SMA Module Level Optimization – Make More Energy & Money

From on December 8, 2017 in Category Technology with 2 Comments

SMA’s Optimizers with their “selective deployment” capability allow your solar system to make more energy and generate more money.


Solar systems love the sun. The more sun they can soak up, the more energy they can generate. But it isn’t always possible for a solar system to be in full perfect sunshine throughout the day. It might be a favourite cheery tree in your backyard, or a building development next door, but sometimes partial shade on a solar system is unavoidable. Luckily, for dealing with shade SMA has 2 solutions.

  1. The lowest cost and simplest is OptiTrac Global Peak (click here to see a short video explaining how it works). OptiTrac is included with every SMA inverter, at no additional cost.
  2. The SMA Optimizer provides maximum energy generation (click here to see a short video explaining how it works) and at lower total costs that competitor DC-DC optimizers or micro inverters.


How do they generate more energy?

Unlike competitor DC-DC optimizers or micro-inverters, SMA’s optimizers do not do an electrical conversion. Instead they use an intelligent approach called “impedance matching”. This process is more efficient that DC-to-DC or DC-to-AC conversion, and so hence there are fewer electrical losses leading to more energy generation from each PV module. The other reason they generate more energy is they intelligently detect when a PV module is shaded and so only operate if the PV module needs optimizing. Otherwise it just lets the PV module operate normally further reducing efficiency losses. Lower losses and more efficient operation mean more energy generated out of each PV module.


Why are they a cheaper solution?

Each optimizer in a solar system represents an additional cost. Since the SMA Optimizer solution uses “impedance matching”, there is the added benefit of the ONLY on shaded PV modules. Normal DC-DC optimizers or micro-inverters need to be installed on EVERY PV modules, whether shaded or not. Because the SMA Optimizer can be installed only on shaded panels, it can be installed for a much lower cost that competitor solutions, meaning they payback the extra system cost sooner, generating you more money as well as energy.


Cost benefit example

The following example shows the energy generation differences between 4 different systems:

  1. SMA with OptiTrac
  2. SMA Optimizer (99.6% efficient)
  3. Competitor DC-DC Optimizer (98.4% efficient)
  4. Competitor Micro-inverter (96.5% efficient)


The equipment costs displayed below are sourced from a single distributor which sells all 3 manufacturer solutions. The payback time was calculated by comparing the additional cost of the optimizing solution, to the additional solar energy generated which offset energy supplied by the grid.  These were the following assumptions:

  • System Size = 2.5kW
  • Grid consumption tariff = $ 0.27 / kWh
  • PV array shading = 4 panels, 20% of the day


The simplified operation of the different systems is shown in the following graphic:

Energy generation differences between different types of systems with shading optimization

Energy generation differences between different types of systems with shading optimization


The total energy generation and relative additional costs are based on the above information.




The SMA Optimizer solution provides the maximum energy of all options, thanks to its innovative “impedance matching” technology to minimize losses and increase system efficiency. 4-5 times sooner than competitor solutions. For maximum energy, at lowest cost, paying back your investment in solar energy sooner, SMA Module Level Optimization is the clear winner.


More information

Find out more about the SMA Power + solution here.


NOTE: The example shown above is for illustrative purposes only, based on the assumptions outlined. Changes to these assumptions would change the projected outcome.


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The Author


My tasks:
I lead the Application Engineering department at SMA Australia, which provides pre-sales technical support for Residential, Commercial and Utility scale systems. I also work closely with Product Management to help refine SMA's solutions to be better suited to market requirements.
My Topics:
Market issues, SMA product suitability, new business opportunities, Asia Pacific Region (APAC)
Reading to my children, volunteering at my local football club, skiing, wine tasting (only good wine though)
What even my colleagues don’t know about me:
Have travelled to Nepal to deliver and install a rural hospital solar lighting aid project. Received my Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s award personally from Prince Phillip in 2004. Once spent a night lost in the wilderness on a trek because our group was reading the map upside down.


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