Solar panel makers are spending tens of millions of dollars to make their products produce more power from the same amount of sunlight. Parallel to that, there is a growing number of companies that are building technologies that can squeeze out more power from the panels that are already on the market. These companies, large and small, are bringing to market software and hardware that provide solar systems with so-called distributed inverter architecture. If successful, they stand to disrupt the businesses of companies like Germany's SMA that build the central inverters that currently dominate the market.

But microinverters aren't the only new game in town. Another group of companies is working on a different approach to distributed architecture. They are building electronics that are embedded in the modules to run the maximizing algorithms, and then relying on a central inverter to do the DC to AC conversion.