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Directory:Micro-Inverter System by Enphase Energy
Enphase Micro-Inverters turn solar panels into modular systems, optimizing each, increasing the net energy harvest by 5 to 25 percent. One of the biggest advantages is that this enables a person to install just a few solar panels (even just one), then add to the system later as they can afford more, without worrying about having to match system components.
The micro-inverters by Enphase Energy hook individually to each solar panel, maximizing its output, and converting its DC power into grid-ready AC power. Each panel with micro-inverter can be connected in parallel with other panels in the system, rather than in series. This makes it easy to wire the system using standard 14-gauge wires. This also enables the mixing and matching of various sizes and outputs of panels, and enables the system to work even when one module might go down or drop in output. The web-based control panel informs the user if an individual panel may be under-performing, usually due to debris on the panel.
The micro-inverters thus enable a gradual deployment of solar power, beginning with just a few panels, then adding more as the homeowner can afford to enlarge the solar array.
Overall, the system costs are lower with the Enphase Micro-Inverters, while the solar energy production efficiency is improved.
The Enphase system includes the revolutionary Micro-inverter, communications and web-based analytics and visualization. This integrated system maximizes energy harvest by solar panels, increases system reliability, and simplifies design, installation and management.
Their first product handles most individual solar panels available today, with output up to 215 Watts.
Their solar energy management systems are designed for residential and commercial markets and are widely available through leading solar installers and distribution partners. Presently they are only certified for the U.S. and Canadian markets, but they are in process of getting certification for the European markets as well.
- Download (13 Mb; mp3) - On Sept. 29, 2008, Sterling D. Allan conducted a live, 1-hour interview with Raghu Belur, VP of Marketing, Co-fournder of Enphase Energy as part of the Free Energy Now radio series.
The company began selling its micro-inverters commercially, primarily to installers.
Beta testing began, with a total of 1000 units installed by the end of the one-year testing phase.
How it Works
1. The current version of our product works with modules that are rated up to 215W STC. This covers most of the modules available today. As higher power modules become available, we will release product to support those power ratings. Our technology scales well for higher wattage modules.
2. Our inverters are rated to operate from -25degC to +65degC at full continuous power. We test our systems in the lab to run from -60degC to +90 degC. Our components are rated to operate in these conditions. As part of our design testing we run Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT) on our units to determine failure points. Furthermore, our micro-inverters are rated for NEMA6 which means they can operate completely submerged under water for extended periods of time.
3. Our inverters have an expected Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) of 119 years. We achieve these reliability numbers by high degree of integration. Our device has very small parts count since most of the control is done by our custom semi-conductor chip. We have about 2.5 Million unit hours in the field and it is corroborating our theoretical and empirical MTBF data. As part of our design and manufacturing test we run accelerated stress test (HASS) to capture any early failures before they are deployed in the field. In the unlikely event of a failure, replacing the inverter is very simple, it is held down by two bolts to the racking system. Finally, we guarantee any loss in energy production up to a month in the event of a failure.
4. Large inverters fail because their MTBF is very low. They are switching very high voltages (600V) and are processing much higher powers thereby subjecting them to worse thermal stresses. They also constitute a single point of system failure. These problems are completely eliminated by the micro-inverter technology.
5. Previous versions failed due to reliability problems. These problems were due to very low power conversion efficiency and thereby causing excessive heat loss in the device and hence making them less reliable. The best efficiency that was achieved with the older models was about 89 - 90%. Our products have an efficiency of 95%. This is greater than a number of traditional inverters. Our thermal losses are better than traditional inverters operating in an indoor environment!
Our customers are very excited about our product. We have shipped thousands of units thus far. I would be happy to speak with Richard if you would like.
The Enphase Micro-inverter system is a fully integrated device that converts the DC output of a single solar module into grid-compliant AC power. This integrated system maximizes energy harvest, increases system reliability, and simplifies design, installation and management.
The inverters are connected to 240V line-to-line, split phase, and the neutral is used for the communication network.
The Energy Management Unit is the communications gateway device which relays performance statistics from the Micro-inverters to the Enphase Enlighten™ website. Each EMU can currently manage a maximum of 180 Micro-inverters in the 240V split-phase model, and multiple EMUs can be used for each installation. A 240V split-phase branch can have a maximum of 16 Micro-inverters, equivalent to a maximum of 11 AC branches if those branches are fully populated.
The module performance information generated by each Micro-inverter is collected by the Enphase communications gateway called the Energy Management Unit (EMU). The EMU then transmits this data over a broadband internet connection to the Enphase Enlighten™ website.
Following are the maximum Micro-inverters per branch circuit:
- 240V split-phase power - 16 Micro-inverters per branch circuit
- 208V three-phase power - 24 Micro-inverters per branch circuit
- There can be an unlimited number of branch circuits per installation.
The Enphase Enlighten website analyzes the per-module data collected by each Micro-inverter. Enlighten automatically detects any shortfall in energy production, identifies possible causes, and suggests solutions to correct the problem. The Enphase Enlighten website is constantly monitoring and managing every module on every installation.
All Enphase user-interface elements are accessed via a common, Internet web-browser, but require a broadband connection.
This introduction to Enphase Energy and its products provides an overview of how the company is poised to change the green energy landscape.
Watch this brief video on how to install the Enphase Micro-inverter System. The five easy steps are the same for residential and commercial systems.
This narrated recording of an Enlighten demo shows an actual Enphase installation and how per-module monitoring and analytics can help optimize your solar installation.
- No single point of failure.
- The Micro-inverter provides continuous monitoring of the performance of each PV module.
- Soft switching reduces component stress.
- Every module gets the benefit of individual Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT), thereby maximizing energy harvest.
- With Enphase Micro-inverters, the modules are resilient to dust, debris, and shading.
- Enphase Burst Mode technology provides greater production in low-light conditions.
- Quick and simple installation.
- No central or string inverter to install or design.
- The system provides 24/7 monitoring and management for each module.
- Commercial and residential PV Installations
The Enphase Micro-inverters are CSA listed per the requirements of UL1741 and are therefore approved to operate in the United States and Canada.
Company: Enphase Energy
Paul Nahi - President, Chief Executive Officer
Paul Nahi has over 20 years of experience in both entrepreneurial and multinational high technology companies. Most recently, Paul was the CEO of Crimson Microsystems, a fabless semiconductor company specializing in large scale SONET ICs for the telecommunications industry, with customers in Russia, India and the United States. Prior to Crimson, Paul was the CEO and co-founder of Accelerant Networks, a semiconductor company that designed and developed intelligent multi-gigabit transceivers. Accelerant was acquired by Synopsis, Inc. Prior to Accelerant, Paul served as General Manager of the Communications and Media Divisions for NEC Electronics,. Before NEC, Paul was the Senior Director for Diamond Multimedia where, as an early member of the executive team, he helped grow Diamond from a small, privately held enterprise to a publicly traded company with offices worldwide and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Paul has a BS in Computer Engineering and an MBA from the University of Southern California.
In the News
- Zeitgeist / Awards >
2009 Excellence in Renewable Energy North America Awards -- Reader's Choice - Renewable Energy World has a poll open to its readers to select their favorites from among the finalists in four categories including some that are featured in our Top 100: Enphase Microinverters and Cool Earth Solar's concentrators. Votes accepted until January 31, 2010. (Renewable Energy World)
- Solar > Inverters >
Time for a Change: Micro-inverters Improve Performance of Solar Systems - Enphase Energy has extended the concept of a micro-inverter into a complete system, which includes the micro-inverter, embedded powerline communications and Enlighten — a web-based performance monitoring and analysis tool. (Video) (Renewable Energy World; Sept. 8, 2008)
- Enphase Energy Seeks New Converts - Enphase Energy launched its first product, a micro-inverter along with a Web-based monitoring service, that the company said would boost solar electric production and provide better performance data. (Greentech media; June 10, 2008)
- Enphase Energy to bring 'microinverters' to solar panels - Start-up Enphase Energy announced that it has landed $6.5 million in funding with the bulk of the money coming from Third Point Ventures. (CNet; January 29, 2008)
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