Beating Google’s expectation by a factor of 3


The Little Box Challenge was a competition sponsored by Google Research and the IEEE Power Electronics Society. Very simply, the challenge was to design a small 2kVA inverter that met or exceeded a specified set of criteria.

The challenge was important to both CE+T and the broader industry as it will advance development, and perhaps more importantly, innovation in kW-scale inverters. Our solution was an answer to Google’s statement:

“The problem is household inverters are too big – roughly the size of a picnic cooler. Making them smaller would enable more solar-powered homes, more efficient distributed electrical grids, and could help bring electricity to the most remote parts of the planet.” Google Research

Our tiny inverter exceeded Google & IEEE expectations by 3

The entry from CE+T Power exceeded the requirements set forth as part of the challenge.

145 W/in3
Power density

Peak efficiency

13.77 in3
2kW inverter

DC in

AC out

< 5%

Impressively, the winning team exceeded the power density goal for the competition by a factor of 3, which is more than 10 times more compact than commercially available inverters! When we initially brainstormed technical targets for the Little Box Challenge, some of us at Google didn’t think such audacious goals could be achieved. ” Google Research

A strong global competition

The list of competitors included respected and established names in the electronics industry, as well as academia. In fact, together with CE+T Power in the top three of finalists, were Schneider Electric and a team from Virginia Tech.


What it means for the future

“Google, long a backer of renewable energy projects, data-center efficiency and home energy management technology, is now diving into the power grid itself. According to Bloomberg, which cited unnamed sources, the search engine giant is building software and hardware tools to help utilities better manage the flow of power to and from homes and businesses at the edge of the grid.” GreenTechMedia

By significantly reducing the size of an inverter, we are able to develop products for a wide array of applications, such as explained by our partner of GaN Systems Larry Spaziani:

  • Reducing the size and weight of electronic in the transportation sector, gaining battery life, range and fuel economy.
  • Reducing the Total Cost of Ownership in data centers by creating higher efficiency, higher density power supplies.
  • Taking cost out of solar inverters by significantly reducing the solution size.
  • Reducing electricity costs in appliances by reaching unprecedented levels of efficiency.

Additionally, we can use this technology to advance our partnering programs for co-development of future products within our vendor community.

The CE+T Power family looks forward to future challenges and the opportunity to enhance the lives of our neighbors on a global scale.
Learn more on our Little Box adventure