Enphase Microinverters- Independent Review

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Overview of Enphase Energy – Company History

Enphase Energy was founded in March 2006 by Raghu Belur and Martin Fornage in California, United States. Enphase was the world’s first microinverter manufacturer, introducing the first microinverter system in June 2008. It didn’t take Enphase long to establish themselves in the solar inverter market, as by September 2011 Enphase had shipped 1 million inverters.

In 2012, Enphase entered the Australian market and launched on the NASDAQ. Enphase has a commitment to innovation, as it’s one of the company’s core values. In 2016 Enphase opened a new research and development facility in New Zealand. Enphase’s R&D innovations have resulted in 134 patents globally.

Enphase in June of 2018 first announced the seventh generation of their microinverter technology, the Enphase IQ Microinverter System. The IQ 7 range is Enphase’s latest microinverter technology available.

Enphase’s Australian head office is located in Melbourne, Victoria.

A Brief Rundown on Solar Inverters

A solar system’s inverter is the point at which the DC electricity produced by solar panels is turned into grid-compatible AC electricity. There are four types of solar inverters, these being string inverters, hybrid inverters, microinverters, and power optimisers.

How Do Microinverters Work?

Conventional systems have only 1 centralised inverter for the entire solar panel array, microinverter systems couple a microinverter with each solar panel. Systems that use microinverters have a number of potential advantages over conventional systems in terms of system design flexibility, ease of installation, installation costs, and system power yields. Accordingly, such systems are growing in popularity, numbers, and affordability.

Some of the general advantages of a microinverter system over a conventional system include:

-Greater system power yields, especially in cases of partial shading of the solar panel array compared to conventional systems that have ‘strings’ of solar panels

Enphase Partial Shading

The microinverter advantage in partially shaded conditions. (Image via Enphase Energy.)

-Remove potentially more dangerous outgoing high-voltage DC electricity associated with conventional solar photovoltaic (PV) systems

-Individual solar panel power production can be monitored in detail–greater peace of mind for system owners and greater ease in troubleshooting in the event of a problem

Microinverters can also be integrated into solar panels themselves instead of attached to mounting (a “detached” arrangement). Installation of systems that are comprised of these “AC solar modules” are considerably more straight-forward than the panel + microinverter set-up.

What is PV Evolution Labs Top Performer?

PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) with support from DNV GL has been independently testing Solar Panel reliability since 2014, and for the first time in 2019 have tested solar inverters. It is a voluntary test which manufacturers have to pay to be a part of.  The solar panel testing is considered internationally as an excellent indication of solar panel quality. It’s expected that the inverter testing will have the same recognition. To read the full PVEL scorecard click here.

Enphase didn’t rank in any of these tests. However, as an internationally renowned inverter manufacturer, it is likely that they didn’t pay to participate in the testing. 

Enphase Inverters – Points of Difference

Enphase continues to prove why they are considered as the industry’s leading microinverter manufacturer. They have achieved this through the constant innovation of their IQ range, developing a proven track record.

The Enphase IQ 7 Series is the 7th generation of the product series to be released in the past 10 years. This high-quality range of microinverters has a low failure rate along with the industry’s highest microinverter EU Efficiency of 96.5%. The Enphase IQ 7 Series Microinverters were shown to produce 1-3.1% more energy than string inverters in an independent study conducted by PV Evolution Labs.

Enphase aims to ensure that it provides end-users with a product that not only promises the generic benefits of a microinverter system, but also a more interactive and informative user experience than most conventional systems specific to Enphase’s technologies.

Enphase Envoy & Enlighten

Envoy is Enphase’s home energy solution; this is the software that connects the user to their solar system. It provides bi-direction communication between the microinverters and the internet.

Enphase Enlighten enables the user to monitor their system’s health and microinverter performance at an individual solar module level, through a website platform and mobile application.

Enphase Inverter Costs

Indicative pricing

Enphase IQ Series Micros IQ7+ 290VA Microinverter $140 to $160
Enphase IQ Series Micros IQ7 240VA Microinverter$120 to $140

Keep in mind that inverter costs generally only run between 10-20% of your total system, so often it is worth investing in a high-quality inverter given this will have a large impact on the efficiency and performance of your Solar Power project.

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Enphase Microinverter Battery Compatibility

The only significant limitation of Enphase Microinverters is in regard to battery storage. Microinverters aren’t compatible with the majority of solar batteries as they are DC coupled, this is because of microinverters output AC power.

However, Enphase Microinverters are able to be utilised with the popular AC batteries, the Tesla Powerwall 2, and the sonnenBatterie hybrid 9.53. Enphase also offers a CEC approved battery, the AC Battery is unique in the Australian market in that it is very small and completely modular: A single unit (weighing 23kg) stores 1.2kWh of usable energy.

The AC Battery is definitely a battery for grid-connected solar systems: it is not capable of providing backup power in the event of a blackout and is not appropriate for off-grid solar systems.

A Full Range of Enphase Microinverters Available in Australia 

All of Enphase’s Micro Inverters listed on their Australian website are approved by the Clean Energy Council for the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, which is Australia’s home solar rebate program.

The four approved models are:

Enphase IQ 7A Microinverter

Enphase IQ 7 Microinverter

Enphase IQ 7+ Microinverter

Enphase IQ 7X Microinverter

Enphase Microinverter Specifications

 Enphase IQ 7A Enphase IQ 7+Enphase IQ 7X
Peak Output Power 366VA295VA320VA
Maximum Continuous Output Current349VA290VA315VA
Maximum DC Voltage58V60V79.5V
EU Weighted Inverter Efficiency96.5%96.5%96.5%
Dimensions with Safety Switch/Connection Unit212 x 175 x 30.2 mm212 x 175 x 30.2 mm212 x 175 x 30.2 mm
Weight1.08kg1.08kg1.08kg
Warranty10 years10 years10 years
Operational Temperature Range-40°C to 60°C

 

-40°C to 65°C

 

-40°C to 60°C

 

Made inNorth America/AsiaNorth America/AsiaNorth America/Asia

Example of an Enphase Commercial Solar Project 

This commercial project saw a solar system installed on the Richmond Football Club’s headquarters and training facility; the ME Bank Centre which is located in Melbourne. The system installed by Metro Solar totaled 100kW in size. The system used Enphase M215 Microinverters and Yingli 250W Solar Modules.

Utilising Enphase technology, Metro Solar was able to design a system to capture maximum harvest and increase performance for the facility’s extremely large baseload, most of which is consumed during the day. The microinverters also allow additional generation in the morning and at dusk to increase overall savings for the Richmond Football Club.

Richmond Football Club Enphase Inverters

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Jack Boutchard

Writer at Solar Choice
Jack Boutchard

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