9 November 2022
EPC’s GaN FETs used in Solarnative’s micro-inverter
Efficient Power Conversion Corp (EPC) of El Segundo, CA, USA – which makes enhancement-mode gallium nitride on silicon (eGaN) power field-effect transistors (FETs) and integrated circuits for power management applications – says that Germany-based Solarnative is using GaN devices in its new micro-inverter to achieve what is said to be industry-best power density.
The Power Stick is said to be the smallest inverter in the world (just 23.9mm x 23.2mm x 404mm). With an AC output power of 350W, the volume of 0.19 liters corresponds to a power density of 1.6kW per liter. By comparison, the IQ 7A micro-inverter from a market-leading supplier delivers 349W with a volume of 1.12 liters, corresponding to 0.31kW per liter – not even one-fifth of the Solarnative device. Despite the size reduction, the European efficiencies are comparable: 96.0% for the Power Stick and 96.5% for the IQ 7A.
This reduction in volume was necessary because Solarnative wants to offer its inverter not only as an external device (Power Stick 350-a) but also as a version for module manufacturers (Power Stick 350-i) for integration into the module frame. The Power Stick is recommended for modules between 330W and 440W.
Solarnative achieves the high power density by using GaN-based power semiconductors, which allows a switching frequency of up to 2MHz and thus a simultaneous reduction in inductive components and volume.
“Each micro-inverter must be installed adjacent to a panel, usually on a roof. This makes them harder to install, remove and replace. Manufacturers can now address these issues using panels with these built-in micro-inverters,” says Solarnative co-founder Henk Oldenkamp. “The Power Stick is the market-ready result of years of development. With the EPC devices inside our modules, we can increase power density significantly, up to five times the power density of state-of-art micro-inverters,” he adds.
“Solar applications are putting higher demands on power devices for thermal, reliability and power density, and silicon-based power conversion is not keeping pace,” comments EPC’s CEO Alex Lidow. “We are delighted to work with Solarnative to implement GaN as third generation of semiconductors into their micro-inverters, allowing customers to simplify installation for easier micro-inverters and green energy adoptions.”