What is Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT)?

Have you ever wondered how engineers maximize the output of a solar panel? The answer is Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT)! This technique optimizes the power output for solar panels by changing the resistance in the circuit.

An MPPT system is kind of like putting your thumb over a garden hose. If you cover part of the hose, the water will fly with more velocity and cover a larger distance – but less water is getting through. If you completely cover the opening then nothing gets through the hose.

If you remove your thumb from the hose entirely, a lot of water gets through, but it doesn’t fly very far. That’s the basic idea behind MPPT: vary the resistance in the electrical circuit to affect current (flow of water) and voltage (pressure of the water) to generate the most amount of power.

If you only have one or two solar panels then MPPT is not really needed. However, if you have a large number of solar panels in the same circuit, and are all producing different levels of power then the system becomes very inefficient. The MPPT method can be applied to the entire array of solar panels in order to maximize the total power output. If implemented properly, this technique will provide 20% to 45% power gain in the winter and 10-15% in the summer.

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