Tag: "m215"

11/07/18

  07:17:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 704 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Residential Solar, Solar Repairs

Enphase announces Upgrade Program for Early Adopters...

One of the nagging concerns in the solar industry is what to do about those aging legacy systems?  As systems age there can be reliability issues and finding compatible parts can be a real issue in a fast moving technology environment like solar power.  Given all of that, we are pleased to announce the Enphase Update Program for Enphase Early Adopters.  There is a lot to this program, including three distinct upgrade paths, so let’s break it down step-by-step…

Who is Eligible?

This program is dedicated to the earliest adopters of Enphase microinverters, specifically the M175, D380, M190, and M210 models.  (Of the eligible microinverter models, Run on Sun only ever installed the M210.)  System owners that have M215’s, M250’s, or S280 microinverters are not eligible for this program.

Enphase M210 microinverter Enphase M215 microinverter
The Enphase M210 qualifies for the upgrade… While the subsequent generation M215 does not.

What are My Options?

There are three upgrade paths with varying benefits, costs, and timing, however, all three offer full 25-year product warranties and a two year service agreement. The three options are: Microinverter Upgrade, Full-System Upgrade, and Next-Generation Upgrade - let’s take them one at a time.

Microinverter Upgrade

The most cost-effective option is the Microinverter Upgrade because it takes advantage of your existing solar panels that are likely still in good shape.  This upgrade provides all of the following:

  • New Enphase IQ7-PD - the latest generation microinverter, powered down to be compatible with existing, earlier generation systems.
  • New interconnection cable
  • New IQ Envoy with both production and consumption energy measuring devices* (CTs).

Legacy owners can purchase this equipment directly from Enphase for just $67.50/panel - a really great price.  Removal and re-installation labor will vary widely based on various factors including the difficulty of the roof, the quality of the original installation, and whatever upgrades need to be done, probably on the order of $150/panel.

*Note that not all systems will be able to do consumption monitoring depending on the existing service panel configuration.

Full-System Upgrade

When microinverters like the M210 were being installed, available panel wattage was much lower than today, but with the advent of electric vehicles, homeowners are in need of more energy than ever.  The Full-System Upgrade provides a way to gain from today’s higher power modules, but in a cost-effective manner.

Solaria-Enphase AC module

Enphase Energized Solaria PowerXT-AC Modules

This upgrade path involves the Enphase Energized Solaria PowerXT-AC Module, which has an Enphase IQ7+ microinverter integrated onto the Solaria module. (You can see an image of the Solaria modules on the left.)

 The module has a power production of 295 Watts, substantially greater than what was available for legacy modules.   The cost to the homeowner for this upgrade path is $469/panel, which includes the AC module, cabling, and the Envoy for monitoring.  

Labor costs for this upgrade path are likely to be substantially higher, in part due to the need for new racking (the module dimensions are somewhat unusual - 63.8″ x 43.9″ - which could necessitate a racking change), changes in the sizing of the branch circuits, and the need to pull permits for the new system.  Those factors are mitigated somewhat by the upgrade cost most likely qualifying for the federal 30% tax credit since it is an all new system, as opposed to the Microinverter Upgrade, that won’t.

Next-Generation Upgrade

Finally, the last upgrade option is to wait for the rollout of the Enphase IQ8 microinverter system.  (You can read about what the IQ8 technology will provide here.)  Unfortunately, there is no pricing information available yet for that upgrade path, and its availability is not until sometime in 2019 - probably the second quarter at the earliest.

What Happens if I do Nothing?

If your system is working fine, you don’t really have a need to do anything.  However, these earlier microinverters came with a 15-year warranty, which means that more than half of that warranty period has expired.  Moreover, particularly compared to the M190’s, the newest Enphase microinverters have significantly greater reliability (Enphase claims by an order of magnitude), so you would be upgrading to a more reliable product and extending your warranty protection by 25 years.

We will post again when we have more information regarding the Next-Generation, IQ8  upgrade.  In the meantime, if you have questions about upgrading, please give us a call.

 

 

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07/17/13

  10:02:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 1171 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar News, Commercial Solar, Intersolar 2013

Intersolar 2013 - Enphase Rules with Gen 4

The most important announcement of the show came from our friends over at Enphase Energy who rolled out their 4th Generation microinverter as well as some intriguing upgrades to their Enlighten data visualization web service.  Both have great potential - but will the AHJs go along?

Debuting at Number One

As Enphase prepared to roll-out their new microinverter, they did so against a backdrop of dramatic market news driven by their existing products.  IHS Research  reported that Enphase was the number one inverter supplier in the Americas during 2012, capturing an astonishing 53.5% market share!  Pretty impressive for a relatively young company whose product was dismissed out-of-hand by traditional inverter manufacturers just a few years ago.  Of course, now all of those traditional inverter manufacturers are scrambling to bring their own microinverters to market - a novel twist on the old adage, “First they laugh at you, then they copy you, then you eat their lunch.”

At the same time, GTM Research reported that the Enlighten monitoring system was named “the #1 monitoring provider globally among power electronics vendors for PV markets.” Collectively, the company has shipped over 3.3 million units around the globe - so their new product introduction was an eagerly awaited event.

Enphase did not disappoint - enter the M250.

M250 Takes the Stage

Enphase M250I know what you are saying - that’s an M215!  No, not quite.  For one thing, on the end where it is sitting is a label that proudly identifies it as the M250.  Here’s another clue: the Enphase name and logo are now laser etched into the metal surface instead of the (more colorful) silkscreen used for the M215.  The M250 has more mounting holes than the M215, although only one is needed.  The M250 weighs a tad more than its older brother.

But the biggest difference of all is something the M250 does not have - a grounding lug!  The M250 features what Enphase is calling Integrated Grounding and it means that you do not need to run a Grounding Electrode Conductor (GEC) from inverter to inverter - are you listening, LA Building and Safety?

Ok, so how can this be?  In the M215, the positive conductor was bonded to ground through a Ground Fault Detection/Interruption circuit - which meant that the metal case of the microinverter was also grounded and from that point it needed to be connected back to the system’s grounding electrode via a GEC.  Hence the need for a grounding lug on the M215 and the routing of a #8 conductor (#6 in LA - yikes!) between each unit.  Needless to say, this increased cost (especially in LA) and upped the trip hazard on the roof.

The M250 changes all of that - take a look:

M250 internal wiringNow the solar module is ungrounded and the M250 operates under the NEC provisions - 690.35 & 690.41 - governing ungrounded arrays.  According to Enphase:

[S]ince the M250 isolates the DC conductors from ground, only a simpler Equipment Grounding Conductor (EGC) is required.  The EGC is provided within the Engage Cable system, which connects seamlessly to the AC power system outpout of the microinverter.

Also new to the M250 is the Insulation Monitor (IM), which measures the insulation resistance of the DC circuit with respect to ground… [thus] the M250 detects ground faults in either the DC positive or negative conductor of the PV module.  Together these features offer greater safety than previously possible in any inverter technology.

So, with one stroke, Enphase is doing away with the need for the cumbersome and expensive GEC and eliminating the possibility of disastrous arc fault events!  These are important safety considerations that will surely help the M250 move into more small-to-mid-sized commercial installations.

As with the M215, the M250 can operate in either 240 or 208 (3-phase) configurations - the much sought after 480 volt solution is still a ways off.  The M250 operates at a CEC weighted efficiency of 96.5% at 240 volts (a half percentage point better than the M215) and 96% at 208.  It is intended to operate with 60-cell modules up to 300 Watts which makes it a fine choice for LG’s NeoN modules.  The M250 is actually rated at 240 Watts continuous (250 Watts peak, hence the product designation) which means that you can install 16 M250s on a single 240 volt branch circuit, protected by a 20 amp breaker.

Envision This

Although the M250 rollout was the big news, Enphase also debuted a major rework of their Enlighten monitoring system.  Although still in beta, the new  visualization service - called MyEnlighten - is intended to take the large amounts of data gathered by the Envoy system and turn it into something more user friendly.  We signed up for the beta and here’s how it looks:

MyEnlightenInstead of seeing a panel-by-panel display - a visualization that will still be available to installers for trouble shooting - the new display lets you see how your system is performing overall and over time.

The bottom row of blue squares represents the present month with each square a given day.  The lighter the shading the more energy that was produced that day.  What jumps out is the black square - that represents today’s energy taken at 7:00 a.m. and hence very little to show so far.  The other two darker blue squares represent days when clouds and even rain were present here in Pasadena - and the system tells you what the weather was that day so you have the proper context in which to evaluate your system’s performance.

The display also allows you to present a variety of different energy equivalents - here we have chosen to compare our energy production against what it takes to illuminate the Eiffel Tower.  On July 16, this system produced enough energy to light the Eiffel tower for 95 minutes - and over the lifetime of the system it has produced enough energy to light it for 46 nights!

The new system integrates with social media and allows system installers to include information about the system and their company helping to make it a co-branded marketing tool as well as an educational platform.  We are looking forward to sharing this system with our clients.

Enphase’s Intersolar performance argues that the company - far from resting on its laurels, or its number 1 position in the market share rankings - is working hard to build on its explosive growth.  It remains far ahead of its johnny-come-lately competitors and without a superior product from them, why would anyone jump ship from Enphase?

In our view, Enphase has only two real threats facing it: a sudden batch of product failures and the dumping of cut-rate inverters from China into the US market.  As to the former, Enphase is doing all that it can to prevent it from happening, noting that more than a million product testing hours went into the new M250.

As to the latter, there is little that Enphase can do and it raises the question: what will we as an industry learn from our experience succumbing to the siren song of cheap solar modules?  That is a topic for another day.

This day, and Intersolar, belonged to Enphase without even having a booth - a dollar savings that will go straight to their investors’ bottom line.

06/12/11

  11:04:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 321 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power

Why is the Enphase M215 So HOT?

Enphase M215 micro-inverter

The newest micro-inverter from Enphase Energy - the M215 - is now available and we believe that this will be one hot product.

We have been fans of Enphase micro-inverters for some time and we have installed numerous Enphase systems, particularly at shady sites.  We liked how the independence of each panel/inverter helped boost energy yield, we were dazzled by the brilliant monitoring abilities of the system, and we were real fans of the 15-year warranty (compared to the standard 10-year warranty on string inverters.)

So why do we think the new model will be such a step up?  First and foremost is the upgrade on the warranty to 25 years!  No other inverter manufacturer offers anything comparable as their standard warranty.  This means that the key components of the array - the solar panels and the inverters - will now have warranties of identical duration.  We believe this is a huge step forward in building client confidence in the fundamental reliability of solar power systems.

Second, the M215 has improved its CEC efficiency rating to 96% making it the match of any of the popular string inverters.

Third, the M215 should be easier to install as it now only requires a single bolt to attach it to the array racking and its new cabling system should allow for a smoother installation process which will help to drive down costs.

Finally, the M215 is compatible with some of the more powerful solar panels out there, such as the Suntech 225.  We believe that the pairing of the Suntech panels with the M215 will be a great fit for many of our residential and smaller commercial clients.

Put it altogether and we believe that the Enphase M215 has the potential to be a real game-changer.  If you have been wondering when would be the right time to add solar to your home or business, the M215 is one more reason why the right time to add solar is NOW!

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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