Electronic Design
Chipset Makes Solar Panels Smarter

Chipset Makes Solar Panels Smarter

According to National Semiconductor, its SolarMagic chipset will initiate a unique category of solar systems: smart panels. Allegedly, existing solar panels may underperform due to aging, mismatches, and shade. Smart panels, however incorporate advanced electronics to harvest the maximum energy from a system. The SM3320 is promoted as the first analog-intensive power management chipset that improves power output, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of solar systems. It can recoup up to 71% of power lost to mismatch, regardless of cell technology. The chipset incorporates ten proprietary analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits, providing reliable digital control combined with analog sensing and communication. Proprietary algorithms apply localized power point tracking, extracting the maximum energy available by translating the input voltage and current to the best output voltage and current pair. An SM3320 system is cognitive, sensing input voltage and current throughout the array and adjusting to achieve optimum string levels. It includes a 99.5% efficient, 350W tri-mode power converter and, to achieve maximum energy harvest, the chipset can either boost, pass-through, or lower the voltage of each panel. Options include fire safety panel shutoff and a set of sophisticated safety mechanisms. The SM3320 is available now and is priced at less than $0.12/W depending on volume. NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR CORP., Santa Clara, CA. (800) 272-9959.


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