Optimized Solar Systems or Micro Inverter Solar Systems ... Which is better?
Hey everyone Dale here with Pacific Sun Technologies. I feel that I’ve talked a lot on battery storage options and solar panel manufactures in recent weeks, but I haven’t talked about solar inverter options because with that you can’t convert the DC power of your solar panels to AC power that everything in your home runs off of.
So, todays video is an important one and it’ll help you decide which is best for your situation and wallet. But before I get into it, please be sure to subscribe to the channel, it only takes a second to click that button down below and while you’re at it hit that bell icon too. That way you’ll receive notifications on future videos like this one. And if you’re someone that’s in our area of Southern California don’t forget to visit us online to receive a free solar quote, you could be over paying for your energy, and a competing bid never hurts.
Now, let’s talk solar inverters, because there are a lot of different manufactures out there, and I’ve done a video previously on the benefits of a micro-inverter system versus a string inverter system.
That video didn’t compare the two leading solar inverter options SolarEdge and Enphase. But before we talk about the pros and cons of each let me fill you in on how the two differ.
Enphase is a micro-inverter system which means a small inverter is attached to each panel, while SolarEdge uses a solar panel optimizer attached to each panel and they connect to a single inverter.
To understand the pros and cons for each you have to understand how they both work. So let’s start with SolarEdge because this is our most popular choice.
SolarEdge is a global leader in the solar inverter industry, with nearly 15-years of cutting-edge technology. SolarEdge is traded on the NASDAQ and has shown continous growth in revenue and gross margins. The company’s financial strength and stability, combined with its cutting-edge technology, makes SolarEdge the preferred partner for installers like Pacific Sun Technologies.
Globally, SolarEdge has shipped over 14.6 gigawatts of power with over 1.3 million systems activated. So they’re not just any inverter manufacturer, they’re number one.
Its important for consumers to know this information because what good is a product if the manufacture goes out of business? Not very good.
So here’s what makes SolarEdge so unique:
They were the first solar inverter manufacture to develop a solar panel optimizer to work in conjunction with their solar inverter.
What this allowed for is module level monitoring and voltage regulation.
This means you can see the power output of each panel on your roof and if one is under producing for any reason like shading, the rest of the modules are unaffected. This is the same for Enphase micro-inverter systems but with one significant difference being that a SolarEdge optimizer sends the solar power to the one inverter, whereas an Enphase micro-inverter converts the DC energy from the solar panel to AC immediately on the roof.
The SolarEdge optimizer allows you to produce the most amount of power day in and day out. And if an optimizer goes down completely, that’s okay, because the solar optimizer is covered under a 25-year warranty, and like I said a minute ago, it will not affect the other solar panels or optimizers it’s connected to.
Moving onto the inverter, SolarEdge has pushed the technology so much in recent years, by not only improving efficiency to 99% but reliability as well. The standard inverter warranty is 12-years with preferred and certified partners having the ability to extend the warranty to 25-years.
One of the advantages that many tend to over look and see is a con is that if the inverter fails the entire system shuts down. And this is true, and this is bad, but a quick warranty call will get you back up in running before you know it.
But this is what’s important and often overlooked; a 12-year or 25-year warranty you are likely to see products discontinued as they evolve, and we’ve seen a ton of solar inverter products discontinued and replaced with something that may not be compatible.
We’re not seeing this too much with string inverters or optimized inverters, but we are seeing it with older micro-inverters and new micro-inverters not being compatible with older panels and each other for that matter. This means you would likely need to pay out of pocket for additional components your older system doesn’t have, or receive a refurbished part.
But with SolarEdge the optimizer technology is not likely to drastically evolve in the next 25-years, it may get smaller, maybe even more efficient, (mind you it’s 99% efficiency), but the fundamental communication protocols will remain the same, and if they do change SolarEdge is likely to integrate those protocols into a new inverter. So IF, your SolarEdge inverter fails, it’s okay you’ll get the latest and greatest covered under your warranty and it’ll work flawlessly with your existing optimized system.
Now, this leads me to Enphase and micro-inverter systems.
We currently offer both SolarEdge and Enphase to customers, because they’re the best products on the market. And we’ve gone over some of the key advantages to a SolarEdge optimized solar system, but lets look at some pros and cons to Enphase.
But before I do please take a second to subscribe to the channel.
So Enphase was founded right here in California in March of 2006 by Raghu Belur and Martin Fornage.
Together they introduced the world to the first micro-inverter system in June of 2008. By September of 2011 Enphase hit a milestone of one million micro-inverters shipped. And by the end of 2011 Enphase was being shipped globally.
In March of 2012 Enphase went public and became a stock traded on the NASDAQ. Over the next 5-years Enphase brought a broader vision of their product to market. This included battery storage, and home energy monitoring.
And just like I said for SolarEdge, this company history is valuable for you to know. Because what good is product and it’s warranty if the company won’t be around to back it.
So lets talk about what makes Enphase unique;
The biggest selling point for Enphase is the ease of scalability and upgrade-ability. What I mean by this is since every solar panel and micro-inverter act independently from the other you can add onto your system as your energy depends change over the years.
This is fairly in-expensive when compared to a string inverter or optimized inverter system like SolarEdge. Because typically with these systems and depending on how much solar you’re looking to add you’ll probably need an entire new inverter. Not saying you can’t add a couple panels to these systems but they’re not as scalable as Enphase micro-inverters.
Now, Enphase allows for module level monitoring just like SolarEdge, and if a module or micro-inverter fails it’s alright because they all act independent of each other. All micro-inverters shipped as of this video come with a 25-year warranty. Enphase currently has four different micro-inverters that can be used to pair with different wattage panels.
This is where you should pay attention because the price between these four as drastically different and while they technically work on any panel some will work better then others.
The IQ7 is the lowest wattage micro-inverter and should be paired with panels less than 305-watts
The IQ7 PLUS is the next level up micro-inverter and should be pair with panels between 310 to 340-watts
The IQ7 X is a special micro-inverter designed exclusively for Panasonic HIT modules.
The IQ7 A is the newest micro-inverter and offers the highest power output, it should be paired with modules greater than 350-watts.
I didn’t talk about this with SolarEdge because it’s easy to pair your inverter to your solar system size. If you have a 4 kilowatt solar system, then you’d pair it with a 3.8 kilowatt inverter, or if you have a 8 kilowatt solar system, you’d pair it with the 7.6 kilowatt inverter.
Now, in closing, it’s hard for me to actually say one system or manufacture is better than the other because they both have their pros and cons in different categories.
But if expandability is important to you because you plan on buying an electric vehicle, or putting in a pool, or have a hydroponic garden, then Enphase will likely be best for you.
But if you want the most bang for your buck, and expandability isn’t as crucial because you don’t plan on buying any of the stuff i just mentioned then SolarEdge is best for you.
Well thats it for today’s video, we appreciate your watching this far, and as a thank you we’re offering you $500 off your solar system purchase. Just make sure to mention this video when you inquire on our website. And don’t forget to subscribe to the channel to receive notifications on videos just like this one.
Thanks for watching, until next time.