Enphase Micro Inverter
A solar micro-inverter converts direct current (DC) generated by a single solar module into alternating current (AC) (AC). Microinverters differ from typical solar inverters, which connect a single inverter to many solar panels. Several microinverters' output can be combined and often supplied into the grid. Enphase is a pioneering company in this segment.
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Solar Micro inverter
Enphase Energy is a California-based energy technology firm that is publicly traded on the NASDAQ. Enphase develops and manufactures software-driven household energy systems, including solar energy generation, energy storage, and web-based monitoring and control. Enphase has sold around thirty million solar micro-inverters, which is their prime product, primarily to residential and business customers in North America, Europe, and Australia. Microinverters convert solar panel direct current (DC) to grid-compatible alternating current (AC) for use or export. Enphase was the first company to commercialise the microinverter effectively on a large scale, and the company continues to be the market leader in their manufacture. You can install solar rooftop plant in Chandigarh / Delhi / Punjab through Bigwit Energy with Enphase inverters.
Enphase Energy invented the microinverter concept. A microinverter's primary concept is to convert, control, and monitor energy on a panel-by-panel basis, rather than across an array of panels. This limits the size of the inverter that may be mounted on the panel's back, resulting in a "AC panel." Such a system can be directly connected to the grid or to other systems to create larger arrays. This is in contrast to the more usual central inverter arrangement, in which numerous panels are connected in series on the DC side and then routed to a single larger inverter en masse.
Martin Fornage of Cerent Corporation was looking for new projects in the aftermath of the 2001 Telecoms crisis. When he became aware of the string inverter's poor performance on his ranch's solar array, he joined with another Cerent engineer, Raghu Belur, and founded PVI Solutions. At the end of 2006, the two hired Paul Nahi as CEO, and in early 2007, Fornage, Belur, and Nahi founded Enphase Energy, Inc. Following that, the first prototype microinverter was created. By 2008, Enphase had raised around $6 million in private financing and launched its first product, the M175, to middling success. Their second generation model, the 2009 M190, was significantly more successful, with around 400,000 units sold between 2009 and early 2010. Enphase quickly increased to a market share of 13% in residential systems by mid-2010, with the goal of reaching 20% by year's end.
They shipped their 500,000th inverter in early 2011 and their one millionth inverter in September of same year. The third generation M215 was released in the summer of 2011, and by the end of the year, they had sold over a million units across all models, bringing their installed base to 1.55 million inverters and a 34.4 percent market share. In 2013, a fourth generation, the M250, was introduced.
As of 2012, their inverters accounted for 53.5 percent of the home installation market in the United States, accounting for 72 percent of the global micro-inverter market. This places them as the world's sixth largest manufacturer of inverters of any kind. Enphase has conducted market research in Europe, beginning in France and expanding to include sales in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Italy. They were, however, much more successful in the United Kingdom and, later, Australia. As of 2013, around 20% of their sales were generated outside of North America.
According to IHS, Paul Nahi, CEO of solar microinverter manufacturer Enphase, the company held a 53.5 percent market share in the US residential market in 2012. Lazard Capital views Enphase as a "possible take-out candidate" in the estimated $500 million market.
"We dominate and created this category," Nahi stated.
Nahi spoke last week at Intersolar 2013 in San Francisco, during an event introducing the company's fourth generation microinverter. The new DC-AC converter is rated at 250 watts peak power, has a CEC efficiency of 96.5 percent, an integrated ground, and is classified as an ungrounded array in accordance with NEC 690.35.
Nahi asserted that no other solar company has ever achieved this level of market dominance. (The only company that comes to mind is SMA, which commanded nearly 40% of the global market just a few years ago.) The CEO recapped Enphase's achievements: $217 million in revenue in 2012 and over 3 million units supplied to date. Nahi noted a "rapid and large shift to microinverters" in the inverter landscape.
Which leads us to the subject of microinverter rivalry in the United States. How is it that Enphase enjoys a 53.5 percent market share in the residential sector in the United States?
The sheer volume of entries suggests that a team of skilled power electronics and system engineers is capable of designing and building a microinverter. Without a doubt, developing a high-performance, high-reliability microinverter is far more difficult. However, despite CTOs at distributed electronics firms' protestations, it is not the technology or type of capacitor that differentiates these enterprises in today's market.
Enphase generates the majority of its revenue in the United States, where it has 40 salesmen calling on and training installers in every state with a favourable solar subsidy environment.
There are numerous additional microinverter market entrants – and the majority of them will face up against Enphase as the 800-pound gorilla in the channel to the home customer in the United States.
The following is a partial list of microinverter manufacturers:
SMA remains the market leader in a turbulent, consolidated $7 billion inverter market. SMA The spokesman for America states that SMA "is currently distributing the [SMA microinverter] to the United States market," the company stated, adding that its "first launch was restricted, and we anticipate those units selling out quickly. Our initial manufacturing run took place in Germany, and the lines are currently being relocated to Denver. Due to the fact that we are simultaneously establishing lines in Denver for our new...string inverters and making certain tweaks to accommodate increasing central inverter business, we will not see volume production on the microinverter until around October."
SMA has a strong channel and will almost probably reach the customer. The concern, based on SMA's exceedingly intentional microinverter deployment, is whether the company regards microinverter sales as cannibalising its own business and, as a result, continues to stifle its marketing efforts.
SolarBridge circumvents Enphase to a degree as a microinverter manufacturer in the industry of ac modules, entering the market through partnerships with module manufacturers and eventually absorbing its own brand. SolarBridge has not disclosed its revenue, and its CEO was just removed. SolarBridge has been exporting to the United States market since 2011 (along with Canada, Mexico, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Australia, the startup's fastest-growing region), according to Craig Lawrence, SolarBridge's VP of Marketing. Lawrence names SunPower, AUO/BenQ, ET Solar, Mage Solar, Talesun Solar, Hareon Solar, Blueline Solar, Tindo Solar, and Solarland among the startup's module partners and clients.
Lawrence asserts, "We are the only microinverter manufacturer that has successfully implemented an AC module method. We sell microinverters and monitoring systems exclusively to worldwide and regional module manufacturers that integrate, certify, test, and warranty a complete solution in-house. All other companies are attempting to do the same thing, but we consistently win head-to-head battles due to our superior reliability, our design (which is optimised for module integration with today's highest power modules), and our exclusive AC module business model, which avoids the channel conflicts that companies like Enphase, SMA, and Power-One that sell a detached microinverter face."
Another SolarBridge contact believes that the company is gaining significant sales traction with SunPower.
According to Brian Armentrout, Marketing Director at Renesola (NYSE: SOL) America, Renesola's microinverter "competes head to head with Enphase at a 15% to 20% cheaper price." "We're now delivering 10,000 units per month in the United States alone and are about to ink a deal that will add another 5,000 to 7,000 units each month," he continued.
Enphase faced increased pricing pressure in 2012 and 2013 as a result of the rapidly declining inverter market. Market leaders saw their market share eroded by emerging enterprises, the majority of which were based in the Far East. However, Enphase remains the world's largest provider of solar microinverters in 2019.
All microinverters manufactured by Enphase are totally self-contained power converters. In the case of a rooftop photovoltaic inverter, the unit converts direct current (DC) from a single solar panel to grid-compliant alternating current (AC), while maintaining the panel's maximum power point. Since the introduction of the "S" series microinverters (e.g., the S280), all Enphase microinverters have been capable of Advanced Grid Function and bidirectional power. This enables a microinverter to generate electricity either in the DC-AC direction for solar applications or in the DC-AC and AC-DC directions for battery applications. The microinverter(s) in the Enphase battery products are identical to those put on the roof, with the exception of software settings.
Their first model, the M175, was released in 2008. It was meant to provide 175 Watts of alternating current, but is capable of producing up to 5% more. The M175 was housed in a sizable cast aluminium box, similar to those used on cable television amplifiers mounted on telephone poles. Compression fittings were used to route the wiring through the enclosure, and twist-lock connections were used to link the inverters. For a limited time, a limited number of M210 models based on the same generation system were also available.
The M175 was recalled and replaced with the M190 in 2009 due to a high rate of failures. The M190 is slightly more powerful at 190 Watts (peaking to 199). The system was repackaged in a significantly smaller box, this time filled with epoxy potting material to aid in heat dissipation, and with built-in cable connectors in place of the earlier compression fittings. Otherwise, the system was identical to the M175, utilising the same connections and cabling, and the two systems could be combined in a string. As with its predecessor, the M175, the M190 has a high failure rate.
Simultaneously, the business introduced the D380, which was effectively two M190s housed in a bigger case. For small inverters such as the M190, the case and assembly comprised a sizable amount of the entire cost of production; by combining two in a single box, this cost is spread out. Additionally, the D380 debuted a unique inter-inverter cabling system based on "drop cable" technology. This configuration used a single connector on a short cable attached to the inverter and a separate cable with one or three connectors. Arrays were created by connecting up to three D380s via a single drop cable and then connecting them via bigger twist-fit connectors to other drop cables.
In 2011, the entire lineup was replaced by the third-generation M215 aircraft, which combined the capabilities of the M190 and D380 while improving reliability. As with the M190, the M215 featured a single inverter housed in a significantly smaller enclosure. As was the case with the D380, the M215 incorporated a trunk cabling system with short connector wires on the inverters. Rather than a single or three-drop cable, the M215's Engage system made use of a lengthy roll of cables with connectors spliced into them. The installer trims the Engage cable to the specified length and then caps the exposed ends.
In 2013, the M250 was released, with a new grounding system (Integrated Ground - IG) that eliminates the external grounding conductor that is otherwise needed by the NEC, increased dependability, and greater efficiency (96.5 percent), as well as a 250W rating boost. Unlike earlier models, which were all named according to their maximum power rating, the M250 is called according to its peak power. The M190 would be renamed the M199 using the same convention. Otherwise, the M250 is identical to the older M215 (which was also upgraded to include IG) and is compatible with the same Engage cabling system.
All Enphase models communicate through power line to exchange monitoring data between the inverters and the Envoy communications gateway. The Envoy retains daily performance data for up to a year and, when accessible, allows Enphase's Enlighten web service to retrieve data roughly every 15 minutes. On the Enlighten website, customers and installers can review the statistics.
The company introduced its fifth generation of products in 2015. The S230 and S280 microinverters offer the maximum efficiency for module-level power electronics at 97 percent, advanced grid capabilities such as reactive power regulation, and compliance with regulatory standards such as California's Electric Rule 21 and Hawaii's Rule 14H. The next-generation Envoy-S solar production metering system includes revenue-grade metering, consumption monitoring, and integrated Wi-Fi. Additionally, the business entered the home energy storage market with its Storage System with an AC Battery, a modular 1.2kWh lithium-iron phosphate solution targeted at domestic consumers as part of a Home Energy Solution. The Home Energy Solution was launched in mid-2016 in Australia.
In 2017, the new IQ architecture was introduced, which includes a new cabling system. Two conductors, rather than four, are integrated and comply with electrical standards due to the use of a GFCI, the elimination of the necessity for a neutral, and the absence of conductive materials in the enclosure. The IQ6 and IQ6+ were the original offerings, followed by the IQ7 in 2018. In 2019, the IQ8 series will offer continuous power production without the use of batteries during daytime grid interruptions.