Product choice has been an issue with rapid shutdown requirements since the NEC 2017 update, but that tide is starting to turn. Six additional members within the SunSpec Alliance ranks have announced products and services supporting the SunSpec Communication Signal for Rapid Shutdown standard, bringing the size of the SunSpec Rapid Shutdown ecosystem to 12 companies.
SunSpec Rapid Shutdown ecosystem participants include:
- balance-of-system suppliers with stand-alone PV module-level initiators and
- transmitter products (APsystems, JMTHY, Midnite Solar, Stäubli and ZERUN);
- inverter manufacturers with integrated transmitters (Fronius, Ginlong and SMA);
- semiconductor companies (Texas Instruments) and
- SunSpec Authorized Testing Laboratories (CSA, Intertek and UL).
“With the addition of these influential companies, the SunSpec Rapid Shutdown ecosystem is stronger than ever and has increased capacity to promote safety and standardization across the distributed energy landscape,” said Tom Tansy, chairman of the SunSpec Alliance. “As more solutions come to market to help integrators comply with rapid shutdown requirements, these leaders are ensuring safe deployment of solar and storage systems in the U.S.”
Since it launched the SunSpec Communication Signal for Rapid Shutdown standard, the SunSpec Alliance has continued to hone and simplify the SunSpec Certification process and interoperability program. Important advancements include harmonizing test requirements with the UL 1741 standard and mobilizing a co-operative marketing and educational program to raise the visibility and awareness of SunSpec Rapid Shutdown solutions. SunSpec has also recently enhanced its local support capabilities for manufacturing partners in Asia.
With this ecosystem expansion, solar professionals have more choices and a wider range of cost-effective, standardized solutions to comply with rapid shutdown requirements. A total of nine product lines from six manufacturers have achieved SunSpec Certified status, adding to a list of 79 products from 56 companies that have achieved SunSpec Certified status so far.
Solar inverter manufacturers all seem pretty pumped by this collective update.
“We were among the first ones to launch a product based on the new SunSpec Rapid Shutdown standard and are excited to see the ecosystem of products grow,” says Richard Baldinger, Head of Marketing and Inside Sales, Fronius. “Our belief is that industry standards support innovation to drive down cost and to allow customer choice.”
“By using a SunSpec certified rapid shutdown device, SMA and our partners benefit from a best-in-class shutdown solution,” says Brad Dore, Director of Marketing, SMA America. “ Solar integrators can meet code, expedite installation, reduce component count for improved reliability, and eliminate risk associated with proprietary single-sourced alternatives. SunSpec has been a game-changer for SMA and our installers.”
As we’ve noted, the NEC 2017 Rapid Shutdown requirements add a significant level of complexity and new equipment in order to meet the prescribed operation parameters.
“The fact that these new components need to communicate with each other in order to function effectively leaves two realistic Rapid Shutdown system configurations: a fully proprietary solution supplied by a single manufacturer or a methodology that allows products from a multitude of suppliers to effectively and safely work together,” notes Brian Mills, Product Manager, Alternative Energy, Stäubli. “The latter is by far the preferred situation as it allows manufacturers to focus on specific system components that can benefit most from their experience and technologies. This gives the designer/installer the most flexibility when specifying components for their PV systems, both from the point of cost optimizing and using their preferred equipment suppliers.”
A notable example to that point is microinverter manufacturer APsystems, which now develops MLRSD and transmitters certified to the SunsSpec standard. The products allow seamless integration and high reliability in solar systems with many inverters. This provides designers and installers the flexibility to optimize the system cost and performance.
“The SunSpec Rapid Shutdown standard provides a communication platform for PV system module level rapid shutdown devices (MLRSD),” says Yuhao Luo, CTO, APsystems. “Since the standard unifies MLRSD communication and simplifies our design, APsystems can focus on optimizing product design and manufacturing to drive down the cost. The standard brings great value to the solar industry in safety, cost and performance.”
Key to that is an open-source communication format that all these manufacturers can rely on and build their components around.
“Working with leading suppliers of rooftop solar systems for many years, we at Texas Instruments recognize the importance of an easy-to-implement and safe solution for rapid shutdown,” says Jose Sacripanti, Analog Marketing Manager, Texas Instruments. “We will continue to help SunSpec Alliance establish an open standard so solar companies can deploy safer and more effective designs.”