Enphase iQ6

The king of microinverters just lowered their pricing on their newer, smarter product.

There is a hot debate out there: string inverters or microinverters? Which type of inverter is better for my home? With the advancement in power optimizers, the difference has shrunk. And a majority of installers choose one or the other based on pricing. But which technology is better?

The Basics

Traditional string inverters are located in the garage or on the outside of the house. They take the DC power and convert it to AC to tie into your electrical panel or solar meter. The traditional problem is that since each panel is connected in a string, when the current drops in one panel due to shading, the whole current, and therefore power, drops for the entire circuit.

DC optimizers have eliminated this problem by quickly changing the current hundreds of time a second to get the max power from each panel. These optimizers are located right under the solar panel which allows them to optimize the power from each module. Pretty ingenious solution to directly compete with Enphase microinverters.

A microinverter converts DC to AC right at the panel and combines each output to each other on top of the roof. This allows each panel to produce independently and deal with shade better. It also results in a much lower voltage. String inverters operate up to 600V DC for residential, while an AC string atop your roof operates at the microinverter output of 240V AC, which is much safer and matches what we have running through our houses already. String inverters also have a single point of failure. Panels themselves rarely fail, they have no moving parts, but the electronics in inverters can go bad or reach the end of their life. A string inverter is typically warrantied 12 years, while the Enphase product comes out of the box with a 25 year warranty. What happens when your string inverter goes out? The whole system is down and you are stuck buying power from the utility again. In contrast, if a microinverter fails, your system operates without one panel’s production. See examples of Our Work.

Enphase iQ

Enphase’s new iQ series is redesigned. The took out the neutral in the trunk cable, made the equipment smaller and can pair with higher wattage modules. Which is good for us at RayWell, we are defaulting to premium LG 335W modules. But the good news for everyone is the iQ6 microinverter is lower cost than one month ago. That puts Enphase slightly more expensive than SolarEdge and Power Optimizers, but in our minds, it is worth the extra expense.

For more information on the new iQ system, see: https://enphase.com/en-us/blog/iq-makes-solar-installations-smarter