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Solar Micro Inverter History - China Solar Panel

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Solar Micro Inverter History

Solar Micro Inverter History

Released in 1993, Mastervolt’s Sunmaster 130S was the first true micro-inverter.
Another early micro-inverter, 1995’s OK4E-100 – E for European, 100 for 100 watts.In 1991 the US company Ascension Technology started work on what was essentially a shrunken version of a traditional inverter, intended to be mounted on a panel to form an “AC panel”. This design was based on the conventional linear regulator, which is not particularly efficient and dissipates considerable heat. In 1994 they sent an example to Sandia Labs for testing.In 1997, Ascension partnered with US panel company ASE Americas to introduce the 300 W Solar panel.

Design of what would today be recognized as a “true” microinverter traces its history to late 1980s work by Werner Kleinkauf at the Institut für Solare Energieversorgungstechnik (ISET). These designs were based on modern high-frequency switching power supply technology, which is much more efficient. His work on “module integrated converters” was highly influential, especially in Europe.

In 1993 Mastervolt introduced their first grid-tie inverter, the Sunmaster 130S, based on a collaborative effort between Shell Solar, Ecofys and ECN. The 130 was designed to be mounted directly to the back of the panel, connecting both AC and DC lines using compression fittings. In 2000 the 130 was replaced by the Soladin 120, a micro-inverter in the form of a AC adapter that allows panels to be connected simply by plugging them into any wall socket.

In 1995, OKE-Services designed a new high-frequency version with improved efficiency, which was introduced commercially as the OK4-100 in 1995 by NKF Kabel, and re-branded for US sales as the Trace Microsine. A new version, the OK4All, improved efficiency and had wider operating ranges.

In spite of this promising start, by 2003 most of these projects had ended. Ascension Technology was purchased by Applied Power Corporation, a large integrator. APC was in turn purchased by Schott in 2002, and Solar production was canceled in favor of Schott’s existing designs. NKF ended production of the OK4 series in 2003 when a subsidy program ended. Mastervolt has moved on to a line of “mini-inverters” combining the ease-of-use of the 120 in a system designed to support up to 600 W of panels.

Released in 2008, the Enphase M175 model was the first commercially successful microinverter, and as of September 2011 the company shipped its 1.000.000th unit, growing from 0% in July 2008 to 30% at the end of July 2011 in the Californian PV residential share market.

Since 2009, several companies from Europe to China, including major central inverter manufacturers, have launched micro-inverters validating the micro-inverter as an established technology and one of the biggest technology shifts in the PV industry in recent years.

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One Comment to “Solar Micro Inverter History”

  1. Micro Inverter - China Solar Panel November 02,2012 08:57 AM #

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