Every time when a new generation of the product is launched, people tend to be curious looking for the similarities and differences between the generations. In this blog we’ll look into the differences and improvements of the new Sunny Boy AV-40 compared to the older model, and how it meets the needs of an ever changing market.

The Sunny Boy 3000-5000TL is the world’s most successful residential string inverter, with more than 1 million devices installed worldwide. So when the time came for this trusted platform to be upgraded, the original development team worked hard to deliver a worthy successor.sunnyboy solarinverter old vs new

SMA Quality Worldwide

The Sunny Boy 3000-5000TL was assembled at our facility in Kassel, Germany, while the Sunny Boy AV-40 is assembled at our facility in Yangzhong, China. However, this makes no impact on the final quality the product. The reason lies in SMA Quality systems. Both locations implement the same SMA procedures and systems, which have ensured the quality for SMA devices for over 35 years. Learn more about SMA’s Quality & Product Development systems in this short video here.

sma solarinverter production facility

Part of the Kassel facility for production and testing and a similar part of the Yangzhong facility

Lighter & Smaller

The Sunny BoyAV-40 was redesigned to provide the same power with fewer components thus increasing product reliability and usability. The circuit boards were also redesigned and stacked to be more space economical, using newer more efficient individual components. All this has contributed to the Sunny Boy AV-40 being 40% lighter and 30% smaller than its predecessor without compromising on quality while at the same time enhancing the features.

The Sunny Boy 3000-5000TL on the left, and the new Sunny Boy AV-40 on the right showing a much smaller and simpler device (shown to scale)

The Sunny Boy 3000-5000TL on the left, and the new Sunny Boy AV-40 on the right showing a much smaller and simpler device (shown to scale)

Smaller device, smarter screen

The Sunny Boy 3000-5000TL communication was based on a 4-inch LCD screen and Bluetooth connectivity, but times have changed and the Sunny Boy AV-40 has changed along with them. The new inverter is able to communicate with any WiFi-enabled smart device and replaces the old 4-inch LCD screen with a new virtual smart screen improving reliability and access. The Sunny Boy AV-40 gets even smarter when used with an SMA Energy Meter, which can be used to provide consumption data along with its own production information. For information on accessing the inverter Smart Screen, check out our YouTube Tech Tip video.

lcd screen vs smart screen solarinverter

An older LCD screen on the Sunny Boy 3000-5000TL compared with the new Smart Screen

Quick commissioning with Smart Screen

A major difference between the Sunny Boy 3000-5000TL and Sunny Boy AV-40 is how the inverter is commissioned to meet the local country standards. The Sunny Boy AV-40 is designed to be quickly set up during commissioning via WiFi and its built-in Web User Interface. If an Installer needs to commission multiple devices with the same set of parameters, they can freely use the Configuration File feature which can complete complex programming of an inverter in less than 10 seconds. All this allows for less installation time and lowers costs for all parties.

commissioning of a solarinverter

Smart Connected: the new Standard in Service

The Sunny BoyAV-40 is also the first device in the Sunny Boy family to provide the free Smart Connected Service Package. This helps the Sunny Boys to stay ahead in a modern market where Cloud systems can be used to help work more efficiently and deal with Service issues before you even know there is a problem. And in the unlikely even the inverter needs to be replaced, the Sunny Boy AV-40 will be replaced with a new inverter pre-shipped to the site ready for your installer to replace. This means your system is back up and running at full power sooner, saving you time and money. To learn about Smart Connected, check out this short video or read our blog post here.
 

smartconnected service smasolar

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Storing solar power and optimizing self-consumption at home are key trends for all PV system operators. Depending on the size of the system and of the storage system, you can optimize your use of self-generated solar energy and can even make you completely independent from your power company. We can show you how it works in Sunny Places with the new “Try a Demo” function.

If you have not yet purchased a battery yourself but would like to know how a storage system works as part of the overall PV system, it is now possible to take a closer look in the online community portal Sunny Places. Courtesy of two demo systems, we can show you live data from our two storage system types: the “integrated storage system” featuring the Sunny Boy Smart Energy and the “flexible storage system” featuring the Sunny Island and Sunny Tripower.

Live test with SMA Integrated Storage System

Sunny Boy Smart Energy is part of the SMA Integrated Storage System.

Live storage system check

Based on weather forecasts, you can determine how much solar power the system is actually generating and how much power is being consumed by the washing machine or dishwasher, whether the system is currently pumping solar power into the grid or storing it to the battery, or whether your home is currently using power from the utility grid.

Taking a close look at the system description will give you an overview of the system and highlight its special features. For instance, the “flexible storage system” in Kassel is an east–west PV system. The benefit of this module alignment is that it produces a particularly large amount of solar energy for direct consumption from morning to evening.

The energy balance provides information relating to generation and consumption throughout the entire service life of the system, thereby giving you an idea of the overall system efficiency.

sma flexible storage

Live test with the SMA Flexible Storage System including the battery inverter Sunny Isalnd .

Give it a try now

A lot of things simply have to be seen to be believed, and to get a better understanding of how they work. With this in mind, have fun with our demo systems.

Have you not yet purchased a PV system and want to know whether it would be worth the investment? All you need to do is follow three steps to simulate your own system via Sunny Places.

And this storage system test will tell you in less than a minute which storage system type you are.

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This is how independent energy supply can be quite successful. The screencast shows how easy it is to design a professional island system with Sunny Design Web. 

We guide you through designing an island system and give you tips for your perfect system design. After that, nothing stands in the way of successful operation of the island system.

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After one year of operation, THEnergy analyzed the SMA Fuel Save Solution located on Sint Eustatius and summarized its performance in one word “excellent.”

After one year of operation, it was time to have a look at the outcomes. Were estimations about the performance of the system accurate? Did the system perform as well as it should? Did the wear and tear on the components match expectations? To answer these questions, SMA Sunbelt asked Dr. Thomas Hillig to analyze how the system performed. Hillig is the founder of the Dr. Thomas Hillig Energy Consulting, which assists companies in the renewable energy sector with consulting in sales, marketing and sustainability.

The hybrid system’s performance in numbers

statia_forecast_vs_measurement

A hybrid system’s performance is determined by simulations, which rely on assumptions being made. These assumptions are usually forecasts that, from looking at the past, estamet what the conditions will be like in the future.

A great impact on plant performance is caused by irradiation as it defines how much energy the solar system is able to deliver. The past year was not the sunniest one, which explains why the analysis shows an irradiation of 4.9% less than the forecast.
It is also important to consider consumption, as the overall system performance and savings increase the more energy from solar can directly be used. However, the amount actually consumed turned out to be 4.5% less than what was forecasted.

Albeit these non-optimal conditions, the plant performed excellently. The solar system produced more than expected. Despite irradiation being 4.9% less than anticipated, the solar system produced only 2.3% less energy. A great result.
Fuel savings reached 812,887 liters in the year reviewed, which is only 1.2% less thexpected – even better.

One of the most critical components is the battery as a higher ageing of the battery as the most expensive part of the system can be very costly. The batteries were forecasted to have a remaining battery capacity of 95.6% after the first year of operation. Measurement of the capacity after one year of operation showed that the battery performed much better with 98.7% remaining capacity.

You can find the complete performance analysis here (PDF).

Experiences from the first year of operation

First of all, Sint Eustatius is a really, really great hybrid system from a development point of view. For maintenance and tuning, there is a secure live connection between the hybrid system and SMA headquarters in Germany. Due to the time difference of -6 hours with Germany, we are able to comfortably put agreed optimizations and updates into place while solar production is still sleeping. At noon German time, solar production in the Caribbean powers up and the solar plant is at full power just before quitting time in Germany. This is a luxury unique to this site.

statia_cloudySint Eustatius is also an interesting plant because of where it is located (and not only because of dreamlike water and the generous people living there) and the hybrid system’s characteristics. The solar field is incredibly compact and there are nearly no statistical effects distributing cloud impact to different solar systems in the grid. Above that, cloud movement is often really fast as water all around barely slows wind down. So clouds appear within seconds, causing an immediate and extreme reduction in solar production. This would create a significant strain on the generators because always enough genset power would have to be kept online to cover each single solar break in. At this point the battery storage kicks in. As soon as solar production drops, the storage reacts immediately by pushing energy into the grid with a power of up to +-1MW. As a result, a 0.9MVA genset can run at idle power of 30% while 1.7MW of the load is present in the system.

Sint Eustatius a blueprint for the german energy transition

germanep

From the beginning, Germany’s grid utility companies have complained about grid stability as the use of renewable energies has grown. On the right you can see power production of one recent week in the German grid. While in Sint Eustatius the fluctuations in solar power were much more significant as there is little regional distribution AND the renewable share does not cap at 50% as it does in Germany, but instead goes up to 89%; AND there is no larger grid to import / export energy to balance out the fluctuations, Statia Utility Company (Stuco) still intends to raise the renewable share in their grid even further.

So, when a little Caribbean island like Sint Eustatius has the technology to cope with the difficult conditions presented given their location, why should a large European grid not be able to overcome its challenges? If you compare the diagrams, the difference in the level of challenges becomes clear.

Outlook

Today, we are working on the next level of hybrid systems. While solar-diesel-hybrid systems today mainly reduce consumption with a generator there to cover spikes and to give the beat in the grid, we are developing means to completely turn off all gensets and let the battery storage entirely take over the grid. Again, Sint Eustatius may well be the place where we first implement this large step forward with a larger battery, even more solar and a grid forming industrial class battery inverter.

We will keep you updated on our development progress here.

Interested in the project? Check the video about the project (2016):

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Update 2017-07-13:

In the mean time, there were a lot of publications spreading this great success.
Here is a selection of publications:

English

German

More information

You can find all of our blog posts on the Fuel Save Solution here. It is a great source of information if you are interested in saving fuel or planning to integrate solar energy into your grid.

Do you have comments or questions? Great! Just use the comment field below. We look forward to receiving your comments and we will answer each question as best as we can.

You can find even more details on the Fuel Save Solution Product Website.

If you would like our experts to help you lay out your own Fuel Save Solution, just send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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