, shifting to stored electricity or renewables when it makes the most economic sense.

“With grid hybrid inverters, we use an automatic transfer switch [ATS] for a seamless transition,” says Mara White, senior product manager for OutBack. “In other words, solar inverters are designed with the use of grid connection with energy storage. It won’t let the homeowner actually know what’s powering the lowest, meaning that no lights are going to flicker.”

On the larger scale, Eaton’s utility inverters have included numerous grid integration features since they were launched two years ago. Because these inverters were based on a wind inverter platform, the solutions are engineered with a number of intelligent features, such as volt-ampere (VAR) support, power factor support and low voltage ride through (LVRT). Princeton Power offers battery energy storage integration, on-grid and off-grid operation for backup and island applications, built-in schedulers for peak demand reduction and volt/VAR regulation as well.

three phase string inverters

CPS Americas offers a bundle including the roof-top 15 degree inverter rack.

Component bundling

Grid functionality is just one component amid a list of conveniences, enhancements and other game-changing innovations being bundled into today’s inverters. For example, many inverters now have a revenue-grade metering integration.

“This integration is aimed at reducing costs, labor and complexity for installers,” says Lior Handelsman, VP of marketing and product strategy at SolarEdge. “For applications such as SRECs or PPA financed systems, which require a separate meter, our installers simply purchase and mount an inverter with an embedded meter.”

Storage is also a huge new bundling component (which we will get to), but its inclusion into some inverter solutions has brought along other cost efficiencies. For its new residential solar-plus-storage product, Tabuchi worked to place all of the components into a single unit while ensuring they work together seamlessly. The idea here was to save time and money on the installation and reduce the number of service calls in the long run.

RELATED: Inside Tabuchi’s storage plus inverter system 

OutBack Power has an entire line of pre-assembled, wired and configured systems called FLEXpower, which combine the inverter/charge, charge controller, programmer and other necessary balance of system components in a single easy to install package. Solutions like this can cut installation times in half.

In September 2015, Yaskawa – Solectria Solar introduced its Decentralized MW Solution that combines its three-phase 1000 VDC inverters with low-voltage switchgear (AC panelboards, switchboards, switches, transformers) with monitoring. This saves a customer from having to source various components and question whether or not their system is compatible with the products. In addition, Solectria is developing features that will help automate the inverter commissioning process.

The Fronius Primo eliminates the need for an additional socket or branch circuit meter, which cuts the cost for revenue grade metering (RGM) in half.

WATCH: Fronius’ SnapINverters now include revenue grade metering 

“Furthermore, inverters acquired more communication capabilities, like integrated SunSpec Modbus, Wi-Fi and mobile apps to easily monitor any system,” Kreager says.

Some inverter manufacturers now include a cellular modem, which removes the need for the installer to work with a building’s Internet and the need to purchase a separate cellular modem.

CPS Americas provides a bundle including the roof-top 15 degree rack to host the inverter.

“We pre-integrate the inverter mounting bracket on the rack, then ship the bundle with a shade cover. The installer receives a kit of all parts from one supplier in one delivery,” says Ed Heacox, GM, sales and marketing for CPS Americas. “This reduces overhead, delivery and shipping costs and then improves speed of installation while reducing delivery errors.”

For utility-scale, Eaton looks at both total cost of installation and ownership. So, stuff like reduced shipping costs, savings on the size of concrete pads or size of the rental equipment needed to complete a job. The company also removes fans from the equation, as they are one of the more unreliable parts of a system.

“By using a liquid-cooled design, we are able to reduce the number of cooling fans required,” says Chris Thompson, grid power business unit manager at Eaton. “This helps reduce moving parts and dramatically limits the opportunity for related failure. After four or five years, air cooled units with a large number of fans will most often require a high occurrence of technician visits, which has a huge impact on operating costs. Liquid cooling is more expensive up front but cheaper over time.”

Click 2 for a ton more info on downsizing systems and incorporating storage.

— Solar Builder magazine

Princeton Power Systems Displays New Product Generations at Solar Power International

princetomnPrinceton Power Systems, a leading global designer and manufacturer of technology products for energy management, microgrid operations, and electric vehicle charging, will be exhibiting at the Solar Power International 2015 trade show in Anaheim, Calif. This year, Princeton Power Systems will display the newest generation 100 kW grid tied inverter as well as the new 30 kW wall mount unit.

Princeton Power Systems’ GTIB-100 G1.2 is a 3-phase 100 kW four-quadrant converter with the same advanced microgrid functions as its predecessor. It also features an expanded DC voltage, transformer-less operation, ten percent higher power, and reduced audible noise. It is designed for advanced batteries, solar, on-grid, and off-grid applications. The company has already deployed 60 MW worth of GTIB systems to its customers.

Be sure to check out the rest of our coverage from SPI

15_SPI-logo-2015The current model of the GTIB Grid-tied Inverter has been utilized in microgrid applications since 2009, when it was the world’s first commercial-scale microgrid converter certified to UL-1741 safety standards. Multiple GTIB-100’s have been operating the Solar Microgrid at Alcatraz Island since 2010, one of the highest profile microgrids in North America, logging over 200,000 operating hours at this site alone.

The company’s GTIB-30W is a wall mounted, optimized version of the GTIB-30 floor-standing converter. The product is fully microgrid and “off-grid” / back-up power capable for industrial and commercial facilities. The bi-directional converter can condition power from advanced batteries and solar. The product ship in early 2016 with UL 1741 listing for both on-grid and Microgrid operations.

Princeton Power Systems will be exhibiting at booth #2002 in the Anaheim Convention Center showcasing their new products and technology. Follow us on Twitter at SPI: @PrincetonPower1

— Solar Builder magazine

VOTE: 2015 Solar Builder Project of the Year Awards — Roof-mounted

Bishop O’Dowd High School

BOD South Side ArrayOakland, Calif.
Completed: Aug. 1, 2015
Size: 50.960 kW

Bishop O’Dowd High School has a two-story classroom building facing southeast. The classrooms get very hot during the day when classes are in session. They want to reduce the heat to improve the learning experience of the students. They either had to install air conditioning or create an awning to shade the windows. They opted to create an awning structure that uses solar panels to create shade and electricity. The new solar (PV) powered awning shade structure improves the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) for students and faculty by reducing temperatures by 7 to 10 degrees on the south side of the building. It is also more financially sustainable at just 10 percent of the cost of an expensive energy intensive air-conditioning system. Additionally, at a count of nearly 200 solar panels, the project aims to generate $15,000 worth of electricity energy savings each year. Finally, O’Dowd can be proud to take another step forward in its environmentally sustainable goal to be zero-net energy and reduce overall GHG emissions. The teachers have given the system high praise.

Developer: John Orfali
Contractor: Save a Lot Solar
Module: Trina Solar
Inverter: Enphase
Mounting: Iron Ridge

Camillus House

Camillus House Energy ProjectMiami, Fla.
Completed: June 16, 2015
Size: 20.7 KW

The Camillus House Energy Project is the result of an experimental course to incorporate a hands-on approach to philanthropy for students at Florida International University. Communication Arts student Chloe Danielle Castro won the grant for IDEAS For Us, an international sustainability NGO based in Orlando, whose mission is to develop and implement solutions that create a better and more sustainable future for all. As the course progressed, the idea was for the project to benefit others as well as the environment. So together, she and the team at IDEAS For Us created an energy project concept by identifying a set of practical goals that would have the largest community impact. Along with other initiatives (LED lights, smart thermostats) they added a 20-kW solar array on one of the Camillus House residencies. The benefits of this bi-fold plan will help to lower utility bills for Camillus House, and power a portion of their building from clean renewable energy, ultimately allowing them to allocate more funding to their mission of helping people in need. The local contractors included Citizen Energy, and Advanced Green Technologies, both who made hefty contributions to the project. The project also received a solar grant from FPL, which allowed for the team to double the solar array from 10 kW to 20 kW.

Developer: IDEAS For Us
Contractor: Advanced Green Technologies (AGT Solar) / Citizen Energy
Module: HANWHA Solar One, 305W Polycrystalline Photovoltaic Modules
Inverter: Sungrow SGKU-60KW inverters
Mounting: Panel Claw – Polar Bear III Flatroof Mounting System

Be Like Brit

Grand Goave, Haiti
Completed: Nov. 28, 2014
Size: 30 kW

In January 2010, Britney Gengel, a 19-year-old student from Massachusetts was killed in the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti while volunteering in one of the country’s local orphanages. To honor Brit, her family started a foundation and built a 22,000-sq-ft earthquake-proof orphanage shaped in the letter B, for Brit, in Grand Goave, Haiti. Prior to the installation, Be Like Brit got its electricity from the local utility, which was unreliable and cost the organization around $4,000 per month. Solect, along with two local subcontractor partners from Massachusetts, sponsored two installation team members to travel to Haiti to lead the installation. Solect donated 50 solar panels to the orphanage in order to manage construction costs for the organization and ensure that more of the non-profit’s donations could be used to provide care for the children, instead of paying for electricity. The finished project now provides 60% of the electrical needs of the orphanage. The project is one of a kind in that it utilizes large-scale battery storage for a commercial project. The battery system for Be Like Brit consists of 48 two-volt batteries, which is an incredibly large amount of back-up power for a system of this size.

Developer: Solect Energy
Contractor: Solect Energy/ Downing Electric
Module: Canadian Solar
Inverter: Magnum
Mounting: Iron Ridge

Schaedler Yesco Distribution

solar Pennsylvania distributorHarrisburg, Pa.
Completed: May 18, 2015
Size: 1.53 KW

Schaedler-Yesco Distribution had some inventory they acquired a few years ago while solar was booming in Pennsylvania that had been sitting on the shelves in recent years. Upper management wanted to discard or dispose of the excess inventory but their energy manager was reluctant to get rid of it. Contractor Edwin L. Heim Co. had discussions with them and offered its labor for both systems if they could supply materials for both. The Schaedler Yesco first system now ties into a 225 amp panel, at 120/208 volt three-phase four wire. In the future, the Engage cable can be extended to serve 18 additional microinverters to complete circuit one. The second system is similar except the tie-in was to a 200 amp single phase panel. This complete system would be 35 microinverters and modules (8.925 KW total). The six microinverters now will become seven in the future on circuit one. Two more circuits can be added in the future for 14 microinverters and modules on each circuit. The infrastructure was designed and sized for the complete system at the beginning.

Developer: None
Contractor: Edwin L. Heim Co.
Module: REC Solar
Inverter: Enphase
Mounting: Ballasted Roof Racking/ AET

University of Miami Frost School of Music

University of Miami solar awardCoral Gables, Fla.
Completed: Jan. 7, 2015
Size: 71.5 kW

Designed by award-winning architects Yann Weymouth and HOK, and constructed by Skanska USA, the University of Miami’s new Frost School of Music facility boasts two buildings with 41,089 sq ft of upscale teaching spaces and beautiful curb appeal. Located on UM’s Coral Gables campus, the Patricia Louise Frost Music Studios is seeking to be the first LEED Platinum certified building in the City of Coral Gables, Fla. Additionally, the completed rooftop solar arrays are built to withstand 180 mph wind speeds, qualified for a 20-year NDL on all penetration flashings from the roofing manufacturer and helped the building qualify for two LEED points in the energy efficiency category. The roof system from Siplast was unique because of the LEED point acquired through the Eco Active cap sheet and the ability to bundle the light-weight concrete decking and mod bit roofing system under the same 20-year warranty. The completed solar arrays will offset 13% of the building’s total energy consumption and produce 101.344 MWh annually.

Developer: HOK (Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaun, Inc.
Contractor: Skanska USA Building Inc.
Module: Canadian Solar
Inverter: SMA
Mounting: Sunlink

WaterShed Sustainability

Rockville, MD
Completed: April 7, 2015
Size: 11 kW

In the summer of 2014, Standard Solar partnered with Pepco to develop an innovative behind-the-meter solar microgrid demonstration project at the WaterShed Sustainability Center in Rockville, Md. It is a rare installation for both its technology integration as well as its behind-the-meter project type. The solar microgrid project was developed in a public setting designed to highlight the system’s capabilities. Pepco’s WaterShed Sustainability Center showcases a variety of environmental initiatives and seeks to educate the public about energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly practices. Incorporating grid-integrated storage with solar PV has the potential to reduce overall PV project costs and offers new benefits to hosts, including backup power, demand reduction and peak shaving. The system can seamlessly charge and discharge from the grid, islanding itself as needed to complement the electricity grid and improve load balancing. With the help of an intelligent load control system, the microgrid can increase its autonomy in a grid outage situation. The system can be configured to perform multiple functions, manually or on-demand with customer programming.

Developer: Pepco Holdings
Contractor: Standard Solar
Module: Siliken
Inverter: Princeton Power Systems
Mounting: DPW

Now… vote!
Check out the Ground-mounted nominees

— Solar Builder magazine

SD Zoo Solar-To-EV System Is The Real Deal

San Diego’s zoo gets a super-smart solar-to-EV charging system, able to operate independent of the grid, store power, send excess power to the grid or use grid power.

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