More Power from Your Solar Array: The Balancer

The Balancer maximizes the output of every module in a solar installation, to harvest power at a system's full potential. It makes a system perform as if it has extra panels, while providing vital health data to help you maintain system performance.

The Balancer is ideal for a wide range of installations, including new rooftop solar arrays, retrofits, solar PPA's and utility-scale fields.

Maxout’s Balancer combines per-panel optimization, monitoring and integrated batteries for storage and emergency backup for residential PV (photovoltaic) systems. The Balancer installs between a string inverter and PV panels to improve performance and reliability, contribute to grid reliability and resiliency, decrease operation and maintenance costs, and reduce system costs for residential PV.

Patented Technologies in a Single Box

In a traditional PV system the optimization the various system functions are spread out over three or four different sets of circuitry. The Balancer is a patented 4-in-1 stage that combines:

  • per-panel optimization
  • battery charge control
  • rapid-shutdown for NEC compliance
  • voltage boost capability for compatibility with cost-effective buck-only inverters.
maxout renewables system components with balancer

Combining these functions in a single stage results in fewer electronic components, significant reduction in losses, and simplified installation. A single box replaces the dozens of components required with other approaches. The Balancer’s optimizer and charge controller functions are described in more detail below.

The Power of Optimization

Traditional PV systems consist of solar panels wired together in a series, or “string.” The image below shows that, without optimization the output of each string of PV modules is limited by the worst performing panel . If a single panel underperforms for any reason (shading, dirt, mis-orientation, aging, etc.), energy production across the whole string is reduced to that of the lowest performing panel. In the example below, the left panel is partially shaded, reducing its output. Performance can also be reduced due to dirt, aging, misalignment, etc.

maxout renewables balancer comparison no optimization

An optimizer ensures that each panel performs at its maximum. If a shaded panel’s output drops by 10%, only that panel will be affected—all others will provide their maximum output.

In traditional power optimizers, all of the power from each panel flows through the optimizer, as in the image below. The optimizer can recoup 10% of power on the three unshaded panels—but to do that, it needs to process 100% of the power from every panel. The optimizer's components must therefore be massive enough to handle that entire electrical load. And, since they are installed on the roof (typically one optimizer under each solar panel) they must operate in an extremely hot environment which significantly reduces the lifetime of the components.

maxout renewables balancer comparison traditional optimization

Maxout’s Balancer optimizer is fundamentally different. As shown below, only the “boosted” power from each PV panel flows through the Balancer. This difference leads to major advantages: drastically smaller components, much lower costs, and higher performance.

 maxout renewables balancer comparison maxout optimization

Taking Charge of Charge Control

The Balancer also functions as a battery charge controller, eliminating the need for a multimode inverter, or two inverters. The unique architecture enables individually optimized charging of every cell in the battery pack, which improves battery lifetime. It also provides the flexibility to mix battery types and ages, including aftermarket batteries, within the same unit.

The Balancer’s battery module allows time-of-use (TOU) load shifting and peak load shaving for improved grid resiliency and reduced homeowner electric bills. If paired with an inverter that can operate off-grid, the Balancer provides sufficient surge capacity to run household appliances, such as refrigerators and AC units, as well as storage for emergency back-up.

Real-Time Health Data and Diagnostics

Most solar installation monitoring systems report only a plant's averaged productivity. They can tell you that a system is underperforming, but they can't tell you why.

The Balancer logs critical health data for every panel in your system so you can pinpoint trouble and maintain peak performance throughout the array. Short and long term statistics are generated for every panel, and you can monitor the data in real-time from a smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC. Intelligent performance displays help you spot sources of trouble with easy-to-interpret graphical overlays.

Widely Compatible, Easy to Own

Maxout Balancers support strings from 8-32 panels. Longer strings mean The Balancer can pump more power into your inverter, letting it perform more efficiently for more hours of the day, especially in dim light. Standard 60, 72 and 96 cell PV modules are supported, as well as thin-film, concentrated PV and other technologies. Virtually all string inverters are supported as well, including single phase, 3 phase, 50-60 Hz, etc.

The Balancer contains no high-wear components and requires virtually no maintenance. Snap-together cabling make it easy to service the system, and its incredibly small size help you make the most of available space.