If just one solar panel in a rooftop array falls under shade, the performance of all of the panels typically drops. That’s because an array’s electrical voltage and current are usually set at just one point: the inverter that changes direct current to alternating current. The settings the inverter can choose are determined by the worst-performing solar panel. National Semiconductor of Santa Clara, CA, has developed power management circuitry that adjusts the voltage on each panel to match its power output. Field tests show that the gadget can reduce losses from unshaded panels by 57 percent.
Courtesy of National Semiconductor
Product: Solar Magic
Company: National Semiconductor
Other products in this section:
California’s plan to integrate the West Coast grid is a great idea—that could easily backfire
The state leading the clean-energy charge could wind up importing coal power from Wyoming.
An advanced civilization could resist the accelerating expansion of the universe
And Earth-bound astronomers should be able to tell if someone is out there doing it, a physicist says.
We still have no idea how to eliminate more than a quarter of energy emissions
Air travel, shipping, and manufacturing are huge sources of carbon that we lack good options for addressing.