At BayWa r.e., we’re keeping a close eye on the needs of the fast-growing commercial PV market. And one thing we’re seeing is an ever-growing need for high-powered PV systems at a low AC voltage.
In this segment, we’ll be talking about the 208V market—an underserved sub-segment within C&I Solar with tremendous potential.
Are you interested in talking more about C&I? We’ve got answers. Reach out.
Many US commercial buildings, multi-family complexes, and agricultural facilities run on a three-phase, 4 Wire 208Y/120V power arrangement. Because it provides more power with the same current, and additional flexibility in handling different load capacities, it remains a popular configuration across North America that solar contractors should not overlook.
Most often, this configuration is found in commercial buildings such as restaurants, office spaces, grocery stores, and retail spaces. In addition, the ubiquity of water heaters and pumps in the agricultural sector makes it a prime segment for the 208V market. Similarly, any commercial buildings with lights, appliances, and HVAC systems are prime candidates for 208V installations.
We believe this is an important segment for our installers to target as there are now more and more solutions out there in the market. Our partners at Fronius agree.
Braulio Escobar, Sales Manager at Fronius US says, “Despite the economic uncertainty, and the work for home trend, this segment is poised for growth. In the Midwest Agricultural sector, it is not uncommon to hear about customers’ forecast increasing by 30%-50% for 2021!”
It is common for contractors to use three, single-phase inverters for a 208V three-phase voltage configuration. However, we would advise against this configuration as it could create an imbalanced output on each leg of the three inverters, something utilities would frown upon and could delay, or even prevent, the system from passing inspection.
Moreover, utilities often require expensive control equipment to shut off all three inverters, which both drives up project costs and increases the number of components that an O&M team needs to worry about.
We’ve also seen projects of larger size which have been designed with 480V inverters and a step-down transformer (480V to 208V). While this is a common practice for systems larger than 250kW, it is difficult to rationalize the economics of a transformer for most commercial buildings in the US. To address these points, Richard Baldinger at Fronius says:
“We believe there is a better way to tackle this market. While keeping reliability, optimization, and long-term flexibility in mind, we have developed a product series to serve this and other segments. The three-phase Symo 10kW (208/240V), 12kW (208/240V), and 15kW (208V) can all be utilized for this low voltage commercial configuration without the need for a transformer to step/down the voltage supply, providing solar installers an efficient and cost-optimal solution.”
— Richard Baldinger, Fronius US
Along with providing solar installers with an efficient and cost-optimal solution, we believe other benefits come by partnering with Fronius.
Director of Commerical Solutions
BayWa r.e. Solar Systems