Enphase – About the company
Founded in 2006, Enphase Energy is a US-headquartered manufacturer widely regarded as the global leader in microinverter technology for residential and commercial solar installations.
Microinverters are very small inverters that are attached to each solar panel. The main reason for the popularity of microinverters is that they are designed to overcome a very common problem facing households and businesses wanting solar – which is shading.
Enphase was the first company to successfully commercialise the microinverter on a wide-scale and has shipped over 23 million microinverters to-date. The company has a very solid track record, low failure rate and a reputation for providing excellent customer service.
Enphase Energy is listed on NASDAQ and has 500+ employees worldwide with operations in over 21 countries. As well as microinverters, Enphase also designs and manufactures solar batteries, communications gateways and monitoring systems.
Enphase has customer support offices in Melbourne and Sydney. The company has won a host of awards including ‘Top Solar Inverter 2019’ from Australian solar industry authority, Clean Energy Reviews.
Enphase’s vision is “to make solar simple and energy smart”. They are, without doubt, one of the technology leaders in the global solar industry.
Benefits of microinverters
Microinverters optimise the amount of power that can be generated by each panel. The technology is based on the premise that ‘a chain is only as strong as the weakest link.’
Microinverters convert direct current (DC) power into alternating current (AC) at individual panel-level. In contrast, a string inverter converts DC power into AC power from multiple panels. By having lots of small microinverters generating power independently of each, the ‘weak link’ inherent with a single string inverter is eliminated.
For example with a microinverter-based solar system, if one panel is shaded the other panels will continue to produce power at full capacity. In contrast, string inverters are not optimised at panel level so if one panel is shaded, it will reduce the output of the entire solar array.
Microinverters also provide other advantages such as reduction of fire risk as there is no need to transfer high voltage DC power via a DC cable from the panels across the roof to the inverter –the case with string inverters.
Enphase IQ 7 microinverter series
The company’s seventh generation microinverter, the Enphase IQ 7 series, is suited to residential installations and commercial systems. The IQ 7 series is around half the weight of the previous model and, according to Enphase, produces 23% more power.
Top benefits of the Enphase IQ 7 microinverters:
- Each panel is optimized to produce maximum power (96.5% efficiency)
This overcomes issues like shading, dirt and bird droppings on panels which, with a standard string inverter, would bring down the performance of the entire solar array.
- No single point of failure
In contrast, a string inverter is typically the main single point of failure in solar PV systems.
- Complex roof layouts are no problem
Panels can be mounted at different orientations and angles – it is even possible to have one panel on its own and the others on two or more sections of the roof.
Low-voltage DC never exceeds 60 volts so there’s never any high voltage power travelling across your roof, which significantly reduces the risk of fire.
- Smart monitoring puts you in control
Real-time, user-friendly information from your phone or laptop about how much electricity your system is producing, as well as how much is being consumed in your home.
- Remote diagnosis of faults
The performance at individual panel level can be monitoring remotely – so your installer can instantly see if there’s an issue and resolve it quickly.
Compatible with the latest 60 cell and 72 cell high powered solar panels up to 440W.
- 10-year product warranty
Backed up by Enphase’s highly responsive Australian support offices.
- Meets all relevant Australia standards
Listed as an approved inverter by the Clean Energy Council and by Solar Victoria (requirement for the Solar Homes rebate)
Whilst the upfront cost of Enphase microinverters is generally higher than string inverters, they can provide better value over time.
They are well suited to those situations where is some shading, and also where the roof layout is more complex and panels need to be arranged in multiple directions. Whether they provide a better payback for your home or business will depend on your specific situation including the amount of shading, soiling of the system, difference in cost with the string inverter systems and electricity tariffs.
Enphase microinverters are a quality product, based on well-proven technology, backed by excellent customer service and a strong Australian presence.
For homeowners and businesses looking to mitigate the effects of shading, they are an excellent choice with the track record to prove it.