Monday, March 16th, 2009 | Author:

Max Power Point Tracking is a new technology that has the eye of all the major players. SMA Sunny boy inverters have it, OutBack has it in the MX60 charge controller, RV Power has it and obviously, so does Trace. MPPT is a digital slight-of-hand that trades off voltage or amperage in order to get within the operable range of the inverter. Based on IV curves we know that shading does not have a great affect on the voltage output of a PV panel, but it greatly affects the amperage output. We also know that cell temperature barely affects amperage but can greatly affect voltage. Based on this observation, with software and electronics, we can adjust the output of our panels to meet the minimum or maximum operating levels of our components. The blue area in the graph above represents the acceptable operating range of a given Sunny Boy inverter. In the case shown, the minimum operating voltage of the inverter is not being met (denoted by the “O”), so MPPT technology sacrifices amperage to pull the voltage up into range (denoted by the “X”) so that we can now get power production where we other wise wouldn’t.

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