27 Apr Power Optimizers vs. Microinverters
Both power optimizers and microinverters aid in keeping solar panel systems from experiencing drastic power losses. But what’s the difference—and which one is better?
As a solar panel contractor, it is our job to provide the best possible product on the market to our customers. And without question, that is why we recommend SolarEdge Power Optimizers as the preferred product to go with every solar panel that Buffalo Solar Solutions installs.
A solar panel without a power optimizer or a microinverter is basically a brainless product that knows how to do one thing and one thing only: turn sunlight into electrical energy. Every solar panel array has groups of solar panels that are wired together in series. But once all the solar panels become strung together, they operate as one entity based on the weakest link in the group. For example, one solar panel could experience shading that reduces it’s efficiency to 50% production capability for that solar panel, but now every solar panel in the series experiences the same loss.
Located at each panel, power optimizers and microinverters aid in keeping solar panel systems from experiencing drastic power losses. Specifically, power optimizers “condition” the DC electricity before sending it to a string inverter, instead of converting it to AC electricity at the panel site. But which one works better? Here’s a side-by-side comparison of features for the SolarEdge Power Optimizer and the Enphase Microinverter to help explain.
- Enphase Microinverter: One per solar panel
- SolarEdge Power Optimizer: One per solar panel
- Enphase Microinverter: No central inverter
- SolarEdge Power Optimizer: One central inverter for all optimizers (an industry-leading safety standard)
- Enphase Microinverter: Converts DC to AC at each solar panel
- SolarEdge Power Optimizer: Converts DC to AC once at the central inverter
Number of Components
- Enphase Microinverter: Each microinverter has hundreds of small electrical components
- SolarEdge Power Optimizer: Each power optimizer has less than 50 electrical components
- Enphase Microinverter: DC-to-AC conversion causes heat, meaning each panel is producing more heat and leading to less product longevity (4% performance loss)
- SolarEdge Power Optimizer: Heat-producing DC-to-AC conversion occurs in the central inverter, usually located in a climate-controlled environment (2% performance loss)
Cost per Watt
- Enphase Microinverter: $0.50–$0.60 per watt
- SolarEdge Power Optimizer: $0.40–$0.50 per watt
- Enphase Microinverter: Much less reliable over the lifetime of a solar panel system
- SolarEdge Power Optimizer: Great reliability in all weather and climates over the lifetime of a solar panel system
- Enphase: Does not have a strong financial background in the open market, with a negative net cash flow and no investment activities every year since 2013
- SolarEdge: Has a stable financial background in the open market, with a positive net cash flow greater than $100k and over $100k in investment activities every year since 2014
- Enphase Microinverter: 15-year warranty
- SolarEdge Power Optimizer: 25-year warranty
When Tyler and Alicia Uebelhoer started Buffalo Solar Solutions, they knew that offering the best customer service without the best products would not help save the world (one solar panel system at a time). Working with his knowledge of products and his experience in the industry, Tyler spent countless hours researching the companies he could potentially conduct business with, which led him to SolarEdge Technologies. SolarEdge is a stable company with an uplifting customer satisfaction report, the least amount of product defects, and a state-of-the-art monitoring platform—a great tool for consumers. They continue to lead the industry in safety technology, on top of offering a 25-year warranty for their power optimizers.
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