Last week I posted on the release of the Electric Imp, an exciting new device that could well revolutionise data collection and communications in all manner of devices.
The story created a lot of interest and during those conversations I was reminded of a product launch I was involved in almost 10 years ago, which was actually built with Electric Imp in mind; it just didn’t exist yet.
At the time I was working for BP Solar, whic launched a new 125W solar module that for the first time included an integrated circuit board.
The primary driver was to allow the diodes (normally mounted in the J Box) to be surface mounted. The benefits were multiple; the heat dissipation was improved, which extended life, higher quality modern components could be used, which reduced losses and of course the whole thing was designed to be more readily assembled in high volumes and thus reduce cost.
The science, testing and warranty results spoke for themselves. It worked well, failures were virtually non existent and it was innovative.
However, some of the geniuses who helped devise this had another ambition; to be ready for integrated smart devices – like the Electric Imp.
In the massive variety of markets that we serviced (before the company was crushed and all the geniuses moved on) we saw enormous potential for solving issues with smart devices such as:
* integrating data collection devices at the module level
* integrating anti theft controls (serialised coding that prevented the module from working in any other installation) sending fault warnings
We also saw the potential for:
* integrated DC to DC voltage controllers that could provide versatility and flexibility
* integrated voltage regulators minimising components and commissioning time integrated micro inverters for AC output
Some of these ideas may never work but credit to to the boffins, they designed a smart module platform that was ready for the enabling technology to catch up.
The technology has just caught up.
If ever there was a chance for a PV manufacturer to demonstrate differentiation, innovation and a willingness to lead in a quagmire of sameness, it could be the that Electric Imp is the device to do it.
Footnote – I have no affiliation with Electric Imp or pecuniary interest, I’m just excited!
Nigel Morris is Director of Solar Business Services