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.
The array at Just A Few Acres features thirty-six, 170-watt panels, amounting to a cumulative 6.2 kilowatt capacity. The panels are framed by three poles that can be manually tilted throughout the year to accommodate for seasonal changes in the sun’s position. A combiner box at the base of the panels allows for production to be disconnected at any time.
Wired underground is the connection to SMA’s Sunny Boy inverter, which facilitates their system. The 6,000-watt inverter turns 300 volts of DC power into the 240 volts of AC power on which the farm’s utilities run. The inverter provides various readouts of different metrics, from the cumulative carbon dioxide saved since installation, to the current energy output.
The system is net metered. On sunny summer days, when the array overproduces relative to need, the inverter will send unused power into the grid. Needed power can then be drawn out of the grid for use in the colder months when the panels receive less solar exposure and generate less energy.
Twelve years into its life, the Sunny Boy inverter is still operating smoothly, with no history of malfunction, according to Larson in his analysis of the system. Though the capacity of the panels themselves decreases over time (average of 1% loss annually), the protected inverter does not experience this weathering. Now two years beyond its warranty, the inverter is performing efficiently and reliably, without indication of slowing down any time soon.
The minimal upkeep costs of the system paired with the positive environmental footprint of solar power has made it an ideal option for Just A Few Acres Farm. Their Sunny Boy inverter has been an integral part of their system.
Watch this video and learn more about this historic system!
Trish Moratto (guest author)
Trish manages public relations for SMA America. She focuses on the industry media, corporate communications strategy and thought leadership.