Tired of Looking for Needles in Haystacks in Your PV Array? Learn What Galvanic Isolation Can Do for You.

Are You Tired of Looking for Needles in Haystacks in Your PV Array?

For Solar operations and maintenance (O&M) providers, actually finding problems like arc and ground faults in a PV array can be akin to the proverbial search for the needle in a haystack.  Specifically, the PV plant you are monitoring is experiencing an issue somewhere in the array impacting the amount of energy your plant is generating. If your PV plant uses a central inverter, that could mean finding a tiny problem in any arrays anywhere between 500 KW and 1 megawatts.

Too often, just finding such problems, can be a costly affairs. Then of course there’s the issue of actually solving them.  Challenge is, by using the traditional method of field interrogation to locate such problems in the array, i.e. rolling a truck, you might be generating a pretty big bill for the plant owner, before even solving this problem. In an ever tightening O&M cost environment, that can spell real problems for both an O&M provider as well as the plant owner.

This is a problem we here at Alencon have been very focused on addressing.  With our String Power Optimizer and Transmitter, the SPOT, we are able to provide complete galvanic isolation between PV strings and the central inverter.  If you’re not familiar with the term, galvanic isolation is a design technique that separates electrical circuits to eliminate stray currents. Signals can pass between galvanically isolated circuits, but stray currents, such as differences in ground potential or currents induced by AC power, are blocked. In essence, galvanic isolation between the PV panel and the inverter protects the inverter from any potentially harmful issues that crop in the PV array due any variety of occurrences from lightning strikes to critters nibbling on conductors.

This unique feature makes the SPOT an incredible tool for O&M because any arc or ground faults that occur with a PV string can be safely isolated from the rest of the system. Additionally, arc and ground faults can be quickly traced to the exact PV string where they are occurring which means maintenance can be efficiently deployed and repairs can be safely done on one string while the rest of the PV plant continues to produce power.

In essence, the SPOT enables smarter, more cost effective O&M while increasing the amount of power a PV plant generates by optimizing panel yield and reducing conduction losses. So in essence, the SPOT increases revenue while decreasing costs, which beats searching for needles in haystacks any day of the week.