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Director of Installers
SolarEdge Inverters Vs. Enphase Inverters
May 24, 2019
In this week’s livestream, Patrick and Rex compare two very popular inverters in the industry – SolarEdge and Enphase inverters. They highlight four parameters to help us understand the major differences between these two popular inverters – functionality, monitoring systems, warranties, and bankability.
In order to identify key differences between SolarEdge and Enphase inverters, it is important to understand what are the types of solar inverters available in the market.
Types of Inverters – String Inverters, Micro-inverters & Power Optimizers
String inverters have traditionally been the standard in the solar industry. They send the power produced by solar panels to a central inverter that changes it from DC to usable AC power for your home.
Micro-inverters, on the other hand, convert DC to AC power at each individual panel and allow for monitoring and power regulation at the panel level. This is useful for homes that are located somewhere with shading from clouds, trees, or other buildings.
Power optimizers are a combination of both a string and micro-inverters. It is a module-level power electronic (MLPE) device that increases the solar panel system’s energy output by constantly measuring the maximum power point tracking (MPPT) of each individual solar panel and adjusts DC characteristics to maximize energy output. The panel optimizers relay performance characteristics via a monitoring system to facilitate operations and any necessary solar panel maintenance.
Read more about the differences between string inverters and micro-inverters here. Or watch the animated short below.
SolarEdge is an Israeli-based company offering PV solar inverters. The company just so happens to be covering almost 90% of all residential power inverter needs. These inverters are unique because of the combined power optimizer and string inverter systems are a best-of-both-worlds solution between string inverters and micro-inverters.
SolarEdge inverters have power optimizers – which are somewhere in between string and micros. In case of power optimizers, you’ll have an optimizer under each solar panel. They allow panel-level monitoring and power regulation as with a micro-inverter, but the actual conversion from DC to AC still occurs at a central SolarEdge string inverter. Just like traditional string inverters, one panel’s low performance doesn’t affect the overall performance of the system while using power optimizers. Instead of converting DC to AC up on the roof, power optimizers allow each panel to operate independently for another. But the actual DC to AC conversion happens through the central inverter which comes as an extra piece of hardware with a solar edge on the side of your homes, usually near the main service panel along with the individual optimizers up on the roof under each panel.
SolarEdge’s monitoring portal allows module-level monitoring, free of any additional charge to the installer, customer, or owner. If a homeowner sees that there are no savings on their solar panel system, with SolarEdge monitoring platform, it is easy to diagnose and troubleshoot. As the platform has the data on the number of kilowatt hours produced per hour or per day it is easy to pinpoint a problem and to troubleshoot it.
The SolarEdge inverter itself has a 12-year warranty, and their optimizers have a 25-year warranty. There is also an inexpensive option to extend the inverter warranty to 25 years. Both warranties are on the higher-end of industry standards, which typically fall between 5 and 12 years on average.
SolarEdge is profitable, publicly traded, and a bankable company. It is approved by major banks and financial institutions worldwide.
Enphase is a California based NASDAQ listed energy technology company that designs and manufactures software-driven home energy solutions. They specialize in micro-inverters that are installed along with each solar panel.
Enphase is a traditional micro-inverter tucked beneath each panel which converts DC energy generated by the panels into AC. Micro-inverters operate independently, so each panel performs to its fullest. One shaded or dirty panel won’t affect the rest of the system. Because they function independently, micro-inverters are inherently more reliable. Micro-inverters are safer than other inverter technologies. An all-AC system means no more dangerous high-voltage DC power on your roof. The junction box placed on the wall near to panel box is only hardware that isn’t on your roof.
Unlike SolarEdge, Enphase doesn’t have monitoring systems that come standard. Instead, you have to pay $250 to upgrade your subscription.
All Enphase micro-inverters come with a standard 25 years manufacturer’s warranty that will match your panel’s manufacturer’s warranty.
Enphase is associated with SunPower and Solaria. With AC modules becoming more powerful, integrated with SunPower and Solaria, we can see a bright future for Enphase. Even though inverters would be in the market for a while, there would be greater adoption of micro-inverters.
Inverters are incredibly important pieces of equipment in a rooftop solar system. SolarEdge and Enphase are the more popular options available on Pick My Solar’s platform. Though you really can’t go wrong with either choices, the best inverter for your solar system really depends on your roof shape and size, nearby trees, how much energy you need, and your budget.