China’s ET Solar has launched the industry’s highest efficiency AC solar panel. The UL 1741 and UL 1703 certified solar panels will contain SolarBridge Pantheon II micro-inverters and produce grid-compatible AC electricity.
The new ET Solar lines are an addition to the existing micro-inverter market options, which is still limited to a handful of companies. Micro-inverters are an innovative approach to solar PV systems and something of a frontier in solar system efficiency improvements. Conventionally, solar panels produce DC (direct current) electricity, which cannot be used by most appliances and cannot be pumped into the electrical grid which uses AC (alternating current); conventional solar panels therefore need a centralised inverter to render the solar power usable.
Micro-inverters have a number of advantages over this sort of single-inverter set-up. Firstly, because each panel does the DC-AC conversion independently, micro-inverters mitigate the ‘domino effect’ that occurs when one panel in a string is shaded, resulting in the the output of the entire string being pulled down to the level of the ‘weakest link’–i.e. the shaded panel(s). They also allow for performance monitoring of individual solar panels, and limit the negative effects of solar panel output mismatch.
ET Solar panels have an output of up to 238W AC, and “provide up to 25% more power yield than conventional PV systems, while reducing up to 50% of the system design and installation costs”, according to PV Magazine. They will also improve safety conditions during installation and in the event of a fire by avoiding high-voltage DC electricity.
In Australia at the time of writing, there is only 1 brand of panels manufactured that uses micro-inverter technology. Tindo Karra 240 solar panels use Enecsys micro-inverters, and are considered a high-end product. The main disadvantage of micro-inverters in Australia remains their cost, which can be prohibitively high.
Top image: SolarBridge Pantheon and Pantheon II micro-inverters, via SolarBridge Technology
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