Micro Inverters versus SolarEdge and why we do not use Micros anymore.
Nine years ago, Enphase Corporation from California introduced one of the first viable micro inverters and it was a big deal. The advantages were huge as no longer did we need to have long strings of 10 modules that suffered greatly when only one was shaded or covered with snow. As well we could now look at the production of each individual module and easily identify an issue. The monitoring was easy to employ with a simple data cable which transmitted production data to a website keeping track of production. Before this detailed monitoring was an expensive option.
That was nine years ago, a lifetime in this industry. Enphase upset the domination of several European manufactures who owned the world-wide inverter market. Several of these companies came out with there versions of micros. One Swiss company jumped into micros and a couple of years later discontinued this offering.
This was telling as one of the major questions of utilizing a microinverter is where it is placed. Micros sit behind the solar module in a hostile environment. Here in Western Montana we know that a summer day can start in the cool 40’s and end up in the 90’s. And up on your roof high afternoon temps are even more extreme. This a big temperature change for the electronics to tolerate on a daily basis.
Other parts of the planet do not see this extreme variation and this is less of a factor. However, the manufactures claim a 25 year warranty. The big question is will these electronics last as claimed. In our experience it is common to see a company with grand claims disappear with insolvency or reorganization saying goodbye to long term liabilities like warranties.
SolarEdge steps in and changes the Inverter world once again.
This inverter system is the next step in the evolution of the inverter. SolarEdge took the advantages of Micros and said goodbye the largest disadvantage of where the electronics do their job. By taking the bulk of the electronics and placing them on a protected wall or even better in a utility space, this reduces the operating temperatures and gives us a longer useful life. A small optimizer with much simplified electronics is placed behind the module and provides all the benefits of micros such as individual module level monitoring.
These inverters operate at an amazing 99% efficiency and have swept the grid tied solar market with a dominate hold of the world inverter market.
We have 450 micros out in the field and we can see some applications for this product yet SolarEdge remains our go to inverter technology.
When possible it’s optimum to size a system for growth. SBS solar typically installs an inverter that can easily handle additional models. Examples of expansion are electric vehicles and air source heat pump‘s.
We are picky when it comes to who’s modules we use. After three decades of working with a good number of manufacturers we developed two main criteria which dominate our selection process. Number one is a company which has staying power. We have seen too many companies come and go, leaving us with a long-term warranty with no one to support the product. A 25-year module warranty is standard in the industry. You cannot operate as a module manufacture without it, whether or not the company will be there. Bankruptcy clears long term commitments unless the company takes actions to cover their warranties.
Number two qualification is a track record of standing behind their product and the companies brand. The two companies we work with are just plain proud of their product. It helps when you talk to workers on the factory Floor who when queried tell me this is the best job they have ever had and you can feel this is more than just a job.
This is why we work with SolarWorld of Hillsboro, Oregon and L.G. from South Korea. Both companies have been around the solar block, have a high-quality product which they are committed to support for the long run.
What module wattage is best and why we work with high power 355 watt or higher modules.
It’s simple really, the more power per module the less space it requires on your roof or mount structure. Lower wattages, especially below 295 watts, cost less yet this cost savings is lost as we need to install more modules to achieve the same total array output. More individual modules increase the number of mounting structure material, optimizers and installation time and costs.
Companies leading the industry put much energy into maximizing cell efficiencies. There are hundreds of solar module manufactures around the world. Like many products today, it is a buyer beware world.
Lifeline Creamery and Farm Store received a REAP grant that will cover almost 25% of their solar electric project.
Do you own a small business in Montana (outside the city limits of Missoula)? The USDA Rural Development, REAP (Rural Energy for America Program) offers up to 25% grants for total eligible project costs, as well as loan guarantees. Partnered with the 30% federal tax credit your savings really add up.
This program helps increase American energy independence by increasing the private sector supply of renewable energy and decreasing the demand for energy through energy efficiency improvements. Over time, these investments can also help lower the cost of energy costs for small businesses and agricultural producers.
- Grants of $20,000 or less: October 31, 2018 and March 31, 2019;
- Unrestricted Grants (up to $500,000): March 31, 2019;
- Loan Guarantees are competed continuously throughout the year.
Don’t miss this unique opportunity to invest in the long term health of your business with an investment in solar energy and energy savings.
Call Dan for a free solar consultation today 406-541-8410.
These photos show the flush mounting system with the rails and attachments before the solar modules are set in place. A south facing roof plane is the most productive yet we also adapt to various roof designs with East, West and South facing roof planes. Every system is unique.
Call Dan for your free solar estimate. 406-381-5643
Often we work with homes that do not have a south facing roof. With the steep cost decline of solar modules and improved efficiencies, East and West facing roof planes are a solid option. An East or West facing roof at a 4/12 pitch produces only 13% less than a south facing array. This loss can be easily compensated with the addition of a module or two.
This 49.8 kW solar electric installation in the heart of Missoula is not just another pretty face this solar electric system works for a living.
It is tax time and this 49.8 kW solar electric installation in the heart of missoula is a working investment. Plan ahead for April 15, 2019. Talk to your accountant.
30% federal tax credit still available in 2018.
State tax credit, $500.00 per tax payer makes this a great time to invest for the long term.
Call SBS Solar today for your free solar estimate. 406-541-8410.
Solar Myth #12 Solar panels require a tracking system to follow the angle of the sun
Fact: Though tracking mechanisms can provide efficiency gains for your solar electric system, they typically do not increase efficiency enough to justify the additional expense and maintenance of moving parts in residential situations. Generally a shade free, fixed roof mount system is he cost most effective installation.
Fact: Solar panels work with light, not heat so it doesn’t matter how cold it gets outside.
Solar Myth # 11 Myth: Solar panels don’t work well in cold climates.
Fact: Solar panels work with light, not heat so it doesn’t matter how cold it gets outside. In fact, solar panels perform better in cooler temperatures than very hot temperatures. Solar panels are built to withstand varying temperatures, and they can produce electricity from indirect light.