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More power, less components – Can software substitute optimizers?

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Higher yield and more safety are some of the arguments of module-level power electronics suppliers. SMA, on the other hand, claims that its string inverters with integrated yield optimization outperform module optimizers regarding safety, performance and lifetime of the whole PV installation.


More power, less components – Can software substitute optimizers?

Photovoltaic systems perform best where the sun shines unobstructed. However, if it is not possible to prevent dormers, chimneys, or trees from casting a temporary shadow, module-level power electronics (MLPE) has been championed by the industry. Some MLPE manufacturers plan even entire commercial and industrial rooftop installations with optimizers behind every module. Inverter manufacturer SMA, however, cautions that a PV system with modern string inverters can achieve higher yields than a system with module optimizers. The lower number of electric components in the PV system also minimizes error susceptibility and has a positive influence on the environment.

In this webinar, Hannes Knopf and Andreas Gast, both from SMA, will present the benefits of this solution which have been confirmed by a study from the University of Southern Denmark. It reveals, only very few PV installations – those with strong shadings – will profit from MLPE, compared to SMAs own solution ShadeFix which is an integrated software to find the global rather than the local maximum power point on the inverter. They claim that in most cases, MLPE will cause a system to lose power and even increase fire risk.

With MLPE a requirement on rooftops for first responders’ safety reasons, in the U.S., SMA has a compliant module-level shutdown system, and we will discuss aspects relevant to insurance companies and firefighters in European and North American markets.


  • Impact of shading on PV systems
  • Highly integrated inverters vs. MLPE
  • Explanation of SMA’s ShadeFix solution and its effects, on performance, safety and lifetime of the PV plant
  • Using inverters with integrated string level optimization can reduce system complexity and simplify installation and servicing efforts
  • Well located PV arrays without significant shading don’t need module optimization
  • Environment matters: PV systems with highly integrated inverters contain less components, need less energy in production and can be better recycled

Questions can be submitted beforehand or during the webinar through a chat window. We look forward to your participation!


Hannes Knopf

Senior Expert Business &Portfolio Strategy, Business Unit Residential & Commercial, SMA

Andreas Gast

Head of Sales Central Europe, Sales Central Europe, SMA


Marian Willuhn | Editor, pv magazine

Covering news on power electronics, start-ups and inverters, Marian writes for pv magazine’s international, Australian and German news platforms. He also helps edit the German print magazine. Marian previously worked as a PR-advisor for different clients in the renewable energy business.

Further information

SMA Shadefix Whitepaper

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