Inverter Replacement: Bridging the Gap Between 600 and 1000 Volts

How Alencon's DC-DC Optimizers Can Enable Your PV Inverter Replacement

This isn’t an article about “What if?”  This is an article about “What is!”

If you own or service a PV plant that is now more than five years old, you could well be facing situation where you need to replace your central inverter.  Of course if your central inverter is down and just not working, you’ll definitely need to be replacing it…or you will not be producing revenue from your PV plant!

Hopefully your inverter is under warranty, but there’s every chance it is not (or its manufacturer isn’t around to honor that warrantee - click here for more information).  If your plant is at the point where you are in such a situation, chances are you have lower power 600 volt strings than are not commonly used in plants now being built. Of course, today PV plants are typically built with 1,000 volt rated strings, with 1,500 volts rapidly becoming the norm. That of course means the rest of PV plant technology, most notably inverters, is following suit.

As such, if you are needing to replace your inverter, your only viable choice might be a 1,000 volt inverter. But how can you get 600 volt strings to feed a 1,000 volt inverter?  One great a solution is a DC-DC optimizer that provides a voltage “boost” and can step up the voltage from lower to voltage strings to higher voltage, more efficient modern inverters.

According to a recent study conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute in conjunction with Sandia National Laboratories (click here to download the entire report), many plant owners and managers have modeled inverter replacement into the lifecycle of a PV plant. Needless to say, replacing an inverter or inverters is not something a plant owner ever wants to do and certainly not more than once. The challenge is that the expected life of PV panels is far longer than that of an inverter.   As such, if you are facing having to replace an inverter, you are going to want to assure it takes you the rest of the plant’s useful life.  One way to achieve this goal is to invest in a more modern, high voltage inverter, but doing so is going to mean you will need to bridge the gap from lower voltage to higher voltage.

Alencon’s SPOT provides a very unique solution for doing just that. The Alencon SPOT retrofit is inverter agnostic, ,meaning it can work with any third party inverter and be adjusted to achieve the exact voltage boost your application demands.