Product Briefing Outline: National Semiconductor has developed a version of its ‘SolarMagic’chipset than can be fully integrated into a solar module. The SM3320 is the first analog-intensive power management chipset in a new category of in-panel electronics that improves power output, reliability and cost-effectiveness of solar systems. By coupling more energy production with a lower balance of systems cost, the SM3320 provides solar system owners a high-performance solution at the lowest cost per kilowatt-hour, according to the company.
Problem: Conventional solar panels today are prone to underperform due to conditions such as age, mismatch and shade. Real-world problems lead to a reduction in the power output of an array.
Solution: Packaged as a complete board-level system or available as a chipset, National’s SM3320 incorporates ten proprietary analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits, providing highly reliable digital-control combined with analog sensing and communication. Proprietary algorithms apply localized maximum power point tracking (MPPT), extracting the maximum energy available by translating the input voltage and current to the best output voltage and current pair to maximize energy flow. The SM3320 is cognitive: the system senses input voltage and current throughout the array and adjusts to achieve optimum string levels.
Applications: Integrated solar module power harvesting.
Platform: The SM3320 includes a highly integrated, 99.5 percent efficient, 350 Watt tri-mode power converter. To achieve maximum energy harvest, the SM3320 can either boost, pass-through or lower the voltage of each panel. Options include fire safety panel shut-off and a set of sophisticated safety mechanisms. The SM3320 is released to market with UL and CE component-level certification and is in volume production.
The board-level system, measuring 5 inches by 3.5 inches by 0.5 inches and weighing approximately 6.4 ounces, easily fits into a solar panel junction box.
Availability: May 2010 onwards and is priced at less than US$12 cents per watt, depending on volume.