We had the pleasure of attending the Enphase Energy Road Show at Babson College in Wellesley, MA yesterday. Enphase had exciting news to deliver with the announcement of their next generation M215 microinverters which allow for greater flexibility, better performance, and a faster installation – what’s not to like! The new M215’s will start shipping in June, but solar installers are encouraged to put in their order now.
All photovoltaic solar installations require an inverter which gathers the Direct Current (DC) produced by the photovoltaic solar (PV) array and converts it to Alternating Current (AC) which can be used in the home. Traditionally, most PV systems have a single monolithic inverter, or a central inverter dedicated to the entire array, with SMA, Solectria, PV Powered, or Fronius being the premier players.
Enphase pioneered microinverter technology for each module and made it commercially viable. The idea for microinverters came from the need to address partial shade. With traditional inverters, shading can dramatically cut the production of electricity because the solar cell with the least illumination dictates the operating current for all the cells wired in that series. People in the solar industry relate partial shading to kinking in a garden hose. The narrowed opening allows a smaller portion of water through. Similarly, shading can create a disproportionate decline in electricity production. Using the same example, microinverters allow each module to be a separate hose, minimizing production loss.
Microinverters have other advantages. They tolerate modules that are installed at different pitches and azimuths, rather than requiring multiple central inverters. Microinverters also allow for a single point of failure and allow for module level monitoring. In addition, they can be a less expensive option for smaller residential PV installations (under 2 -3 kW).
At the road show, we were able to see Enphase’s M215 microinverters in action.
Things we like:
- Higher power output to work with 260-watt 60-cell modules
- Better performance in lower light conditions
- 96% CEC weighted efficiency which compares to traditional inverters
- Lighter (1 lb less) allowing for single mounting bolt and faster installation
- Simpler cabling – installers cut and splice cable to length
- Up to 17 modules per 20 Amp branch circuit (up to 4.42 kW)
- Thinner profile (1 inch thickness)
Things we don’t like:
- Not compatible with 72-cell modules, but M190 microinverters are still available to serve this segment, although scaled back in production.
Brightstar Solar has been using Enphase microinverters in our installations for the last two years and we believe it is an excellent product. We keep abreast of the latest technologies and how to incorporate them in existing projects. Brightstar Solar can help you make clean, green solar electricity and do your part to reduce greenhouse gases in Massachusetts. Our company offers a complimentary solar evaluation so you can decide if solar power is right for your home or business. Rebates are not for “do-it yourself” projects and you must involve a licensed Massachusetts solar installer. Please contact us online or at 617-564-0050 to schedule an appointment.