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'Smallest' solar array simulator delivers up to 1,200W

Posted: 06 May 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:solar array simulator? power system? solar panel?

Agilent E4360

Agilent Technologies Inc. has unveiled a modular solar array simulator that offers up to 1200W power in the smallest package (2U high).

Designed for customers testing a satellite's power system, the Agilent E4360 solar array simulator allows R&D engineers, manufacturing engineers and system integrators to accurately simulate the I-V curve of a solar panel's array under various environmental conditions. In addition to the new standalone instrument, Agilent now provides an affordable, full turn-key solar array simulator system.

The Agilent E4360 is a dual output programmable DC power source that provides up to two outputs at up to 600W per output. It can accurately simulate the I-V curve of all types of solar arrays under varying environmental conditions such as eclipse, spin, rotation, age and temperature. It has the flexibility to operate in two ways. Users can either input the four key operational parameters (Voc, Isc, Vmp, Imp) needed for the solar array simulator to internally create an I-V curve of a solar array; or download a user-defined table for the I-V curve of the solar array.

The company touts that the E4360 is the first solar array simulator to provide USB 2.0, 10/100 Base-T Ethernet (LAN) and general-purpose interface bus (GPIB) interfaces as standard equipment, enabling easy, low-cost connectivity to a PC. The E4360 can also be remotely operated and monitored from any Web browser via a built-in Web server and GUI.

In addition, the Agilent modular solar array simulator offers many system-ready features to simplify the programming and control of the instrument. The system software driver allows a single function call to set up and control multiple E4360s in a system. Multiple solar array simulators can be configured without writing a single line of code. Furthermore, a new capability simplifies parallel operation such that two outputs act as a single synchronized channel of twice the output current and power without having to write software to manage their interaction.

Agilent's affordable, full turn-key solar array simulator systemthe smallest available on the marketis built on the Agilent E4360 modular solar array simulator platform. The modular architecture makes it easy to configure, re-configure and support this system since modules can be easily moved and replaced. The system's components include commercial-off-the-shelf instruments, a standard PC and standard interconnectivity (LAN, USB) for low-cost, easy support and reduced downtime. Agilent can design and customize this turn-key system to meet specific customer requirements including instruments, cabling and application-specific software.

"Solar array simulator DC power supplies are core components of a satellite test system," said Gary Whitman, VP of Agilent's system products division. "As satellites get bigger and demand more power from their solar panels, there is a need for higher-power devices to simulate those higher-power solar panels. The E4360 satisfies this need by providing an affordable, high power, compact test solution."

The Agilent E4360A Modular Solar Array Simulator Mainframe, which can hold up to two modules, is priced at $3,961. The E4361A 65V, 8.5A, 510W and E4362A 130V, 5A, 600W Solar Array Simulator DC Modules are priced at $5,136 each. Shipments will begin in June.

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