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SolarEdge HQ IsraelIt’s been 12 months since I first wrote this SolarEdge inverter review. Since then we have installed 130 SolarEdge optimiser systems and I have had meetings with SolarEdge at their Headquarters in Israel. My opinions about SolarEdge optimisers have changed considerably, so I have updated this Solaredge review to reflect.

Part one and two are an edited version of my original review. In part one I explain what SolarEdge does and the technical advantages it has over a traditional string inverter like Fronius. In part two, I pull apart SolarEdge’s newest model, the SolarEdge HD Wave.

Part three is where the rubber hits the road. I mention the legal threat I received from SolarEdge, and I discuss optimiser failure rates. Then I explain why SolarEdge monitoring has let us down.  I also explain an inherent design restriction that can result in reduced power production.

 

Part One: Why SolarEdge optimisers?

SolarEdge is a huge player in today’s solar inverter market. Compared to their competitors, they are the new kids on the block. They only kicked off in 2006 with the first inverter sales in 2010. Today they are second only to SMA for the number of residential inverters they are moving, and the way I read it, they are making money hand over fist. So what are they doing right?

Optimisation

To step back a bit, let’s look at one of the key components of any solar inverter: the Maximum Power Point Tracker (or MPPT). Standard string inverters have two MPPT’s. The panels on a house are divided into two groups (or strings) and connected to the two MPPT’s in the inverter. As the sun’s intensity changes throughout the day, the two MPPT’s will continually adjust the voltage and the current from the panels to achieve maximum power.

The problem with standard string inverters is that a string of panels works kind of like old school Christmas tree lights: if one panel is affected by shade or dirt, then all the panels in the string are affected. SolarEdge offers one solution to this problem. It takes the MPPT’s out of the inverter and effectively puts one MPPT (or optimiser) behind every panel.  So if one panel is shaded, it does not drag down the performance of the next.

But that’s just where it starts. Installing an optimiser behind every panel allows for a bucketload of extra features.

Panel Level Shutdown

I deliberately didn’t call this section “enhanced safety” or “SafeDC” as SolarEdge brand it, because that infers other solar systems are not safe. If solar systems are installed by electricians who follow today’s standards, your solar is arguably as safe as the rest of the electrical wiring in your home. The nature of electricity is that it is not 100 percent safe, but we can put measures in place to make it safer.

SolarEdge safetySo Sunday BBQ lunch goes wrong, and suddenly your house is on fire. That’s bad. You run to your switchboard like a good boy scout and turn the main switch off.  Although your inverter turns off, your solar panels will still be pumping 600 volts potential through the solar cable in your roofspace. The firefighters are not amused as the solar cable arcs, and your roof potentially becomes live. It’s then that you realise you shoulda gone a SolarEdge inverter.

The SolarEdge optimiser solution brings another level of safety. A SolarEdge inverter rely on communication with the Solaredge optimiser in order for it to operate. If the main switch is turned off, the inverter will turn off, and the optimised panels will produce a safe 1 volt each.

 

SolarEdge Inverter Monitoring

SolarEdge panel level monitoring

Every system we install today has an in-depth level of monitoring. With Fronius monitoring, we can see the DC voltage, DC current and power in individual strings. We can monitor AC voltage, AC current, power and even power factor in five-minute intervals. We can even see import/export power assuming a Fronius Smart Meter was installed. All this is historically recorded to infinitum assuming your inverter is online.

How much data can we possibly need from a solar system? I mean, it’s not like we’re sending it to Mars! Why would we possibly want to monitor individual panels? Get your nerd on – I’m going to give you four reasons for SolarEdge inverter monitoring.

i) To identify shading for tree growth and soiling,
ii) to identify panel degradation,
iii) to identify bypass diode failure, and,
iv) education. Because there is always more to learn about solar.

In the earlier version of this post, I rabbited on about each of those points. However, while all these features are available on SolarEdge inverter monitoring, I now question their accessibility and their reliability. I discuss that in Part Three. But for now, let’s look at the positive and check out the HD Wave Inverter.

 

Part II – The revolutionary new SolarEdge inverter

SolarEdge HD Wave specifications

In the early days, inverters used a heavy copper-wound transformer. Over the last ten years, inverters became “transformerless” which made them heaps lighter and more efficient. All inverter manufacturers today use SMA’s H5 Bridge technology – all except … the new SolarEdge inverter.
SolarEdge claims to have lifted the bar. They have replaced electrolytic capacitors with film capacitors and heavy magnetics with digital processing. There are three claims that SolarEdge makes that I’ll examine:

i) The HD Wave is more efficient.

ii) The HD Wave produces less heat and requires less cooling

iii) Film capacitors last longer than electrolytic capacitors.

i) Efficiency

Of course, I wasn’t going to take SolarEdge’s word that the HD Wave was more efficient, so early in 2017 I gave Gavin Merchant, the Country Manager of SolarEdge, a call to hit him up for an early HD Wave to test out. Gavin generously sent me his functional display HD Wave – one of only two in the country. I shuffled around the panels on my warehouse and set up this comparative test.

 

HD wave performance test

Maxim optimiser performance test

 

  • As an early control, I removed the external optimisers and ran both systems on two separate Fronius inverters. The panels were working identically.
  • Both the 3kW Fronius and the 2.5kW SolarEdge inverter use the same components as their respective 5kW models, so the comparison was fair.
  • Because the test was run during the winter months, we never saw clipping of the inverters. Monitoring was via Solar Analytics.
  • I refer to my previous blog where compared a 5kW Fronius vs a 5kW Solaredge inverter in unshaded conditions. My tests showed that “over a 7 day period, SolarEdge optimisers and Maxim / Fronius were performing almost identically.”

 

The earth-shattering HD Wave test results

Over a 3 week period, the new SolarEdge inverter wave performed about 1.5 percent better than the earlier model SolarEdge and the Fronius inverter!

 

SolarEdge VS Fronius comparison

It’s all good to spruk the increased efficiency of HD Wave inverter, but does that work out in the real world? Since performing these tests in 2017, we have installed a total of 130 SolarEdge inverter systems. The more I looked at the data, the more I realised that the Solaredge inverter has an inherent design flaw. I discuss this issue in Part III of this post.

ii) Less heat requires less cooling

I presumed that if the SolarEdge inverter produced less heat, it meant it would run cooler. It was EOFYS while I was writing this blog so I used the need to test this presumption as justification to buy a thermal imaging camera. Because the taxman was going halvesies on my new toy, I went all-out and bought a FLIR E8.

I repositioned my test wall so I had both my HD Wave and Fronius sitting at the same height.
This is what I measured.

SolarEdge Temperature test

HD Wave cover off

SolarEdge HD Wave

HD Wave Cover on

Fronius thermal image

Fronius Cover off

Fronius vs solaredge

Fronius Cover on

Because the SolarEdge inverter requires less magnetics, it produces less heat, so it doesn’t need to do as much to dissipate that heat. This allowed them to put it all in a smaller enclosure and leave out the fan.

As you can easily see Fronius produces more heat, however, an internal fan expels the heat on top.

SolarEdge VS Fronius test

The winner

But which one actually runs cooler? Umm, yeah, well… While learning to use the thermal camera I learnt about a word called “emissivity”. When measuring the temperature metallic cap of a capacitor, I need to set a different setting for when I am reading a resin coating of a coil, and so on. That neighbours impossible. Bugger. So, I pulled out my old $50 aircon thermometer and used high-tech sticky tape to attach the probe above the capacitors.  I heated the room with the aircon and a couple of jaffle makers. NASA would be proud.

The test results were as follow:

SolarEdge testingSolarEdge temperature

 

 

At 2300w and 30 degrees ambient, the SolarEdge inverter ran a few degrees cooler than Fronius. It appears the SolarEdgeinverter does run cooler internally, at least at half capacity. The “lower heat dissipation” claim of SolarEdge does seem to stack up.

Notice I didn’t run this test on a 40-degree ambient temperature at 5000W of production. On these days, all three of the Fronius fans would be cranking and would be more efficient at cooling. However, presumably, it would also be generating comparatively more heat.

 

iii) Film Capacitors last longer than Electrolytic capacitors

Are film capacitors actually better than their electrolytic cousins? SolarEdge have claimed electrolytics only last an average of 10 years, and by using film capacitors they significantly increase the expected life of the inverter. I consulted leading inverter manufacturers.

An anonymous comment from a well-respected figure was pertinent:

If correctly specified and chosen, and an inverter’s internal heat dissipation properly designed and tested, electrolytic capacitors have no problem to continue to operate for a product design life of 20-25 years. But the same is of course true for ANY component within an inverter.

I contacted SMA, ABB, Sungrow and Fronius. Each had similar statements. ABB gave an example of a similar power conversion product with electrolytic capacitors that have been in operation for over 25 years.

 

The ugly inbuilt DC Isolator

SolarEdge inverter

The Dream

SolarEdge inverter dream

Design counts. The version of the HD wave that was on display at Intersolar in Germany looked small and schmicko. Australia, however, has this stupid regulation about inbuilt DC isolators that made SolarEdge feel obliged to favour function over form.

To match Fronius, their biggest rival, the Australian edition of the HD Wave added an enclosure below the inverter to house a DC isolator. The isolator works fine and I’m not doubting that it is ‘fit for purpose’. It just feels flimsy. You get the vibe that the engineers snuck it past the design department to get it to market in a hurry. To be honest, I’m not convinced it was necessary. My requests for a more competitively priced inverter without an inbuilt isolator have fallen on deaf ears.

And see that screen in the image above? Don’t get used to it. By the end of 2018, it’ll be gone. SolarEdge like most manufacturers are getting rid of the screen because of reliability concerns forcing Grandpa Technophobe to keep his inverter online or work out how to direct connect his mobile phone if he wants to monitor basic inverter production.

 

Part III – The problems with SolarEdge

As I write this update, it’s July 2018. SolarEdge are charging ahead with their ambition to be a one-stop-shop for solar. Their product line up will soon include:

  • Inverters
  • Optimisers
  • Home Automation using the wireless ZigBee controllers
  • An “Immersion Heater Controller” or a hot water diverter.
  • Solar panels with integrated optimisers (made by Jinergy in China).
  • A SolarEdge battery
  • Electric Vehicle Chargers
  • Popcorn makers (just kidding).

I could philosophise about the approach SolarEdge take to developing their business, but I’ll resist and just state some facts:

  • SolarEdge manufactures nothing. They outsource their manufacturing to other companies in China (by Flextronics), Hungary and Romania, and place their own staff in these factories for Quality Control.
  • Every other major solar manufacturer has chosen to collaborate under the Sunspec Alliance and enable “plug & play” system inter-operability, promote technology innovation, and accelerate Solar industry growth. SolarEdge has chosen to pull out of the Sunspec Alliance and go it alone.
  • SolarEdge is at the eve of offering a whole new swag of technically complex products. However, in my opinion, after 8 years of sales, Solaredge have not proven to the market that their main product is even reasonably reliable.

It’s this reliability that is my biggest concern, so last month I went to Israel on a “business trip” to investigate.

My tour of Solaredge Israel

Visting SolarEdge israel

I lived in the north of Israel for several months in 1999. Israel is a fascinatingly complicated country steeped in history, so when SolarEdge invited me, I initially jumped at the opportunity to get back and hang out in Jerusalem.

SolarEdge was well aware of my reservations. At one point I turned down the invitation saying that we had decided not to use SolarEdge optimisers because the issues were too significant. Solaredge convinced me to go, so I went as a sceptic willing and wanting to be convinced. There were two significant issues I wanted to address.

 

  1. SolarEdge optimiser failure rate.
  2. Performance issues due to design restrictions.

 

SolarEdge optimiser failures

Until recently, Solaredge Australia had always insisted that our high optimiser failure rate was an anomaly. However, concerns about failures are echoed by many in the industry. We have had 24 optimisers out of 130 jobs fail. So while that’s only 0.84 % of optimisers, it’s 18.5 % of jobs that had a failure. Popping like popcorn.

You might argue that a 0.84% optimiser failure rate is not that much higher than my Fronius failure rate. Under 1% is considered an acceptable failure rate for a string inverter with a 10-year warranty. However, SolarEdge readily admits that because of the number of components used per job, 0.84% is far from acceptable. They agree with me that working it out on a per job basis (18.5% of job failures in 2.5 years) is reasonable.

Keep in mind, the optimiser has a staggering 25-year warranty. While SolarEdge currently has an agreement with installers to pay for the labour component to replace faulty optimisers, their SolarEdge warranty explicitly states otherwise.

 

The tour of SolarEdge

During our tour of SolarEdge, we visited their R&D testing labs…..

SolarEdge threat

_______________________________________

Before publishing this post publicly, I sent it to SolarEdge for feedback. I told them repeatedly that I am open for corrections or omissions and I was willing to delete sensitive information. I also did the same when I reviewed SMA, ABB and Fronius. This time instead of a “thanks for the courtesy, can you change …”, I was threatened with legal action and was given no real feedback. 

I deleted this section of the blog because they suggested I was about to break a loosely worded non-disclosure agreement.

_______________________________________

Both leading up to my Israel trip and after it, I had multiple conversations with SolarEdge Australia. Their tune has now changed and they now admit they have high optimiser failure rates across the board. They made two claims that I want to discuss:

  1. SolarEdge’s optimiser problem was mainly “infant mortality”. Optimisers were failing within the first few months of install. Infant mortality occurs because of faulty components (like capacitors) and at the manufacturing process level rather than an inherent design fault.
  2. These issues were addressed in “Generation 4” of their optimiser, which went into production around February 2017.

 

Infant mortality?

SolarEdge had reviewed our optimiser failures and said they were mostly infant mortality issues, which SolarEdge defines as failures within two months. Anecdotally, this didnt seem right to me, so we checked as much data as we were able to and found that more than half of our faulty optimisers failed after 12 months. Many failed after 20 months. Contrary to what SolarEdge specifically told me, the problem we have with optimisers is not infant mortality.

 

The hope of Generation 4?

SolarEdge optimiser failure

SolarEdge “SJ4917…” = Week 49, 2017

Let’s look at the second claim. After seven years of manufacturing, has SolarEdge finally got the winning formula in their Gen 4 optimiser? Gen 4 optimisers can be identified by the serial number dated since February 2017, or since SJ0817. We began installing them in August 2017. We’ve had three “Gen 4” optimisers “dead on arrival” and one Gen 4 optimiser that failed within one month. 67 of our installs were done with these new generation optimisers. My statistics look like this:

  • A massive 20 Gen 3 optimisers from 63 jobs failed. (1402 optimisers, 1.4 per cent over 2.5 years).
  • Only 4 new optimisers from 67 jobs failed. (1452 optimisers, 0.27 per cent in 6 months)

It seems to indicate that we have higher reliability with Gen 4 optimisers. However, these optimisers were all installed within the last year. More than half of our gen 3 failures (so far) are between 12 and 24 months old, and they continue to pop like popcorn. Give me 12 months and I’ll run the Gen 4 failure rate numbers again.

 

Why doesn’t everyone complain about Solaredge optimiser failures?

SolarEdge is a polarising product. While the majority of solar companies I’ve spoken to complain of numerous optimiser failures; some claim no failures.

But why do some installers claim very few failures while SolarEdge themselves admit there has been an unreasonably high failure rate. Do some installers just have good luck? Is it the Queensland heat?

I have a theory.

Restricted SolarEdge inverter monitoring

The SolarEdge inverter monitoring platform has three levels of accessibility. While the full view gives individual panel monitoring and alerts, the most basic view does not allow the customer to view “alerts” or “layout”. Most companies I talk to only give the customer the most basic access when they set up the SolarEdge inverter monitoring portal. This practice is encouraged by some of the SolarEdge staff because they think end customers will call up and complain when one panel is doing 10 watts less than the other. I find this logic painfully frustrating. Panel level monitoring is half the reason to buy a SolarEdge inverter.

 

SolarEdge monitoring platform

Solaredge problems

SolarEdge full access. Great for when alerts don’t work and you want to see if an optimiser has failed.

But let’s play devils advocate and suggest that as long as the installation company closely monitors all of their SolarEdge systems, a restricted customer view would work, assuming:

  1. The installation company remain in business for the next 25 years.
  2. They give a rats about their past customers – for the next 25 years
  3. Busyness does not get in the way of them making your failed optimiser high on their priority list – for the next 25 years.
  4. SolarEdge remains on their product line up and they regularly log into their monitoring platform – for the next 25 years.
  5. The alerts actually work for the next 25 years.

 

Alerts don’t work

Let’s assume an exceptional company like MC Electrical installs your SolarEdge inverter, and we adhere to all of the above points for the next 25 years. I call it my “Platinum-Gold-Ironclad 25-year Exceptional Customer Service Guarantee”.

All we need to do is regularly check the alerts of the 2000+ system we would have installed, and repair the failures that are likely to happen.

The problem is the alerts don’t necessarily work.

Over half of our 24 failures have been picked up because our customer looked at the individual panel monitoring, or we have happened to stumble across it. Clearly, not all customers bother to check their monitoring so, a month ago, we looked into the panel level monitoring view on all 130 of our systems and picked up a further three failures. While writing this paragraph, I asked Cristy in my office to go through all 130 systems again. She found another two – which brings us up to 24 optimiser failures. Incognito popcorn.

Now think of all the companies that report a low optimiser failure rate, but don’t give their customers access to panel level monitoring. Whether by the intent of by default, the true failure rate of Solaredge optimisers has been covered up.

the true failure rate of SolarEdge optimisers has been covered up.

SolarEdge tells me they are working on updating the alerts in their portal. If this is applied retrospectively, and installers act on these alerts, one might predict a massive glut of optimiser warranty claims.

 

Production Loss and “Blocking”

Designing a SolarEdge system on a residential home is far more complicated than keeping the stringing rules and using the SolarEdge design tool. Consider this install we did earlier this year. This installation is in full sun, in two strings of 10 panels. However, four of the northern panels are producing significantly less than the other ten. What’s going on?

Solaredge Failures

Optimisers work on a string level by increasing or decreasing the voltage on individual panels so that the current in each panel in that string is the same. To complicate this even more, the SolarEdge inverter needs optimiser voltages to add up to ≈380 volts. A P500 optimiser boosts to a maximum of 60 volts. In this example, the voltage and current figures of the red string look like this:

  • The four northern panels boost the voltage to their maximum of 60 volts and 2.2 amps (≅132 watts).
  • The six western panels buck the voltage to about 24 volts and 2.2 amps (≅52 Watts).
  • The voltage of all the panels add up to ≅380 volts and 2.2amps.

However, if the four northern panels were not “blocked” at 60 volts, they could have produced the same power as the other group of 10 panels. We worked out the production due to blocking to between $6 and $9 per quarter.

 

It gets worse

SolarEdge optimisers is a product we were recommending for shaded situations. However, if we have a string with 6 or fewer panels in the sun, the system will suffer voltage blocking at best, or it will just shut down at worst. This is even when the electrician installs to SolarEdge guidelines.

Unless a shaded SolarEdge optimiser system is very thoughtfully designed by someone experienced in the intricacies of SolarEdge optimisers, it is highly likely that performance will be restricted due to voltage blocking.

 

Solution 1 – long strings

There is a simple way to solve this. In the example above, if all 20 panels were in one string, then the average panel would run at 19 volts. Lowering the average voltage of an optimiser would give it more room to boost and less chance to clip.  But lowering the voltage, in turn, increases the current, and we could end up with a problem by limiting the current at the optimiser’s maximum current of 15 amps.

Long strings are a great idea if you don’t care about your 25-year SolarEdge optimiser warranty, but if you want your warranty intact, SolarEdge inverter design guidelines allow a maximum of 5.7kW of panels per string. If we exceed 5.7kW, we may put undue stress on the optimiser, and your warranty may be void. But there is always a loophole. If designed correctly with maximum current and voltage in mind, and specifically approved by SolarEdge in writing, long strings will often solve the problem of voltage blocking.

 

Solution 2 – larger SolarEdge optimisers

A second option is to install an optimiser with a higher voltage. Multiple solar wholesalers have told me that the P505 optimiser is a rarely sold because they are about $15 more expensive each. However, it has a maximum voltage of 85 volts which means it needs fewer panels operating in full sun to reach the 380 volts required by the inverter.

A combination of longer strings and larger optimisers is an ideal way of increasing solar production.

 

Conclusion

The SolarEdge optimiser solution, in theory, allows panels to operate independently. If your installer gives you access to monitor the production of individual panels, it may help you identify a future panel warranty claim, but it’s more likely that you will be claiming warranty on the optimiser.

The new HD Wave is a redesigned inverter that I found operates 1.5% more efficiently than its predecessor.  SolarEdge believes they have solved a significant problem by replacing electrolytic with film capacitors. However, the industry does not entirely agree this problem needed to be solved. Solaredge admits the optimiser failures have been bad. But the failures are worse than bad. The failures have been hidden by restricted access to monitoring and an alert system that is not fully working. It’s too early to tell if SolarEdge has finally solved their reliability issue with Generation 4 of their optimiser.

While the HD Wave SolarEdge inverter can brag a smidgeon better performance, SolarEdge has an inherent design problem because of a fixed string voltage and low SolarEdge optimiser voltage. We can sometimes solve this with longer strings, more expensive optimisers, and an experienced SolarEdge designer.

Mark Cavanagh

 

88 Comments on SolarEdge Inverter and Optimiser Review

Mark C said : administrator Report 2 days ago

Hi Sam. Just in the last week. the conversation about SolarEdge optimisers and inverter failures has reignited. You would be much better with Tigo. Consider mixing it with a split cell (half cell) panel like QCell duo, or a shingle panel like SunPower p19. This breaks up the panel stringing further and increases the chance of the panel staying online in heavy shade.

Mark C said : administrator Report 2 days ago

Hi Andrew, there seems to be a groundswell of disgruntled SolarEge installers. I've been told there are a few big articles coming out about it soon exposing what's going on. Now inverters are failing even worse than optimisers, and SolarEdge are blaming it on lightning strikes with no evidence. Many of the bigger companies have dropped or are dropping SolarEdge.

Sam said : Guest Report 5 days ago

Thanks for this good blog Mark! I'm designing a PV set for my East (10x300Wp) and West roof (17x300Wp). Unfortunately my roofs are shaded. The East roof heavily and the West roof less heavily. Optimizers are a must in my opinion. My initial plan was applying Tigo Duo optimizers for at most all panels. Unfortunately the Duo optimizers aren't available any more as stated by my installer. Because of the higher price of a single Tigo optimizer, I'm looking for a SolarEdge solution. Due to the configuration of my east roof (2 rows of 5 panels each) and the shading (leaving in a top down and left right direction) I'm afraid for the blocking issue as described above. Therefore I like to apply P404 optimizers so the upper row of 5 panels can achieve the ~380V voltage on the string. But SolarEdge designer gives me no option for the P404 optimizer. Only P300, P370 and P505 are available. I think the reason is the Short Circuit Current (Isc). My panels have an Isc of 9.86A. while SE designer states 10.11A, thats a very little bit more than the max of 10.1A. Because of the orientation of the panels and the heavy shading STC values won't be reached in practice. Is this a really risk from technical perspective? Due to possible warranty claims in the future maybe it isn't wise choosing this optimizer, is it? I'm not sure choosing for the cheapest option (SE) or paying a few 100 euro's/dollars more for Tigo....

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Andrew said : Guest Report 3 weeks ago

Hi, Is the Inverter able to be fitted to the Qcell and LG battery ? Was looking at the 10KW Single phase inverter has your opinion changed on this matter or are you still seeing a abnormally high failure rate thank you : )

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Mark C said : administrator Report 3 weeks ago

Thanks Peter. I'm surprised at your experience to be honest. Maybe the earlier models were unreliable. Everyone I know in the industry swears by the reliability of Enphase. We've had one fail out of about 1500 in 4 years or so. I think they are doing the right thing by not shipping it to the customer. However, I would have thought Enphase would have had to pay the installer. I'll ask Enphase to respond on that one.

Mark C said : administrator Report 3 weeks ago

Hi Shane, you are closer to correct. You can put up to 5.7kW in one string according to SolarEdge data sheet. If your installers don't know this, I'd be pretty concerned. SolarEdge is difficult to design well. Here's a bit of the relevant standards................................. AS5033 clause 2.1.5.......... Strings constructed using d.c. conditioning units ................. In some array designs, d.c. conditioning units may be connected to individual PV modules or small groups of PV modules to allow d.c. conditioning of the PV output or allow for automatic shutdown of the output under certain defined conditions. The output circuits of the d.c. conditioning units are arranged in series to form a string. .................................................... In this case, for the purposes of this Standard, the following applies: 2.1.6 PV array maximum voltage = PCE maximum rated input voltage.

Shane said : Guest Report 3 weeks ago

Hi Mark, I'm from Victoria. I am about to install a Solaredge system. My solar installer is saying they are limited to putting 13 panels on a single string due to the 600V string limits regs, however my understanding is they have it wrong, as the panels are not being connected in series, but rather the optimisers. Therefore you should be able to connect about 20 panels on a single string without exceeding the 600V string limit regs for a domestic install. Who is correct?

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Peter said : Guest Report 4 weeks ago

I don't know how you folks can consider Enphase "reliable", unless you mean reliably crappy. I've had a 70% failure rate in just 8 years. It wasn't so bad at first when I could get enphase to ship me a replacement in a month or two, but now they won't even talk to consumers anymore. They insist replacements have to be done by "Professional Installers" but since enphase won't pay the installers to replace the inverters most installer won't do it any more. It took me 9 month last year to get the installer to replace a failed inverter. I had two more fail 3 months ago and NONE of the installers in my area will even return my phone calls. A warranty aint worst shit if the company won't honor it. WIth their crappy customer support and all the financial problems I keep reading about, it wouldn't surprise me if they went out of business soon. For anyone considering enphase, run away from them as fast as you can.

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Mark C said : administrator Report 4 weeks ago

Hi Peter, thanks. It is correct that it needs to be installed in strings of 8 minimum -but I questioned SolarEdge about this recently. If you have strings of 8 and you shade 1 panel, it is the same as a string of seven. Does this reduce the life of the optimisers? NO!!! at least that is what I was told. Your inverter will just turn off if there is a shade on too many panels. If SolarEdge has changed their mind about this, then it proves their optimisers are not suitable to be installed in heavy shade. Solaredge are dodgy about avoiding warranties. We're in the middle of a case at the moment where they are claiming the inverter failed due to a lightning strike - at 1 pm on a perfect sunny day..... I would push it further if I were you.

Mark C said : administrator Report 4 weeks ago

Thanks, Richard, that's interesting. I've heard investors talk about reports of 10 to 16 per cent failure rate of optimisers across the board. What's concerning is, if you didn't proactively monitor (and if you were not given access), you would have not of know about the failures.

Mark C said : administrator Report 4 weeks ago

Hi Susan, Thanks. That sounds possible - SunPower has a similar warranty. Just check the Panasonic spec sheet online. I would say LG is probably better than Panasonic. LG (panels) has a much bigger presence in Australia

Susan said : Guest Report 4 weeks ago

Hi Mark, I salute you for being a man of honor and not selling out to Solar Edge or other corporations! I'm sure you get many offers to become a puppet! Keep up the good work and thank you again for your blog! I have one more day to go with Panasonic Enphase IQ7x microinverter that produces 330 watts. I was told that in 25 yrs, I will still get 91% performance.. do you agree? Is this a highly recommended system over the LG 360's?

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Richard said : Guest Report 4 weeks ago

Great article. I have a 24-panel Solar Edge system installed 3.5 years ago. Mostly I've been pleased, and I love the ability to monitor the overall system and the individual panels. However, I've just had my second optimizer failure. The first failure was within 5 months of installation. So, my overall optimizer failure rate to date is 8.3%, or 2.4% per year. The failures were discovered by my periodic review of the panel layout screen. Oh, my SE inverter had to be replaced during the first week after installation.

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Peter Clark said : Guest Report 4 weeks ago

Hi Mark, interesting and sadly relevant post for my SolarEdge inverter installation. My 4kw system was installed in 2016. It performed very well in the first year. I stopped monitoring it last year and received a call from my FIT provider last month who told me the system had stopped generating. The installer of the system went bust last year so I contacted solaredge to look into it. They have closed the incident saying that the system was incorrectly installed as 2 strings of 7 optimizers and my system requires a minimum of 8 optimizers per string. They are saying 2 optimizers are damaged because of this. I'm now stuck with a broken 2 year old system that has no warranty. I am shocked by this - the whole thing seems more like a scam than a serious solar energy system. Does this explanation of what's happened seem a likely reason for the optimizers to fail ? I'm pretty sure the installers fitted the system according to procedure available at the time.

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Mark C said : administrator Report a month ago

Hey Antonio. Fronius is heaps better. Even before realised all the issues with SolarEdge, I advised Fronius over SolarEdge if there was no shade. If you can avoid putting power electronics on your roof, then do! They are just a weak point.

Antonio said : Guest Report a month ago

Hi Mark I should not have shades on my roof and maybe is small 3.6 KWh for Australia but I am in UK :-) Do you really think that Fronius works better then solaredge? My system will be on 2 different sides of roof ( south east and south west). Thanks

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Mark C said : administrator Report a month ago

Hi Antonio, I don't know about sapphire, so they mustn't be a big player. 3.6kW is a small system! Do you not have more roof space? We wouldn't normally quote on such a small system. BTW we are having issues with warranty cases with SolarEdge atm (and, no, it's not just because it's us). If I were you I would consider asking your installer to upgrade you to Fronius with more panels (should be the same price). If you have shade, just add Tigo!

Antonio said : Guest Report a month ago

Hi Mark, very interesting this update, I have ordered a system for my house with Solaredge HD wave before to read your update. The system will be of 3.6 kWh with 12 Sapphire solar panels. Hopefully I will be happy with the system. I have been looking into your blog about the sapphire panels that are australian owned but I couldn't find anything. Do you have experience of them?

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Mark C said : administrator Report 2 months ago

Hi Phill, this could be anything, and possibly not a SolarEdge issue. Best call SolarService guys if you are in SouthEast Qld. Let us know how you go if it is A SolarEdge issue and how they went with honouring their warranty.

Phill said : Guest Report 2 months ago

Hi Mark Very interesting read. I have a 21 panel system on my roof with a Solar Edge SE 4000 inverter. I work away all week and when I got home last week there was no display on the inverter no matter how many times I pushed the green button and the solar supply breaker in the power box had tripped. I tried turning the breaker back on but no difference. The system is 6 yrs old with a 12 yr warranty , the company that it was purchased from no longer exists and the installer has retired with a bad back. Do you have any idea whether it's the inverter or the panels? Any idea on how to contact Solar Edge as I can't find anywhere on the web?

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Mark C said : administrator Report 2 months ago

Hi John, I'll say that our experience with SolarEdge tech support is actually pretty good. (they have had heaps of experience solving issues). The problem is you also need a good sparkle on the roof to fix the problem. If they mapped the panels on the monitoring platform properly, you could usually tell which one failed. Since there is a string down.... that's a different problem. Who knows. Sounds like an install issue - but then SolarEdge have so many types of tech issues, it would be impossible to guess.

Mark C said : administrator Report 2 months ago

I'm surprised Greg, but I really shouldn't be.

Greg said : Guest Report 2 months ago

Installed I think around 3748 optimisers on one job at the start of the year, big job. A bit over 450 failed and still having problems.. At least 150 -300 still down maybe more.. every time we replace them and more fail. Solar edge guys haven’t sorted the problems yet. They can’t even figure out why, they say bad batch ect but it’s happening on all our jobs at the moment.. Steer clear

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John said : Guest Report 2 months ago

Great article - wish I had known this before I installed my system. I am hoping for some ideas on how to resolve what appears to be an optimizer failure on our roof mounted system. Having problems with my SolarEdge system (33 panels, 2 strings). I installed it in June, ran well for the first month but in July the second string was not being recognized by the inverter. Solar Edge says that perhaps an optimizer failed or there is a wiring problem (the customer support rep says he doesn't envy my situation!). At the rooftop combiner box we get a little over 16 volts of safety current, which seems correct as there are 16 panels on that string. The same reading is evident at the inverter. I had installed the optimizers because they claim that you can monitor each panel's performance. However, when one optimizer fails you cannot see which one failed - a rather inconvenient problem with a roof mounted system! Any clever ideas on how to solve this with the least amount of trouble?

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Mark C said : administrator Report 2 months ago

Thanks for your comments Philippe! You have summed up my main concerns with SolarEdge perfectly. Having 2 failures in 3 years is really very bad for a product with a 25-year warranty. What is worse is that you have to rely on the installer to tell you about that. I hope you insisted on getting full access now! I think 25 days is actually a good effort by the installer, given the may not have had an alert - and given the reality that business gets busy sometimes. The chances of the installer giving you the same type of service for the next 22 years is slim. I too love the concept - the concept is easy to sell - but.....

Philippe H. said : Guest Report 2 months ago

Excellent Article. Thank you Mark. I'm a residential Solar Edge user and I have 33 Suniva 280W panels on the roof, two streams (18+15). Solar Edge Se7600 . After 18 months one Optimizer died taking with it half of a stream. And just last August (33 months after installation) another optimizer kicked the bucket taking the entire stream with it. As you highlighted very well, the Installer gave us very basic access to the monitoring system but also took more than 25 days to inform us that our system had a failure. So, two problems: bad equipment and bad monitoring. I love the concept of optimizers, but I have to admit that I have been extremely disappointed by the implementation.

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Guus Lambalk said : Guest Report 2 months ago

The main reason I don not like use SolarEdge is that the optimizers don not work without a SolarEdge inverter. Without a SolarEdge inverter your complete system is worthless. From a business point of few I realy do not understand the risk thats been taken to rely on one inverter company.

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leon said : Guest Report 2 months ago

hi Mark yes neither had we and we had already pulled out the p700 and replaced and solaredge happy to pay the standard $150 for our efforts but said in future call them first before replacing to see if they can wake up?

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Mark C said : administrator Report 2 months ago

Interesting Leon. I hadn't heard of that.

Leon said : Guest Report 2 months ago

have completed a 25kW install with p700s and had one faulty optimiser mick. friend did a 40kW system and had also a faulty p700. solaredge are saying to call them before pulling out and replacing as optimisers get "sleepy" and they can tweak them remotely and sometimes wake them up. so to me at least in p700 case its a software problem?

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Frank Cellini said : Guest Report 2 months ago

I believe SolarEdge are working on a S series optimiser... this could be a more reliable design? Maybe available later this year? I have 10 SunPower 318W panels in place and I am waiting for the new optimiser to fit on these panels and then get a HD Wave inverter installed with LG Chem battery. There is a setup that allows use of your own battery if the grid power drops out OR where you can't use your own battery power. I don't know how the first setup works but clearly you have to disconnect from grid in case you send mains voltage 240VAC up the grid and possibly electrocute someone.

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Mark C said : administrator Report 3 months ago

Hi Tim, Interesting. When I was in Israel, I spoke to one of the SE founders about it, and he explained why they left Sunspec. I'll chase that up and see what has happened.

Richard Henderson said : Guest Report 3 months ago

G'day Mark, Good to see someone is telling the truth about solaredge. I have about 30 sites installed and started from when they first came into Australia in 2012. I have about 50 cases with failures most of these are with one or more optimizers failed. If an inverter fails its like pulling teeth to get Solaredge to admit there is a fault and get a replacement inverter in a reasonable time. I was sucked in with the Solaredge marketing of increased performance. But it reality the opt can still only perform with bypass doides conducting or not with wafer shade. The same as with a string inverter. They gain some increased eff with panel miss-match, but not with wafer shading. A good string inverter with good mpp tracking operates the same way, if a bypass diode conducts there is no energy from that string of wafers. Solaredge support is hopeless, I am always having to lead them through the fault to prove it is an issue with their equipment. I have still never had a problem with a panel, it has always been a fault with Solaredge gear. I was using Solaredge almost exclusively, but not anymore, the frustration of dealing with support staff who know nothing, the amount of time spent on emails and raising cases and going to site to check things that to me are obviously a solaredge problem has cost far more that any margin I made on their gear. I just use Fronius now, fantastic product and support. As an example of Solaredge crap support: I have a customer with a 6kw inverter that was faulting out through the day. The monitoring portal showed it slowly failing over several days due to a mains over voltage alarm. ( I have other inverters on the same site and they were fine and the customer was reading the inverter display which showed mains volatge at 246 volts so not a valid fault).The inverter was still working for maybe an hour a day. I contacted solaredge and raised the case. The tech's first response was to update the firmware ( as this is their first response to any inverter fault, does this mean their firm ware is easily corrupted?) The firmware update resulted in total failure of the inverter, it wouldn't even startup at all. The tech support then said to go on site and megger the mains cables, this makes no sense at all as a low insulation on the mains would give a low voltage not a high voltage. This customer is on a high feedin tarrif not that Solaredge care. I chased Solaredge every week for some action and after 5 weeks they finally came back with the digital board needs to be changed as there is a compatablity problem with a display board that was replaced 2 years earlier ( had no problems for those 2 years). So they sent a new board to be fitted. I replaced the dig board and the inverter still didn't even start up. Solaredge then said they will have to find another solution. The customer by this stage is furious with them and was calling them himself, the support tech then told the customer that I had installed the board incorrectly which is not the case at all. ( Is this a case for libel against solaredge??) After another couple of weeks they finally sent up a new inverter, but not the type existing but the new HD wave type so heaps more work to fit that inverter for the same bargain price that Solaredge pay, they refused to pay for the trip to site for the boards swap. The customer was down about $600 income from the fault and the time it took them to fix it. So what I have learned over the years of dealing with them is : they don't keep any warranty stock, everything is supposed to be back compatible but that is rubbish. They don't know what versions of boards are in what inverters, if there is a board problem they always want a photo of the board, even the board serial numbers and version numbers don't seem to be enough. They do remote updates on the firmware with no notification, I have many inverters now with totaly different setups to what was installed, the -0.9 power factor has gone back to unity, the inverter size has been changed for example a 4kw inverter now has 5.2 showing on the display, others just have a mess of ascii letters. As you state the alerts don't work, you always have to check the layout of every site for optimizer problems. There is way more I could go on about but I have to go and do some work. Regards, Richard.

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Tim said : Guest Report 3 months ago

Hi Mark - Very interesting read. Thanks for sharing. I'm on the point of investing a lump of cash in a panel (storage?) system in the UK. SolarEdge ticks a number of the boxes I'm looking for, especially the small size of the inverter. With an eye on the future I'm particularly concerned about the lack of interoperability. You mentioned SolarEdge have withdrawn from the Sunspec alliance but when I go to their website and view their contributing members list they show up https://sunspec.org/portfolio-type/contributing-members/. What's your source for this statement ?

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John said : Guest Report 3 months ago

Thanks Mark for a fascinating read. Very glad I recently chose a Fronius polystring installation over SolarEdge optimizers (to handle our 3-orientations with limited roof space) - which I did mainly because putting lots of complex electronics in a harsh, remote location (second story roof) just didn't seem wise. Dodged a bullet perhaps!

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menno said : Guest Report 4 months ago

I had the same issue with one string losing almost all power in the afternoon. my panels are place in a vary sub optimal placement but with a bigger system i can still generate enough to make it worth while. i had to combine the two stings into one to get them all to work the whole day. Thanks to this blog i understand the issue. I am adding three more panels and will connect them to the sting that cuts out and see if this way i can have two stings working and maintaining a high enough voltage. thanks. overall I am happy with the system also because i need to control the panels induvidually because of shading. I am In Amsterdam the Netherlands. I also had a DOA P300 optimizer. 1 out of 30 but had to get back on the roof and move some panels to replace it. SolarEdge then told me I had to connect it so they could see it is faulty before i could send it back. this 40 euro was not worth for me to get on the roof again.

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Mark C said : administrator Report 4 months ago

Hey Ethan, Enphase is the goods - really reliable. The problem with Enphase for us is Energex regulations and the future prospect of a battery. We are limited to a total inverter capacity of 10Kw, this includes an AC coupled battery. If in the future we want to install a decent size AC coupled battery, we would install a Tesla with a 5kW internal inverter. Then we can install a maximum 5kW of Enphase micro inverters, and oversized panels to a total of 6.6kW if we choose the right panel. 6.6kW of panels is not enough on a 5kW battery. A string inverter, on the other hand, can be oversized retrospectively, and with split orientations, it can work with that oversize much better. That's probably a bit confusing - it's a future blog in one paragraph!

Ethan said : Guest Report 4 months ago

Thanks for blogging. Very informative! Curious why the new Enphase IQ series or AC modules would not be the ticket to avoid Solaredge issues all together. Looking at the whole package with envoy and their software, as I look to add solar it just appears to be the premium package. My thought it keeping this for 10+ years even if its 5% more, over time thats miniscule. Would think that would be true for most but I don't know the market from an installer point of view.

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Mark C said : administrator Report 4 months ago

Hi Leon. First, if you are limited by space you would want to go a more efficient panel (or a higher wattage panel that is the same size). I recommend SunPower E series 327w panels, but you could go a bit cheaper and get the soon to be released SunPower p series 320W, or more expensive and go with SunPower 360W panels. We almost always recommend Fronius inverters (I've recently blogged on Fronius) and if you have shade issues, you could use Tigo instead of SolarEdge. But a lot depends on the exact roof layout. If you would like a quote, hit the "get a quote" button top right of this page (or just reply to this).

Leon Balym said : Guest Report 4 months ago

Hi Mark I live on the Gold Coast and considering installing solar Power however due to the roof design I am restricted to approx 14 panels. What sort of system would you recommend?

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Rod Grono said : Guest Report 4 months ago

I have also had 8 optimised fail out of about 10 systems. It is a worry

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Mark C said : administrator Report 4 months ago

Thanks for the update. The "SJ5117" makes it week December 2017 manufacture, so it is a "Gen 4". Hopefully, it's a once off!

Margot Kiesskalt said : Guest Report 4 months ago

Hi Mark. An update on my situation. This week, the installer came out, went onto the roof and concluded yesterday that there was only ever one faulty optimiser. He advised that, when the panels were "flipped the serials didn't adjust". I presume this explanation refers to configuration in the monitoring portal which supports the panel schematic. Until yesterday, the monitoring portal showed an alert and 0 kWh generation for the impacted panel. Yesterday, it showed output from every panel, with the overall system production for the day being reported as 23 kWh. Incidentally, when the 2nd fault originally manifested, I checked the Modbus E-meter (behind-the-meter) export figures against the electricity distributor's meter export figures and they tallied. The installer sent me a photo of the first - and only, as it transpired - failed optimiser and the serial number is: SJ5117A-011285650-DF, part number: P370-5RM4MRM MM25 A. According to a site commissioning report that I ran this morning, there are 14 x P370-5RM4MRM-MM23 and 2 x P370-5RM4MRM-MM26 optimizers on the roof currently. So, based on the information I've been given, the optimiser attrition rate so far is 1 in 16. It was not an optimal customer experience but better than a poke in the eye! Regards, Margot

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Mark C said : administrator Report 4 months ago

Ok, my misunderstanding Benn, I thought you were suggesting a string of 6. The problem is we can't mix p404's with 500's or 370's. So it's a $60 fix but you have a valid point. Confirmed, Kranich has some but don't move many at all. So yeh, wholesalers should stock up and we should all more often use 404's for $5 more.

Benn Masters said : Guest Report 4 months ago

I haven't misunderstood the problem at all Mark - I was simply suggesting that the way you fix the problem you have outlined in your blog is to spend $30 on P404 optimizers and fit them to the 6 panels you have facing west (there was no mention of shade in your example, you specifically said they are in full sun). Give Krannich a call if you or anyone needs P404's - I just called them and they have plenty in stock.

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Mark C said : administrator Report 4 months ago

Hi Benn, I think you have misunderstood the issue. If you are thinking of installing as per the spec with 6 panels in the string, then you are back at square 1. You will likely have blocking if you have shading or split orientations, even in a string of 9 with p404 optimisers. I suggested P505 because of availability, not panel choice. We called around suppliers and most of them have never supplied the p404, and the main one now says they only stock and sell limited P505's. But if we can get in the 404 for an extra $5, that would be the way to go for sure. No, it's not a big problem at all, as long as installers are using the correct optimiser, which they generally are not.

Mark C said : administrator Report 4 months ago

Hi Matt Vella. Thanks. If in 12 months you haven't had many failures, I'm not totally surprised. The majority of failures for us started happening after 12 months and closer to the 20 months. Hopefully, for you and the industry, SolarEdge has solved the issues with Gen 4. I'm just saying I'd be cautious for the next 12 months. Remeber we hold a 25-year warranty on these optimisers. I could summarise like this: 1) Be very careful with SolarEdge design, 2) Do the right thing and give your customers full access, 3) Hopefully, Gen 4 has solved the issue and they will last 25 years, but I'm not confident. 4) As a postscript I will say, don't cross SolarEdge.

Mark C said : administrator Report 4 months ago

Thanks Jim. Yeh, I like Enphase and it had a great track record for reliability. We use it sometimes. The only issue is with our regulations. 1- We can only install a maximum of 10kW on 1 phase and are export limited to 5kW. 2- We can only oversize and an inverter by 33% of it's nominal UNLESS we have a battery. ... So we can only install 5kw of micro's, maybe 6kW of panels, and a 5kW AC Tesla battery. In that case, we don't have enough PV to charge the battery. If we did a 5kW string inverter with a Tesla battery, we can oversize the PV (say 9kW) and still have a 5kW battery.

Jim Jenal said : Guest Report 4 months ago

Hi Mark - greetings from sunny Southern California. This is a great post, well thought out, researched, and written. My company, Run on Sun, has been installing Enphase exclusively since 2009. (We used SMA before that.) We have never installed SE, largely because of the single point of failure back on the ground. I was not aware of the voltage "blocking" issue, but that is even more of a reason to avoid SE. You mentioned that you preferred Tigo to Enphase and I'm curious as to why. (Tigo has pretty much zero traction here.) Our failure rate with Enphase is very low - but we started with the M210 and never installed the more problematic M190s. In any event, as one solar blogger to another, keep up the good work! Best regards... Jim Jenal, Founder & CEO, Run on Sun

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Benn Masterrs said : Guest Report 4 months ago

With regards to "blocking", one of our engineers pointed out that you are using the P505 optimizer when the P404 might suffice. The P404 optimizer is the one to use when you have 6 panels in a string, not sure why you are using the P505? Perhaps this problem is isolated to SunPower panels only? The P404 is about $5 more expensive that the P370. $30 and some upfront design, avoids the blocking issue entirely in the scenario you put forward for nearly all the panel brands on the market - hardly a big problem is it?

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Benn said : Guest Report 4 months ago

Hi MC, We have installed over 20,000 optimizers across 1100 systems and our failure rate is considerably lower than the rate you report (about 5 times less). I'm going to collate some data from the various SolarEdge installers I know out there, much like you are doing for your Tigo review, as I think it's only fair to get a bigger and more diverse sample set before drawing such strong conclusions. On the occasion we do get failures SolarEdge have been very quick to respond and in most cases we have the issues fixed in 72 hours. This is rare for a manufacturer and I'm often inclined to judge a company on its support than any other measure, as thats what impacts our ability to solve problems for our customers when they occur. We allow all our customers to have access to the panel level info and audit out systems regularly to make sure we are on top of any issues before our customers are - this is good practice no matter what inverter you use. To suggest the only reason there aren't more failures is because installers aren't monitoring their customers systems is drawing a very long bow. Your missed one very important advantage of the SolarEdge inverters over their competitors and that is how easy and cost-effective it is to add a battery at a later date. While I hate the term battery ready, a SolarEdge inverter is about as close as you can get with only the StorEdge interface (about $550 retail) required to get you up and running with an LG Chem. All the other leading brands require you to either buy a hybrid inverter upfront (waste of money) or add another inverter later that will cost you north of $2k. SolarEdge's ambition to become a one-stop-shop is a good thing and something to be applauded. The sooner the day comes that people have one brand to get their head around and all the various components talk to each other seamlessly, the better. Tesla, LG, Trina, Fronius, SMA are all diversifying and its imperative that SolarEdge diversifies also. Just making a good string inverter won't cut it in a few years time, manufacturers need to be taking their suite of products to the next level to remain competitive.

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Matt Vella (MPV Solar, Sydney) said : Guest Report 4 months ago

We started installing SolarEdge systems in the Sydney Metro area in March 2017, and since then have just clocked up 98 systems. We chose to go with SolarEdge for their product capabilities, tech support and warranties as we had previously had poor experiences with other hybrid inverters. One brand in particular, where we only installed seven units and have had nothing but trouble with callbacks ever since. I can only speak for our company's experience with SolarEdge and say that it has been outstanding. Your blog prompted us to individually system check all our 98 systems, and the result is as follows; Optimisers - Total number installed, 1743 We currently only have two optimisers that appear to have a problem and have lodged cases with SolarEdge. If these two are determined to be faulty, this will equate to a 0.11% failure rate, which we would happily take, every day of the week. Of the 98 inverters, we have only had one with hardware failure. It was shipped from Melbourne, by SolarEdge the following day and we had it replaced on site within two days. Overall, we and our clients couldn't be more pleased with our decision to focus on offering SolarEdge, with LG modules and batteries.

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Mark C said : administrator Report 4 months ago

Hi Jerry, Thanks for sharing! About the labour cost, it would say you shouldn't have to pay a penny. But that's Australian Consumer Law. You can still tell if there is a significant issue with a string system. The SunnyBoy inverter we have today will send you an email alert in a major failure. Most string inverters today are connected to the internet and allow you to check if production has dropped over time. You can easily hone in on string voltages to pick up small issues if you know how to. As a concept, SolarEdge is much better and gives you more detail. Just in many people's experience, the execution of that concept has significant flaws.

Mark C said : administrator Report 4 months ago

Wow Margot. That's not good at all. I'm trying to hold on to hope that the issues were solved with Gen 4 optimisers (manufactured since February 2017). There is also a theory that failures rates are higher in hotter climates. (That wouldn't help SolarEdges case, because it would just mean a delay in inevitable failure. I.e. failures in 5 to 10 years instead of our common 10 to 20 months). When they change the second optimiser over, are you able to take down the serial number of the optimiser? I would bet it would be Gen 4, but it would be interesting to confirm.

Jerrytaff said : Guest Report 4 months ago

Hi, I originally had a Sunny Boy string inverter for my east facing panels which were installed in 2010. A chimney shadow passes across the panels early in the day and they are not in direct sunlight in the afternoon. Also there was one occasion when the inverter tripped, and I did not notice until I went to take a meter reading 3 weeks or so later. I "upgraded" to Solar edge almost 2 years ago thinking that it would reduce the losses due to the shadowing, but was more interested in the peace of mind that the monitoring provides. However, if anything, generation has been reduced - it seems to tail off more rapidly in low light, and I generate less in the winter months. Now one of the optimisers appears to have failed - it appears that it has been failing since April, but the earlier alerts are all labelled as "resolved". My installer is waiting for solar edge to confirm that it is the optimiser that has failed. He says that when it is confirmed, that they will only pay for part of the cost of labour and scaffolding and I will have to pay the rest. I wasn't sure from the blog whether the labour costs should be covered or not by SolarEdge. Could you clarify please? I'm in England btw. From my experience I would recommend thinking long and hard about going for anything other than a string inverter on a new install, - especially if the panels are on the roof of a a 2 (or more) storey building. If the inverter fails, then the cost of the replacement component might be high, but the labour costs will be low - It is a simple job to replace and its under the roof. Trade that with the high likelihood that over the guaranteed lifetime of the solar edge optimisers you are highly to incur the costs of working on the roof several times, and you still have the possibility that the inverter will fail. The only advantage with Solar Edge is that at least you know before you start where the fault lies, and if an optimiser fails at least the rest of the panels will still be generating. That is not the case with a string if a panel or its wiring fails. So, I'd be interested to know whether anyone has any stats on those types of failure - especially with older installations. I imagine that they will be fairly rare but would like to be proved wrong.

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Margot Kiesskalt said : Guest Report 4 months ago

I am a customer located in Frankston, Victoria, Australia. My system with SolarEdge HD Wave inverter and (according to the invoice) 16 SolarEdge SE P370 optimisers was installed on May 29, 2018. The first optimiser failed on June 16, 2018. It was replaced on July 3, 2018 and the second optimiser (not the replacement component but an opti on another panel) failed on July 4, 2018. The 2nd is yet to be replaced so the system for which I paid an absolute premium in the expectation of high quality has had one panel down continuously for six weeks so far. Not happy! Thanks for your edifying blog - it's very considered, detailed and filled with useful information.

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Mark C said : administrator Report 4 months ago

Thanks for your feedback Leon. Always good to hear both sides.

Peter Bell said : Guest Report 4 months ago

Performed my first SE installation last week. Finally finished it. Started asking around.....spoke to a colleague who worked with this product until the high failure rate of optimisers sent company under. If it isn't tried and tested and still alive after 5 yrs in Queensland, stay away from it is my advice and the advice pasted on to me from the solar oldies I know and respect.

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Leon said : Guest Report 4 months ago

Hi Mc we have had a lot of success with solaredge and they are our favourite inverter. We do use p500 optimisers on Resi and also think that a minimum of 10-12 on a string helps to minimise any V issues you highlight this is where we err from solaredge design rules. Besides that we adhere strictly to guidelines and find most outperform our second favourite inverters (fronius). We also give our customers full access (not admin) and don't do installs without the modbus Meter(s). Check out our Twitter page for some of our designs if you are interested. We are about to do our first commercial se install next week so will let you know how it goes. We also find se have amazing support at all levels. Hope this helps. Best wishes.

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Terry Wilson said : Guest Report 4 months ago

John SMART ENERGY SA - Corporate BS answer which further proves his point, shy away from SolarEdge!

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Mark C said : administrator Report 5 months ago

Hi Daniel (VP Solaredge, Japan & Australia). As you know I gave SolarEdge 4 days to give feedback on this blog before posting. I asked three times for corrections or additions. All I got was legal threats. I still have not had a call or an email explaining where I may be inaccurate, except vague email comments. I find that disappointing. Do you have anything specific? You no doubt would have seen the reaction from installers on the closed Facebook page. I think you should agree I have had overwhelming industry support. I can post those comments if I get permission.

Tim said : Guest Report 5 months ago

I would suggest switching to Enphase micro inverters.....they almost never fail!

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Daniel said : Guest Report 5 months ago

I believe this blog has many inaccuracies and is showing a warped picture of reality. Me and the rest of the SolarEdge Australia team will be happy to discuss with anyone points raised here and comment. Please contact us

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Mark C said : administrator Report 5 months ago

Thanks Redas. I like the technology behind SolarEdge, but they have had major issues with executing the rollout of the product. Their idea of taking over the world when they haven't got their primary product fixed, going alone without Sunspec, denial and blame. I'm not comfortable with them as a company. I much prefer Tigo's approach of doing one product well and collaborating with others. In some ways, I do bet my house on the products we install - we need to get it right!

Mark C said : administrator Report 5 months ago

Thanks, Steve. If you subscribe to the blog (a popup window should come up as you scroll) then I'll keep you updated. I'm working on a Tigo blog at the moment.

Hans Leijsen - LTS Solar said : Guest Report 5 months ago

This is completely consistent with our experience. Thanks for sharing this information. There are actually five reasons for SolarEdge panel monitoring. In my opinion the most important is: 1) Identifying and locate the defect optimiser.

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stuart watson said : Guest Report 5 months ago

Mark , Thanks for another in depth and honest review I will forward the article to the SEIA members for comment. We have installed now about 250kw of enphase with zero failure excepting 1 device we cooked with 415 volts .

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Jeremy said : Guest Report 5 months ago

Great work MC. Saw this post on the Quality Solar Facebook group. As in investor in Solaredge this is a bit concerning. I would hope this is just a slight oversight and isn't indicative of their global reputation. Regardless, it would be good to hear a follow-up post for the next generation of optimisers.

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Steve said : Guest Report 5 months ago

Excellent article and thank you so much for sharing your findings. We have had our sights in solaredge, only reason we haven’t proceeded since getting quotes of your guys is we brought a rental property, so we have been madly saving our penny’s again. Please keeps us informed on any future updates.

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REEDAS said : Guest Report 5 months ago

Hi Mark, really appreciate all the hard work you put in to give us the facts, as the real world situation has exhibited. Thanks also for being ethical and honest enough to stick your neck out and tell it like it is. Appreciate all your blogs and the time you put in to provide your experiences and passion for the industry. Having installed as many SE systems as you have, I wouldn't be wrong to suggest that you still believe that they are a good system, but like all technologies, they behave differently under different circumstances and you can't, unfortunately, bet your house on the "marketing" blurb.

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Mark C said : administrator Report 5 months ago

Ha, thanks, Pete. Would love to, but carrying those panels on a plane is a bit of a pain :)

Peter T said : Guest Report 5 months ago

Thanks Mark … another no BS / fair dinkum article, which is greatly appreciated! I wish you and your team installed into the ACT/Canberra area because I would have you installing at my place in a heart beat. Maybe that's not out of the question if you and the boys wanted to take the opportunity and go to the snow whilst you were down here. It's only a couple of hours away. In any case, thanks again. Cheers Peter.

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Mark C said : administrator Report 5 months ago

Hi Jack. For me they have. In saying that we haven't invoiced for our work yet. Some guys have contacted me since I posted this saying they have had significant issues with claiming warranties.

Jack Castiglione said : Guest Report 5 months ago

Has SolarEdge honored their warranty on all the failures?

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Mark C said : administrator Report 5 months ago

Hey John. Thanks. I probably should add in the number of optimisers we have installed. We have done about 1400 optimiser of the gen 3 and about 1450 of the gen 4. If a string inverter has a 1 per cent failure rate, that's fine. I return to 1 job. If a SolarEdge optimiser has a 1 per cent failure rate, I return to 22 jobs (or 22 visits). Solaredge are well aware that optimisers have to have a much much better reliability than a string inverter does. The other point was that we might not know if it has failed. By the way, I like Gavin, the Australia General Manager. It's nothing personal.

Mark C said : administrator Report 5 months ago

Hi James, we are advising our pending installs that we have concerns. We've stopped recommending them for the last 6 months or so. Some people still want them and I don't mind as long as they are aware of potential issues. At first, I thought I would give it 12 months to see if Gen 4 was more reliable than previous generations. But with the legal threats etc. from SolarEdge, I have a bad taste in my mouth. I'm not sure I would choose to deal with them again.

Mark C said : administrator Report 5 months ago

Hi Garry. A little bit of blocking isn't the worst thing in the world. I'd ask him to use p505 optimisers (pay the extra $15 per optimiser or so) and have a string of 12 minimum and production should be fine. But if you go ahead with it, make sure you get access to full monitoring and have a look every now and then at the individual panel production. My preference would be Tigo over Enphase, but that's a whole other blog!

Mark C said : administrator Report 5 months ago

Hi Frank, Thanks. Yeh, we use P500 for Sunpower 96 cell. We use P370's (p300's in the past) for 60 cell. The majority of our installs were 60 cell, but the example I used was Sunpower and P500. It makes no difference for the blocking effect.

Mark C said : administrator Report 5 months ago

Hi Matt, I opened one but its hard to get to with the potting. Other people on the tour didn't get asked to sign an NDA, so you could ask them :)

James said : Guest Report 5 months ago

So $64,000 question are you still selling and installing their products? Ask the man that bought one in May.

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Tony said : Guest Report 5 months ago

This is completely consistent with our own experience. We don’t have a single site without at least one failure. We were told it was an aberration and was all in a single production batch. Further, as Mark says, the alert system does not report failed individual optimisers. These can only be found manually.

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Cameron Quin said : Guest Report 5 months ago

It really is fantastic to see someone not only testing everything they are recommending to customers, but then passionately educating the industry (and clients) and sharing the information for all. Massive kudos Mark

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Matt said : Guest Report 5 months ago

Thanks Mark for the in-depth review. I really appreciate your up-front honesty in these blog posts, even though they have threatened legal action. I am now at ease with my Fronius system, the small gain to have by the optimiser is over-shadowed (pun intended) by the potential for failure, and then in the end your no better off. It would be nice if you opened up one of the failed optimiser and looked at what component is actually dying, is it a capacitor or is it the logic board chip or something else?

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Garry said : Guest Report 5 months ago

I just ordered a SolarEdge system. Failure rates have me worried. Regarding the ‘Production Loss and Blocking’ example. In my investigations I came across a similar situation. SolarEdge suggested solution was to balance the strings. In your example: 2 x 7N + 3W strings which would lift the voltage on the original 4N + 6W string. I’d be interested to know if this would solve the issue. In the mean time I’ll discuss with my installer. Maybe it’s not too late to switch to Enphase... BTW: Thanks for these great blog posts. Fantastic stuff!

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Rufaro said : Guest Report 5 months ago

Come to South Africa, you will love installing Solar PV and Solar Edge. I guess we are the only ones getting the best service 👌

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John SMART ENERGY SA said : Guest Report 5 months ago

Hi Mark, I am reading this from Cape Town South Africa from a company called Smart Energy SA. Incidentally this article was forwarded to me by our ABB inverter supplier rep. And I normally don’t read such long blogs, but due to the number the number of Solaredge sites we have and focus we put on marketing Solaredge I had. I know you might not approve my comments but Man I find that your analysis of Solaredge technology absolutely biased and like you have a grudge toward Solaredge. The report is present as facts and scientific but reading it they is no basis or sciefic evidence that Solaredge is bad. You give failure rate of 24 optimizer on 130 sites but carefully omits a very important number ( how many optimizes ? ) have you looked at the environmental factors? We have over 3000 optimizers installed and accredited advanced Solaredge installers - but in the same light - traditionally with SMA AND FRONIUS you have 3 electronic components ( with processor power ) inverter, meter and data logger ) installed and you comparing with a Solaredge site that you have 23 electronic devices ( with processor power ) per site on average residential - so by default and rule of thump you will have more failure rate with Solaredge it’s a fact 🤔🤷🏿‍♂️ I mean logic. The capacitor Issue is also a non starter and non issue - who cares about capacitors 🤷🏿‍♂️ We need smaller lighter devices with longer warranties and innovation. About your ugly Ausie DC isolator - it’s a legacy of Australia copying anything American from Dollar to accent. Lobby your governs t and teach them that doesn’t matter whether a DC switch is integrated or added on string does same job. What do you say about SMA copying Solaredge with. “Tigo”? I like Solaredge’s audacity to deal with traditional Solar head on and refuse to join the cartel. We still install SMA, Victron, ABB, Stecca, Solis, Goodwee, and above all Solaredge. Every inverter has its own site and customer and please let’s not crush innovation - Solaredge guys are good and we get great support from them. I wish Solaredge Ausie can look at their quality control and may be fire the country manager🤷🏿‍♂️ We get best service here from CARLOS and his team. Thanks Mate. Regards from the Springbok country

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Frank M. said : Guest Report 5 months ago

Thank you for a well-documented article and for sharing. I'm in California and we installed a lot of them and we had a small failure rate. I was checking the Australia market and looks like P500 is for 96 cells modules, you mention you installed Canadian/Jinko 265 W, for my understanding those are 60 cells modules, maybe you're talking about a different system. We have a couple of system like yours with modules in strings with a different orientation, I will pay attention to see if our systems will have the same issues as yours.

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Jeff said : Guest Report 5 months ago

At the end of the day, sticking electrical devices on a roof in the Australian climate is just a terrible idea. Of course you'll get failures. These products may suit the European climate, but are they really suited to Australia?

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