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JimSouCal
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Re: Enphase's new RMA system stinks!

Thu May 28, 2015 11:53 am

RegGuheert wrote:To give you an idea of the difference in reliability of the two types, suppose you have an Enphase array on your roof with 50 inverters, similar to my system. If you have the M190 inverters, then you can expect to have approximately one inverter fail every year. OTOH, if you have the M215 inverters, then you would expect to have one failure every 20 years. (While my M190 based system is extremely average with four failures in four years, many are far from average. Some systems have experienced no failures while others have had the equivalent of 5 or more failures each year in a 50-inverter system.
Glad you clarified that newer models are much more reliable, as I am going to install solar shortly and have planned all along on micro inverters, enphase being the leader in this system format, and seemingly ready to have some battery back up in the works to allow a grid tie system to remain online during outages... Sorry your leading edge has led to some bleeding.

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RegGuheert
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Re: Enphase's new RMA system stinks!

Sat May 30, 2015 4:02 pm

RegGuheert wrote:I'll take the old RMA system, thank you.
I received the inverter on Thursday and installed it this morning.

The funny thing is that in spite of the bizarre email I received which I detailed in the OP, the RMA unit (and process) for the unit I installed today was IDENTICAL to the replacement that I did last July: It is exactly the same M190 unit with the same assemblies called out. They even appear to have been built within four months of each other in 2014 (weeks 24 and 38). There also was a return address label insight the shipping envelope on the outside of the unit. The only difference I can see is that the unit installed last July got updated firmware this January. I suspect the new unit will get that newer firmware sometime.

So I have to wonder why they sent the email that they sent. The whole thing is pretty strange given they did not change anything when compared with what they did last July.

Of course, I would have preferred to have received one of the new M190IGs, but that is not my choice to make.
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

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RegGuheert
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Re: Enphase's new RMA system stinks!

Sun May 31, 2015 3:43 am

JimSouCal wrote:Glad you clarified that newer models are much more reliable,...
The details on Enphase reliability are found in this thread.
JimSouCal wrote:...as I am going to install solar shortly and have planned all along on micro inverters, enphase being the leader in this system format, and seemingly ready to have some battery back up in the works to allow a grid tie system to remain online during outages...
FWIW, I do not think Enphase will offer battery backup during outages anytime soon. While the new AC Battery product has been announced, it appears to use a bidirectional version of their normal microinverters called the S275 (to allow for battery charging as well as discharging). I expect the S275 to be grid-interactive just like the M-series inverters: it will drop offline as soon as the grid goes down. To enable standalone operation, Enphase will need to offer an additional capability to both isolate the home from the grid and generate a grid signal to which the inverters can sync.

SolarEdge has string inverter technology with a DC/DC converter at each module to give many of the same features as microinverters, but perhaps with higher reliability (remains to be seen). They are designing a new inverter which will be compatible with Tesla's power wall. That might be an (expensive) option for you if you want battery backup.
JimSouCal wrote:Sorry your leading edge has led to some bleeding.
Thanks. Yeah, the replacements are a bit of a pain. The good news is that Enphase has stood behind these units to date. Hopefully that will continue!
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

Weatherman
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Re: Enphase's new RMA system stinks!

Fri Jun 05, 2015 5:17 am

RegGuheert wrote:The new inverter shipped yesterday with a scheduled arrival date of May 28. Considering I reported the failure on April 29, that's about a 1-month turn around on their part.

On top of all that, it appears they sent me one of the OLD M190s, part #M190-72-240-S12. I wonder where they got it from?

I'll take the old RMA system, thank you.

I just got shipping confirmation on my next, two replacements. They are both the older units (M190-72-240-S12). Serial numbers start with 121401. Three of my other replacements were late 1213 and 1214 serial number units, so, perhaps, these will do ok. Would have preferred to see one of the newer ones with IG and serial numbers in the 1215s, instead. I've already had one case where a replacement failed and had to be replaced. I don't want a repeat of that.
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RegGuheert
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Re: Enphase's new RMA system stinks!

Fri Jun 05, 2015 8:34 am

Weatherman wrote:They are both the older units (M190-72-240-S12). Serial numbers start with 121401.
That was manufactured about 18 months ago. The question I have is "Where are these original-style M190s coming from?" You have received *multiple* M190IGs to date and I received one of those last September. But now we are again receiving the old-style units. The M190 I received last week was apparently manufactured last September, but the two you are getting are twice as old. I suspect they are retrieving old stock from installers and vendors since I'm sure the installers don't want to install them and the vendors don't want to sell them.
Weatherman wrote:Three of my other replacements were late 1213 and 1214 serial number units, so, perhaps, these will do ok.
I'm hopeful these 2014-built M190s contain a different assembly than the original units that we installed. Unfortunately we cannot tell since the original units do not report the version of the assembly that they contain.

I strongly suspect that the failures are related to the attachments of components to the circuit board. Often, a simple change in the design of the solder pads can resolve the issue, but you have to know how to change it. It can be quite an art to correct such problems. Did Enphase make any changes to the M190 design before 2014? Were these changes effective? I guess we will find out in a few years.
Weatherman wrote:Would have preferred to see one of the newer ones with IG and serial numbers in the 1215s, instead. I've already had one case where a replacement failed and had to be replaced. I don't want a repeat of that.
Do you know the date code of the replacement unit which failed?

I, too, would prefer to receive the M190IG replacement units, but only to a point: I now have 12 72-cell panels in my system. With the extremely cold temperatures we have had these past two winters, I am not comfortable using the newer inverters, which have a lower voltage rating, in those 12 locations. If Enphase had fixed whatever issue they had with the M190s by 2014 AND if I eventually get more than 30 M190IGs as replacements, I may end up contacting you to trade some M190IGs for 2014-or-later original-style M190s.
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

Weatherman
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Re: Enphase's new RMA system stinks!

Fri Jun 05, 2015 9:23 am

RegGuheert wrote:Do you know the date code of the replacement unit which failed?
I don't recall what it was, I've had so many replacements, since then. The very first, original one died in October 2013 after only being in operation for 16 months, and it's replacement died in May 2014, so it must have had a 1212 or early 1213 serial number. It could have even been another 1211, given how fast it failed. Perhaps, by late 2013, they got the design sufficiently fixed so that the failure rate was much reduced.

Once all the latest round of replacements are in place, I'll have twelve of the newest, IG units and five of the older type as replacement units. Given the high failure rate of my micros, I've been having my installer do all the work. I don't want to be fiddling around with things, myself, at this point.
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dan2112
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Re: Enphase's new RMA system stinks!

Fri Jun 05, 2015 12:22 pm

RegGuheert wrote:
dan2112 wrote:I have Enphase micro-inverters on my Solar array - how do you determine if one is bad?
Good question!

- First, you need to have an Enphase Envoy unit installed in your system. Nearly every Enphase system has one of these, but you certainly can build a system without one. If you do not have an Envoy, they it will be extremely difficult to find failures.
- If you have an Envoy and it is connected to the Internet, then the data from each of your inverters is uploaded to Enphase's Enlighten website. You can get to this website by clicking on the link in my signature. That will show you MY PUBLIC Enlighten data, which is interesting, but it gives very minimal ability to find failures. To see YOUR failures, you will need to login using the button in the top right of the screen. If you do not know your login credentials, then ask your installer for them.
- Once you login to your site, then click the leftmost tab entitled "View" (which should be the default). Then on the left-hand side of the page use the pull down and pick the top entry under "Energy (Wh)" entitled "Past 7 Days". You will now see each of your inverters in a light blue color with the number of kWH shown in white. If any of the inverters are instead black and display 0 kWH, then you likely have a failure.
- You may also have a failure if you have inverters which are darker than the rest and display a lower number of kWH, but this can also be caused by shading of those panels. Compare the one-week results to the lifetime results to get an idea of whether you are dealing with a failure or shading issues.

Do you know which inverters you have installed? M190s? M380s? M215? M250s? If you do not know, then if any of your inverters are visible from the ground, take a look at the unit. If it is an M190 or M380, then the entire inverter is enclosed in a metal case and therefore has a silvery color. Those are the inverters which some of us are having failures with. If, instead, your inverters have a metal plate, but the main body is black, then you have an M215 or an M250. If that is what you have, then it is extremely unlikely that you have any failures on your roof.

To give you an idea of the difference in reliability of the two types, suppose you have an Enphase array on your roof with 50 inverters, similar to my system. If you have the M190 inverters, then you can expect to have approximately one inverter fail every year. OTOH, if you have the M215 inverters, then you would expect to have one failure every 20 years. (While my M190 based system is extremely average with four failures in four years, many are far from average. Some systems have experienced no failures while others have had the equivalent of 5 or more failures each year in a 50-inverter system.

Thank you for the information - I have 14 panels and all of my micro inverters are M215s - all green (active) and seem to be healthy from a power standpoint.
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Re: Enphase's new RMA system stinks!

Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:50 am

I'm getting ready to call Enphase or the installer that has been helping me with replacements (original installer is out of business). Looking for any advice here before I call. Summary: Originally had 12 of the 380 microinverters (190s doubled - 24 panels). 5 of the 380s have already been replaced with 10 190s. Now 2 more panels are out - 1 more 380 - so I'm at 50% failure rate and it's been 4 years since installation. None of my replacements have needed to be replaced (yet!). I have been paying the labor costs. Does anyone know if Enphase should be paying labor costs for these replacements? I think I can get them to replace the rest all at one time even though the rest have not yet gone bad. I really want replacements with 215s since they are more reliable. What is the chance of that? Would there be a problem of having a mix of 190s and 215s? Other places on the internet state that Enphase is not manufacturing the 190s anymore - so if they are still sending them out then they have been sitting in a warehouse - how is that affecting their lifespan? Do you recommend that I make the call or have the installer do it?


Thanks!!
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Weatherman
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Re: Enphase's new RMA system stinks!

Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:13 am

I've been lucky that my installer is still in business and is willing to swap out replacements at no cost to me (Enphase should be paying them for this). I do initiate contact, myself, to Enhpase, however, to start the RMA process. I've had 18 replacements out of 30, m190s in only three years.

I've found Enphase to be unwilling to authorize a replacement unless a micro is completely dead, or the output has fallen to more than a 10% loss as compared to its nearby neighbors. No replacements of the m190s with m215s. Four of my first replacements looked like the original m190s with, maybe, minor modifications. The next twelve looked like modified m215. They were designated as IG (integrated ground). The last two went back to being m190 look-alikes.

I've only had one replacement die (the very first one). All other replacements have done ok, but they haven't been in service for very long.


So, bottom line... I make the call to Enphase. My installer does the work and Enphase compensates them for it, and, at best, I've been getting "IG", m190 replacements only for micros completely dead or severely degraded. No upgrades to m215s. And, only one of my replacements has died (the first one and it died very quickly).
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JimSouCal
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Re: Enphase's new RMA system stinks!

Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:10 pm

RegGuheert wrote:
JimSouCal wrote:Glad you clarified that newer models are much more reliable,...
The details on Enphase reliability are found in this thread.
JimSouCal wrote:...as I am going to install solar shortly and have planned all along on micro inverters, enphase being the leader in this system format, and seemingly ready to have some battery back up in the works to allow a grid tie system to remain online during outages...
FWIW, I do not think Enphase will offer battery backup during outages anytime soon. While the new AC Battery product has been announced, it appears to use a bidirectional version of their normal microinverters called the S275 (to allow for battery charging as well as discharging). I expect the S275 to be grid-interactive just like the M-series inverters: it will drop offline as soon as the grid goes down. To enable standalone operation, Enphase will need to offer an additional capability to both isolate the home from the grid and generate a grid signal to which the inverters can sync.

SolarEdge has string inverter technology with a DC/DC converter at each module to give many of the same features as microinverters, but perhaps with higher reliability (remains to be seen). They are designing a new inverter which will be compatible with Tesla's power wall. That might be an (expensive) option for you if you want battery backup.
Thanks for the suggestion. I went and read up on Solar Edge... Not so sure that waiting on Tesla PowerWall is a good strategy...

I conceptually understand the grid tie inverters needed a "grid" signal, etc. It frustrates me to think of having a large solar array that is useless when the power is out, and others have the workaround to get a relatively small back up signal to get the array production back, and allow load balancing based on solar output and high insolation...

Getting off topic here... When I have better thinking and information in my own mindscape, I'll start a new thread maybe... Thanks again...

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