Power Electronics That Play Nice in the Clean Energy Sandbox

How Alencon’s DC:DC Optimizers Seamlessly Interact with Other Technologies in Alternative Energy Projects including Inverters, PV Panels and Batteries

Here at Alencon, we build a unique line of high voltage, high power DC:DC optimizers. These devices convert one level of DC current and voltage on their input to an entirely different one on their output. The role of DC:DC converters like Alencon’s SPOT and BOSS are becoming a critical lynch pin in our transition to a clean energy economy since so many of the key elements of this transition – solar generation, battery energy storage, electric vehicles and fuel cells are DC sources and/or loads. DC:DC converters serve the role of allowing all these clean energy resources to speak a common DC language without having to perform unneeded, lossy conversions to AC in between.

Whenever building a system that requires DC:DC converters, there are of course several other devices to consider, namely grid tied inverters and, in the case of Solar + Storage systems, batteries. Here at Alencon, we have gone to great lengths to develop unique technology as well as forge techno-commercial partnerships with other power electronics companies to assure that when our products are deployed in the context of a broader alternative energy project, they play nicely in sandbox with other power devices, which is to they say they can be seamlessly interfaced upon deployment without the need to fiddle around in the field.

Universal Start-up

As a manufacturer of DC:DC optimizers, just about every project in which we deploy our products has a DC:AC inverter present. There are many different types of inverters from a myriad of manufacturers present in the marketplace. Having deployed many megawatts of our products across many different types of inverter makes and models, including both string and central inverters, has given Alencon the experience to develop unique firmware we call “Universal Start-up,” which allows our DC:DC converters to easily and smoothly interface with virtually any inverter make or model.

Most inverters have a slightly different sequence of events when they start-up operation when connected to an energy source. In the case of solar inverters, for example, while these approaches can differ significantly from one inverter manufacturer to another, they all have one thing in common: They all work just fine with PV panels. As such, using our experience across multiple deployments with a number of third-party inverters, here at Alencon we have developed the universal start-up technology in our products to allow inverters to think they are connected to the native source to which they were designed to connect – i.e. PV or battery. This technology has been well proven across numerous field deployments with third party inverters.

This development has been greatly aided by our inverter partners, including such companies as Solectria, Ginlong, SMA and many others. Our inverter partners routinely consign their products to us to assure seamless interoperability, which means our customers do not have to worry about headaches when it is time to deploy a project. Fortunately for Alencon, we are blessed with having an ultra-sophisticated high power test lab in our suburban Philadelphia factory which allows us to carry out real world tests inside our own facility before shipping or deploying any products to a live project. Our facility is replete with its own rooftop PV array, hundreds of kilowatts of DC power supplies fitted with PV emulators that allow us to generate voltage from 100 to 1500 volts on command under all sorts of irradiation conditions. We also have a 1 MW dedicated substation just for our factory, which really helps to assure we always have the high level of power to conduct such testing, in addition to of course testing all our devices under full power prior to shipment.

Voltage Mapping

Of course, once all the devices are up and running after starting up, its critical our products be able to provide all the elements of the project the voltage they need. Alencon’s products can assure this thanks to their patented voltage mapping technology which provides a wide array of voltage on the input relative to the output of our devices. What this means in practical terms is that by using Alencon’s SPOT or BOSS products, you can be agnostic as to other technologies you specify into the project – be those inverters, batteries or some other DC source or load.

Grounding Isolation

Alencon’s products feature a patented approach to implement galvanic isolation. This means our devices can isolate the grounding schemes of sources and loads on either side of our converters input or output. For example, it is often recommended to negatively ground PV panels to preserve their performance over the life of a project and avoid premature demise from potential induced degradation. On the contrary, batteries are typically required to have a floating ground for safety purposes, as having a floating ground allows you detect the first leakage to ground before it manifests into a ground fault and creates a potentially dangerous situation. Offering a galvanically isolated DC:DC is the most effective way to assure you can ground all of the devices in a DC coupled electrical system in the manner they have been intended to and prescribed by the manufacturer.


The alterative energy landscape is evolving rapidly. No one manufacturer can be a specialist in every domain including inverters, DC:DC converters and batteries. As such, here at Alencon, we see it as mission critical to offer the market a lynchpin DC:DC converter platform that will allow project owners and integrators to have the freedom to deploy the technologies they need to achieve the goals of their projects without being artificially constrained by a lack of interoperability of key system components including PV panels, batteries and inverters or having to choose from a very narrow segment of technologies.