Technology

Optimize your PV business with SolarEdge DC Optimized Inverters

Lior Handelsman
Lior Handelsman.png

With the increasing number of PV systems being installed in South Africa, it is important to establish a skilled installation work force to be competitive. As the cost per watt of PV hardware drops, installers can find it more difficult to stay profitable. Installers are looking for ways to improve their competitiveness and bottom line. Inverter selection can be key to this process.

Inverters are only about 10% of a PV system’s cost, but they significantly influence soft costs such as permitting, customer acquisition, Balance of Systems (BoS) costs, labor, and more. The inverter also has 100% control over secondary costs, such as monitoring and reporting. The SolarEdge DC optimized inverter solution can reduce these costs and as such, can help installers to optimize their business.

By splitting the traditional inverter functionality into two functions, the power optimizer to maximize energy production for each module and a simplified inverter that is only responsible for DC-AC inversion and grid management, SolarEdge was able to overcome the inherent drawbacks of traditional inverters. This new system design offers system owners many benefits, but it also provides value for installers.

The maximum power harvesting from each module offers more energy by mitigating module-level mismatch. While this offers system owners more energy for their system, it can also help installers win more tenders by offering PV systems with more energy production and a better RoI. By increasing the percentage of systems successfully completed, installation companies’ efficacy is improved. This helps decrease the average cost/Watt of customer acquisition.

With the SolarEdge DC optimized inverter, installers and home owners benefit from constraint-free design. In a SolarEdge system, the string voltage is always fixed, regardless of temperature and of string length, allowing longer strings and reduced BoS cost. This means that with SolarEdge, installers can design systems with parallel strings of unequal lengths, multiple module orientations, capacities, and layouts in a single string. This design simplicity allows installers to be significantly more time efficient in designing PV systems.  

The design flexibility also allows for longer strings of up to 11.25kWp per string, for instance up to 60 modules per string. These longer strings allow for fewer strings to be installed and ultimately reduce BoS costs by up to 50%. This can help the installer in providing a competitive price quote for a system that can also provide more energy.

An additional benefit of the SolarEdge DC optimized inverter solution’s design flexibility is the ability to maximize system size. The combination of the previous benefits allows more modules to be designed into rooftop systems. For a system owner this means more power and more revenue, but for installers it gives them a competitive advantage and helps to increase the average profit per installation.

Another important aspect in PV systems is safety. Many new regulations are coming online that call for module-level shutdown. This can often be costly to implement, but with the SolarEdge DC optimized inverter, its SafeDC™ technology is embedded into the system – without any additional costs or design required. In a SolarEdge system, whenever AC power is off, DC wires are de-energized. Power optimizers shut down the DC voltage in the PV wires to protect installers, maintenance personnel, and firefighters. In some locations, there may not be safety regulations, but system owners may have concerns about firefighters’ willingness to fight a fire due to safety issues with traditional PV system. This can cause a potential installation to be cancelled. However, with SolarEdge’s SafeDC™, this hurdle can be easily overcome. By offering this peace of mind, without any additional costs, SolarEdge offers installers another competitive advantage.

As PV systems age, a growing cost to both system owners and installation companies is O&M. However, with SolarEdge’s cloud-based, module-level monitoring portal, this can turn a potential drawback into an opportunity. With module-level performance monitoring, automatic alerts, and remote troubleshooting, installers benefit from less trips to sites, less time spent on site, and system owners have a higher system uptime. In fact, O&M can be a potential new revenue stream for installers, by offering different levels of O&M services to system owners.

The bottom line is that the SolarEdge DC optimized inverter solution offers value throughout the entire supply chain. It helps installers to increase revenue and decrease expenses, while also improving the RoI for system owners. 

Written by:

Mr. Lior Handelsman, VP Marketing and Product Strategy, founded SolarEdge in 2006 and currently serves as our Vice President, Marketing and Product Strategy where he is responsible for SolarEdge’s marketing activities, product management and business development.

Prior to founding SolarEdge, Mr. Handelsman spent 11 years at the Electronics Research Department (‘‘ERD’’), one of Israel’s national labs, which is tasked with developing innovative and complex systems. At the ERD he held several positions including research and development power electronics engineer, head of the ERD’s power electronics group and manager of several large-scale development projects and he was a branch head in his last position at the ERD.

Mr. Handelsman holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering (cum laude) and an MBA from the Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology in Haifa.

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