ELROY
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Solar Edge Optimizers?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:08 am

Does anyone know the truth about these Solar Edge optimizers?

http://solaredgevsenphase.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Supposedly will allow much higher energy yield than the 215 watt Enphase limit.
Still offer some shade mitigation.
Most importantly do not contain the vulnerable electrolytic capacitors.

How are the quality of components in the 5KW system, which is $8599 or $1.71/watt (+ Labor)
Complete with racks, optimizers, 5Kw inverter, monitoring system, etc.

http://www.solarhome.com/perlight-solar-super-sale.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

How much can one expect to pay for labor. Someone said about $1 watt labor, which would make this whole system $2.71 watt/ installed.

On the other hand, I have found several vendors on Ebay that offer ~240 watt panels for about $200 each shipped.
Some are grade A, UL Listed, etc. Some are not, which I believe will preclude them from some of the rebates/credits.

Image


Being that I can get about 5760 watts of grade "A" Upsolar panels (24 qty) for $4032 + shipping),
How much can I expect to pay for everything else such as racks, cables, etc.

I Guess a central inverter can be had for about $2000, or 24 M215 Enphase Micros for about $3600. However, do the 215 watt max of the Enphase Microinverters really create less power than these optimiziers Solaredge is promoting?

I wonder how much the Solaredge Optimizers cost per panel. Wondering if that $8599 5kw Solarhome deal (pts only), is really that good considering I can get panels for approx $4032.

Here is a desription of the UpSolar panels I am leaning towards..

http://www.ebay.com/itm/26-240w-solar-p ... 27d18f75ba" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

..Just not sure if all that racking/central invertor/optimiziers/package is worth the extra $4500 from Solarhome.com.
Last edited by ELROY on Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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RegGuheert
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Re: Solar Edge Optimizers?

Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:33 am

ELROY wrote:Supposedly will allow much higher energy yield than the 215 watt Enphase limit.
I doubt it. Perhaps if you live in a very cold climate and are installing panels larger than 260W this might be an issue. Otherwise, it appears the Enphase M215s are more efficient.
ELROY wrote:Most importantly do not contain the vulnerable electrolytic capacitors.
Are you sure the M215 contains electrolytic capacitors? I do not know the answer, but I have read a statement (that I cannot verify) that the architecture in the M215s is different than the M190s and has allowed the electrolytics to be eliminated:
Just to add to the mix, newer Enphase units has dumped the controversial large low voltage electrolytics across the panel voltage in favor of the industry trend of putting non-polarized caps (with higher reliability record) on the high voltage booster. So you need to track the particular model.
Even Solar Edge does not claim this benefit.

I will point out that the Solar Edge central inverter almost certainly contains electrolytic capacitors and it is a single-point failure for the entire system.
RegGuheert
2011 Leaf SL Demo vehicle
10K mi. on 041413; 20K mi. (55.7Ah) on 080714; 30K mi. (52.0Ah) on 123015; 40K mi. (49.8Ah) on 020817; 50K mi. (47.2Ah) on 120717; 60K mi. (43.66Ah) on 091918.
Enphase Inverter Measured MTBF: M190, M215, M250, S280

AndyH
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Location: San Antonio

Re: Solar Edge Optimizers?

Thu Apr 11, 2013 12:03 am

Elroy, I have a couple of questions for you:

- Will you have any shade challenges with your array?
- Have you gotten estimates from other installers that use different system architectures (microinverters, central inverter, optimizer+central)?
- Do you trust that your installer and/or the company will be around in 25 years to honor the warranty?
- How responsive is the company to warranty claims? (Contact them - pose as a customer with a bad part and see how you're handled.)

I agree with Reg on the capacitor issue. I haven't seen anything that says that Enphase M215s use electrolytic caps. This is a hot-button item in the inverter industry and it's in the advertising copy for the 'upstart' companies that are juggling/fighting each other for market share. All systems have weaknesses - don't get too caught up in the garbage if you get good service and your gut says the company or your installer will take care of you.

Good hunting!
"The stupid become extinct."-Bill Mollison
2018 Outlander PHEV
2015 smart Electric Drive (lease ended Feb, 2018)
OpenEVSE Plus DIY

ELROY
Posts: 292
Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:36 pm
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Location: Camarillo, CA

Re: Solar Edge Optimizers?

Sat Apr 13, 2013 9:15 am

How do these Power One Microinverters compare to the Enphase in price/quality?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... E34Werkxe8" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;



http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... 0YizITsAL0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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RegGuheert
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Re: Solar Edge Optimizers?

Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:55 am

Benefits of Enphase M215:

- 25-year warranty (versus 10)
- Lower cost (~$145 versus ~$180)
- Right power rating (215W versus 250W or 250W)
- Monitor capability up to 120 panels (versus 30)
- NEMA 6 enclosure (versus NEMA 4X)
- Established reliability (versus ?)
- Easy one-screw mounting (versus 2)

Benefits of Power One microinverter:

- Higher output power 250W or 300W (versus 215W)

Note that higher output power is both a benefit and a drawback. Not only does a more powerful inverter cost more, but it will also be less efficient unless it is used with a panel that consistently puts out close to the peak power of the inverter. So the higher output power capability of the Power One microinverter will be valuable with 260W or larger PV panels if used at high altitudes and/or in a cold climate. For 250W or smaller PV panels at sea level and in warmer climates, the Enphase M215 (which puts out up to ~225W) should produce (slightly) more electricity at a lower cost.

I do not like that the Power One microinverter cantilevers the PV connectors off the case. The problem here is that the electrical connections can be stressed and potentially damaged by the high forces needed to plug/unplug MC4 connectors. Enphase used this approach in early concepts but has since abandoned it in favor of pigtails. I suppose Power One may address the stress issue somehow internal to the package, but I cannot tell.
RegGuheert
2011 Leaf SL Demo vehicle
10K mi. on 041413; 20K mi. (55.7Ah) on 080714; 30K mi. (52.0Ah) on 123015; 40K mi. (49.8Ah) on 020817; 50K mi. (47.2Ah) on 120717; 60K mi. (43.66Ah) on 091918.
Enphase Inverter Measured MTBF: M190, M215, M250, S280

ELROY
Posts: 292
Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:36 pm
Delivery Date: 27 Oct 2012
Leaf Number: 023406
Location: Camarillo, CA

Re: Solar Edge Optimizers?

Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:24 am

RegGuheert wrote:Benefits of Enphase M215:

- 25-year warranty (versus 10)
- Lower cost (~$145 versus ~$180)
- Right power rating (215W versus 250W or 250W)
- Monitor capability up to 120 panels (versus 30)
- NEMA 6 enclosure (versus NEMA 4X)
- Established reliability (versus ?)
- Easy one-screw mounting (versus 2)

Benefits of Power One microinverter:

- Higher output power 250W or 300W (versus 215W)

Note that higher output power is both a benefit and a drawback. Not only does a more powerful inverter cost more, but it will also be less efficient unless it is used with a panel that consistently puts out close to the peak power of the inverter. So the higher output power capability of the Power One microinverter will be valuable with 260W or larger PV panels if used at high altitudes and/or in a cold climate. For 250W or smaller PV panels at sea level and in warmer climates, the Enphase M215 (which puts out up to ~225W) should produce (slightly) more electricity at a lower cost.

I do not like that the Power One microinverter cantilevers the PV connectors off the case. The problem here is that the electrical connections can be stressed and potentially damaged by the high forces needed to plug/unplug MC4 connectors. Enphase used this approach in early concepts but has since abandoned it in favor of pigtails. I suppose Power One may address the stress issue somehow internal to the package, but I cannot tell.
I am leaning towards the Enphase because of their proven track record. I had not even heard of the Power One Microinverters till yesterday when I was looking at Solartec USA on Ebay was pushing this microverter with their Telaphase 280 watt panels. But it looks like you might even need more connectors to make it work. Incidentally, Power One headquarters just happens to be located in my city of Camarillo.

Also, with a 240-250 watt panels, do the M215 microinverters just "lose" anything over 215 watts? Are others actually getting the 225watts mentioned here also? If so. with a 240-250watt panel, isn't the 225watts about the max you would get AC anyways?

It looks like "B" grade panels aren't entitled to the .20 cents/watt California Rebate...but I think they will pass Federal Tax deduction requirements.

On the other hand those UpSolar panels I am leaning towards are "A" grade, but I don't see the UL listing on them. The vender said they are on the list of approved panels though. I wish I could confirm that.


So far the best prices I have found on Ebay are:

$180 each for the 240watt Poly UpSolar Panels
$149 each for the M215 Microinverters
$485 for the Enphase Envoy.
$28 Each for the M215 Portrait Trunk Cable

Any other sources for good deals on the Enphase Products?

If I supply my own parts for the job, am I still okay with all the rebates/tax deductions as long as I keep the receipts?
If I purchase all these parts, do I have to install them all by the end of the year to get credit? Or does it not matter when I actually purchase them since the timetable starts with the permit application/installation/finish of the entire job?

AndyH
Posts: 6388
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:43 pm
Location: San Antonio

Re: Solar Edge Optimizers?

Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:07 am

RegGuheert wrote:I do not like that the Power One microinverter cantilevers the PV connectors off the case. The problem here is that the electrical connections can be stressed and potentially damaged by the high forces needed to plug/unplug MC4 connectors. Enphase used this approach in early concepts but has since abandoned it in favor of pigtails. I suppose Power One may address the stress issue somehow internal to the package, but I cannot tell.
Maybe I'm missing something here, Reg - can you explain why you suggest MC4 connectors have high connect/disconnect forces? My panels use MC4 connectors - one finger and one thumb on each side for dry assembly is overkill. ;) When unplugging, one inserts the disconnect tool and holds the tool and one connector while tugging the other connector. A bit of silicone-based grease on the o-ring during initial assembly should make for very easy disconnects in 5 years when it's time to replace the first couple if inverters. ;)

Bulkhead connectors are fastened to the case/box/bulkhead, but the electrical connectors inside are not. In other words, any connector stress is passed to the case and not the wiring. Unless you think the company is using a special bulkhead connector with hard connections to a PCB?

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product ... 30167.html
"The stupid become extinct."-Bill Mollison
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QueenBee
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Re: Solar Edge Optimizers?

Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:01 am

ELROY wrote: Also, with a 240-250 watt panels, do the M215 microinverters just "lose" anything over 215 watts? Are others actually getting the 225watts mentioned here also? If so. with a 240-250watt panel, isn't the 225watts about the max you would get AC anyways?

It looks like "B" grade panels aren't entitled to the .20 cents/watt California Rebate...but I think they will pass Federal Tax deduction requirements.

On the other hand those UpSolar panels I am leaning towards are "A" grade, but I don't see the UL listing on them. The vender said they are on the list of approved panels though. I wish I could confirm that.


So far the best prices I have found on Ebay are:

$180 each for the 240watt Poly UpSolar Panels
$149 each for the M215 Microinverters
$485 for the Enphase Envoy.
$28 Each for the M215 Portrait Trunk Cable

Any other sources for good deals on the Enphase Products?

If I supply my own parts for the job, am I still okay with all the rebates/tax deductions as long as I keep the receipts?
If I purchase all these parts, do I have to install them all by the end of the year to get credit? Or does it not matter when I actually purchase them since the timetable starts with the permit application/installation/finish of the entire job?
I don't yet have experience with 250 watt panels on M215s yet but basically what will happen is the microinverter will clip right at 215 watts AC output, so on your graphs you would see a period of time when output was completely flat. On my 230 watt panels in Washington rarely do I have get to 200 watts output so I'm really hoping that my new 250 watt panels will just barely be able to clip them.

I think a couple considerations for the clipping is that in the middle of summer the heat will cause the panel output to decrease so clipping will be less likely. Clipping will be more likely during the cooler sunny days of spring. The major benefit of a larger panel on a M215 is even though there might be some lost production from the clipping the rest of the time you are going to get more output since the panel is more efficient. I don't know how to properly calculate the cost of the loss from clipping compared to the increase production the rest of the time.

Then some other factors to consider. The CEC PTC rating for the CS6P-250P is 227.6 watts DC and the peak inverter efficiency is 96.3 percent so if you don't include things like panel soiling, not perfect southern orientation, not perfect tilt, minor loss on the wire, etc. that means 227.6 x .963 is 219.2 watts AC. I'm not sure if this is a correct way to look at the situation but it seems logical. Based on this under perfect conditions you are only going to be losing 1.9 percent due to clipping. But the rest of the time when you aren't clipping you are going to be producing more.

I don't know the specific of the California rebates but when you started asking about DIY earlier I browsed through all the stuff on the internet and didn't see any indications that DIY would pose any problem. It certainly does not pose a problem for the federal rebate. The federal rebate is pretty open as far as restrictions on what you can and cant' do.

I think if you didn't put the system into service until the following year you would just wait until it was put into service for the federal credit, not sure how the timing for the the California rebate works.

MotherNatureSolar might be listening and jump in with some more information on the California rebate questions. If not he's been very helpful via discussions I've had with him over email.

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RegGuheert
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Re: Solar Edge Optimizers?

Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:14 am

ELROY wrote:I am leaning towards the Enphase because of their proven track record. I had not even heard of the Power One Microinverters till yesterday when I was looking at Solartec USA on Ebay was pushing this microverter with their Telaphase 280 watt panels. But it looks like you might even need more connectors to make it work. Incidentally, Power One headquarters just happens to be located in my city of Camarillo.
I agree that at 280W the Power One might make the most sense, but I wonder if they really only offer a 10-year warranty. That's pretty low for a microinverter, IMO.
ELROY wrote:Also, with a 240-250 watt panels, do the M215 microinverters just "lose" anything over 215 watts?
Yes, the output power is hard limited to no more than about 225W.
ELROY wrote:Are others actually getting the 225watts mentioned here also?
Yes, that is what people get from the M215 when it is limited. We get about 199 from the M190s we have. We see this occasionally in the wintertime with the 235W panels we use them with.
ELROY wrote:If so. with a 240-250watt panel, isn't the 225watts about the max you would get AC anyways?
Yes, that's the point. You will probably never limit the output of a 240W panel using an M215 microinverter. With a 250W panel, you might limit a couple of times a year, if that. Keep in mind that the peak efficiency of the inverter is 96.3%, so the panel would need to put out over 233W to hit the 225W limit. In order to produce 233W from a 250W panel the sun needs to be near the boresight of the panel and it needs to be quite cool. For a house like ours with a south-facing roof, the sun only gets really close to the boresight in the spring and fall. In wintertime, it needs to be even colder for the limit to be reached.
ELROY wrote:Any other sources for good deals on the Enphase Products?
A Google search gave $142, but I don't know how much shipping is.
ELROY wrote:If I supply my own parts for the job, am I still okay with all the rebates/tax deductions as long as I keep the receipts?
That's what we did. But we only dealt with the federal rebate and my local (tiny) utility.
ELROY wrote:If I purchase all these parts, do I have to install them all by the end of the year to get credit?
Yes. It is tied to when your array enters service. My understanding is that the federal government considers all purchases to have happened in the year when the system enters service.
ELROY wrote:Or does it not matter when I actually purchase them since the timetable starts with the permit application/installation/finish of the entire job?
Service entry date for the federal tax credit.
AndyH wrote:Maybe I'm missing something here, Reg - can you explain why you suggest MC4 connectors have high connect/disconnect forces? My panels use MC4 connectors - one finger and one thumb on each side for dry assembly is overkill. ;) When unplugging, one inserts the disconnect tool and holds the tool and one connector while tugging the other connector. A bit of silicone-based grease on the o-ring during initial assembly should make for very easy disconnects in 5 years when it's time to replace the first couple if inverters. ;)
If you use only MultiConnect brand (or any single brand) MC4s for everything I think your experience is typical. So anyone building a string of panels will likely have good experiences mating/demating MC4s. However, PV panels and microinverters are made by different companies and the chances that they use MC4 connectors from the same manufacturer is pretty low. My experience with Sharp panels and Enphase microinverters is that one way (like male PV, female microinverter) they go together fine, but the other direction is nearly impossible to mate or demate. It's particularly challenging to do it when the connections are being made underneath the panel.
AndyH wrote:Bulkhead connectors are fastened to the case/box/bulkhead, but the electrical connectors inside are not. In other words, any connector stress is passed to the case and not the wiring. Unless you think the company is using a special bulkhead connector with hard connections to a PCB?

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product ... 30167.html
I'll just say that the mating force for some of these connections is MASSIVE. The fact that Enphase moved from bulkead connectors to pigtails makes me think they had some sort of problem with them.

One other problem with bulkhead connectors is that the nut is inaccessible once the case is sealed. If the connector gets rotated, it may be impossible to retighten it without damaging the internal connections.
RegGuheert
2011 Leaf SL Demo vehicle
10K mi. on 041413; 20K mi. (55.7Ah) on 080714; 30K mi. (52.0Ah) on 123015; 40K mi. (49.8Ah) on 020817; 50K mi. (47.2Ah) on 120717; 60K mi. (43.66Ah) on 091918.
Enphase Inverter Measured MTBF: M190, M215, M250, S280

ELROY
Posts: 292
Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:36 pm
Delivery Date: 27 Oct 2012
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Location: Camarillo, CA

Re: Solar Edge Optimizers?

Sun Apr 14, 2013 12:14 pm

Excellent info everyone. I have seen $149 shipped on the M215 on Ebay. $130 inverter would be awesome, but if they charge $20 ea to ship, then it comes out to the same anyways.

At first I was just going to get a 110v 1000watt grid tie inverter for $200. Would be simple enough to plug it into your wall outlet. I figure to start with, it would be interesting to see how feeding about 500-800 watts back into the wall would reduce my bill. But it seems these units aren't that reliable. They have island protection, MMPT, etc. However, I would get no advantage to net metering with the utility by using unappoved devices.

Image


Image

Besides, if I want to start with trying to offset some of my usage during sunshine hours, the M215 would work just as well plugged into one of my 240v outlets. I am assuming it doesn't matter if I am feeding back 240v, it should directly offset any 120volt appliances being used in the house watt for watt??

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