Enphase takes on String inverters on the Yucatan Coast - The results are AMAZING!
I have talked a lot about our solar systems producing more power with fewer panels than our competition. It is true, our micro-inverter systems are the most advanced systems available and, combined with our install techniques, we do get our clients more power than our competitors. However, some do not believe what we are saying and, still believe a solar system is a solar system.
We recently had the opportunity to directly compare our systems to our competition. We were able to compare, head to head, a 16-panel system using a 5-kilowatt wall mount string inverter vs 4 of our systems using Enphase IQ6+ and IQ7+ micro-inverters.
The 16-panel system was mounted in a fixed position at about 12 to 15 degrees. Our systems were all mounted at 20 – 22 degrees. The farthest our systems were from the competitor’s system was about 2 kilometers, with 3 of the 4 within less than a kilometer, so the weather for all systems was the same.
The competitor’s system used 310-watt panels. Our systems ranged from 325-watt panel systems to 365-watt panel systems.
We looked at December 7 as the comparison date. This day was sunny, clear, with a brisk wind to help keep the panels cool. Essentially as close to a perfect winter weather day as you can get here in Yucatan.
The competitor's 16 panel system produced 20 kilowatts of power. Pretty good for this time of year – short solar days with the sun low on the horizon.
Our first system – the closest to the competitor, is a 12 panel system using Enphase IQ7+ micro-inverters and 365-watt panels. These panels are about 15% larger than the competition. This system produced 24.4 kilowatts.
This was 22% more power with 4 less panels.
Our second system – just slightly further away, is another 12-panel system using Enphase IQ7+ micro-inverters and 365-watt panels, same as the first system. This system produced 23.4 kilowatts –
a 17% higher production and again with 4 less panels.
Our third system – Located close to the competition’s system, is a 12-panel system using Enphase IQ6+ micro-inverters and 325-watt panels. This system produced 20 kilowatts, the same as the competition but, with 4 less panels and, these panels are only 15 watts larger.
Our fourth system – located the farthest (about 2 kilometers), is an 8-panel system using IQ6+ micro-inverters and 325-watt panels. This system produced 13.6 kilowatts with only 8 panels.
If this system was 16 panels the same as the competition, it would have produced 27.2 kilowatts, a 36% increase over the competition.
This is by no means definitive, however, it is clear that, under the same real-world conditions, on this day, our micro-invert systems produced substantially more power. The higher production numbers are huge, in fact, even higher than I had expected.
What does this mean for you?
Smaller systems providing higher power levels are simply less expensive. Four less panels, less support structure, less labor etc. Instead of getting a lower quality system that requires many more panels to achieve the same power production level, you can get a high quality, high production system that will last for many more years than the lower quality system.
Are micro-inverters more expensive?
Yes and no.
If you simply compare a 16-panel system with a wall mount string inverter, to a 16-panel system with 16 micro-inverters, it is more expensive to get the system with the micro-inverters. However, when you compare power production you will only need 12 to 14 panels and 12 to 14 micro-inverters to equal the power output of the 16-panel string inverter system. Less inverters, less panels, less support structure and, less labor for the install, means the micro-inverter system is less expensive and, you get a higher quality product.
The inverter is where the magic happens. It is the inverter that converts the power coming from the solar panels to power that can be used in your home and, sent to CFE for future credits. This is the key to your entire solar system. Going cheap here will reduce your power output and cost you money down the road.
Micro-inverters have the best warranty in the industry, are the safest install on your roof and, have the best, most in-depth online monitoring available today. There is simply not a better inverter you can buy for your solar system.