SMA to Release Microinverter
We are drawing near the long-anticipated release of SMA’s first ever mircoinverter: the SMA Sunny Boy 240-US.
SMA is a German manufactuer of photovoltaic inverters that was founded in 1981 and currently holds 40% of the market for solar inverters. SMA has consistently produced top-quality inverters for commercial and residential applications, distinguishing itself as a trustworthy brand. Though SMA has reigned supreme in the central inverter market, microinverter manufacturers are now proving to be notable competition.
The introduction of M175 microinverters by Enphase in 2008 offered the general public an alternative to central inverters. Like central inverters, microinverters convert the DC electricity produced by solar panels to usable AC electricity. Microinverters, however, attach behind individual panels in the array, so each module can operate independently. Because of this, microinverters maximize the power produced by the individual modules, which is beneficial for systems that could be subject to shading.
Microinverters, such as the Enphase M215, have gained much traction in the last several years, particularly for residential systems in the United States. Even though SMA is still the leading manufacturer of photovoltaic inverters, the popularity of products like the Enphase M215 has incrementally chipped away at SMA’s would-be customer base. Enphase estimates that there have been around 40,000 installations with their microinverters.
The popularity of microinverters for residential systems has provided SMA an opportunity to capitalize on their reputable name. To address the needs of prospective customers, SMA is embracing this opportunity by creating a microinverter that will soon be offered to the public.
At the Intersolar North America (ISNA) conference, SMA showcased their expanded product line, which includes the SMA Sunny Boy 240-US. Though SMA will continue to sell central inverters, they recommend the Sunny Boy 240-US for systems of 2 KW or less that are subject to complicated shading conditions or have multiple orientations. According to SMA’s website:
“SMA’s Sunny Boy micro inverter system enhances design flexibility for installers in the U.S. and across the globe. It features simple installation, an innovative communications platform and superior reliability, and is especially applicable for residential systems and systems with complex shadowing situations. Among the Sunny Boy micro inverter system’s ground-breaking innovations is its ability to monitor via the Sunny Portal with the existing Sunny Boy inverter line, making string/micro hybrid installations a reality. Hybrid installations have the potential to minimize installation costs while maximizing energy harvest.”
Customers with SMA Sunny Boy Micro Inverters can also use the Sunny Boy 240 Power Gateway, which allows for internet-based analytics on the system’s production through the Sunny Portal monitor system. Consumers will be able to access this communications gateway through the web or via iPhone and Android apps.
We’ll be sure to give you an update on the SMA Sunny Boy 240-US once it is released and we’ve had a chance to learn how this product compares with other microinverters. Until then…
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