SunPower Patent Grants

Communicating with arrays of module units

Granted: October 10, 2017
Patent Number: 9788141
Methods and systems include moving a mobile communication unit along a plurality of module units, and exchanging data with one of the plurality of module units based at least upon the mobile communication unit being in proximity to the one of the plurality of module units.

End clamps for solar systems

Granted: October 3, 2017
Patent Number: 9777948
A solar power system can include an array of solar modules. The system can include a rail and a solar module positioned at an outer end of the array. The solar module can have a frame around a periphery of the solar module. The frame can include a flange along an edge of the solar module that is disposed at the outer end of the array. The flange can project inwardly from the frame underneath the solar module. A clamp assembly can be disposed underneath the solar module and can…

Shingled solar cell module

Granted: October 3, 2017
Patent Number: 9780253
A high efficiency configuration for a solar cell module comprises solar cells arranged in a shingled manner to form super cells, which may be arranged to efficiently use the area of the solar module, reduce series resistance, and increase module efficiency. The solar cell module may comprise for example a series connected string of N greater than or equal to 25 rectangular or substantially rectangular solar cells having on average a breakdown voltage greater than about 10 volts, with the…

Preventing harmful polarization of solar cells

Granted: September 26, 2017
Patent Number: 9774294
In one embodiment, harmful solar cell polarization is prevented or minimized by providing a conductive path that bleeds charge from a front side of a solar cell to the bulk of a wafer. The conductive path may include patterned holes in a dielectric passivation layer, a conductive anti-reflective coating, or layers of conductive material formed on the top or bottom surface of an anti-reflective coating, for example. Harmful solar cell polarization may also be prevented by biasing a region…

Etching techniques for semiconductor devices

Granted: September 19, 2017
Patent Number: 9768327
Fabricating a semiconductor device can include forming a metal seed region over a substrate. The method can include forming a mask over a first portion of the metal seed region. The method can also include forming a metal region over the metal seed region and removing the mask. The method can include forming metal contact fingers on the semiconductor device, where the forming includes etching the first portion of the metal seed region with an etchant comprising an acid, an oxidizer and…

Serviceable electrical box thermal management

Granted: September 12, 2017
Patent Number: 9763360
An electrical assembly may include an enclosure having a base portion to attach the enclosure to a panel and a heat dissipating portion opposite the base portion, a circuit board having a first thermal interface on a first side of the board, a second thermal interface on a second side of the board, and a thermally conductive portion to provide enhanced thermal conduction between the first thermal interface and the second thermal interface, a power electronic device having a thermal…

Locating connectors and methods for mounting solar hardware

Granted: August 29, 2017
Patent Number: 9746655
A solar concentrator assembly can include mirror assemblies that are connected to pivotable frames with locating connections. The locating connections can be in the form of cam devices or tool-less connections formed by snap fitting devices as well as tool-less cam devices.

Enclosure having reconfigurable wiring compartments

Granted: August 29, 2017
Patent Number: 9750145
Enclosures having reconfigurable compartments for routing wiring used to monitor photovoltaic system output are described. In an example, an enclosure includes a housing around a circuitry bay and a wiring bay, and the wiring bay contains movable shrouds and/or partitions to divide the wiring bay into several reconfigurable wiring compartments. High-voltage wiring and low-voltage wiring may be routed through the wiring compartments, and the shrouds and/or partitions may physically and…

Device and method for electrically decoupling a solar module from a solar system

Granted: August 22, 2017
Patent Number: 9742190
Devices and methods for electrically decoupling a solar module from a solar system are described. In one embodiment, a solar system includes a string of a plurality of solar modules coupled with an inverter through a DC power line. An AC input is coupled with the DC power line. A device is also included and is configured to provide a closed circuit for one of the plurality of solar modules if an AC signal voltage from the AC input is present on the DC power line, and is configured to…

Apparatuses to support photovoltaic modules

Granted: August 22, 2017
Patent Number: 9743501
Methods and apparatuses to support photovoltaic (“PV”) modules are described. A saddle bracket has a mounting surface to support one or more PV modules over a tube, a gusset coupled to the mounting surface, and a mounting feature coupled to the gusset to couple to the tube. A grounding washer has a first portion to couple to a support; and a second portion coupled to the first portion to provide a ground path to a PV module. A PV system has a saddle bracket; a PV module over the…

Thermal management

Granted: August 15, 2017
Patent Number: 9735300
A solar energy receiver can include a heat sink configured to cool or otherwise dissipate heat. The heat sink can include a plurality of fin members, each having bases that are generally aligned with each other. The bases of the fin members can be connected to one another with connection devices that are spaced away from the bases, so as to improve thermal conductivity performance characteristics.

Foil-based metallization of solar cells using removable protection layer

Granted: August 15, 2017
Patent Number: 9735308
Approaches for foil-based metallization of solar cells are described. For example, a method of fabricating a solar cell involves placing a metal foil over a metalized surface of a wafer of the solar cell. The method further involves placing a protection layer over the metal foil. The method further involves locating the metal foil with the metalized surface of the wafer. The protection layer preserves an optically consistent surface of the metal foil during the locating. The method also…

Circuits and methods for limiting open circuit voltage of photovoltaic strings

Granted: August 15, 2017
Patent Number: 9735729
A photovoltaic string may include an open circuit voltage limiter that conducts current in one direction to provide a limiter voltage less than an open circuit voltage of the photovoltaic string, and that conducts current in the other direction. One or more open circuit voltage limiters may be connected across the photovoltaic string or across selected groups of solar cells of the photovoltaic string. The limiter voltage may be greater than a maximum power point voltage but less than the…

Flash testing of photovoltaic modules with integrated electronics

Granted: August 15, 2017
Patent Number: 9735730
A method for testing a photovoltaic (PV) module having an integrated power converter includes: obtaining a reference output signature of a PV module design in response to a flash pattern; applying the flash pattern to a PV module under test; acquiring an observed output signature of the PV module under test in response to the flash pattern; and comparing the observed output signature of the PV module under test to the reference output signature. Second reference output and observed…

Thermal compression bonding approaches for foil-based metallization of solar cells

Granted: August 1, 2017
Patent Number: 9722103
Thermal compression bonding approaches for foil-based metallization of solar cells, and the resulting solar cells, are described. For example, a method of fabricating a solar cell includes placing a metal foil over a metalized surface of a wafer of the solar cell. The method also includes locating the metal foil with the metalized surface of the wafer. The method also includes, subsequent to the locating, applying a force to the metal foil such that a shear force appears between the…

Conversion of metal seed layer for buffer material

Granted: August 1, 2017
Patent Number: 9722105
Approaches for forming solar cells with a converted seed layer as a buffer material and the resulting solar cells are described. In an example, a method of fabricating a solar cell includes converting regions of a seed layer disposed on a plurality of p-n junctions of the solar cell to form a pattern of interdigitated converted regions. The converted regions are configured to electrically insulate non-converted regions of the seed layer from each other and provide a barrier to a laser…

Apparatus for converting direct current to alternating current using multiple converters

Granted: August 1, 2017
Patent Number: 9722504
An inverter for converting an input direct current (DC) waveform from a DC source to an output alternating current (AC) waveform for delivery to an AC grid includes an input converter, an output converter, and an active filter, each of which is electrically coupled to a bus. The bus may be a DC bus or an AC bus. The input converter is configured to convert the input DC waveform to a DC or AC bus waveform. The output converter is configured to convert the bus waveform to the output AC…

Solar cell emitter region fabrication using ion implantation

Granted: July 25, 2017
Patent Number: 9716205
Methods of fabricating solar cell emitter regions using ion implantation, and resulting solar cells, are described. In an example, a method of fabricating alternating N-type and P-type emitter regions of a solar cell involves forming a silicon layer above a substrate. Dopant impurity atoms of a first conductivity type are implanted, through a first shadow mask, in the silicon layer to form first implanted regions and resulting in non-implanted regions of the silicon layer. Dopant…

Interconnect processing assembly for connecting solar cells

Granted: July 25, 2017
Patent Number: 9716206
A solar cell interconnect processing assembly includes a stack of interconnects, a positioning head, and a control system. The positioning head picks up an interconnect from the stack of interconnects at a first location, moves the interconnect from the first location to a second location, heats the interconnect while moving the interconnect from the first location to the second location, and places the interconnect over two adjacent solar cells at the second location. The control system…

Photovoltaic array with array-roof integration member

Granted: July 25, 2017
Patent Number: 9716465
One embodiment relates to a photovoltaic (PV) apparatus. The PV apparatus includes a plurality of photovoltaic modules arranged in an array and attached to a support structure which is attached to a roof. Each of the photovoltaic modules comprises a plurality of photovoltaic cells. A first array-roof integration member is attached to a first side of the array. The array-roof integration member covers a gap between the first side of the array and the roof. Another embodiment relates to a…