Optimize your BIPV system with microinverters

 Key takeaways

  • Light and compact, microinverters are ideal for BIPV projects which lack additional supporting structures.
  • Independent power production is a key consideration for BIPV systems which are distributed in nature, as it is more likely that parts of the system will be situated in shade at certain times of the day.
  • Consider efficiency, reliability, durability, safety, and your power matching requirements when selecting a microinverter package.

Table of Contents

As the construction industry races to offset its carbon emissions, building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) are becoming an increasingly popular solution.

BIPV elements generate electricity from solar energy, and replace conventional parts of a building, such as roofs, façades, and skylights. With the global BIPV market projected to surpass $48 billion in 2032, and the US market alone accelerating at an astonishing CAGR of 23.3%, this advanced way of generating power from buildings themselves looks set to take flight.

However, the distributed placement of BIPV leads to another challenge: managing their power generation and the additional, often weighty, infrastructure required to capture the electricity.

Similarly, how can installers mitigate for uneven solar exposure across their BIPV elements, without sacrificing power generation?

In this article, we’ll explore the ways in which microinverters are an ideal choice for your BIPV system, and look at the requirements you should consider when designing your setup.

Why are microinverters a good choice for BIPV systems?

The unique setup of BIPV systems creates two specific challenges. Firstly, the lack of supporting structural workings for any additional power management units. Secondly, BIPV belongs to the distributed PV category and it has a large surface area, , which makes it likely that some of the panels will be in the shade at certain times of day.

Luckily, microinverters are perfectly suited to address these challenges, for two primary reasons:

  • Microinverters are light and compact
  • The lightweight build of microinverters compared with traditional power inverters means that they only add a limited amount of additional weight to the building. That avoids damage to the BIPV system, and means it can stay within a safe operable weight. As a result, BIPV can be installed in different types of buildings, enabling more flexible power generation.
  • Microinverters enable independent PV module operation, and maximize power production
  • In a traditional string inverter system, the “law of the minimum” applies– power production is dictated not by total resources available but by the least productive resource. In short, this means that the output of every module drops to match the lowest-producing panel.

However, microinverters work by making each PV module operate independently, rather than based on an average of the entire installation. As a result, panels in full sunlight are able to generate electricity at full capacity, without being compromised by any panels which may be in the shade or obstructed by foliage.

Read more about how microinverters help to maximize the output of a PV installation.

How do you choose suitable microinverters for your BIPV projects?

Now that we’ve established the benefits of microinverters over a string inverter system when used in a BIPV project, it’s worth exploring the key considerations when choosing suitable microinverters.

Here are some of the main things to consider:

  • Power matching: Firstly, make sure to match your microinverters to the power expectations of your BIPV system. The rated power and input voltage range of your microinverters should be compatible with your PV panels’ output. (Typically, the advice is to slightly oversize your PV system, so that your PV module power is around 10-30% higher than that of your microinverter, helping you to maximize your possible power production.) Consider all of the relevant factors for your build, and if necessary, consult local distributors or contact Hoymiles’ technical experts for advice.
  • Safety requirements: The best microinverters on the market come with a whole host of safety functions to protect installers, users, and the property on which they’re installed. This includes functions such as overload protection, which activates when the inverter’s input power surpasses the rated output power. Similarly, short-circuit protection is necessary to protect the unit when wired incorrectly and the DC terminals come into direct contact. These safety functions ensure that the system can self-correct or automatically shut off when needed.
  • High efficiency: As BIPV systems are installed with power generation in mind, it makes sense to aim to maximize their output. Microinverters with higher conversion efficiency reduce energy loss and improve the overall economic performance of your system.
  • Reliability: Ideally, your BIPV system will operate consistently for long periods of time, often in the face of harsh environmental conditions such as high temperatures, humidity, and wet weather. Durable microinverters are built to withstand these factors, resulting in a more reliable system with a lower failure rate and an extended life span.
  • Monitoring: Managing a BIPV system should be easy, so look for microinverters that can communicate directly with monitoring equipment to share real-time status information. This allows users to assess the output of their system, and to identify any potential problems quickly and promptly, making for more straightforward and effective maintenance.
  • Easy installation: With BIPV systems installed across buildings, your microinverters should be similarly versatile to fit into your design requirements. Look for units that will be convenient and easy to install, and which comply with relevant safety codes relating to heat dissipation and waterproofing.

How Hoymiles microinverters fit into BIPV projects

Hoymiles microinverters are designed with BIPV projects in mind. Here are just some of the ways in which they excel:

  • Module compatibility: Our full range of power options means that we have a microinverter product to suit every scenario. Hoymiles microinverters are widely compatible with the mainstream PV modules on the market today.
  • Ultimate safety: Safety is the top priority behind the design of Hoymiles microinverters. They will never overload and exceed their maximum power output, and if a Hoymiles microinverter is incorrectly wired and short-circuits, it will sound an alarm and automatically deactivate. Thanks to these features and more, Hoymiles microinverters are globally certified and meet safety standards such as UL 1741, IEEE 1547, UL 1741 SB, CSA C22.2 No. 107.1-16FCC 15B, and FCC 15C.
  • High efficiency: With a built-in Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT)efficiency of 99.8%, Hoymiles microinverters help you get more power from your BIPV system. Our units accurately calculate the maximum output of your modules, so that the entire system can operate at an optimum level.

Similarly, the CEC peak efficiency of the Hoymiles HMS-800, a typical product, is an industry-leading 96.7%. With such high efficiency, Hoymiles is an ideal choice to optimize your electricity potential.

  • Unparalleled durability: The warranty on Hoymiles products can be extended to 25 years, and our microinverters have an industry-leading life span. They have a failure rate below 0.18%, can operate in ambient temperatures of -40 to 65°C, and are tested for over 1,000 hours at a temperature of 85°C and a humidity level of 85%.

Additionally, the IP67-rated casing for our microinverters protects the equipment from water and dust, making Hoymiles products highly dependable in even the harshest weather conditions. For long-term durability and reliability, Hoymiles is the way to go for your BIPV build.

  • Seamless monitoring: Our microinverters feature antennas for a strong and stable connection with our DTU gateway products, via 2.4G or sub-1G wireless communication. Subsequently, performance and operation data is uploaded to S-Miles Cloud – our online monitoring platform – to enable easy remote observation, operation, and maintenance of the BIPV system.
  • Compact, light, and easy to install: Hoymiles microinverters are compact and light and have a plug-and-play design that saves installers a huge amount of time. Our portfolio includes 1-in-1, 2-in-1, and 4-in-1 microinverters, helping you cut down the number of microinverters required for your system, and making the overall project more cost effective.

Microinverters and BIPV

BIPV aren’t going anywhere, and as developers design ever more powerful systems it’s clear that installers need microinverters that can keep pace.

When designing your next build, it’s important to find a microinverter system that can handle everything the BIPV system will throw at it. From safety features to durability and reliability, microinverters need to be able to face up to the challenge.

With their lightweight build and ability to maximize power output, considering microinverters for your next BIPV system can result in higher electricity returns, lower costs, and easier installation.