Tags: enphase energy

08/11/17

  11:01:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 390 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Ranting

Court to SolarEdge: DENIED!

Judge bangs gavel on SolarEdge's claimsWe wrote last month about the ill-conceived lawsuit filed by SolarEdge against Enphase Energy over a video comparing the new Enphase AC Module’s install time with that of systems using the SolarEdge optimizers.  SolarEdge initially asked for a Temporary Restraining Order - which was denied, but the court set an accelerated hearing schedule for a Preliminary Injunction.  If granted, Enphase would  have been prohibited from airing the video - either via YouTube or at next month’s SPI trade show.

Well this just in: SolarEdge’s motion has been denied in full.  (You can read the court’s order here.)

SolarEdge had whined in their complaint that the video wasn’t fair because they too have embedded optimizers, and that is the comparison that should be shown.  But that is just silly.  First of all, the ad isn’t aimed at consumers, it is aimed at installers - and they very well know the difference.  (A point the judge noted as well.)  Furthermore, here at Run on Sun, we are exclusively an LG shop when it comes to our solar modules.  SolarEdge doesn’t have an embedded optimizer with LG - but Enphase has an AC Module built on the LG 330 Watt Neon module!  For us, the comparison in the video is exactly the comparison that matters.

SolarEdge also whined about the use of their logo in the video, but that was equally bogus.  No one looking at the ad would think for a moment that SolarEdge was endorsing the Enphase product.  Rather the video makes it clear that Enphase is only using it to identify the competing product, a “nominative fair use” that can be invoked where “the use of the trademark does not attempt to capitalize on consumer confusion or to appropriate the cachet of one product for a different… and where a defendant uses the mark to refer to the trademarked good itself."  That is precisely what was done here.

In finding that SolarEdge was unlikely to succeed on the merits of their claims the court cleared the way for Enphase to promote their video far and wide.  We are happy to help!  In case you missed it before, here’s the video that SolarEdge tried, but failed, to keep you from seeing:

PS: Note to SolarEdge’s lawyers - from my old firm of OM&M - you really need to do a better job of managing your client!  Just sayin!

07/31/17

  08:42:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 494 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Ranting

SE Takes the Leap, Highlighting Enphase's Superior Product - UPDATE!

UPDATE: The court has denied SolarEdge’s motion - read about it here.

In an earlier life I was a big firm lawyer, mostly handling hi-tech and intellectual property litigation.  Every now and then a client would get steamed over what they thought a competitor was doing, and would demand that we sue them - even though there was no merit in the case.  The competitor had a legal right to do what they were doing, even if it annoyed our client. 

Calmly, we would try to talk them down off the ledge less they draw more attention to the issue by suing than the activity ever would have on its own.  Apparently the folks at SolarEdge never got such advice as they have filed a frivolous lawsuit against competitor Enphase Energy over the video below.  Here’s our take…

SE is complaining that this video is “false and misleading” since it doesn’t illustrate the installation comparison that SE thinks is proper.  But that isn’t the standard.  Enphase says that they are comparing the install time on the roof between an Enphase-LG AC module and a SE optimizer system with separate modules.  Does that comparison exist in the real world of solar installations?  Of course.  In fact, if a solar installer wanted to use LG modules with SE, this is exactly the comparison that would be at issue! To suggest that such a comparison is false and misleading is to simply ignore real-world conditions. 

If SE wants to highlight a different, equally factual comparison, they are free to produce that ad, but that doesn’t give them the right to enjoin the factually accurate comparison that Enphase chose to highlight.

(SE also complains about the use of their logo in the video, but this is equally frivolous - that would be like saying that you couldn’t show a Pepsi can in a Coke ad.  Good luck with that.)

So far the court has not been too impressed with SE’s claim, denying a motion for a Temporary Restraining Order ("TRO"), saying:

Preliminary injunctive relief, whether in the form of a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction, is an “extraordinary and drastic remedy,” that is never awarded as of right.  In order to obtain such relief, a plaintiff must establish four factors: (1) he is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of  preliminary relief; (3) the balance of equities tips in his favor; and (4) an injunction is in the public interest.
Here, with respect to the request for a temporary restraining order in advance of a hearing for a preliminary injunction, plaintiffs have wholly failed to establish a likelihood of immediate irreparable harm to justify the issuance of a temporary restraining order at this time.

Apparently SE is afraid that Enphase will show the ad during SPI.  But thanks to this ill-begotten lawsuit, probably everyone who would have seen it at SPI, will see it now!  Way to take the leap, SE, nicely done.

09/26/16

  10:51:00 am, by Laurel Hamilton   , 1615 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power

Solar Power International 2016: Industry Latest and Greatest

Every September we pack our bags and head to the largest solar conference and exposition in the country; Solar Power International. This is when we get to connect with the broader solar community, advocates, and friends working far and wide for the betterment of the world through distributed clean energy. It is also the time when manufacturers unveil their latest technologies. These technology improvements come fast and furious in an attempt to stay ahead of the curve in a competitive industry. Just two years ago when I started working with Run on Sun we were able to get 270 watt panels from LG. What is coming from them in the next year will blow your mind. Here is my run down of the top take aways from SPI 2016…

Panel: “Survival of the Fittest, the Future of Residential Solar”

Some of you may have seen the three part series Run on Sun’s CEO, Jim Jenal, wrote recently about what we need to do to be sustainable as an industry facing a crisis of increasingly shoddy workmanship and shady business practices. As part of the convention’s educational program, Jim was invited to participate on a panel of solar professionals to discuss the future of residential solar. The panel consisted of a wide range of backgrounds including a representative from a national company, Sunrun’s Michael Grasso, Rick Luna from a municipal utility CPS Energy, Ed Murray from a medium sized company, Aztec Solar, as well as national advocacy group SEIA, and Jim representing the small installer at Run on Sun. 

The panelists discussed their take on who will dominate the residential solar space and what will the predominant business model be in five years. This was a perfect platform to raise the very real issues of quality facing the industry and Jim did not disappoint! Of course Sunrun’s Grasso asserted that national scale companies continuing the leasing model with storage will dominate in the future. But there were many nods of agreement in the audience when Jim insisted that the current status quo is not sustainable. Giant publicly traded national companies operating in the red and pushing customers into bad deals are going to cause a backlash. We’ve already seen many law suits and bankruptcies in the industry. Solar City’s Better Business Bureau rating in the Bay area is an embarrassing 80% negative. The notion that Ed Murray, from SEIA, put forth that the market will naturally take care of the bad companies is just not a sustainable way forward or an ethical one. As more and more consumers get hit with bad contracts and solar systems, the market will be left with a bad taste for solar. The people in this industry who are doing it for the right reasons, aiming to help people save money and reduce their impact on the ecosystem need to demand that there is more oversight over the quality of systems and some legal standards around contracts.

Jim’s comments seemed to be well received in the audience as most people attending were people who work in solar for the right reasons given they are investing in the hefty price-tag to attend the convention. But the disparate opinions on the panel itself was interesting to say the least. I don’t know if the reps for big companies are just out of touch with what is happening on the ground or if they are in denial. 

Everyone agreed that a future will include storage or other bundled options for improving home efficiencies. However, Jim noted that storage needs to be presented to clients in a transparent way so they understand the true value of storage and whether it makes sense for them or not. If you are on a tiered rate system with no demand charges there likely is no value in storage. Solar stakeholders from advocates to installers need be fostering business practices that focus on transparent education for consumers instead of just closing every sell if we are to survive as an industry and continue to grow solar as the incredibly valuable resource that it is. 

 

LG Solar Panels Up the Ante 

We have been installing exclusively LG panels since 2012. Why? We believe LG panels are the best for our clients for two main reasons. 1. As a diversified company we, and our clients, can rely upon them to stick around to back their 25 year warranty no matter what happens in the wider solar industry. And 2. LG has an incredible R&D department churning out ground-breaking improvements keeping them at the top in both quality and output year after year. 

Last year LG announced 320 watt panels would be coming and we were fortunate to be one of the first to install these at a beautiful home in Altadena last Spring. This year they have several incredible new announcements:

  1. LG 355 Black on BlackNeon R Panels: This latest generation of LG panels has incorporated rear contacts, so no wire lines showing on the front of the panel. They displayed an impressive 365 watt panel slated to be released in Q1 of 2017! The “R” will also be available with a black backsheet and a 355 watt output capability. With rear contacts and a black backsheet the panel has a seamless sleek look like no other! (see pic)
  2. AC Modules: LG is partnering with Enphase Energy to incorporate Enphase’s newest generation of microinverter into the panel itself, creating an AC solar panel. Panels convert sunlight into direct current (DC), then that current must be converted into alternating current (AC) using an inverter. With the inverter directly on the panel, this will simplify things on the roof a great deal. As the majority of our projects are with Enphase microinverters and LG panels, this is a match made in heaven!  
  3. Bi-Facial Panels: Bi-facial panels have no back sheet, allowing reflected light to hit the panel from underneath when installed above a light surface adding to the output capacity of the panel. They had these on an impressive display showing up to 40% more output than a standard panel with a backsheet. There has been a limited market for bi-facial panels historically. Sometimes you see them on shade structures, but the price point is higher than standard panels. These new LG panels are in a commercial 72-cell format so they are aiming to capture commercial projects that can really bank that extra output capacity. 

 

Enphase Energy Total Rethink

Enphase MicroThe Enphase booth was seriously hoppin’ throughout the expo! Unsurprisingly with a total redesign of their system from the microinverter to the cable and even a special junction box.

  1. IQ 6 Micro:The new system, called IQ, includes the same microinverter guts with a new, double-insulated, polycarbonate case eliminating the need for a ground wire and cutting down significantly on weight and cost. The new IQ inverters will pair with a broader range of panels including 60-cell and 72-cell commercial panels as well as up to 400 watt panels.  
  2. Cable: The new cabling will be lighter and cheaper as well because they are carrying 2 wires compared to the current cable carrying 4 wires. They eliminated the need for a neutral for communications as they will now communicate on the same lines that the energy is transported. They also eliminated the need for a ground wire due to the new polycarbonate case.  
  3. Smart Junction: Lastly they rolled out a junction box wired up for easy installation between the string of panels and the run to the electrical service. 

All of these improvements come together to create a system that includes the microinverters we know and trust at a lower cost with a simpler and quicker installation. 

 

Everest Solar Racking Shares at SPI

EverestThe large majority of Run on Sun’s solar installations are being held together by the great racking products from Everest. This is because their materials are the most solid and well thought out racking product for standard pitched roofs on the market today. Their booth at SPI included a new “shared rail system” which allows two panels to come together on a single rail cutting down on the total number of rails needed for an installation. This system incorporates the same beefy product we trust with a reduced overall cost and installation time on the roof. It also doesn’t hurt that the entire team at Everest Solar Systems are great people and local to SoCal too! 

 

Edisun Dual Axis Tracker - PV Booster

Idealab tracker

Pasadena’s Idealab, an incubator, has been consulting with Jim on a revolutionary new product - the PV Booster - at their start up Edisun. They unveiled their dual axis tracker system at SPI. The system is designed for large flat roofs (and even carports) and potentially can increase output by up to 40% by tracking the sun throughout the day.

We were excited to see the system on display as they have developed quite a bit over the last six months of consulting with Jim. There was a lot of interest in the system at the show and we hope to help move their vision forward by installing some projects using their system locally here in Pasadena in the coming year. 

 

A Solar Wedding

SPIdoEvery year Run on Sun participates in Solar Fred’s Tweetup. It has become an event of close friends and allies. This year was a very special Tweetup as mainstays Pam Cargill and Martin Hamon got hitched in a truly extraordinary ceremony! Pam was walked down the “aisle” by a mascot Sun to the tune of “Here Comes the Sun". The ceremony included as many solar-love metaphors and quips as possible as Reverend Solar Fred officiated. Apologies for my blurry photo but it really was an event to remember. If you have pics to share with the happy couple you can share them on their dropbox here and relive the moment on Twitter with #SPIdo. 

07/13/15

  08:00:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 872 words  
Categories: Energy Storage, Intersolar 2015

Intersolar 2015 Preview

Intersolar North America 2015 (IS) kicks off this week in San Francisco, and as we have for the past several years, Run on Sun will be there to learn, to mingle with the rest of the Solar Tribe, and yes, to party!  Here’s our preview (with more to come after the show).

Coming Attractions?

One of the biggest attractions of IS, the exhibition floor is crammed with every solar-related product and service imaginable (and some you wouldn’t have believed until seen!).  Here are some of the things we are actively looking for as we roam the floor (and it really is a “we” this year as Laurel and Josh will be attending as well!)

Craving for Saving (Energy)

Craving saving energyWe have been writing about, and longing for, viable energy storage solutions for as long as we have been attending IS. While the hype around storage has only grown exponentially since, the number of viable products still remains depressingly thin.  Will this be the show when that finally changes?

Number one on our cross-your-fingers list is the previously announced, but not yet available, storage offering from Enphase Energy.  Given that we have a whole lot of Enphase systems in the field, and a client-base that is rapidly shifting to time-of-use rates, the Enphase product, if it is a product, would be huge.  While the timing would surely be right, our anticipation is amped-up by the knowledge that Enphase will have a booth at IS (a first for them, to our knowledge).

Interestingly, neither SolarCity nor Tesla is listed among the exhibitors as of this morning - I guess we won’t be seeing any Powerwalls on display.

Bigger, Better, Soon?

Beyond storage, manufacturers are always touting their bigger, better products at the show and this year should be no different.  Of particular interest in that regard is the potential release of a slew of new, larger module options coming from our favorite solar panel maker, LG.  We have seen the hints on this front for sometime now as the CEC approved list of LG modules includes units as large as 325 Watts - compared to the LG 305’s which are presently the largest thing we are seeing in distribution.  So will we now have multiple options for higher efficiency, higher output panels from LG?  And if so, when and at what cost? 

Meanwhile, Enphase appears poised to announce a new microinverter product, the S280 (just in time to pair with those higher power LG modules?), as it too now appears on the CEC list.

We know that we have clients eagerly awaiting these developments - watch this space!

Rack me Up!

Racking solutions continue to be an area where the cleverness of the design rarely survives the realities of the roof.  We are constantly exploring new approaches for difficult problems such as viable ballasted systems (that will be accepted by AHJ’s like LA City and County) and structure suppliers for the growing interest in carports, pergolas and the like.  While we have worked with a number of companies in this area, we are still on a quest for solutions that not only look good on paper, but that our installers can grow to love.  We will be prowling the floor of IS with that as our number one must have.

We should note, however, that we remain quite pleased with Everest Solar as our pitched roof solution, and that view was enhanced by the long-awaited release of their UL-2703 listed end and mid-clamps.  The inspectors who have looked at that system on the roof have been quite impressed with it, as are we.

Party Time

It wouldn’t be IS without the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and, hopefully, make some new ones amidst the Solar Tribe.  After all, these are people who work every day to make the world a better, cleaner, more sustainable place.  They are a great bunch of folks and we are honored to be counted among ‘em!

First up is the Tweetup, hosted once again by solar celeb, Tor - @SolarFred - Valenza, with backing from @Enphase, @RECSolar, and @Grid.  This has turned into an annual, and eagerly anticipated event, and we thank in advance Solar Fred and friends for making this happen.

Did you see what they had at XYZ booth?Then comes Summerfest, a huge gathering of folks with lots of different types of food and drink and great views of the downtown San Francisco skyline.  Summerfest is a great place to exchange views of what was on display on the exhibition floor, and to plot strategy for the next day, as in, “Did you see what they had over at the XYZ booth?  It was amazing you have to check it out!”

But it is Wednesday night that really crowns the show.  Starting with the great afterparty/pre-SBOB party thrown by Impress Labs - thanks to Solar Curator Tom Cheyney for hooking us up - we are able to get warmed up for the main event - the Solar Battle of the Bands!  For the first time ever we are heading into the show knowing where are ducats are coming from - thanks to Jessica over at Solar Power World for the connection!

It is going to be a busy week, and we look forward to learning a lot.  Look for our recap of the show next week!

07/10/15

  07:54:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 270 words  
Categories: PWP Rebates, Westridge PAC Project

Enphase Revisits Westridge Solar Project

A little over three years ago (my how time flies), we installed a 52kW solar project at the Westridge School for Girls, here in Pasadena. At the time, the project got a fair amount of attention (including an award from the City), was featured in a video (watch it here), and was the lead story in Enphase Energy’s Summer 2012 Newsletter.

Three years down the road, the folks at Enphase decided to circle back and check-in to see how the Westridge project had performed over the years - both in terms of saving money for the school, as well as being incorporated into the curriculum (another key goal of the project).

Solar on the Roof, Power in the Classroom article

The article, titled — Solar on the Roof, Power in the Classroom — details how the Westridge Solar system has outperformed the modeled performance, producing 105% of the expected yield.  That overproduction actually benefits the school twice: most obviously by lowering the bills that much more, but secondarily, by providing a larger than expected performance-based rebate payment.

Beyond that, however, the system has also proved to be an effective teaching tool, allowing Westridge students to analyze the copious amounts of data provided by the Enphase microinverters through the Enlighten, cloud-based data reporting service.  One science class, for example, was able to discover how analyzing that data could detect the occurrence of a partial solar eclipse.

We are very proud of our partnership with Westridge and we look forward to doing another project with them in the near future.

Likewise, we are grateful for partners like Enphase Energy who are as committed to producing long term solutions as we are.  That is one powerful pairing!

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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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