Arc fault detection and application

The risk of fire caused by solar systems is very low and in the vast majority of cases caused by low quality products or installer errors that lead to an electrical arc and then fire. The chance of a fire being caused by an arc in your solar system is comparable to the same risk carried by most electrical appliances such as a TV.

Despite this low risk, at Autarco we have taken all possible steps to reduce risk. As a total solutions brand, we are in position to control these risks far better than a brand that only produces one product like a solar panel manufacturer or solar inverter manufacturer.

Read on to find out more.

What is an Arc Fault?


An arc is formed by separating two parts of a circuit where a current is running. A plasma is formed between the 2 parts emitting light and heat. The plasma is a good conductor, so in other words the current will keep flowing and the arc will continue until one of below;

  • The voltage in the circuit is reduced to less than 12V
  • The distance between the 2 parts is closed
  • The distance between the 2 parts is increased far enough to break the arc

In a solar system, the rooftop current is a direct current which makes arcs more troublesome than in an AC circuit where the voltage goes to zero (50-60 times in one second, according to the grid frequency).

The large energy produced by arcs can be controlled in certain industrial applications such as welding and plasma cutting and they are also commonly used in lighting applications. If uncontrolled, the hot plasma may cause damage and will cause plastic parts to melt and potentially cause fire.

Possible causes of an arc in a solar system


There are numerous connection points in a solar system that are potential flash points for electrical arcs to occur. You can think of these points simply as switches and plugs.

Plugs
Individual solar panels have connectors (plugs) on the end that are joined together. The ones that come on the solar panels are installed in highly automated production lines with stringent quality control. The installer just needs to make sure they hear a “click” when they connect the plugs and then the risk is incredibly low.

The connectors on the cable that connects the panels on the roof to the inverter on the ground are added by the installer and this introduces two risks;

  1. They use a different brand of connectors to those on the solar panels
  2.  They do not install the connectors properly.

As a total solution brand, Autarco uses approved dealers and provides all connectors of the same brand to our professional install partners.

Switches
Some form of DC switch is mandatory at the solar inverter, so the inverter can be safely disconnected from the solar panels for maintenance etc. Often referred to as a DC Switch or DC Isolator.

  • When an installer is not suitably trained or is trying to save costs they may install an external switch that is not suitable for the solar system which can result in arcs.
  • Beyond incorrect product choice, the connections in the external switch may also be poorly done. Autarco dealers and installers receive instructions how to install these switches properly.

Autarco inverters have an integrated DC switch, so they are always properly matched and installed under strict quality control.

External Causes
Animals chewing through wires can also lead to arcing. By proper separation of the DC-cables, propagation of the arc is prevented.

Prevention


Prevention beats detection every time. That’s why we have deployed innovative technologies and processes in our total solutions to mitigate the three main causes of unsafe situations.

  • Product Quality
  • Design Safety
  • Install Quality

You can read more about this on our safety page.

Detection


In addition to our prevention measures, new Autarco inverters are now available with inbuilt Arc Fault Detection. This means that the inverter can detect an arc in line and will then shut down and send an alarm.

The detection in Autarco inverters conforms with UL1699B-2018, which is an American standard, but is currently the only available standard for arc fault detection in the world. As new standards (the European organisations are working on one now) become available, our inverters can be upgraded to comply with them.

There is still an additional risk: if the sun is shining there is always a voltage between the panels even if the inverter shuts down, so the arc may not be extinguished by inverter shutdown. By adding optimizers to each solar panel it is possible to reduce voltages of all panels on the roof to a safe value.

Read more about Autarco and safety

Interested? Get a free roof scan and follow up from one of our Authorized Dealers near you.

Interested in becoming an Autarco Authorized Dealer? Click here to learn more.


Introducing the Autarco OX Series

Our latest solar innovations


We hereby announce the availability of our digitilised inverters; the OX Series (80-110k) and the XLX-MII Series (25-40k). Both of these series deliver state-of-the art features that complement and build on the digital twin created in Helios during the design phase.

  • IV Curves
  • String level monitoring and alerts
  • Integrated AFCI
  • Residual Current Suppression
  • Advanced Grid Management

Read more about our digital solutions

OX Inverter

  • 80-110kW
  • 10MPPT
  • 26A MPPT Input
  • Quiet as a mouse

Learn more about OX

XLX-MII Inverter

  • 25-40 kW
  • 3 or 4 MPPT
  • i
  • i

Learn more about XLX-MII

Digitalised WIFI Stick

Our new WIFI stick also provides an upgraded monitoring and maintenance experience for every inverter in the product range.

  • Two way communication (Remote control)
  • Message Buffering
  • Improved hardware and LED indication

Other monitoring devices coming soon!

Training


Sign up for online or on-site training

Online Training

  • OX Features
  • Digital O&M

On-Site Training

  • OX Features

Send us an email to sign up

Want to offer real value?Become an Authorized Dealer.

Join us today! As an Autarco partner you also benefit from attractive services and extensive marketing support.

Join us now!

SolarEdge vs. Autarco Total Solution

We are often compared to SolarEdge with respect to safety, so to make things easier for our dealers and potential customers we have put together a comparison table.

Connector mismatch


As a total solution brand, we can guarantee that all of the connectors provided with a commercial Autarco system use original MC4 connectors from Staubli. On the solar panels, on the inverters, on the inter-row connections and any loose connectors provided. This relatively straightforward benefit is impossible for a component brand to match with ease.

Even SolarEdge, who promote and push the safety message so strongly are not able to adequately control the leading cause of fire in solar systems, because ultimately, they do not know what connectors their optimizers will be matched with on the back of the solar panel.

Performance of optimizers


There are numerous very strong use cases for optimizers, particularly in heavy shade, but their usefulness is often overstated. We recommend interested parties to review this Research Report which also backs up many of our findings in the field. This study shows that PV systems have typically a higher yield if no module optimizers are applied.

Interested? Get a free roof scan and follow up from one of our Authorized Dealers near you.

Interested in becoming an Autarco Authorized Dealer? Click here to learn more.


Dealer Spotlight: Dutch Solar Energy

In this edition of our Dealer Spotlight we’re highlighting Dutch Solar Energy. They sell and install solar solutions with a focus on commercial installations. We met with Melanie Hol, account manager at DSE, at one of their recent solar installations and talked about their company, the collaboration with Autarco and their latest installation.

Personal

Dedicated account manager with personal assistance throughout the project

Autarco total solution

Supplies and installs all components for a full Autarco total solution with kWh guarantee.

B2B focused

Dutch Solar Energy specializes in solutions for the commercial market.

A system of 21 powerful MHE solar panels


This solar energy system of 7.14 kWp consists of 21 Autarco MHE series solar panels. The yield is inverted by an Autarco LD Mark II inverter of 6 kW that is very compact and silent. The MHE series are new and innovative solar panels that deliver superior reliability and high performance.

The system has been designed beforehand in our Helios software. Using accurate aerial photos and innovative calculations Helios can automatically calculate the expected yield of the system. You can easily download a full project report which has all of the system’s details which is great to add to the quote that’s generated. After approval an order of the full bill of materials can be placed with one click.

“I always use the system report that Helios generates to send it to my customers. It’s a nice overview which has lots of information about the system, much more than other brands have. It’s definitely of added value to the quote we send.

“I’ve switched to selling Autarco because all products are from one brand, not only making it easier for us, but also being able to deliver higher performance and increased safety.”

Melanie Hol – Account manager

3 quick questions to account manager Melanie Hol


What are the main advantages of an Autarco system?

I’ve switched to selling Autarco because all products are from one brand, not only making it easier for us, but also being able to deliver higher performance and increased safety. Besides that they also provide the unique kWh guarantee and a perfect value for money.


How do you like the Helios software from Autarco?

The functionalities of Autarco’s Helios software are excellent and very easy to use. We use it to design systems for our customers and it automatically generates expected yield, a bill of material and a quote we can send to our customers. We can also download a project report which is the perfect companion to the quote.


Why do your customers choose Autarco?

Customers choose Autarco because I truly am confident in the product solution, and when you’re able to explain it properly the proposition sells itself automatically.

Solar project of 7.14 kWp


Dutch Solar Energy sold an Autarco total solution to entrepreneur Harrie van Cruchten in June of 2020 and installed it on his garden house. A system consisting of 21 powerful MHE series solar panels, including a kWh guarantee.

More information

Want to offer real value?Become an Authorized Dealer.

Join us today! As an Autarco partner you also benefit from attractive services and extensive marketing support.

Join us now!

21 powerful solar panels on garden house

Dutch Solar Energy sold an Autarco total solution to entrepreneur Harrie van Cruchten in June of 2020 and installed it on his garden house. A system consisting of 21 powerful MHE series solar panels, including a kWh guarantee.

Harrie is the owner of a camper van rental company and with his solar energy system he’s contributing to green energy. It also benefits him financially as the batteries inside the camper vans have to be charged.

System size

7.14 kWp


Solar panels

21x MHE series of 340 Wp
More details

Inverter

Autarco LD Mark II of 6 kW
More details

Mounting system

Matrix symmetrical
More details

Dealer

Dutch Solar Energy
More details

A safe solar energy system of 7 kWp


This solar energy system of 7.14 kWp consists of 21 Autarco MHE series solar panels. The yield is inverted by an Autarco LD Mark II inverter of 6 kW that is very compact and silent. The MHE series are new and innovative solar panels that deliver superior reliability and high performance.

The system was designed beforehand in our Helios software. Using accurate aerial photos and innovative calculations Helios can automatically calculate the expected yield of the system. Thanks to the Autarco total solution of solar panels and inverters this system can be covered by the kWh guarantee. This is insured by the kWh Guarantee Foundation, meaning for every kWh below the expected yield Harrie will receive a financial compensation.

For the owner this is not only a safe investment, but the system itself is also very safe. This is also thanks to the total solution from Autarco. The system only consists of parts from the Autarco brand, making everything work together perfectly with extra safety.

“The most important reason to become more sustainable is so that we can contribute to green energy.”

Harrie van Cruchten – Owner

3 quick questions to Harrie van Cruchten


Why did you choose an Autarco solution?

It felt like a good choice to invest in a system with security of its return. The kWh guarantee came included making sure this system will perform like promised beforehand. When it doesn’t perform they will pay me for every missed kWh. Thanks to the total solution this system is also very safe which is also important to me.

What’s the reason for choosing solar to become more sustainable?

The most important reason to become more sustainable is so that we can contribute to green energy. Of course also to reduce our energy bills as the batteries in the camper vans need to be charged.

How was the cooperation between you and the installer?

I made a conscious decision to purchase my Autarco system with Dutch Solar Energy. They truly honor their commitments towards me and everything went according to plan.

Interested? Get a free roof scan and follow up from one of our Authorized Dealers near you.

Interested in becoming an Autarco Authorized Dealer? Click here to learn more.


Dutch school invests in sustainable energy from Autarco

In november of 2019 Van Herp Solar Solutions installed an Autarco total solution on the roofs of the school Sint-Janslyceum in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. This system consists of powerful Autarco MHE solar panels, including the insured kWh guarantee.

It’s important to the school that they contribute to a better world and environment by generating their own solar energy. Since the installation of the solar energy system they have become more aware of their power usage and the amount they generate with the solar panels.

System size

245 kWp


Solar panels

732x MHE of 335 Wp
More details

Inverters

4x Autarco inverters
More details

Mounting system

Matrix symmetrical
More details

Installer

Van Herp Solar Solutions


A total solution of 732 powerful Autarco MHE solar panels


This solar PV system of 245 kWp consists of 732 Autarco MHE solar panels of which the yield is inverted by two Autarco UX inverters of 60 kW and two XLX inverters of 25 kW. The MHE series are highly innovative solar panels, made from 120 halfcut cells with multi-wire technology. These panels no longer have bus-bars resulting in superior reliability and high performance.

Sint-Janslyceum benefits from the unique kWh guarantee thanks to the Autarco total solution of inverters and solar panels. The system was designed beforehand in our Helios software. Using accurate aerial photos and innovative calculations Helios can automatically calculate the expected yield of the system, which is 218 MWh in the first year. This is insured by the kWh Guarantee Foundation, meaning for every kWh below the expected yield the school will receive a financial compensation. The business case that was calculated beforehand will for sure be met. A very safe and reliable investment.

“For us it is important to contribute to a better world and greener environment.”

Dorien van de Camp – Head of facilities

3 quick questions to Dorien van de Camp, head of facilities


Why did you choose an Autarco solution?

We chose Autarco because of their knowledgeable explanation of their products and their great references. The total solar solution appealed to us as all products are from one brand, which is important for the best performance and safety. That’s also why they can offer the insured kWh guarantee, making sure we meet the business case that was calculated beforehand. The service and support is also great, the system is automatically monitored at a distance and the installer gets notified when there’s an issue.

What’s the reason for choosing solar to become more sustainable?

As a school we aim to contribute to a better world and greener environment by generation our own solar energy. It’s also nice that we save on our energy bill.

How was the cooperation between the school and the installer?

The cooperation with the installer was great, they kept us up to date on the progress and they were really experienced with Autarco.

Interested? Get a free roof scan and follow up from one of our Authorized Dealers near you.

Interested in becoming an Autarco Authorized Dealer? Click here to learn more.


Dealer Spotlight: ETB Van Lanen

In this edition of our Dealer Spotlight we’re highlighting ETB van Lanen. With their 40+ years of experience in electrical engineering they are a great addition to our dealer network with focus on business to business.

ETB van Lanen sells and installs electrical solutions in agriculture, utility, industry and housing and recently they have expanded their activities with solar installations. Combining the Autarco total solution with their own AC solutions is highly beneficial for their customers. We met with Lamfred the CEO of ETB van Lanen at one of their long-time customers and talked about their company, the collaboration with Autarco and their latest installation.

More than 40 years of experience

ETB van Lanen has more than 40 years of experience in electrical engineering.

Autarco total solution

Supplies and installs all components for a full Autarco total solution with kWh guarantee.

B2B focused

ETB van Lanen focuses on B2B including agriculture, utility, industry and housing.

Installing a 294 kWp Autarco system


ETB van Lanen sold an Autarco total solution to agro-entrepreneur Jan de Haas in April of 2020, after which they’ve installed it in May. A system consisting of 878 powerful MHE series solar panels totaling 294 kWp.

“This solar solution is one of many steps they are taking to make their agro-business more sustainable. It fully consists of Autarco products making a highly reliable and safe system. This also allows Autarco to insure the system’s performance which gives me a lot of confidence in selling solar to my long-time customers.”, says Lamfred van Lanen

This system was engineered beforehand in Autarco’s free Helios design software. One of its features is the ability to create a system design on recent aerial maps. Helios automatically calculates the expected yield and after approval an order can be placed for all required materials, all with the press of a button.

“Helios allows us to accurately model the system on aerial photos. This helps with optimizing the system before installing but also to visualize the installation for my customers. I can easily generate a project report PDF from Helios which has all the information I would like to present to my customer.”

“The insured performance guarantee by Autarco truly sets them apart from other solar brands and is a huge USP when selling to my customers.”

Lamfred van Lanen – CEO

3 quick questions to CEO Lamfred van Lanen


How do you like the support by Autarco?

I really like working together with the Autarco team, they do what they promise and deliveries are nicely on time. Communication is fast and efficient and if there’s an issue it gets resolved quickly. Most issues however can be prevented beforehand by their Helios software, which allows us to accurately model the system and make optimizations before installing.


What are the main advantages of an Autarco system?

All products are by one brand, all from Autarco. From the inverter, to the mounting system, cables and solar panels, all products are made by Autarco and work perfectly together. This allows them to insure the system’s performance which truly sets them apart from other solar brands and is a huge USP when selling to my customers.


What is the most important reason for working with Autarco?

The main reason is the insured performance guarantee. We have really long relationships with our customers and we don’t want to risk that by just selling any solar solution. With Autarco I’m really confident in their system’s performance and safety, which makes me confident to sell solar solutions to my customers.

Solar project of 294 kWp


May 2020 ETB van Lanen sold and installed an Autarco total solution to agro-entrepreneur Jan de Haas. A powerful system made with 878 MHE series solar panels and UX inverters.

More information

Want to offer real value?Become an Authorized Dealer.

Join us today! As an Autarco partner you also benefit from attractive services and extensive marketing support.

Join us now!

Agro-entrepreneur invests in sustainability with help of SDE+

ETB van Lanen sold an Autarco total solution to agro-entrepreneur Jan de Haas in April of 2020, after which they’ve installed it in May. A system consisting of 878 powerful MHE series solar panels totaling 294 kWp.

Thanks to the SDE+ subsidy De Haas was able to invest in sustainable energy through solar. This PV total solution is one of many efforts made by the company to make the entire business more sustainable.

System size

294 kWp


Solar panels

878x MHE series 335 Wp
More details

Inverters

UX inverters up to 60 kW
More details

Mounting system

Apex R5
More details

Dealer

ETB van Lanen
More details

335Wp Autarco total solution of 878 powerful solar panels


This 294 kWp solar PV system consists of 878 MHE series solar panels of 335 Wp. The yield is inverted by 5 Autarco inverters of up to 60 kW. The MHE series are highly innovative solar panels, made from 120 halfcut cells with multi-wire technology. These panels no longer have bus-bars resulting in superior reliability and high performance.

ETB van Lanen sold and installed this system. They were able to model the panel layout in detail on accurate aerial photos in our free Helios software. This software package automatically calculates the expected yield based on the layout design. This way agro-entrepreneur Jan de Haas knows what to expect from his new system’s performance.

“Autarco’s total solution appealed to me because it ensures me all components work seamlessly together.”

Jan de Haas – Agro-entrepreneur

Benefitting from the SDE+ subsidy


The financial model for these kinds of projects in The Netherlands is driven largely by SDE+ subsidy, a production subsidy from the government that guarantees the market value of energy generated through renewables for a 15 year term. In other words, for the first fifteen years you receive a cash subsidy over every kWh generated. At the moment the SDE rate is just under €0.10/kWh so our insured kWh guarantee with a compensation rate of €0.10/kWh and 15 year term fits perfectly.

3 quick questions to agro-entrepreneur Jan de Haas


Why is a solar total solution important to you?

Autarco’s total solution appealed to me because it ensures me all components work seamlessly together. The inverters work beautifully together with the panels and with everything in between. Cables are really important to me too as you sometimes hear about fire hazards when cables don’t connect properly. With a total solution from one supplier that’s not an issue.

What’s the reason for choosing solar to become more sustainable?

Sustainability is something we have to improve continuously, both now and in the future. With our new solar PV system we’re able to produce our own energy which we use in our company.

Can you share some details about your solar PV system?

The Autarco system we chose for consists of more than enough solar panels to cover our needs. The inverters are equipped with a system that makes sure the main fuse isn’t overloaded when production is high.

Interested? Get a free roof scan and follow up from one of our Authorized Dealers near you.

Interested in becoming an Autarco Authorized Dealer? Click here to learn more.


Autarco presents the latest in module innovation; the MHI Series

High power output of over 200 Wp/m2

Powerful panels up to 375Wp, featuring multi-busbar technology and 120 halfcut monocrystalline cells

A combination of innovations


Our latest solar panel series features 166mm large-size silicon wafers and monocrystalline PERC cells. The new panels come with the same innovative design features introduced with the MHE series allowing high power output of more than 200Wp/m2. Based on superior multi-busbar technology, the MHI series integrates advanced halfcut cells and non-destructive cutting.

The MHI series now comes with a 12 year product warranty and insured 25 year power output guarantee to 83.1%, thanks to our experience in manufacturing halfcut and multi-busbar technology.

MHI series key features


  • 166 mm large-size silicon wafers
  • Monocrystalline PERC cells
  • Available from 355 to 375Wp
  • Innovative design with high power output of over 200 Wp/m2
  • Superior multi-busbar technology, halfcut cells and non-destructive cutting
  • 12 year product guarantee
  • 25 year power output guarantee to 83.1%
  • PID resistant
  • Available in standard, black frame and full black

Additional benefits of Autarco’s total solution approach


  • Insured kWh guarantee: Our total solution approach allows us to insure kWh performance, when yields are lower than promised the foundation compensates in cash.
  • Reduce fire risk: The entire Autarco solution is provided with Staubli MC4 connectors for reduced fire risk together with our inverter integrated AFCI detection.
  • System design software: Helios software ensures mounting materials are automatically compatible with new MHI dimensions.

Deliveries of MHI365 and MHI370 are available from July. From today our Authorized Dealers are able to make system designs in Helios using the new MHI series. For more details view the full technical details below or download the datasheet.

View MHI technical details

New process for system registration and monitoring setup

Recently Autarco made a significant improvement to its Helios software. From this moment on, registering a system and setting up the monitoring no longer takes place in MyAutarco, but directly in Helios. Therefore, all steps in the process from design to asset management are now in Helios. Information is automatically validated and fulfilled serial numbers are provided, to make the process from designing, quoting and registering PV-systems even more easy. The result of all this is the Digital Twin, an exact copy of the installed system, that forms the basis for our monitoring and asset management services.

Monitoring setup


On completing the monitoring setup, serial numbers for inverters and monitoring adapters are paired. With this, Autarco can collect monitoring data from the PV-systems, in order to analyze these and show them in MyAutarco. Also, a page in MyAutarco is created, that the end customer will get access to.

The following data is required in order to perform the monitoring setup:

  • End customer contact details;
  • Inverter(s) serial numbers;
  • Monitoring adapter(s) serial numbers.

Registration


On registering a system, you confirm that the system as designed in Helios exactly matches the real installation. Adding serial numbers and pictures completes the administration, that will be verified by Autarco. Once verified, the kWh guarantee can be issued.

In the registration process the following information needs to be confirmed and provided:

  • End customer contact details;
  • Installation address;
  • Layout;
  • Valid inverter selection and string plan;
  • Completed monitoring setup;
  • Solar panels serial numbers;
  • Pictures.