Jinko Maxim Panels With Cell String Optimization Will Not Be Sold In Australia

Jinko Maxim Solar Panels not coming to Australia

Bad news for fans of cheap panel level optimisation. Jinko MX solar panels are not coming to Australia.

Last Tuesday I went to Sydney to attend the Smart Energy Conference & Exhibition.  I learned many things, one being that Jinko Maxim panels that use use cell string optimization — described in  this article — will not be sold in Australia because they were unable to stop them interfering with television reception.

Other knowledge I obtained included:

  • Sydney is built on a smaller scale than the rest of Australia.  Presumably because it was built by under-nourished, 4 feet tall, British convicts.  Adelaide was built convict-free and feels a lot roomier, and we all know Queensland was built by giants.
  • They forgot to put prices on the vending machines in Sydney.  Given they charge one million dollars for a house similar in size to my garden shed I was too scared to use them in case I was charged $19 for a bottle of lolly water.  This is a clear violation of Australian Consumer Law.
  • The final kilometer of train track to Sydney Airport must have been incredibly difficult and expensive to build because the ticket price suddenly jumps from $3 to $18.  I wonder where the monument to all the people who died building it is?  It would have to have been like boring the tunnels for the Snowy Mountains Scheme.
International Convention Centre, Sydney. 2018 Smart Energy Conference

The International Convention Centre in Sydney. Venue for the 2018 Smart Energy Conference. Photo Credit: Finn

I also happened to learn some stuff about solar power tech and batteries and stuff like that.  I’ll reveal my new knowledge in articles over the coming weeks.

What Is Maxim Panel Cell String Optimization?

A typical solar panel has three cell strings with 20 solar cells in each.  If a bird poops on just one of those 20 cells it can knock the entire cell string out of commission until the rain washes it away or someone gives it a clean.  This soiling will reduce the panel’s output by one-third.  Worse, in most solar systems it will reduce the output of every panel it is attached to by one-third as well.  But with panel cell string optimization there are built in electronics that will adjust the output of the dirty string so instead of being knocked out it will continue to supply some power.  More importantly, it won’t result in the performance of other panels being dragged down to its (bird) shitty level.

There are also solar panel optimizers that work in a similar way, but they optimize the output of the entire panel as a whole and not each third of the panel.  They will stop a poopy panel from dragging down the output of others, but won’t be as effective at getting the most out of each individual panel as panel cell string optimization.

Microinverters are different kettle of electronic fish, but their effect is similar to panel optimizers as the performance of one panel won’t effect others.

TV Reception Interference

In life, there is many a slip twix cup and lip, with cup in this instance being a television transmitter and the lip being your television screen.  The electronics used in cell string optimized panels can interfere with television reception.  The problem usually is only  noticeable when TV reception is weak to begin with and may be possible to fix by installing a better antenna.

Jinko found their first generation of Maxim optimized panels had this problem and withdrew them from the market.  They said their second generation MX solar panels would overcome this drawback and be available early this year.  But the problem was not overcome and, rather than deal with people complaining their TV reception is on the fritz, they will not be available.

Not Available In Australia

What the Jinko representative I talked said was they would not be available in Australia.  Does this mean they will be available in all those countries that don’t have TV?  Because there can’t be very many of them.  Even North Korea has TV.

It is possible they will use them in solar farms or for commercial solar where TV reception is not an issue.  Or maybe they’ll just sell them in countries where people complain less.  Possibly ones with weaker consumer law.  It’s also possible they won’t be available anywhere.  While I was specifically told, “They won’t be available in Australia,” one has to allow for the language barrier between Chinese and English.  Admittedly, the guy who told me this looked British to me, but I don’t want to jump to conclusions.  There are 1.4 billion people in China so there’s bound to be at least one who looks like he’s from Yorkshire.

Other Maxim Integrated Panels

Other companies that also use Maxim panel cell string optimization include Trina, QCELLS, Suntech, and ET Solar.  I don’t know if they have also experienced problems with TV reception, but since they are using the same technology it would be a very good idea to check if you value being able to watch interference-free commercials for funeral insurance.  Of course, if you are a young person who gets all their entertainment through this newfangled internet thing you may not care1.

Footnotes

  1. But if you get your newfangled internet through a home microwave link you may care.
About Ronald Brakels

Many years ago now, Ronald Brakels was born in Toowoomba. He first rose to international prominence when his township took up a collection to send him to Japan, which was the furthest they could manage with the money they raised. He became passionately interested in environmental matters upon his return to Australia when the local Mayor met him at the airport and explained it was far too dangerous for him to return to Toowoomba on account of climate change and mutant attack goats. Ronald then moved to a property in the Adelaide Hills where he now lives with his horse, Tonto 23.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the article Ronald.
    I guess the issue is to do with the frequency band used for TV transmissions in Australia, maybe it is different elsewhere?

    >>Photo of Venue for the 2018 Smart Energy Conference.

    The amount of energy being used to run all those lights doesn’t look very smart, it’s very wasteful light pollution. I can see the glow from Sydney here, and I’m 300km away!

  2. Six or seven year ago amorphous thin film panels were claimed to have better shade (and shit) tolerance, despite their lower efficiency than crystalline panels.

    There are plenty of other differences too but just interested in your opinion on the value of their shade tolerance given the advances in electronics to help overcome shit and shade problems with crystalline panels.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      An amorphous solar cell should have the same shade tolerance as a monosilicon or polysilicon solar cell. Maybe there is some tiny difference a salesperson could attempt to spin into a major advantage. Effective shade tolerance generally comes from how the cells are wired up into a panel. For example, panel cell string optimization and SunPower’s ability to bypass shaded cells are a big help.

      • Ok. So if I have amorphous panels on my roof (or as a general rule for any panels) and the shade problem has been cured.

        Does improvements in electronics and panel efficiency mean they should be replaced with more up to date panels before their “25 years” is up?

        • Ronald Brakels says

          I think shade problems are only truly removed by removing whatever was causing the shading. But should old panels be replaced if they are still working as expected? Not unless the owner wants to increase the amount of power they can get from their roof space. In practice it can be easier to remove a functioning older system than leave it in place when increasing capacity.

          • The shading problem was truly removed – excavator 1 trees 0. More interested if old panels should be removed due to decreased efficiency that comes with age. Roof areas is not limiting.

          • Ronald Brakels says

            If they are still working, even though their output may be reduced by age, and if you don’t need the roof space there’s no need to get rid of them. Some people do remove old systems when they get a new one because of limits on the maximum inverter capacity they can have and because they figure the old system will fail at some point and they’d rather have a new system with a new set of warranties.

  3. Last year JA Solar had a page on their optimised string solar panels but I notice I can’t see them now on their website. I have ordinary JA panels and am happy with them but I thought I might go for the string because I will have shade problems with any new installation. Do you have any knowledge of the JA panels.

  4. So Ronald, what happens to existing residents who already have installed these panels. How do they sort Antenna interruption?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      It appears that a suitable antenna may be all that’s required, but I don’t know the details of the interference, so I don’t know if that will fix the problem in all cases. Where good internet is available one option may be to watch TV through that. In an extreme situation the panels might need to be removed and replaced with non-interfering ones.

      Television interference is not a normal part of rooftop solar installation so, unless the solar installer informed the household they were taking the risk of interference by choosing panel cell string optimized panels, they have a responsibility to provide a remedy if interference occurs.

      • I have these panels and they are working well. I had no interference problem in my case and from what I’ve read it isn’t unusual to get interference, but it is not the majority of cases.

        I’ve got a lot of shade so these panels were a great fit for my house and at a price that was no more expensive than standard panels. I ended up getting 9.8 kw of Maxim panels with about 6.5kw East, 1kw North and 3.5kw West. Without the Maxim panels it would only have made sense to have East-facing panels – I still could have had about 6.5kw East, but I would have had lower overall production because of fewer panels, it wouldn’t have been spread out so well during the day and even the production from the East-facing panels would have been lower.

        I’m disappointed that they weren’t able to fix the interference and that they won’t be available in Australia any more because the price and performance was amazing for the situations where shade is an issue – you can do the same thing (and more) with SolarEdge, Micro-inverters and Tigo optimisers, but these tend to be significantly more expensive than the Maxim panels were. I guess even though it wasn’t a problem in most cases it is too much trouble to support since you won’t know until all the panels are installed whether it would be a problem.

  5. Just to put the other side into perspective, I bought 12 panels with 6 APS micro inverters in 2013. I ended up having to relocate the TV aerial to fix the interference problem. I still have rubbish radio reception during the daytime.

    It is not only optimisers that generate RF.

  6. We have a similar situation. Jinko maxim still produce something even when shaded by big gum trees. TV reception is fine and our panels are 1 m away from the aerial.

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