- Higher system output
- Module level shutdown
- Other Solar Services
- Panel level monitoring
- High initial cost for installation and equipment
- Relatively new in the market compared to other established solar companies
- May require professional installation and maintenance, adding to overall cost
The Israeli headquarters of SolarEdge Technologies offers a variety of inverters for residential, commercial, and small utility-scale solar installations in addition to a selection of optimisers and intelligent energy solutions. SolarEdge, a firm that was established in 2006, stands out among inverter suppliers because it does not produce traditional string solar inverters but rather what it calls “intelligent inverter systems,” which use power optimisers to maximize power generation at the individual panel level. Sales of SolarEdge systems have surged in Europe as customers and installers learn about the advantages of panel-level monitoring to assist lessen the effects of shadowing. In the US, SolarEdge systems have long enjoyed a significant market share, and their popularity has expanded there. Despite the drawbacks, such as greater upfront costs and increased complexity, adopting DC optimized systems has a number of benefits, which we go into depth below.
How The SolarEdge System Works
We’ll quickly go over how a standard string solar system operates before we discuss how the SolarEdge systems operate. Traditional solar inverters transform the DC energy from a set of solar panels into AC energy. This produces a wide range of string operating voltages depending on the time of day and the weather. The maximum power point (MPP) of the entire string is when string inverters transform DC power from one form to another by monitoring the voltage. Unless there is partial shade, dirty cells, or problems with one or more panels, this usually works quite well. In these cases, the power of the entire string is frequently reduced.
On the other hand, SolarEdge Inverters function at a very specific voltage point (typically 380V). Each solar panel has DC power optimizers attached, which is how they function. The power optimizers can either increase or decrease the panel voltage to supply the ideal voltage to the inverter, working similarly to a maximum power point tracker (MPPT). The other panel optimizers can make up (to a point) for the underperforming panels and offer the ideal string voltage for maximum performance if some of the panels are shaded or performing poorly, resulting in low voltage or current.
To supply the ideal string voltage to the inverter for optimal power, SolarEdge optimisers function as DC to DC converters.
Of course, the SolarEdge system has its drawbacks. For instance, the optimisers can only make a certain amount of adjustments (because to their restricted range) before the performance of the entire system is lowered if numerous panels are darkened or underperforming. I should also point out that power optimizers cannot produce extra power in inclement weather, when the majority of the panels are dirty, or when they are shadowed. Sorry, they aren’t magical!
SolarEdge optimisers provide a significant safety advantage by lowering the DC cable voltage to 1 volt per panel in the event of a grid or inverter shutdown, in addition to individual panel-level monitoring and power optimization. Solar panel strings can be hazardous (during the day), as they often have DC voltages of 300–600 volts, which can be dangerous in the event of a fire or an emergency.
A rooftop fire or significant damage to the panels could arise from an arc fault caused by high DC string voltages combined with bad connectors, defective isolators, water intrusion, or rust. To lessen the likelihood of arcing, SolarEdge inverters also feature built-in art fault detection (UL1699B).
Disadvantages and Potential Problems
Due to the additional components needed and the more difficult installation process with more cables and connection points, installing optimisers raises the overall system cost. Additionally, if the improper kind of connections are utilized, adding additional connection points could increase the likelihood of failure spots. The advantages of panel-level monitoring, increased DC safety, and power optimisation, according to SolarEdge and many solar installers, exceed the additional setup expense and complexity.
As the optimisers are situated on the rooftop in harsh conditions like high temperatures and humidity, having unique power electronics put on each panel may eventually increase the risk of failures and technical issues. Some SolarEdge product installers have observed rising failure rates in some harsh settings and problems with warranty claims.
However, the SolarEdge system includes individual panel optimisation and monitoring, which is crucial for systems located on rooftops with possible shading difficulties. SolarEdge inverters and optimisers can slightly outperform typical string inverters in terms of performance.
The SolarEdge system offers several advantages including improved shade tolerance, arc fault detection, ease of finding/replacing faulty panels, PID fault detection, and of course panel-level optimization and monitoring, even though the initial setup time and installation cost are higher than a conventional string inverter system. In the event of damage or a significant problem, the rapid shutdown functionality and various safety advantages further lessen the risks for installers and customers.
The SolarEdge system is typically incompatible with smaller systems with fewer than 7-8 modules or locations with significant shading concerns. Although the 12-year inverter guarantee and the 25-year optimiser warranty are highly attractive, in some cases, lengthy system downtime has been caused by the lengthy wait times and issues getting warranty components.