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EnphaseIt’s time to consider micro-inverters

The solar industry moves incredibly fast – that’s what I love about it. With the benefit of working full time in the office, I have the luxury to read daily about the latest and greatest. But as a business owner/manager I’m certainly conservative. We installed (as subcontractors) our first micro inverter system in 2012. I offered (on the occasional heavily shaded job) ReneSola micro-inverters in 2014 because it was the only option on the specific jobs that we installed – but I was still not comfortable with the technology.

However flash forward. 2015 in my mind is the year of the Micro – thanks to the hard working people at Enphase. Enphase to you is just another name- a new brand. To me, as I learn more, Enphase is the new Apple. Pay attention.

I’m a slow adopter. I read, I listen, I learn. Earlier this year the noise became so loud that I could not ignore it anymore. Enphase had solved -and brought to market, and proven – micro-inverter technology.

So, I called Enphase and invited them to my office to prove their goods. Florian came around and explained the benefits of Micro Inverters Enphase style. The meeting was rather impressive but, obviously biased. The more I read, it seemed there were only 2 real contenders, Enphase and APS. So I called around suppliers and found two suppliers that offered both brands: AC solar warehouse and AMI (Australian Micro Inverters). The feedback I received was just what had found from my “Google Reseach”. Enphase are a little more expensive but significantly better.

Better mainly on 5 points:

  • Reliability. ( Enphase have .04% failure rate, compared to .4 percent of failures in APS) according to Australian solar warehouse.
  • Serviceability. Enphase are not daisy chained and use one inverter per panel. APS are daisy chained, and have one inverter for 2 panels.
  • Battery technology. Enphase are leading the world with their integrated Enphase AC battery technology due for release in Australia in the second quarter of 2015.
  • Future planning. Enphase are leading Australia with the changes to the regulations on power factor.
  • Monitoring. Enphase have a more comprehensive monitoring solution.

Lagging on 1 point:

  • Price. An APS micro inverter system will save you around $700 for a 6kW install. They are no doubt a great solution – so if Micro-inverters are the only solution, and cash is the number one factor, then I would not hesitate to install APS micro inverters.

I often get asked to compare Micro inverters VS  power optimizers, and Micro inverters VS string inverters. The answer is (if cost were not the concern) Microinverters every time. But this is for another blog – or a phone conversation if you prefer!

Mark Cavanagh

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