Ampt posits that all of SolarEdge’s technology is in violation of patents controlled by the Colorado company, and that they should be required to immediately cease all sales.
Ampt, a Fort Collins, Colorado-based power electronics specialist, has filed a lawsuit against SolarEdge for allegedly infringing a series of their patents. According to Ampt, the violations at the heart of the problem are “power optimizers that contain high-efficiency power converters that both allow maximum power point output and use operational boundary conditions that continue to produce power. under conditions that might otherwise cause the optimizer to be bypassed”.
The filing requests that the the full range of inverters and optimizers from SolarEdge be withdrawn from the market for infringement of these patents. Ampt maintains that they, as well as other manufacturers, could replace SolarEdge’s hardware if necessary.
Ampt has filed in two separate courts – the International Trade Count (ITC), whose online filing can be found hereand the full U.S. District Court record for Delaware can be found here.
In the ITC filing, two patents were specifically highlighted – US Patent Nos. 9,673,630 (‘630) and 11,289,917 (‘917).
The ‘630 patent was issued in 2017, while the ‘917 patent was recently issued on March 29, 2022. Both patents claim priority over a provisional patent application filed in 2007. Ampt notes that they were founded in Colorado in 2007.
The depot includes a circuit (below) that contains both a buck and boost converter. Ampt states that this “power optimization circuit of (their) invention…describes a dual-mode configuration that provides high efficiency for their specific use case.”
Buck converters lower voltages, while boost converters raise voltages. Solar optimizers regulate the voltages and amperages of individual solar panels in combination with their inverter, among a string of solar panels arranged in a series circuit.
The longer form filed with the ITC court includes an image of the circuitry inside a SolarEdge optimizer, showing the location of the buck-boost converter.
The brief also highlighted operational limits and how they interact with overcurrents and voltages, while trying to optimize the maximum power point (MPPT).
To the very limited electrical knowledge of this author, all inverter manufacturers use these two techniques to manage solar energy. Solar charge controllers in off-grid systems specifically focus on these designs to maintain constant voltages when charging batteries from variable output solar panels.
pv magazine United States contacted SolarEdge for comment late last week. SolarEdge says that because they haven’t been served yet, they can’t comment on specific patents yet. SolarEdge says they were in a patent negotiation with Ampt, which was moderated by the USPTO, and that SolarEdge was granted patents as a result of the discussion.
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