Enphase Energy just released its next generation microinverter. Let’s face it: Enphase is synonymous with microinverters (no matter how you want to spell microinverter, micro inverter or micro-inveter). By continuing to release new solar inverters, Enphase is staying ahead of the competition—which is not insignificant. We have heard of at least twenty, that’s right, twenty other firms that are trying to home in on the microinverter market. They are of course correct, because the first-to-market advantage does not always last.
At least today, Enphase seems to be doing everything right, generating over $60 million in sales last year and on target to ship their one millionth product in the coming months. Yesterday the announcement came that Enphase is seeking to raise a cool $100 million in an initial public offering. Money is flowing easily into the microinverter market as Enecsys, probably Enphase’s closest competitor, also raised $41 million in a series B round of financing. Enecsys likes to call its products micro inverters and sometimes micro-inverters. After some indecision on our part, we are settling into calling these products microinverters because Enphase is calling its products microinverters and Enphase is the market right now. We could always change our mind.
What’s there not to love about a product that converts the electrifying DC to AC right at the panel level (actually plenty according to the big central solar inverter companies, but that is another story). Enphase just released its new generation Enphase M215 microinverter, which we are already carrying at SolarTown. This latest microinverter product from Enphase will change how solar panels will be installed in your home solar system or commercial solar energy system.
The Enphase M215 microinverter is a single phase 240 or a three phase 208 setup can take up to a 260 watt and up to a 60 cell solar panel according to the technical sheet. Upon initial review, the new Enphase AC Trunk Cable provides a seamless installation process without adjusting for the number of solar modules required for a single trunk cable because the new Enphase Trunk Drop system allows you to connect as many microinverters to a single branch circuit (with some limitations, 17 in a single 240 branch or 25 in a 208 branch).
The older system was a touch tricky, juggling different numbers and components, which may have led some solar installers or solar DIYers to order the incorrect amount of parts. Unlike the Enphase D380 microinverter and the older trunk drop cable systems where you had to calculate the number of modules per AC Trunk Cable, the new Enphase M215 went for a straight forward approach. All solar installers or solar DIYers will have to do is just pick the number modules to match the number of Enphase microinverters. This should reduce the amount of time configuring the system and allow you to be one step closer to having your solar energy system up and running.
The new Enphase Trunk Cable system uses a 12 American wire gauge (AWG) conductor to maximize solar energy yield while minimizing solar energy loss. The Enphase M215 has an impressive efficiency rating of 96% which is by far the leader in the microinverter world. The installation challenges present with the previous generation M190 and D380 Enphase microinverters were carefully considered before developing the Enphase M215 resulting in a breakthrough innovative solar energy product that is supposed to be quick to install and easy to use.
In the simplest of arrangements, the Enphase M215 requires only a few accessories to get your home solar panel system up and running: the branch terminator, sealing cap, cable clip and possibly a disconnect tool. Although the disconnect tool is optional, it is good to have for future maintenance and adjustment. Always check with a qualified solar installer and master electrician to ensure solar system integration and to take every precaution to ensure safety.
Possibly one of the most important improvements in the new M215 is the length of the warranty. If the solar panels are supposed to be on your home for 25 or 30 years, it is not comforting to think that the solar inverter will have to be replaced in 10 or 15 years. The early generation microinverters had a shorter warranty, while the new M215 comes with a 25 year limited warranty. Homeowners will not have to look forward to replacing their microinverters mid-stream for their solar energy systems. Instead, the new generation of microinverters should last as long as the solar panels.
All in all, it has been a good few weeks for Enphase and we hope that it will be a bright future for those who are placing solar panels on their homes with microinverters in the coming years.