Enphase Energy, a US-based manufacturer, revolutionised the solar industry with its micro inverter technology, introduced in 2008.
Micro inverters convert DC electricity from solar panels into AC electricity and offer some advantages over traditional string inverters. With each panel functioning independently, a single panel failure does not affect the entire system.
Enphase micro inverters allow flexibility in string design and enable the use of different panel brands and wattages. The technology provides safer AC power, reduces the risk of fires and electrocution, and offers remote monitoring and software updates for added convenience.
Enphase micro inverters are renowned for their reliability and long-lasting performance. While the initial cost and installation time may be higher, the benefits of increased system efficiency and ease of maintenance make Enphase microinverters a solid choice. Nevertheless it is not the must go choice in all situations.
Enphase has stood the test of time
Enphase Energy, the manufacturer of one of the best microinverters, is headquartered in the USA and started in 2006. The company sells microinverters in Australia, which convert DC electricity from solar panels into safer AC electricity to send the AC power throughout the house.
Before the invention of microinverters, the solar industry was dominated by string inverter technology. While built robustly, quality string inverters have the disadvantage that the whole solar system shuts down when they fail. In a micro-inverter failure, only the affected panel will stop producing power.
In 2008 Enphase introduced the M175, which, as the name suggested, could connect to 175W modules such as Suntech and Sharp panels at the time, being the dominant panels in Australia.
Ongoing innovation led to the regular release of new models, increasing the power class to match the prevailing panel wattage.
Here is the historic release table
2009 – release of the M190, which could handle modules up to 190 Watts
2010 – release of the M215, which could handle modules up to 215 Watts
2013 – release of the M250, which could handle modules up to 250 Watts
2016 – release of the s230 and the S280, with the 2nd being able to handle 280 Watts panels
2017 – release of the IQ6 & IQ6+, being able to have an output power of 240 Watts
2018 – release of the IQ7 & IQ7+ to replace the M 215, M250 and S series models, with a maximum power output of 295 Watts
2021 – release of the IQ8 & IQ8+. This model can handle panels in a range of wattage from 235 Watts up to 460 Watts, in both residential and commercial panels, from virtually any panel manufacturer
This microinverter also features patented smart grid technology, which allows it to communicate with the grid and assists in stabilising the grid in times of high solar output in the region.
Enphase microinverter advantages:
- A problem with one panel does not impact the whole string. Therefore, in certain situations, a solar system with Enphase microinverters will produce more output, creating a higher PV system efficiency.
- Allows solar arrays to be installed in multiple angles over multiple roofs allowing high flexibility in string design.
- One can mix and match panel brands and panel wattage, No longer do you need to find old panel models when one seeks to expand the PV system.
- The micro inverter is built to last, and one can purchase an expanded warranty for up to 25 years.
- The Enphase micro inverter sends AV power back to your house by generating AC power. By not generating high-voltage DC power (like string inverters do), one can avoid the risk of arcing, which can lead to fires. AC is also less risky to suffer electrocution.
- An inbuilt rapid shutdown mechanism allows the system to turn off quickly in an emergency.
- New features can be added to the micro-inverter via remote software updates through the internet. This technology also allows automatic alerts about system issues to be sent to the installer or customer via the Internet.
- Enphase microinverters have a low failure rate, making such systems highly reliable. In Australian conditions, microinverters have lasted at least double the time than string inverters.
- The after-sales service from Enphase, should anything go wrong with the product, is very solid.
- The remote monitoring app works 24/7 to give the owner PV system output data for each panel.
Enphase microinverter disadvantages:
- A solar system with micro-inverters does cost more than a string design.
- The initial installation does take longer due to more sophisticated cabling. Each microinverter has to be installed at the back of each panel.
- Sometimes, in past years, the panel wattage has advanced beyond the range of the latest microinverter model, leading to the clipping of available solar power and a slight reduction in output. This issue can be solved if the panel wattage and the microinverter output capacity match.
A PV system using Enphase micro inverter and quality panels will be a top of the line PV system and generate solid output in the chosen location. if you have shade issues, then such a solution as well as the Solar Edge optimiser variant should be preferred.
If on the other hand, you have a clear roof, no shade and not many antennas, gables, satellite dishes, valleys or neighbouring higher buildings, with other words your roof is free of obstacles, then a string inverter is also a solution that can serve you well.
Companies that urge customers to go only with one technical solution, often do not serve the customer’s needs, but their own needs to purchase in the largest volume to get a better buy price than their competitor. In such a case, do not fall for the hype – and use your critical thinking cap.