solar energy optimizer
solar energy optimizer. Image: Solarshot Shutterstock

If you have a photovoltaic system at home, surely you have already suffered efficiency losses in the system. Losses due to shadows, or installations where solar panels could not maintain the original trends or directions.

In these cases, the installer will be obliged to provide the customer with alternatives to reduce these losses in efficiency.

One of these alternatives is photovoltaic panels with MLPE (Electronic Power Level Module) devices. Devices that are part of microinverters and power optimizers.

What is a solar panel power optimizer?

A power optimizer for photovoltaic installations is a device whose function is to reduce the losses of a solar photovoltaic system, thus increasing the efficiency of the system as a whole.

The idea is that each of the panels has an optimizer, these being connected to the inverter.

Power optimizers can be connected in series or in parallel, which in turn provide power to a conventional inverter or dedicated to the use of power optimizers. The choice will depend on the manufacturer.

The power optimization is due to the detection of the maximum power point in each photovoltaic panel. It works differently from the inverter, which searches for the point of maximum power taken into account the power of the assembly of the photovoltaic panel; while the optimizer acts on each photovoltaic panel, thereby increasing the precision in the location of the maximum power point.

Thus, when a photovoltaic panel has its efficiency limited by shading factors, if it is connected to a power optimizer, this limitation will be reduced.

Advantages and disadvantages of optimizers.

photovoltaic power optimizer
photovoltaic power optimizer. Image: Divgradcurl Shutterstock

Benefits of power optimizers.

Using a power optimizer in a photovoltaic solar panel system has the following advantages:

Adaptable to all photovoltaic panels.

Panels that are not identical can be connected in series. The number of panels in the series does not depend on the output voltage of a panel, so different voltages can be connected.

Increased efficiency.

They generate more energy because they can identify the point of maximum power per panel, regardless of weather conditions, or even in installations that do not have the correct angles and orientations.

Low maintenance cost.

It identifies the faulty photovoltaic panel in the system.

The low energy losses.

Avoid energy loss caused by power differences between different panels.

Greater safety in the electrical installation.

As it works with lower voltages, the risk of producing an electric arc is eliminated. Which is common in conventional photovoltaic systems. In addition, the optimizers have a support system that automatically disconnects when an electric arc is detected and is therefore immune to fire.

Individual follow-up.

Each photovoltaic panel is analyzed individually, thus knowing the energy and efficiency of each of them.

Disadvantages of power optimizers.

There is little talk of the drawbacks in the implementation of this solution, since the use of this technology to increase the efficiency of photovoltaic panels and reliability.

There is a small loss of energy at the time of conversion, but it is not enough to be considered a disadvantage. Because, in practice, the energy consumed by the optimizers is offset by the efficiency gains in the entire photovoltaic system.

Probably the low point of this system is that they are very expensive, but considering the benefits, it is certainly worth.

Power Optimizers vs. Microinverters

The difference between the losses during the process of converting direct current to alternating current is found.

In solar systems with a power optimizer, the conversion of current is performed in the inverter, while micro – inverters, each of which is responsible for power conversion (which generates an increase in losses during conversion).

But there are similarities between the two systems, especially when it comes to efficiency. It’s a very thin border, but still power optimizers are more beneficial compared to microinverters!