iDemand Energy Storage (iDES3) has developed a single conversion charge controller that they say will shorten the time needed for electrical current to travel from solar panels to storage batteries, and in so doing, save energy. The idea is to take voltage coming in and convert it efficiently to low voltage, high amperage.
“You need high amps because batteries charge in amp hours,” iDemand’s Chief Operating Officer Raymond Trejo said. “Now everyone’s using standard PV inverters to convert solar energy to usable AC energy, and then they use a secondary hybrid inverter to take that AC and convert it back to DC.”
The problem with this method, according to Trejo, is a loss of efficiency, anywhere from 25 to 35 percent of the energy.
“Our approach was to develop a high voltage charge controller that takes the high voltage solar energy and converts it to low voltage, high amperage DC to charge the batteries,” he said. “So, it’s all DC energy dumped straight into the batteries. Other companies aren’t looking for a solution to the conversion problem because they design battery storage solely as a backup system. But our battery is capable of being fully grid-independent.”
Under development for nearly a year and a half, the new charge controller, which eliminates AC loss, is expected to go on the market in mid-June. It is best suited for large scale commercial and industrial operations that use a vast amount of electricity.
“Since this product doesn’t require a second inverter, it will save customers money,” Trejo added.
He pointed out that while the U.S. branch of Mercedes-Benz Energy recently announced a partnership with solar installer Vivint to sell backup storage, and SolarCity has merged with Tesla to do likewise, neither appear to be developing storage systems with a level of extended functionality equal to that of the new iDES3 charge controller.
iDemand’s battery lineup includes the 9-36 kilowatt hour Echo Indoor series suitable for most residential needs, the 9-72 kWh Echo Outdoor and 36-108 kWh Indoor/Outdoor Alpha. Commercial systems include the 36-108 kWh Indoor/Outdoor Alpha, and the Mega, the smallest of which comes in at 500 kWh, and can be customized in 108 kWh increments. They are all comprised of fifth-generation lithium iron phosphate, LiFePO4, prismatic cell technology, which is safe and will not self-ignite.
— Solar Builder magazine