Whenusing central inverters there is a lot of room for inefficiencies tocreep into the solar array due to factors such as shading,architectural obstructions, shade from intermittent clouds and evenbird poop can result in less energy output compared to the solararray’s full potential. Today I spent the afternoon with NationalSemiconductor’s renewable energy division learning about their newproduct called SolarMagic.
Youhave to think of a string of solar panels connected to a grid tieinverter similar to Christmas lights, if one bulb goes out on a stringof Christmas lights, a group of bulbs are affected. NationalSemiconductor introduced their solution to solve the "Christmas lightsyndrome" solar panel arrays face in the real world. SolarMagic a"power optimizer" maximizes energy harvest from a solar array by piggybacking to every solar panel on a single string or the entire array tocontrol the MPPT (maximum power point tracking) on an individual solarpanel basis.
Thinkof it as adding a small computer behind each solar panel to get them towork together in harmony and produce more kWh (kilowatt-hours) on aannual basis. Shading has a detrimental effect on the performance of asolar electric system, if 10% of a solar panel array is shaded it canequal up to a 50% power loss! This is one of the key problems thatmakes SolarMagic a good investment for solar electric systems withpower mismatch issues.
Thetechnology behind SolarMagic monitors and maximizes the energy harvestof each solar panel and recuperates up to 50% of the energy lost insolar panels that are under performing because of mismatches. I thinkthe magic behind the product is the ease of installation, its so easythis blonde lady (hahaha!) was able to install it under 5 minutes.National Semiconductor did a good job making the process ofimplementing their product very simple, there is a postive and negtiveinput and output to the SolarMagic which really takes the guess workout of how it connects up
Thefield test was where National Semiconductor put their money where theirmouth was by showing us a real test of how power output between aSolarMagic "assisted string" versus a traditional string. We got toshade the solar panels to see a side by side comparison of how theSolarMagic works in real world conditions. After we saw the increase inperformance, the next question everyone wanted the answer to was, howmuch??
According to the National Semiconductor team, the MSRPwill approximately be $199 per unit. Depending on your situation thisproduct could be a good fit for your solar electric system. 1 out of 5houses do not go solar because of shading issues, but thanks to thisnew technology, solar power can become a feasible investment for evenmore people.
I think this is a great product since the productis solving a huge problem that has been overlooked in this industry.Making each string "smarter" is a good way to increase solar powerefficiencies without just focusing on the solar panel itself. What doyou think about SolarMagic?