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By Chris Crowell

We asked every inverter manufacturer to tell us about their latest and greatest products for our 2019 Solar Inverter Buyer’s Guide. What came back was a range of innovations from the most powerful microinverter on the market to the latest utility-scale string technology. At this point, solar inverter spec sheets all seem fairly comparable. The real differentiators come in monitoring and service options, storage capabilities and grid functionality.

More connectivity needs more security

The increased quantity of smaller inverters has made inverter communications even more integral to effective plant commissioning and control. This means simplicity, but also an increased focus on cyber security.

“We engineered our new XGI 1000 and XGI 1500 inverter lines with security baked in, not layered on,” says Emily Hwang, applications engineering manager at Yaskawa Solectria Solar. “While on-site, users can view inverter information from their smart device via WPA2 encryption. The user interface is password protected and can limit the accessibility of control parameters to only qualified individuals. In addition, each inverter comes equipped with a firewall and uses SSL encryption to ensure that the connection between web server and browser remain secure.”

The YSS team is also promoting the idea of hardware security, believing it is important to have inverter lines engineered and manufactured in the U.S.

OutBack is taking a standards-based approach to communications and data security, working with the SunSpec Alliance, IEEE and other standards bodies to ensure that our platforms are secure while remaining interoperable with the devices and parties they legitimately need to share data with.

Partnerships add value

Being the connective hub of a system puts inverter companies in position to come up with cool partnerships that streamline costs, improve performance and introduce new user-facing functionality. Here’s some examples.

CPS is the first inverter company that also has a bankable, large scale PV module offering. CPS’ sister company is Astronergy, a Bloomberg Tier 1 rated PV panel provider. CPS is able to bundle PV panels and inverters — orders, delivery, support, warranty — all from one $8 billion company.

Fronius is one of many inverter companies partnering with the SunSpec Alliance, which defined an open industry standard for communication between modules, inverters and string combiners to support module level rapid shutdown requirements. “We not only believe that industry standards have economic advantages for distributors and installers, but that they also ensure better safety,” says Richard Baldinger, director of marketing with Fronius.

For full article, visit Solar Builder Magazine