MPPT technology and an MPPT solar inverter: A beginner’s guide!
MPPT is nothing but technology. It stands for Maximum Power Point Tracking. It holds a lot of significance in a solar system. A solar system uses solar panels to generate electricity from the sun.
Every solar panel has a maximum power point known as MPP. When the panel operates at its MPP, it produces maximum power. MPPT technique tracks this particular power.
The purpose is to make sure that a solar panel always stays at (or closest possible) to its maximum power so that it produces maximum electricity.
But, the million dollar question is how? How does an MPPT algorithm help in drawing out maximum power from a solar panel? Want to know the answer that nobody ever fully explains?
We have curated this very simple guide that will help you in understanding the role of MPPT in an on-grid solar system as well as an off-grid solar system. We will also help you understand what an MPPT solar inverter is, and much more! Dive in for details.
How does MPPT technology do its job?
Alright, you know what it stands for and what’s its purpose – but you still don’t know how it does its job i.e to extract maximum power from solar panels. Let us help:
Any electrical appliance at home cannot use the power from solar panels directly. There’s a huge voltage difference.
What the MPPT technique does is, it tracks the maximum voltage that solar panels produce and optimizes it in a way that it matches the power that the appliances need.
The remaining power that isn’t needed at that point of time is stored in a battery in the case of an off-grid solar system and supplied to the grid in the case of an on-grid solar system.
And this is how resistance from the appliances does not force the solar panels to reduce the power being generated.
Nowadays, almost all solar inverters are embedded with MPPT technology. An MPPT solar inverter performs two roles:
- The maximum power point tracker in the inverter converts high DC power into low DC power.
- The low DC power is converted into AC power that’s used to run your household appliances.
What’s the benefit you draw from installing an MPPT solar inverter? Your solar panels will produce maximum solar electricity. It will reduce energy wastage. Ultimately, your electricity bill will be at its lowest.
What is an MPPT solar inverter?
The name says it all – an inverter that has an in-built DC-to-DC converter is an MPPT solar inverter. There are huge risks of installing a solar inverter that doesn’t use a Maximum Power Point Tracker, the biggest risk being – solar panels won’t work at their maximum efficiency.
Some of the best, tier-1, MPPT solar inverters you can invest in are:
- – Waaree, 4.5 KW Single Phase Solar On Grid Inverter
- – LUMINA-15K~25KTL3X
- – Delta energy, Orion 80 Plus
Benefits of MPPT solar inverter
Any on-grid string solar inverter these days isn’t built without MPPT technology. The reasons that are also the benefits of this technology have been summarized below.
- – It increases the running time of the appliances
- – It helps in generating greater power from solar panels
- – It reduces power wastage by directing extra power to the grid in a grid-tied solar system
- – It uses excess power to charge the battery in case of an off-grid solar system
- – Even if there’s any inefficiency in the appliance connected to the inverter, MPPT doesn’t let it affect the efficiency of the solar panels.
Either way, whether for an off-grid system or an on-grid system, the MPPT technology minimizes power wastage and maximizes the power generation from solar panels.
Does Maximum Power Point Technology have drawbacks?
Undoubtedly, yes. Like any other technology, MPPT has its own limitations. Let’s discuss the biggest issue:
The purpose of this technology is to match the voltage of solar panels with the voltage of the appliances. And, if you look at the arrangement of solar panels in a solar system, they are all connected in series.
Now, the MPPT technology doesn’t have a mind of its own. It will not be able to differentiate whether the power is coming from one solar panel or many solar panels connected in series. So, it considers the power from all panels as a single input.
Every solar panel cannot work with equal efficiency at all points in time. Here comes the drawback: If one panel is underperforming for any reason, MPPT will bring the input down to the level of the underperforming panel.
How to overcome the drawbacks of MPPT solar inverters?
Undoubtedly, the drawback of these inverters might be a big concern for many users. There are some ways to overcome this flaw.
You have to use an inverter that doesn’t use the MPPT algo at all. String inverters use Maximum power point tracking algorithms. So, you’ll have to buy a different inverter.
- – One option is to buy MLP inverters by SolarEdge.
- – The second option is to buy M-phase micro inverters.
String inverters or MLP inverters- Which one should you buy?
MLP inverters and M-phase micro inverters are expensive. It’s string inverters that are much more affordable. If budget isn’t an issue, you should buy the latest technology inverters. If budget is a concern, the best option that you have are string inverters.
MPPT technology is a necessity for all on-grid string inverters these days. Without one, a string inverter will not be able to perform well. Although MPPT has drawbacks, they’re also the most economical option.
Only MPPT in string inverters can ensure that a solar array is generating maximum power. The choice is always yours: String inverters are still the most popular options on the market.
Q. What is the main principle of a maximum power point tracker?
The main goal of a Maximum Power Point Tracker is to get the most power possible out of solar panels.
Q. Does a Maximum Power Point Tracker transform the voltage to current?
Yes, the Maximum Power Point Tracker transforms the voltage into the current. This technology is embedded in all string inverters nowadays.
Q. Can a maximum power point tracker regulate current?
Yes, MPPT can regulate current. In fact, an MPPT solar inverter works as an electric power converter system. It provides current and voltage conversion, filtering, and regulation for powering various loads.