Posted in | News | Solar Energy

Making SolarArrays More Efficient and Reliable with New Connection Technique

Solar arrays of the future may be more energy efficient and reliable, thanks to one researcher’s efforts to reconfigure the way panels are connected.

Jonathan Kimball, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Missouri S&T, is working to improve the efficiency of solar arrays by connecting solar panels in parallel, rather than in a series.

Dr. Jonathan Kimball, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, says the conventional method of connecting solar panels is in a series, one after the other. But just as one bad bulb in a string of Christmas lights can black out the entire set, so can a single solar panel disrupt the flow of electrical current through the other panels in a series, Kimball says.

“If one of the panels is shaded, dirty or damaged, it affects them all,” Kimball says. “The conventional approach to solar arrays inherently limits the amount of power they produce if there’s any variation in the panels.”

Rather than connecting solar panels in a series – where the electrical current must flow from one panel to get to the next – Kimball suggests parallel wiring for the panels. The parallel approach would connect each panel to its own power converter instead of sending the electrical current through a series of panels to a single converter.

Kimball is working on two different projects in this area. Through one project, funded by the U.S. Army’s Leonard Wood Institute, based in nearby Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., he is developing a system that could be used for a forward operating base. The other project, funded by the National Science Foundation, is focused on developing a system that could be used for residential power.

While Kimball’s research is focused on creating a more efficient system to get the most power from solar panels, he points out that cost is still a major factor preventing many people from investing in solar technology.

“Eventually, solar power has got to become cheap enough to compete with electricity generated from other sources,” he says.

A member of the Missouri S&T faculty since January 2008, Kimball co-founded a company, SmartSpark Energy Systems, in 2004 while he was a student and researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The company is developing a microinverter architecture to improve reliability of solar power. Kimball retains a small interest in the company, which is now known as SolarBridge Technologies and is based in Austin, Texas.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type
Submit
Azthena logo

AZoM.com powered by Azthena AI

Your AI Assistant finding answers from trusted AZoM content

Azthena logo with the word Azthena

Your AI Powered Scientific Assistant

Hi, I'm Azthena, you can trust me to find commercial scientific answers from AZoNetwork.com.

A few things you need to know before we start. Please read and accept to continue.

  • Use of “Azthena” is subject to the terms and conditions of use as set out by OpenAI.
  • Content provided on any AZoNetwork sites are subject to the site Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.
  • Large Language Models can make mistakes. Consider checking important information.

Great. Ask your question.

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.