SolarEdge HD Wave Review:  The World’s Smallest And Most Efficient String Inverter

ronald and a hdwave

Today Ronald examines the SolarEdge HD Wave inverter. It’s small. But not that small.

It’s An Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny, SolarEdge, HD Wave String Inverter…

SolarEdge, an Israeli company, has produced the HD Wave — the world’s smallest string inverter.  By size, this little cracker takes more DC than any inverter out there.  Not only that, but it grabs DC, uses its funky HD wave technology on it, and spurts out the AC our homes use with greater efficiency than any thing else on the market.  And it’s now available in Australia, starting from a couple of weeks ago. [Read more…]

SMA’s Sunny Boy: Under The Hood. Chinese vs German Manufacturing

chinese and german sma sunny boy

2 x 5kW SMA Sunny Boy Inverters. One made in China (SMA SB 5.0-1AV-40), one made in Germany (SB5000TL-21). How do they compare?

SMA have released a new single phase inverter. They kept the same joyful name of “Sunny Boy” however the model has changed from what was known as the “dash 21” to the “dash 40”.

But let me tell you a well-known secret about the SMA “dash 40”. The respected German manufacturer is manufacturing these new SMA inverters in China.

Bombshell.

Has this turned the single phase model of SMA inverters into a cheap Chinese inverter? To find out, I bought myself a 5kW Chinese-built SMA “dash 40” and pulled it apart to compare it to the 5kW German made “dash 21”.

In this post, I’ll first look at the external features: the “smart screen”, the Sunny Home Manager, and the inbuilt DC isolator.

Then I’ll look at the internal build quality, and where the different components are manufactured. Finally, we’ll discuss the after sales service and warranty of SMA. [Read more…]

A Reader’s Frustrations With The Enphase Enlighten Monitoring System

enphase enlighten monitoring

Enphase panel monitoring is a great feature. But some Enphase installers flat out refuse to enable it.

There are many people in this world who enjoy monitoring the output of their rooftop solar systems.

But other people – not so much.  For example, I don’t think my parents have checked the output of their system since they got it.  My father just looks at the electricity bill every three months and grunts, “Power bill low.  Is good.” And then goes back to making stone tools.

But for those who enjoy the heady pleasures of solar system monitoring, modern technology can provide the fix you’re looking for. [Read more…]

Has Maxim Just Killed The Microinverter & DC Optimiser?

3 maxim chips compared to a micro inverter and dc optimiser

Are these 3 little chips all you need to optimise your panels for maximum energy output?

Maxim Integrated is a Californian electronics company that has been going strong for 33 years and has only ever been delisted from the Nasdaq Stock Exchange once.  As you may be able to tell from their name, they like to integrate things and have developed a way to optimise the power from individual solar panels using 3 tiny chips embedded in the panel. [Read more…]

Why Oversizing Solar Panel Arrays Is A Smart Move

house with lots of solar panels

Did you know you can add panels up to 133% of your inverter capacity? Read on to discover why oversizing solar is a smart move (as long as your roof is big enough – unlike this guy’s).

Installing rooftop solar systems with a total panel capacity greater than the inverter capacity is usually a very good idea.  It will certainly save you money, but it can also help get around the restrictions many Australians face on the size of inverter they can connect to the grid. [Read more…]

East West Facing Solar Panels On A Single Inverter Input Can Work Well

east and west facing solar panels

Is it OK to put East and West facing panels on a single input inverter?

[Read more…]

Enphase’s Cunning Plan: Make Micro Inverters Cheaper than String Inverters.

enphase costs: half price by 2017When it comes to Australian solar installations, conventional string inverters tower over the competition like a current converting colossus. But microinverters, which are tiny in both physical size and market share, are shaping up to beat string inverters on both price and reliability. Enphase, the world’s largest producer of microinverters, plans to beat conventional inverters on price within two years. If they meet their goal of cutting micro inverter costs in half, it will change the way Australians install solar power. [Read more…]

Do Electrolytic Capacitors Cripple Microinverter Reliability?

Part 1 of an interview with Enphase VP of Quality & Reliability: Ciaran Fox

In my experience solar installers either really love microinverters, or are incredibly wary of them. There seems to be very little middle ground.

Those who love them talk about their ease of installation, increased power output, flexibility of panel layout, panel level monitoring and shade performance.

Those who are wary of them generally worry about their reliability.

A microinverter is a box of sophisticated electronics that sits on your roof (under each solar panel). In Australia your roof gets hot! And if a microinverter fails, replacing it means climbing on the roof and removing the panel. So installers’ concerns are understandable.

an Enphase microinverter

A microinverter. You generally use one per solar panel instead of a single large central inverter. They are about as big as an iPad mini

To get some authoritative answers, I asked installers that I know to send me their toughest questions about microinverter reliability.

I then put those questions to Ciaran Fox who is the Vice President of Quality & Reliability at the world’s biggest microinverter manufacturer, Enphase. [Read more…]

Microinverters Vs DC Optimisers – which is best? [infographic]

For those of you that want an easier way to understand the differences between microinverters (such as those manufactured by Enphase or APS) and DC optimisers (such as Solar Edge or Tigo), and don’t want to read this long post I published a couple of weeks ago then this 2 part infographic is for you!

The first part explains the difference between conventional, string inverter systems, DC optimised systems and microinverter systems (seasoned solar nerds may want to skip this and scroll straight down to part 2)

Microinverters vs DC Optimisers. Part 1

Microinverters vs DC Optimisers. Part 1

Part 2 goes into the pros and cons (and even picks a winner based on my humble opinion).

MIcroinverters vs DC Optimisers. Part 2

MIcroinverters vs DC Optimisers. Part 2

 

If you want to republish any of these infographics, no worries. All I ask is that you link back to this original post. I also have higher res versions which I can provide. Just ask!

* Note: the 2nd graphic has been updated to include 2 features of full Solar Edge systems (i.e. systems with Solar Edge optimisers coupled to Solar Edge Inverters) . Specifically Arc protection and individual fault bypass circuitry.

** This is only an opinion! If you vehemently disagree with my analysis, please leave a comment, or even write a well articulated blog post with your differing opinion, and I will happily publish it.

Microinverters Vs. Dc Optimisers: Which option is best?

optimisers and microinverters

If you’ve decided on panel-level optimisation, which is the better choice, microinverters or optimisers?

Good grief this article is going to get me into trouble with some solar installers.  Why? Because by the end of it I will give my humble opinion on whether microinverters (e.g. Enphase) are better than DC optimisers (e.g. SolarEdge or Tigo). [Read more…]