One of the most important parts in PV system architecture is the power converters. The reason is that they play an important role in transforming the different types of electricity, to make the electricity convenient to the end users. Since the solar cell produces a DC type of electricity, there’s room for various types of power converters. Here, some of the most commonly used power converter types are briefly describe according to their topology, function, efficiency, and the major global manufacturers.
1. Power optimizer: Commonly known as a DC-DC power optimizer in solar PV markets, a power optimizer is a module-level power converter. It takes DC input from the solar module and gives either higher or lower DC output voltage. Such a converter is equipped with an MPPT technology to optimize the power conversion from the solar panel to the DC load or a battery or central inverter. It is also considered one of the most efficient power converters, delivering up to 99.5% efficiency. However, it needs DC cabling from the array. Some of the major players in this power converter market are SolarEdge and Tigo Energy.
2. Module inverter/micro-inverter: This is also a module-level power converter. It takes DC input from the solar module and converts it into AC electricity, which is then ready to be connected to the load or single-phase main grid or to a central inverter. It is also equipped with MPPT technology to detect the maximum power point of each module. Even though it doesn’t requires any DC cabling, it is more expensive than the power optimizer due to its advanced design. The efficiency of such a power converter is about 96%. The important players in this power converter market are Enecsys and Enphase.