New Inverter Launches at Solar Power 2004

If companies in the solar industry seem to have been quiet the past few weeks, it’s not for a lack of projects, developments or new products.

It’s so they could use the Solar Power 2004 solar energy conference in San Francisco as a jumping off point for announcements of new products and projects. The highly competitive inverter market has seen perhaps the most action with Xantrex and Fronius both unveiling new grid-tie models for the residential market. Fronius is expanding its product line of solar power inverters to include three higher power units for the U.S. market, the Fronius IG 4000, IG 5100 and the Fronius IG 4500-LV (208V). These inverters have a power output of 4000 W, 5100 W and 4500 W respectively and offer solar contractors additional choices for residential and commercial grid-tied solar systems. The company said the higher output inverters are tailored specifically to meet the growing trend toward larger residential PV arrays in the 5-10 kW range. Fronius said their inverters incorporate a new technology to increase overall system efficiency. The Fronius IG MIX Concept optimally loads individual power stages of the inverter under varying sunlight levels and temperatures maintaining high efficiency over a wide range of power levels resulting in increased energy output from the system. By cycling operating hours between power stages, Fronius said the units are able to extend the lifetime, reliability and performance of the inverters power electronic components. Weighing in at 26 and 42 lbs., the Fronius IG inverters incorporate built-in DC and AC disconnects to eliminate the need for external breakers in many cases, reducing total system costs. The inverters come standard with an integrated LCD where the installer can view and record over 20 parameters pertaining to inverter and system operation. Optional remote data communications and data logging features can be added via Plug-n-Play cards to transform IG inverters into a data acquisition system and weather station. Not to be outdone, Xantrex introduced their own new residential inverter. Available now, the Xantrex GT 3.0 Grid Tie Solar Inverter is based on a new technology platform which they say costs less per watt and is easier to install than other inverters on the market. Engineered to make the most of a PV grid-tie system investment, the GT 3.0 maximizes the energy output of PV panels through maximum power point tracking (MPPT). Xantrex said their GT 3.0 ensures the highest energy harvest through a wide range of conditions, including high-temperature environments where other solar inverters lose their efficiency. It provides 3,000 watts of power up to 86 degrees F (30 degrees C) and 2,500 watts of power between 30 degrees C (86 degrees F) and 45 degrees C (113 degrees F) and continues to produce up to 65 degrees C (149 degrees F). Other inverters start to de-rate below 2,500 watts in air temperatures as cool as 25 degrees C (77 degrees F), said the company. The GT 3.0 has a sleek, modular design and comes in a beige color designed to complement any home. The unit has an integrated, lockable utility/PV disconnect and its easily accessible wiring box provides protection for all AC and DC connections by eliminating exposed wiring during inverter installation and removal. It weighs 45 pounds, light enough to be lifted by one person without assistance, and has a hook-style back plate that makes mounting easy. Xantrex engineers tested it extensively under extreme thermal and mechanical conditions to detect and address potential product design issues. Backed by a five-year warranty, the Xantrex GT 3.0 Grid Tie Solar Inverter is available now for a suggested retail price of US$2,500 through leading renewable energy distributors in North America. In the near future, Xantrex will launch the GT 3.0 in Europe where consumer demand for clean renewable energy has spurred growth in the solar grid-tie inverter market. The U.S.-made inverter manufacturer PV Powered didn’t launch a new inverter at the show, but the company’s President, Bill Taylor, announced new, lower prices on the company’s StarInverter 1800 and 2800 watt grid-tie PV inverters. This marks the second price reduction this year on the company’s StarInverter series. There was less news in terms of new solar PV launches. SunPower announced the North American launch of its solar PV module line, which previously had only been available in Europe. The company’s new product line comprises three module types, all using the SunPower’s unique A-300 all-back-contact solar cells, which the company says, generate up to 50 percent more power than traditional PV modules. The SPR-210 is SunPower’s flagship product with total module area conversion efficiency approaching 17 percent and a power rating of 210 watts. The SPR-200 is an all-black version of the SPR-210, incorporating a unique module package that makes the individual solar cells virtually disappear. SunPower said the SPR-200 represents the ultimate combination of high efficiency and superior aesthetics to meet the needs of the most discriminating customers. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there’s more to a solar PV project than the modules and inverters. How one chooses to mount the modules can have major implications in the overall efficiency and cost of a project. UniRac, which specializes in solar PV racking systems, announced a new 6-inch PV PoleTop racking system built around a gimbal that offers continuous adjustability to arrays as large as 140 square feet. UniRac said the patent pending gimbal improves on fixed-increment tilt arrangements by facilitating any tilt angle from 0 to 60 degrees from the horizontal. An array is quicker than ever to install, and adjustment is easier, both initially and after installation, said the company. Catch Solar Power 2004 exhibitor news here:
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