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Sun to Table: SMA inverter harvesting energy at Just A Few Acres Farm for 12 years

As of this August, SMA’s Sunny Boy inverter has been powering the solar system at this family farm for 12 years.

A former solar engineer himself, Peter Larson of Just A Few Acres Farms recently celebrated the 12th anniversary of his switch to solar-powered energy for his home and farmstead. The seventh-generation farm has been long focused on serving its local community by valuing health, quality and sustainability in its operations.

Historic Sunny Boy inverter

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Pedigree Ovens Debuts “Ultimutt” Solar Project

In the Harvard, Ill., community, private-label pet treat brands Pedigree Ovens, Petdine, and The Pound Bakery have been known for their community leadership and engagement since 1996. The completion of their manufacturing plant solar-energy array honors their value of corporate stewardship and pays homage to their bark-worthy offerings for four-legged clientele.

PEdigree Ovens solar array

The solar array developed and contracted by Simpleray and Althoff Industries, respectively, is designed in the shape of a large dog bone and paw print. Featuring the SMA Sunny Highpower PEAK3 inverter, the installation is a 1.7 megawatt system that will yield 2,044,244 kilowatt hours annually—enough to fully supply the company’s energy demands. The environmental benefit is perhaps even more impressive: the solar power generated will annually offset 1,456 tons of greenhouse gases.

“It’s really exciting to be part of a project as creative as this installation,” said Chuck Ellis, vice president of sales with SMA America. “The project has a positive impact on the environment, and its distinctive array design is both functional and a unique display of corporate sustainability.”

The SMA PEAK3 inverter contributes high efficiency to the system as the only inverter of its class to notPEAK3 inverters require additional equipment, preventing lost energy production. By including the advantages of a decentralized system in a centralized design concept, the SMA inverter offers superior flexibility and control capability for a large array like Pedigree’s.

The project has gained recognition not only in the community but also among a national audience. Upon completion, the pawsome project was listed as a nominee in the non-residential (C&I ground-mount) category for Solar Builder Magazine’s Project of the Year.

Also working on this installation were HT-SAAE and OMCO Solar, who manufactured the modules and provided racking, respectively. The project was partially funded by the Adjustable Block Program, established by the Ill. Future Energy Jobs Act. The Adjustable Block Program encourages and sponsors the development of solar-power generation throughout the state, in both commercial and community projects.

Visit our photo gallery to enjoy more visuals!


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Solar Carport Project Illuminates Commercial Dealership’s Commitment to Energy Efficiency

Basking in the hot Texas sun along the interstate in San Antonio is the Rush Truck Center and Peterbilt dealership—the premier destination for the commercial vehicle industry. They recently took a giant step toward increased energy efficiency and a leaner carbon footprint with the installation of a new carport solar project.

In June, Rush Enterprises installed a carport solar project at the dealership, which sells both new and used heavy- and medium-duty trucks and aftermarket parts. These carports hold over 3,500 solar panels and provide shade and protection from the elements, including extreme heat and hail. This new carport will protect 181 Peterbilt trucks.

Built and managed by the Big Sun Community and CPS Energy, the installation at the Peterbilt dealership hosts the largest Big Sun Community Solar site to date. The installation includes 19 SMA CORE1 inverters and 3,586 Mission solar panels.

 Rush Enterprises purchased its solar system through the Big Sun Community Solar Program. This initiative installs solar panels, mainly in commercial parking lots, to create huge covered carports.

 “When looking for inverters that could support the 5MW Big Sun project across 12 different locations, SMA was the obvious choice,” said Andrew Wood, Vice President of Operations with Big Sun Community Solar. “Having a good range of small to medium inverters that we could mount on the Big Sun Carports made design and installation easy. From price to reliability we have been very happy with the choice.”

Big Sun allows customers who rent or don’t have optimal rooftop sunshine to participate in solar generation by purchasing and owning their own panels. This option offers a viable solution to individuals and businesses who may otherwise feel like they can’t take advantage of participating in traditional solar programs. In exchange for buying the solar panels, the customers receive automatic credits on their power bills every month for the next 25 years.

In the case of Rush Enterprises, this new system will lower its CPS Energy bill by several thousands of dollars per month. The panels do more than lower costs, however, as they represent part of Rush Enterprise’s ongoing effort to increase the use of alternative energy.

“Installing solar carports at our Peterbilt dealership allowed us to protect our new vehicle inventory from the elements and makes it easier for everyone in the San Antonio community to own solar,” said Derrek Weaver, executive vice president of Rush Enterprises.

The installation sends 1.8 million kilowatt-hours to the grid per year, which can power approximately 125 homes. It also provides an estimated 766,640 kWh annually to the dealership.

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Easy, Reliable and Cost-Effective Rapid Shutdown Compliance Utilizing the SunSpec Standard

The requirements of 2017 and 2020 National Electric Code (NEC) section 690.12 – entitled Rapid Shutdown of PV Systems on Buildings – currently mean that module-level power electronic (MLPE) devices must be installed with PV systems installed on buildings, even if they are not appropriate for energy optimization reasons.  As microinverters and standard DC optimizers solutions are closed, proprietary solutions, their use locks installers into depending on a single source for equipment and replacements.

As discussed in the first blog post of this series, the SunSpec Alliance has the goal of creating industry-wide standards to resolve issues like compliance with Rapid Shutdown requirements. Their Rapid Shutdown standard allows for multiple vendors to certify equipment to an open, published standard – allowing installers to choose between interoperable devices and avoid being locked into a closed ecosystem to comply with code.

SMA rapid shutdown certified devices.

SMA has been a global leader in PV technology for almost 40 years.  SMA America will celebrate its 20th anniversary in September 2020 and has long been a technology leader: first with UL certified inverter-integrated AFCI as well as the first to achieve UL1741 SA smart inverter certification. SMA’s success is based on ensuring that it delivers safe and reliable equipment that reduces the time installers must spend on a roof installing or servicing PV equipment.  With Rapid Shutdown now requiring module-level power electronics for rooftop PV systems, SMA faced a daunting challenge to provide a fully code-compliant solution that also minimizes reliability impacts, while ensuring optimal energy yields. The SunSpec rapid shutdown standard provided a perfect complement to SMA’s ShadeFix optimized residential and commercial string inverters to achieve this goal.

The functioning of the SunSpec rapid shutdown process is very straightforward.  Two components are required – a transmitter and some number of receivers.  The transmitter is responsible for imparting the SunSpec rapid shutdown power-line signal onto the DC conductors that go between the array and the inverter.  The receivers are responsible for detecting the signal on those conductors.  While the signal is present, the receivers do nothing. When the signal disappears, the receivers are responsible for lowering the array voltage below the code limits within the code specified time after rapid shutdown is “initiated”. They isolate their modules from the string they are part of, without breaking the string, and provide a low, “standby” voltage on their output conductors if the SunSpec signal is absent. This power-line communication signal is a “keep-alive” signal that does not require any additional wired or wireless communications channel between the array and inverter. It is important to highlight that the SunSpec certified receivers do not perform any power conditioning function or transmit information about the array operation, thereby allowing them to be very simple and robust devices.  This is important, as there may be many hundreds of these devices scattered throughout the harshest environmental conditions of a single large commercial rooftop installation. Time spent servicing failed MLPE devices is time not spent installing. rapid-shutdown-cert_vert-color

SMA America has integrated a transmitter certified to the SunSpec rapid shutdown standard into both our residential Sunny Boy US-41 and commercial CORE1 US-41 inverter lines. This transmitter, when enabled during commissioning, begins to impart onto the DC conductors connected to the array the SunSpec rapid shutdown “keep-alive” signal.

SMA’s approved SunSpec certified rapid shutdown receiver can support most residential and commercial module choices, meaning only this part needs to be sourced when using either SMA’s residential or commercial string inverters. This makes stocking and allocating inventory as easy as possible for installers and equipment distributors. Furthermore, SMA’s string inverters do not require the SunSpec shutdown receiver units to function, so if the PV system does not require rapid shutdown (e.g. a ground mount) then the receivers are simply not installed. Commissioning with SunSpec shutdown is fast since there is no detection step required for these MLPE or a layout map creation step for module-level monitoring.

The SMA inverter-integrated SunSpec transmitters are configured to stop broadcasting the “keep-alive” signal whenever the inverter senses a loss of utility voltage and frequency on its AC terminals. A first responder will shut off utility power to a site as an initial step to fight a fire, so this means the rapid shutdown “initiator” – loss of AC power – is something that would be done even if that responder has no formal training on how to recognize and utilize rapid shutdown equipment on a PV system.

Finally, the existence of the SunSpec rapid shutdown open standard means that multiple vendors can provide receiver devices that mirror trends in the PV module market. More devices with a wider range of options and sizes are available to installers than SMA alone could reasonably provide, and module manufacturers can even build the receiver capability within their module’s junction box directly. These devices (and the installer installing them) are not dependent on an SMA inverter to ensure rapid shutdown code compliance, simply another certified transmitter, inverter-integrated or stand-alone.

The existence of the SunSpec rapid shutdown standard has allowed SMA America to improve its ShadeFix optimized string inverters to provide the industry’s fastest-to-install, most reliable and cost-effective solution for any PV system needing to achieve 2017 or 2020 NEC 690.12 compliance.


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Solar Installation in a Class of Its Own

Carport solar project brings savings to the classroom and the environment.

Students returning to the Smithtown High School West campus this fall will park under a new clean energy solar parking structure. The new solar installation brings the benefits of carports—a cost-effective and innovative way to generate power—to Smithtown, a sprawling eastern New York City suburb on Long Island.

Solar carport with CORE1 inverters

The school district administration understood the carport solar project would significantly reduce the overall electricity bill for the campus. Those savings are now reinvested in educational programs, proving educational solar projects are an investment in the future, in both education and the environment.

By installing solar panels on a parking structure, Smithtown High School West can now leverage this otherwise under-utilized surface to produce clean electricity and actively lower energy costs every day. The system was installed by Sunrise Power Solutions, the leading solar energy partner to the K-12 educational market in the New York area.

“This is a popular option among the K-12 municipal industry as money saved from lower energy bills can be directly reallocated back into education,” said Kristian Ingebrigtsen, chief operations officer at Sunrise Power Solutions.Solar carport

The carport features 5,421 JA Solar panels and 29 SMA SUNNY TRIPOWER CORE1 inverters. The CORE1 products were ultimately selected for this project because of their flexibility,

reliability and competitive cost, which the school district considered as factors that would benefit the community.

“We were proud to work on this project as we know it will benefit the community for years to come,” said Ingebrigtsen .

The project has a total size of 2.06 MW and an estimated annual output of 3.345 KWH. Based on projections, the parking structure will offset 90% of the energy production for the campus, reducing both budget expenses and the amount of carbon in the environment.

SMA Public Relations Contact

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SMA Inverters used in the Most Powerful Energy Storage Project in the U.S

SMA inverters are now helping to power the largest battery project in the world, according to a recent report from Greentech Media. The Gateway Energy Storage Project, which is located near San Diego, California, went live in June and is managed by grid infrastructure developer LS Power. It is expected to become an important source of power for the electrical grid in Southern California. 

large scale Solar and storage

Photo Credit: LS Power

The project is in a 70,000-square-foot building and is equipped with 98 SMA inverters as well as batteries from NEC Energy Solutions. The developers plan to expand the project to 250 megawatts, Greentech Media said, meaning it will have a four-hour duration.

The system is already proving its value. During California’s recent heatwave, the Gateway Energy Storage project played an important role in helping to meet peak demand, Greentech Media reported.

For more project details read the full report here!


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SMA Extends Smart Connected Registration Window to Two Years!

In response to strong customer enrollment, SMA has extended the window for customers to enroll their Sunny Portal plants into SMA’s groundbreaking FREE service support program, Smart Connected.

SMA Service Support

SMA Smart Connected provides behind-the-scenes, proactive service troubleshooting support and the ability to proactively ship RMA units. This streamlines business operations and increases the profitability of service support activity by reducing truck rolls up to 50%.

Enrolling in Smart Connected is easy for plants that have, in the last two years, registered on either the classic Sunny Portal or Sunny Portal powered by ennexOS. For either portal, address and email information for the Operator and Installer needs to be entered, and a shipping address and notification emails selected.  If desired, Installer information can be duplicated in the Operator fields.

For the classic Sunny Portal, once the plant to be enrolled has been selected, choose PV System Monitoring from the main menu, then select Settings” at the top right of the SMA Smart Connected section of the screen (Fig 1a). Scroll to the bottom of the Smart Connected section in the screen that appears and select Edit (Fig 1b), then Select the check box next to SMA Smart Connected (Fig 1c). Enter all required Installer and Operator Data, select a shipping address and email addresses for notifications. Click Save at the bottom right of the screen when done (Fig 1d).  You will see confirmation that Smart Connected has been activated (Fig 1e)!

Smart Connected tutorial

Fig 1a. Under PV System Monitoring, select Settings for SMA Smart Connected to begin.

SMA Smart Connected blog post

Fig 1b. Select Edit at bottom of SMA Smart Connected section.

SMA Smart Connected

Fig 1c. Select the check box to show the Installer and Operator data fields.

SMA Smart Connected information

Fig 1d. After filling out all information and selecting emails and address, click Save.

Smart Connected step by step

Fig 1e. Congratulations!  Your PV plant is now protected by SMA Smart Connected.

For Sunny Portal powered by ennexOS, select the correct plant from your portfolio.  On the left, select the Configuration (wheel) icon, and select System Monitoring from the list in the plant column (Fig 2a). Scroll to the bottom of the window that appears. If Operator and Installer information was not entered during plant registration, select Edit Operator and Installer data (Fig 2b) and fill out all required fields (select the checkbox for No value-added tax ID available for North America), selecting Save when done (Fig 2c).  Now select Carry out initial configuration (Fig 2d), and select the correct dispatch (shipping) address, select which emails should receive Smart Connected notifications, and most importantly, select the check box at the bottom to activate Smart Connected.  Select Save when done to finish the enrollment (Fig 2e). A confirmation that Smart Connected is active will appear (Fig 2f).


Sunny Portal screenshot

Fig 2a. In the Configuration menu for the plant, choose System Monitoring.

Sunny Portal from SMA

Fig 2b. If needed, select Edit Operator and Installer data.

Smart Connected tutorial

Fig 2c. Fill in all required Operator and Installer information.

Smart Connected article

Fig 2d. Select Carry out initial configuration.

Smart Connected setup

Fig 2e. Select the shipping address, appropriate email addresses, and select the bottom checkbox to enroll.

Smart Connected configuration blog post

Fig 2f. Congratulations!  Your PV plant is now protected by SMA Smart Connected.


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How one industry association is driving lower costs and less risk through standards: A SunSpec Alliance primer

While standardization may not seem like a provocative topic, few industries have scaled without it. In this guest post from SunSpec Alliance chairman Tom Tansy, you’ll read how the trade group has been shaping industry norms for more than a decade and the benefits it provides to PV professionals.

Sunspec Alliance featured

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Mitigate Risk in Residential PV with SMA and the SunSpec Alliance

Would you like to learn how to maximize the value of a residential PV system while managing risk? Join industry leaders for an informative webinar Thursday, July 9th at 2:00 PM EDT. We will cover how to effectively decrease business risks while maximizing benefits for residential PV customers. Click here to sign up.
SMA Webinar

We will highlight areas of opportunity in:

  • Energy Production
  • Reliability
  • Standardization
  • Service

This webinar will educate attendees on how the SunSpec Alliance is advancing industry standardization in rapid shutdown technology to achieve simple, cost-effective compliance with NEC 2017 requirements. Additionally, SMA experts will highlight a more effective way to optimize PV systems that produce more energy and afford system owners greater reliability.

We will also discuss how standardization can greatly reduce business risk by giving PV professionals freedom of choice among proven solutions while avoiding risks associated with proprietary supply. Service considerations are also a factor in minimizing risks for PV professionals and system owners alike.

We will examine recent advances in service technology that streamline operations for PV professionals while reducing the business risks associated with system downtime and truck rolls.

Featured Presenters

Tom Tansy, Chairperson, SunSpec Alliance

Brad Dore, Director of Marketing, SMA America

Blair Reynolds, Residential Product Manager, SMA America

For more information on the SunSpec Alliance click here or to learn about SMA America solutions visit our website.

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Out with the Old, in with the New!

Are you looking for the most up-to-date and effective way to optimize a PV system? Join SMA America and Solar Power World to learn how on June 18, 2020 at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT. Click here to register!

SMA Sunny Boy with ShadeFix optimization

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Deliver Greater Value in Your Distributed Generation PV Projects by Adding Storage

Join SMA and Dynapower on Tuesday, June 2  for a free, informative webinar. Our companies have tailored solutions to work in harmony with one another, reducing the integration and operational risks of alternatives. 
PEAK3 PV and Storage webinar

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SMA Sunny Tripower CORE1 Inverters: Repowering Ready!

Would you like to discover a new level of PV performance? Then this blog post series on SMA Repowering is for you! In this article, our repowering expert Thorsten Hoefer shares insights on which aspects to consider when choosing an inverter for a repowering project and explains which SMA inverters are repowering ready.

Sunny Tripower CORE1 commercial inverter

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