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Cleantech News solar optimizer ampt

Published on July 21st, 2014 | by Jake Richardson

21

Ampt Launches New Solar Power Optimizer

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July 21st, 2014 by  

solar optimizer ampt

How do Ampt Optimizers deliver more power per inverter?

Systems with Ampt Optimizers allow inverters to operate in Ampt Mode™ – a higher and narrower input voltage range. This optimized input range makes it possible for the inverter to deliver up to twice as much power from the same hardware. Doubling the output power is equivalent to cutting the inverter cost in half. Through the HDPV Alliance, Ampt works with inverter manufacturers to deliver this capability to the market. Commercially available inverters with Ampt Mode™ have already achieved up to 60 percent increase in rated output power.

How does Ampt decrease solar energy costs?

Ampt Optimizers distribute maximum power point tracking (MPPT) throughout the PV array on a sub-string level that corrects for mismatch, generating more energy than traditional systems that use only central or string inverter level MPPT. Ampt Optimizers also add patented voltage and current limits to each string, allowing String Stretch™ that doubles string length and significantly reduces combiners and DC cabling. These features result in systems that generate more energy and have lower electrical balance-of-system (BOS) costs, lower inverter costs and lower total system costs.

How much can Ampt technology reduce these costs?

Ampt’s String Optimizer can decrease inverter costs and electrical BOS costs by up to 50 percent.

What is the size of a solar power facility that Ampt technology works best with, and why does it work best with large solar arrays?

Ampt technology may be applied to any size system. Our module-level optimizer is ideal for residential applications. Ampt’s String Optimizer provides best value in commercial and utility-scale PV power plants – approximately 50 kW systems or larger.

How does the String Optimizer increase lifetime performance?

The String solar power Optimizer performs MPPT on every three kilowatts of an array. That is roughly 100-200 times more granular than MPPT at the central inverter level. PV system designers recognize that putting MPPT closer to the source of generation increases PV system energy output by correcting for mismatch out in the array. The more granular and efficient the power management is, the higher the system production will be under changing environmental and system conditions over the lifetime of the power plant. Ampt’s combination of higher performance and lower total system cost is desirable to EPCs, integrators and owners alike.

Does the String Optimizer increase energy yield from each solar module? If so, how does it do this?

The String Optimizer performs MPPT at approximately every three kilowatts, depending on the desired DC to AC loading ratio. That is about 10 or 12 PV modules per MPPT zone for 72 cell or 60 cell modules. By using String Optimizers, systems have more granular MPPT than either string or central inverters alone, resulting in higher performance and more revenue.

Who are your target customers for the String Optimizer, what does it cost and how long does it take to install?

The String Optimizer is made for large PV plants. We work with various companies in the value chain including EPCs, integrators, developers and system owners like IPPs and utilities. The total installed cost of the String Optimizers is much less than the savings in electrical BOS and inverter costs provided on a system level. Total system costs go down significantly with Ampt.

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About the Author

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Google Plus.



  • JamesWimberley

    I don’t object to reproducing or paraphrasing industry press releases when they tell you something interesting, but they should be identified as such, as at PV Magazine. Where is the Jake Richardson added value here? What’s the difference between this and other competing optimizers?

    • Matt

      Agree it is a press release, no value added by Jake.

    • Vensonata

      The question I have as an off gridder is, does this help when fed to a battery charge controller, before the pv juice enters the battery bank. The company literature does not illuminate this obvious need in off grid community…which could shortly grow exponentially.

      • Offgridman

        In the same situation as you and don’t think that these will do us any good because they are talking about combining with straight to AC MPPT inverters.
        Would ask if you are using the MPPT charge controllers yet? I started out with one central 3 stage charge controller that could accept different strings, because half of my panels are thin film for best low light performance (and at the time were a lot cheaper than silicon) and half polycrystalline for the high temperature performance.. Wasn’t getting anywhere near rated performance out of any of my panels and in the meantime found out about inexpensive MPPT controllers. So sent back the 3 stage under warranty and split up my strings to match the ratings on four of the MPPT controllers, and here at seven years am still getting higher than rated performance out of all my panels on sunny days, and over 60% on cloudy days.
        To me the MPPT controllers are definitely the way to go for offgrid systems.

        • Bob_Wallace

          “over 60% on cloudy days”?

          You’re getting 60% output on cloudy days? How much cloud?

          ” inexpensive MPPT controllers”

          Tell me, please.

          • What can I say!

            That’s an impossibility to say that you can achieve 60% on cloudy days with an MPPT charge controller. You cannot achieve higher wattage rate from a solar cell under an MPPT charge controller than a linear regulator or without an charge controller, the same wattage is achieve either ways under given battery load.

            There are studies done which confirms MPPT charge controllers do increases solar panel degradation over lifespan, including battery degradation shorten life expectancy, compared to a linear charge cycle, MPPT It’s a technology that I would avoid in my system with High frequency switching rates, decaying cell integrity.

          • Bob_Wallace

            And those studies are where?

          • John Ihle

            I’d like to see the link(s) to those studies, too.

          • nakedChimp

            “That’s an impossibility to say that you can achieve 60% on cloudy days with an MPPT charge controller. You cannot achieve higher wattage rate from a solar cell under an MPPT charge controller than a linear regulator or without an charge controller, the same wattage is achieve either ways under given battery load.”

            Not True.. back 5-8 years you loaded a battery bank at nominal value (usually 24 or 48 volts for Lead Acid) from the PV via PWM or even older just simple switch on/off chargers.. the batteries kept taking the current at THEIR voltage, not the voltage of the solar panels.. so if your solar panel was not a perfect fit (there are still 12V and 24V panels out there) you would waste energy.
            Say, you have a 30V Vmp solar panel that makes 5A Imp..
            The batteries are charging at 23V.. you loose 7V x 5A = 35W from a total of 150W.. that’s a 20% loss right there.
            Now take some different panel with higher voltage and you’re seriously screwing up you harvest.

            With a MPPT charger the panel optimum power point at Imp and Vmp is transformed via coils/capacitors/semiconductors and lot’s of programming to feed it at the right voltage level to the batteries.
            So the complete 30V/5A (150W) are being converted to 150W @ 23V (6.5A current).

            “There are studies done which confirms MPPT charge controllers do increases solar panel degradation over lifespan, including battery degradation shorten life expectancy, compared to a linear charge cycle, MPPT It’s a technology that I would avoid in my system with High frequency switching rates, decaying cell integrity.”

            Mind to share any links please?

          • Offgridman

            Talking about the gray hazy days when the sun is out of sight but it is still fairly bright out. Of course when the black clouds come in and the rain starts it isn’t that good. But up here in the spring and early summer it seems like half our days are like that.
            The ones I got came from BZ Products and back then (8 yrs ago) 500 watt capacity with 1000 watt surge were well under 200$, with the plus of being made in US , so when display screen went bad in one had no problems getting fixed, just had to pay shipping. These were designed for smaller offgrid systems so ended up using several in parallel, but it still worked out less expensive than getting one of the big units from Xantrac (? spelling) who were just starting to encorporate the mppt.
            Now another thing that I did which has been mentioned before but I think ties in with this is ignored the recommendations from the books on wiring size for being able to carry 90-95% of load to control costs. Having to pay 4.50-6.50$/watt on panels, couldn’t see cheaping out and not getting every amp. I did buy them by the pound from the scrap yard, but most of my panel inter connects are #2 welding cables, and even use 1/0 twisted strand on the longest feed (65′) to the controller.
            With the way prices have dropped (found the same Sharp polycrystalline can be delivered for a total of 1.24$/watt on Amazon now) it is easier (less expensive) to add more panels than what I did with the wiring, but it was a solution for the time.
            As for “What can I say”, part of the reason for using mppt is to utilize the higher line voltages and convert them to more amps at your desired charge voltage, so yes they do improve charge over straight panel connection to a battery or through the older types of controllers. If this wasn’t true why would so many commercial farms be using that type of inverter? They don’t get paid for delivering higher voltages, but the more amps at the controlled voltage means a bigger check at the end of the month. And as for damaging the batteries, only circumstantial evidence in my case, but I got longer than predicted use out of my first set of deep cycles and would still be using them but found a great deal on a bigger bank of absorbed glass mat and saved myself a lot of the regular maintenance on the open cell batteries.
            Bob PS, didn’t mean to take so long getting back to you but crashed early last night.

          • Standalone

            I differ from your statement, in my case I found that the MPPT cost around the price of 1kw solar array so what do you gain. My MPPT will not work under low light levels and when compared to a standard regulator, and I found that the standard regulator come on top on wattage over the day of low light levels. Further more to this when Battery Discharged level are low you will find that the current increases in value exceeding the panel rating set by the manufacture, the MPPT only work on a program set by the programmer which does not know best, I finding battery not full charge, as 3 stage charge controller MPPT end up in sitting at float voltage well below charge require level.
            You will also find that your need 45VOC panels on 24v system not 30VOC under load, the 45VOC panel will drop around to 36V at the rated wattage set by the manufacture. 185 watt panel is rated 36 @ 5.15 loaded, that watt I get out of my panels is 185, but less under an MPPT 3.5amp same light level .

          • Offgridman

            Sorry to hear that it doesn’t work out for you as l said that was just the circumstances of what happened for me. As for voltages it was split between 24volt multicrystalline (30 voc grid tie) panels which don’t perform as well as the generic thin film that came as 12 Volt off grid panels that were rewired to 24 (to reduce line loss), in the low light conditions. To feed a 12 volt battery system.
            Perhaps it is controllers from different manufacturer’s or that in my case it is actually five separate ones for the different strings, so that the different panels are isolated. At that time though the five controllers to cover 2.7 Kw of panels cost less than 900$, as compared to one centralized controller from the other companies with MPPT being at a minimum 2500$. So with being able to get the extra wire at a minimal cost, and it being my labor figured it as free, the end costs were much better the way I did it.
            One other difference in the controllers that you aren’t realizing (and I didn’t point out specifically), is that mine aren’t MPPT added to an older style three stage controller like you are talking about using. These were one of the first MPPT true variable feed voltage controllers, like what I understand are being used on the newer grid tied farms now.
            Thanks for the comment, hope that this helps explain why the end results might be different even though we are both using MPPT controllers.

        • vensonata

          We have two outback pv charge controllers both with mppt. I am now going from 3.4 kilowatt pv array to 12 kwh pv which means getting Schneider 600volt pv charge controller to handle the juice. This should make us 100% solar year round, good bye to 12 kw diesel generator. It amazes me that the panels in good sunlight can put out more juice than a big Kubota diesel! Anyway, call me Buck Rogers, but this is the future of off grid…100% solar year round. By the way our winter light is abysmal compared to most of those U.S. sites but it is still practical at current solar prices.

          • Offgridman

            Very much in agreement with you on what has happened with the prices. Have been reading on how inexpensive they are getting for the farms buying in bulk but wondered how it works out for us little guys. When buying 700 watts of the Sharp panels eight years ago thought I did OK at getting them for a little over 6$/watt including tax. But had to drive the hour+ into the city to pick up.
            As I said on Amazon found 3 sources that will deliver to my door a 1000 watts (4×250) at that 1.24$ per. It is such a difference that it almost boggles the mind. Instead of just getting the extra Kw originally considered am seriously considering getting 2 and using the second one split in half for east and west positioning to stretch out those short winter days you mentioned. The ones I have already are great at kicking out the amps on those cold days even if it means having to sweep the snow off a couple of times a year.

          • Vensonata

            The crazy part is racking. It is sometimes equal to the cost of panels which makes me become a back yard inventor. All concern over getting 2 percent efficiency gains in inverters or panels goes out the window if you are adding 50% to the price by using metal racking. Inverters are cheap, pv is cheap, racking is outrageous, and so are batteries.

          • Offgridman

            Yes the hassle of racking is another facet of the offgrid solar setup where I can sympathize with you. Being in the process of turning a mobile home into a full sized house (least expensive way of dealing with the building codes here) have been making my own out of pressure treated wood and using clips and wires for grounding and lightening protection. When the sod roof is done plan on making my own out of aluminum and stainless steel that I have been collecting as it shows up at the scrap yard. What I’ve done would probably make a California inspector flip out, but this state is so backwards that there are no designated codes for offgrid systems, so no one to cause me any hassle.

          • Vensonata

            Yep, we made our second set out of treated wood, on a steel ground mount pole. It is even adjustable for seasons and can manually turn if you want to get up to 40% more electricity in the longer days. Three turns competes well with a fancy two axis tracker.

          • Bob_Wallace

            File this away for future use. Lots of ‘grade A’ panels for under $1/watt (not including shipping).

            http://www.ecobusinesslinks.com/surveys/free-solar-panel-price-survey/

            I’m thinking of putting a couple of kW on my roof and pointing my existing 1.2 kW toward the east for a morning pick me up.

          • vensonata

            good link. thanks. If you have a top of pole mount you can orient by the push of a hand a 1.2 kwh array. We do three pushes a day and it gives you about 30-40% increase 6 months of the year. Then you can have early morning or late afternoon as you please.

          • Offgridman

            A very big thank you from me too Bob!
            Started my search under the Sharp name because of having been very pleased with quality and performance of the previous ones, and are actually made within a few hundred miles of home. Unfortunately haven’t been able to find a way to get direct factory sales.
            The 1000 watt offers on Amazon were all at under a 1$/watt also (995$), but the shipping from all three across the country (at 239$) are what made the difference.
            With trying to get my summer time projects done haven’t had the time for any further research, so your help with this is really appreciated.
            Hope that the mppt controllers can be of benefit for you.

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