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Who has the Edge? 3 Reasons to Pick Enphase over SolarEdge

03/28/15

  04:00:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 372 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Residential Solar, Ranting

Who has the Edge? 3 Reasons to Pick Enphase over SolarEdge

SolarEdge has gotten a fair amount of buzz this week thanks to their IPO, but it made us think that maybe it was time to revisit the question—who really has the edge: DC-to-DC “optimizers” like SolarEdge or Enphase microinverters?  Let’s take a look!

Enphase Microinverter Which would you choose? Solar Edge Optimizer
 Enphase Microinverter    SolarEdge Optimizer

 

Enphase vs SolarEdge

In our view this Enphase vs SolarEdge battle is a bit of a “no-brainer” and it really comes down to the following three reasons:

Reason #3 - Integrated Grounding — In every solar array, all metal surfaces have to be grounded for safety.  Enphase microinverters now feature integrated grounding, which eliminates the need for a separate equipment grounding conductor.  SolarEdge does not have this feature and, depending on the jurisdiction, may require the use of a dedicated copper conductor to be run from one unit to the next.  This increases both labor costs as well as part costs (copper is expensive these days!).  Far better to have that grounding built-in at the factory than assembled on the roof.

Reason #2 - Easier Installation — Beyond the need for that equipment grounding conductor, the SolarEdge system requires the installer to not only mount the optimizers on the roof beneath each panel, but it also requires the installer to mount one or more heavy (51 to 88 pound) inverter(s) on the wall.  In contrast, Enphase combines everything into one unit, so there are no heavy inverters to mount to the side of the client’s house.

Reason #1 - Greater Reliability —The number one reason for us at Run on Sun is the greater reliability you get from using Enphase.  Frankly, the SolarEdge approach combines the worst of both alternative approaches (i.e., string inverters versus microinverters).  You are still putting power electronics in the demanding environment of a roof, AND you have combined that with a single point of failure with the inverter back on the ground!  When you use Enphase microinverters you eliminate that single point of failure and you are going with the industry leader in creating reliable, roof-mounted power systems.

Put all of that together, and we think Enphase microinverters provide the greatest value to our clients, which is why we feature them in all of our solar power systems, despite the occassional “buzz” other approaches might generate.

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Comment from: Socal  
SocalIf one of your reasons isn’t Price then there’s a problem.
04/14/15 @ 10:36
Comment from: Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO  
Price is important, but value is more so - hence the reasons cited in the post.
04/14/15 @ 16:35
Comment from: Fred Schmidt
Fred SchmidtThe SolarEdge optimizers DO have integrated grounding when attached to the mounting rails. Not sure where you are getting your (mis)information.
05/03/15 @ 05:53
Comment from: Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO  
Hi Fred - Thanks for the comment, though the misinformation bit is a tad overstated. I got my information from the SolarEdge website where their video on grounding shows an illustration of running #6 from unit to unit, depending on the AHJ. But I don’t have to do that in any jdx local to us (including City of LA or County of LA) for the Enphase M215IG or the M250. Here’s a link to the video that I’m relying on: https://youtu.be/b13z2bKMQJc?list=PLsgvvbvtreLJdH84sKOYKl3mVVa2DtvbK Are you an installer? Have you installed these in either of those jurisdictions w/out running #6? Best regards… Jim
05/03/15 @ 08:09
Comment from: SageBrush
SageBrushTwo reasons would tempt me away from Enphase these days: 1. Their reliability record is spotty. While the hardware is warrantied for a long time, labor is not included. 2. I like the idea of a DC system that can feed DC appliances like a Tesla PW or an *EV and only shunt what is needed to the inverter.
05/19/15 @ 08:12
Comment from: Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO  
SageBrush - You say their reliability record is spotty, but that hasn’t been our experience at all. In fact we have dozens of SMA inverters in the field and thousands of Enphase microinverters. We have replaced the same number of each type of inverter - four. (Our earliest SMA install is 2007, our earliest Enphase install is 2009.) As to the second point, I don’t know of anyone charging their EV via DC - while you could do it that way, that’s not how the overwhelming number of EV chargers are configured - so that idea is not really relevant to how people use these things. Assuming Enphase can deliver on their storage product later this year, you will have a truly AC-integrated solution.
05/19/15 @ 08:24
Comment from: cal  
calI came at this from a different perspective, and went SolarEdge. 1) SolarEdge has one point of failure on the ground where it is accessible, versus multiple points of failure on the roof with Enphase. This was based on my belief that roof optimizers by themselves were more reliable (fewer parts) than inverters. 2) For my particular setup (with no shading other than when it snows), my calculations showed the SolarEdge inverter would come on faster. Your mileage may vary however, and if I had shading I’d look harder at Enphase. 3) SolarEdge’s software was far better and I was able to pinpoint some panels that were not the wattage they should have been (but there software does have areas needing improvement too). Now, that being said, a month after install I had the SolarEdge inverter go out, and there are burn marks inside the DC cutoff switch. We are yet to hear what that issue was or the resolution, and how SolarEdge deals with it. That is costing me a few days of sunshine and I’m not too happy with SolarEdge at the moment on that score. Anyway … I’m somewhat non-biased other than having made a decision.
07/22/15 @ 19:13
Comment from: john_harvey  
john_harveyRegarding price - Enphase usually wins that comparison. A 5,000W string inverter runs about $2,000 to $4,000 depending on quality and guarantee (and it will be replaced at least once over the 25 year life of the panels so $4,000 to $8,000. 20 M250 Enphase micro-inverters runs about $3,000. So less money, more production, longer life, better warranty - what’s not to like? (Now if you add in the DC optimizers the price difference gets even larger.)
08/03/15 @ 12:50
Comment from: Solar Ledge
Solar LedgeI am on the ledge with Solar Edge. Enphase is cat’s meow!
08/19/15 @ 23:40
Comment from: william_brasky  
william_braskyInteresting reliability claims about a product that has only been on the market since 2008.
09/29/15 @ 12:40
Comment from: Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO  
William - the only claim that I made was that Enphase eliminates the single point of failure that is present with Solar Edge. That is a fact, not an opinion. In my opinion, that makes the Enphase approach more reliable from a system availability perspective. Thanks for taking the time to write. Jim
09/29/15 @ 15:09
Comment from: wsweger  
4 stars
wswegerJim – It’s now been over 2 years since your article on optimizers vs. micro inverters, etc. With the upgrades and advancements on both sides, do you still recommend Enphase M250s, M280s, or a string inverter with optimizers? We’re looking right now and depending on what you see on line, YouTube, etc., it’s a mixed bag and has not changed too much overall. It’s still price vs. reliability, and the ROI. My head is spinning trying to decipher, and it’s been another 2 years to verify reliability of both systems in the field. Thoughts? Thank you for your advice/recommendations! - Bill Sweger
06/22/17 @ 14:21
Comment from: admin  
Hi Bill – SolarEdge will always suffer from having a single point of failure - if the string inverter goes out the whole system is offline until: a) you notice it (maybe when your next electric bill is surprisingly high), b) you get in touch with your installer (assuming that they are still in business and willing to provide service), and c) they come out and make the swap. Enphase avoids that pitfall, because if a microinverter fails, you lose that one unit, but everything else continues as before. We have been installing the S280’s for the past year or so, but are eager to move to the new IQ6+. It is lighter, and double insulated so the cable goes from four wires to just the two hots, making wiring easier and less expensive. We are also excited about the Enphase AC Battery for clients who are on time-of-use rates. Best regards… Jim
06/22/17 @ 18:32
Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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