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The power generated with a solar photovoltaic (PV) system in a California home can vary depending on many factors. Generally, the variables that define the output of a grid are the size of the system, the tilt angle of panels, and the conversion efficiency. 

Sometimes different panels in the same string can be less efficient with full solar exposure, or highly efficient while partially shaded. With solar generation, the power output of the whole system depends on the grid’s weakest link. DC power optimizers are a definite solution to this problem. 

What do DC power optimizers do?

DC power optimizers have a simple DC-DC conversion system that tunes and boosts each panel’s performance, fixing equal voltage levels on different strings. The DC optimizer performance uses a process called Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) that mitigates loss in efficiency for each particular panel. It also provides another layer of security for the PV system. 

DC-Optimization
Figure 1 DC optimization of the grid with different performing panels – Source: Memodo

Why can DC optimizers be a more suitable option for you than microinverters?

Microinverters are quite powerful devices to install in your PV system, especially for modules providing low to medium wattage. When installing high-power wattage modules of around 300W or 400W, most microinverters cannot deal with the high output. In these cases, DC power optimizers can be a more suitable option as they have a higher DC input power than the microinverters. Also, a PV system with DC optimizers is known to be less expensive than a solar array with microinverters.

Microinverters vs. DC optimizers
Figure 2: Microinverters vs. DC optimizers. Source: LDSreliance

Some of the best DC optimizers in the market

There is not one definitive DC optimizer surpassing every other. However, SolarEdge and Tigo DC optimizers are highly efficient options as they perform better than most. Each one has unique features in comparison to the other.

SolarEdge optimizers

SolarEdge provides quality solar energy products for homeowners and industrial clients in California. Their DC optimizers are designed to turn any solar panel into a high-performance smart module. The optimizers provide 25% more energy with a 99.5% efficiency. 

This manufacturer has a variety of models with different cell-count module compatibility, voltage input, power input, and more. This multitude of options allows for a more personalized optimizer in the case of each solar module. Providing another layer of security to PV systems, the optimizers include the SafeDC feature. This feature reduces the voltage to a safe level when the grid or the inverter is down.

SolarEdge Residential System
Figure 3: SolarEdge Residential System. Source: Solarity

Tigo DC optimizers

Tigo is a California manufacturer specializing in solar power optimization devices, safety solutions, and solar grid control software. The different DC optimizers from Tigo boost solar panels that require it and allow other modules to function at their peak without interference. This optimizer provides versatility and is compatible with more than 2,000 types of inverters in the market. 

The DC optimizers from Tigo provide a wide range of models with specialized functions, including monitoring, fire safety, power safety, and more. The device can be coupled in systems with a maximum output of 1500V. The safety can be upgraded when combined with a CCA Kit with TAP and a Tigo Smart Software

Tigo TS4-O DC optimizer
Figure 4: Tigo TS4-O DC optimizer. Source: Tigo Energy

Tigo or SolarEdge: What’s better in the end?

In the case of California homeowners with solar systems, there is a lot to consider. When looking for a specific model to perfectly adapt to any solar module, the SolarEdge power optimizers provide a more specific product. You can combine each solar panel with a particular optimizer, saving some money in the process. Tigo, on the other hand, is more focused on functions than on product ranges. Tigo uses optimizers that specialize in providing safety, preventing fires, optimization of power, and more. 

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