Micro Inverters versus SolarEdge and why we do not use Micros anymore.
Nine years ago, Enphase Corporation from California introduced one of the first viable micro inverters and it was a big deal. The advantages were huge as no longer did we need to have long strings of 10 modules that suffered greatly when only one was shaded or covered with snow. As well we could now look at the production of each individual module and easily identify an issue. The monitoring was easy to employ with a simple data cable which transmitted production data to a website keeping track of production. Before this detailed monitoring was an expensive option.
That was nine years ago, a lifetime in this industry. Enphase upset the domination of several European manufactures who owned the world-wide inverter market. Several of these companies came out with there versions of micros. One Swiss company jumped into micros and a couple of years later discontinued this offering.
This was telling as one of the major questions of utilizing a microinverter is where it is placed. Micros sit behind the solar module in a hostile environment. Here in Western Montana we know that a summer day can start in the cool 40’s and end up in the 90’s. And up on your roof high afternoon temps are even more extreme. This a big temperature change for the electronics to tolerate on a daily basis.
Other parts of the planet do not see this extreme variation and this is less of a factor. However, the manufactures claim a 25 year warranty. The big question is will these electronics last as claimed. In our experience it is common to see a company with grand claims disappear with insolvency or reorganization saying goodbye to long term liabilities like warranties.
SolarEdge steps in and changes the Inverter world once again.
This inverter system is the next step in the evolution of the inverter. SolarEdge took the advantages of Micros and said goodbye the largest disadvantage of where the electronics do their job. By taking the bulk of the electronics and placing them on a protected wall or even better in a utility space, this reduces the operating temperatures and gives us a longer useful life. A small optimizer with much simplified electronics is placed behind the module and provides all the benefits of micros such as individual module level monitoring.
These inverters operate at an amazing 99% efficiency and have swept the grid tied solar market with a dominate hold of the world inverter market.
We have 450 micros out in the field and we can see some applications for this product yet SolarEdge remains our go to inverter technology.