New AC module now available via Solaria, Enphase

Solaria uses a direct contact between cells

Solaria uses a direct contact between cells to reduce power loss as well as achieve an all-black look.

Enphase Energy and Solaria Corp. are teaming up to introduce an Enphase Energized AC Module, the Solaria PowerXT-AC. The Solaria PowerXT-AC features the Enphase IQ 7+ Microinverter and delivers high performance and aesthetics through Solaria’s proprietary module technology. The PowerXT-AC will be available from Soligent at locations around the U.S. starting in June 2018.

The PowerXT-AC is an Enphase Energized AC Module to be built by Solaria at its recently expanded manufacturing facility in Fremont, Calif. The company will integrate Enphase IQ 7+ Microinverters with its high-output PowerXT 355W (60-cell equivalent) modules. Enphase Energized AC Modules allow installers to be more competitive through improved capital management, reduced labor costs and accelerated design and installation times. The PowerXT-AC can help ensure that solar installers maximize power deployment on customer roofs, which accelerates payback timelines for customers and increases profitability for installers.

The Solaria PowerXT-AC is based on Solaria’s all-black, high output PowerXT 60-cell equivalent module and features a black back sheet. The proprietary PowerXT platform uses Solaria’s advanced cell interconnect and module production processes, which significantly boost power generation while avoiding reliability challenges that can reduce conventional PV modules’ long-term performance.

For more info on the newest inverters on the market download our free 2018 Inverter Buyer’s Guide

— Solar Builder magazine

Panasonic, Enphase to partner on high-efficiency AC module

panasonic

Panasonic Corp. of North America and Enphase Energy Inc. are partnering on the development of high efficiency AC Modules (ACMs). To support this partnership, the 320W Enphase IQ 7X Microinverter offers compatibility with Panasonic’s N Series Photovoltaic (PV) Modules HIT (N325/N330), and will be made available to distributors starting May 2018.

“Panasonic prides itself on its dedication to delivering reliable products to our customers,” said Mukesh Sethi, Group Manager, Panasonic Residential Solar Group “This partnership with Enphase Energy will enable us to combine our products and expertise to offer a new solar solution that can help our customers meet their renewable energy needs. We look forward to our future with Enphase Energy and what we are able to achieve within the residential solar industry.”

A recent Enphase market survey of installers nationwide affirmed the value-add of AC modules, with significantly lower install times, and additional savings on logistics and overhead costs, making it a preferred choice for installers. Installers and Integrators also benefit from fewer inspection steps with factory-assembled and tested ACM products.

Panasonic’s N Series HIT® Modules are among the most efficient panels on the market, with high power outputs and greater energy yields due to their industry-leading temperature coefficient of -0.258% /⁰C. Panasonic solar modules keep at least 90.76% of their initial power output even after 25 years of use.

“The N series PV Modules are manufactured for peak performance, making them an ideal partner for the Enphase IQ 7X Microinverter,” said Mr. Sethi. “With a unique heterojunction technology and advanced bifacial cells, these high efficiency panels offer homeowners state-of-the-art features and maximum solar production.”

As part of Enphase’s seventh-generation microinverter platform, the IQ 7X Micro will support 96-cell PV modules up to 400W with peak AC output power of 320W and a Maximum Power Point (MPP) tracking range of 53-64V.

When combined with the Enphase Envoy Gateway, AC Combiner 2.0 with built-in Revenue Grade Meter (RGM) and disconnects, the Panasonic-Enphase ACMs will provide highly advanced PV systems to home owners and quick installation time for integrators and installers. Compliant with Rapid Shutdown Requirements of NEC 2017, the IQ 7 Microinverter System will significantly lower overhead costs and offer homeowners a safe residential PV systems solution.

— Solar Builder magazine

Modules and integration: Four reasons why AC, smart modules are on the rise

The LG NeON 2 ACe

The LG NeON 2 ACe debuts at Intersolar 2017.

At Intersolar 2017, the industry’s newest power couple made its engagement announcement: LG and Enphase have teamed up on an AC module. Known as LG’s NeON 2 ACe, the new product combines LG’s NeON 2 technology with Enphase’s IQ6+ microinverter.

“This changes the basic architecture of an install — the goal is to see the inverter go away and to go plug-and-play,” LG noted at the press event. “This also makes warehousing easier by reducing part count.”

But wait, there is more. Also around Intersolar, Boviet Solar Technology finalized an agreement with SolarEdge Technologies to include SolarEdge power optimizers with its 60-cell mono smart solar modules. Boviet is just one example in a growing list of manufacturers to setup such an arrangement with SolarEdge.

“This new arrangement with SolarEdge gives our customers a single source for both solar panels and power optimizers, which means less equipment to stock and transport to the jobsite,” says John Bereckis, president of the Boviet Solar USA Module Division.

These are just the two most public announcements of MLPE and module marriages — putting faces on a trend that’s been evolving the last few years, whether it is a power optimizer-embedded smart module, a microinverter-embedded AC module, or maybe just a souped-up junction box. Here are some reasons to consider an integrated module, MLPE solution:

1. Streamline purchasing and installation

LG PresentationSolar installers commonly source their solar modules from one vendor and match solar power optimizers supplied by another. By bundling the power optimizer with the module, installers only have to work with a single supplier, which results in savings in both product sourcing and installation. In addition, purchasing solar modules with MLPE pre-installed ensures turnkey functionality and shortens installation time.

“By incorporating MLPE in the module, we eliminate the need to install separate boxes on modules, reducing labor costs,” says Gautam Ghose, senior product marketing manager at Trina Solar. “This enables efficient design and also reduces shipping, inventory tracking and storage costs.”

Trina Solar is currently working with Maxim and Tigo, but says it is pursuing other partnerships as we speak. The integrations are available in the company’s Trinasmart, Trinaswitch and Trinapeak models.

System owners receive the same type of design and efficiency benefits with smart modules that have embedded power optimizers as with the add-on power optimizers. The power optimizers offer MPPT per module, which allows for flexible installation design with multiple orientations, tilts and module types in the same string.

2. Safety

No fretting about meeting any Rapid Shutdown requirements. A smart or AC module is ready to comply right off the bat.

Module Evolution: What big-time PV improvements will boost panel efficiency?

3. More monitoring, less mismatch

Incorporating MLPE into the module at the outset ensures module-level monitoring in each system to help pinpoint system performance issues, resolve those issues and minimize downtime over the life of the system.

“Using smart modules offers a variety of benefits, such as faster installation for labor savings, simplified purchasing and inventory, and easier site logistics,” says Lior Handelsman, VP of marketing and product strategy at SolarEdge.

“With the optimization in Trinasmart and Trinapeak, you increase the energy produced by your PV system by minimizing mismatch losses caused by partial system shading or the varying degradation rates of individual modules,” says Parjanya Rijal, product marketing manager at Trina.

If problems are discovered, each manufacturer notes the simpler serviceability for field replacement in addition to the more granular degree of optimization. The strategy here is to maximize the energy produced from each cell in a module and increase durability by eliminating hotspots.

For example, the NeON ACe provides an integrated web-based solution. Monitor power generation through the internet, anywhere and anytime and utilize an automatic problem diagnosis function. With the LG AC Module mobile app, it’s possible to set up all monitoring configuration steps.

4. Install flexibility

Tigo seems to work with every company on both the module and inverter side to ensure smooth integration of its Flex MLPE TS4 Platform. Tigo emphasizes the importance of selective deployment with its Flex MLPE TS4 platform because different functionalities can be used together in the same system by using different TS4 covers.

“Diodes, monitoring and safety (TS4-D, TS4-M and TS4-S) can be selectively deployed on any size system,” the company notes. “Predictive IV is a feature of the TS4-O and TS4-L, which uses analytical data about the module itself to predict optimal performance conditions. This data is used in conjunction with Tigo’s impedance matching technology, allowing for selective placement only on shaded modules.”

Optimization also enables wiring flexibility: Longer strings, uneven string lengths, layouts and orientations, shade mitigation and so on.

“For example, a residential customer might combine strings of modules of different lengths or tilts. Customers can also have modules at different orientations on the same string,” Rijal says.

In addition to fitting more modules into tight spaces, one can easily add additional panels in the future as power needs increase. These features boost the aesthetic and technical advantages of rooftop solar.

When working with SolarEdge inverters, SolarEdge power optimizers automatically maintain a fixed string voltage, allowing installers even greater flexibility with longer strings and strings of different lengths in order to design optimal PV systems. This means more modules can be installed on the roof for increased system size and longer strings for decreased BoS costs.

This article appeared in the Sept./Oct. issue of Solar Builder magazine. Not a subscriber? It’s free! Get on the list today.

— Solar Builder magazine

Enphase Energy CEO steps down as board searches for successor

Enphase Energy logo

Enphase Energy announced today that after more than 10 years at the helm of the company, Paul Nahi is stepping down as President and CEO. He will continue to assist Enphase as it transitions to a new leader. The Company’s Board of Directors has begun a search for a replacement that includes both internal and external candidates, with the intention to name a successor by August 31, 2017. In the interim, the Board has created an Office of the CEO, consisting of Bert Garcia, CFO, and Badri Kothandaraman, COO, to oversee and provide leadership for the Company’s day-to-day activities.

“On behalf of the Board, we would like to thank Paul for his exceptional leadership, and his many years of service to Enphase and the solar industry,” said Steve Gomo, lead independent director of Enphase Energy’s Board of Directors. “As the Company’s first and only CEO, Paul has led Enphase from pioneering the world’s first microinverter to becoming a leading global provider of energy management solutions. We appreciate his many contributions and wish him continued success.”

“It has been an enormous privilege to lead Enphase since inception and through its growth to become a leading global energy technology company,” said Paul Nahi. “Our invention of the microinverter and the introduction of module level data monitoring has transformed the global solar energy landscape. Having managed Enphase from a concept through global leadership, I feel the time is right for a new CEO to continue its growth, while Enphase increases market share, expands into new geographies and explores new opportunities. As Enphase continues into its second decade, it is poised for a future of sustained profitability, having successfully embraced the challenges of managing operating expenses while accelerating its investments in next-generation technologies. I remain passionate about Enphase’s bright future, and I am confident its best days are yet to come.”

— Solar Builder magazine

On the Scene: 11 cool things we saw at Intersolar 2017

Another Intersolar has come and gone, but the product innovations, large and small, are here to stay. At least until next Intersolar. If you missed the event, or didn’t have time to see all three floors, here are some products that stood out to us in the exhibit hall.

1. This quick driveline disconnect

Array Technologies Duratrack

Array Technologies is the market leader in central drive solar trackers. Array tries to minimize parts count wherever it can (150 MW of PV only needing 150 components total), and we stopped by the booth to check out some of the handy new tweaks made to its DuraTrack HZ v3. In addition to a built-in above ground wiring component, we thought this quick disconnect driveline was a smart, simple improvement for those who have always wanted a streamlined way to move the driveline for maintenance activities.

2. This simple tile mounting system

Ecofasten simple tile

Ecofasten maybe wins our award for variety of new solutions packed into one booth at Intersolar. Many of these items aren’t fancy – like partnering with Unirac on an install kit (packs of 10) – but as most of the names suggest, they are simple, which is often even better. Like this new (so new it isn’t officially named) Rail-Based Tile System. The flashing itself replaces one complete tile, so no cutting, drilling or grinding there. After the stud and simple seal bushing are fastened to the tile base, place the flashing over, pound it with a hammer to form a hole over the stud and then install the L-foot with a bonded washer and nut.

3. An AC module power couple

LG enphase AC module

Details on this here.

4. The concept of ‘Microstorage’

JLM Energy

JLM Energy launched a new energy storage product category called MicroStorage — a battery pack that couples directly to a corresponding solar panel, as you see here. JLM says the advantage of its Phazr’s microstorage approach is that a single solar panel can concurrently charge a battery and deliver energy to the grid. The simultaneous nature of electron flow is unique to JLM’s patent-pending technology. The Phazr is designed for large scale solar plus storage applications, and is also perfectly suited for smaller residential and commercial installs.

5. A totally new approach to ground-mounts

Nuance Energy

This could be a gamechanger for ground-mount installations. Nuance Energy has a new solution, inspired by an old solution: anchoring. Nuance Energy wants to lessen the amount of steel needed on a site by not driving any into the ground at all. Using the pieces you see above, a hole is drilled, the anchor is driven down 40 inches into the soil and pulled by an uplift device. As the anchor turns and is pulled there is a natural ballasting that occurs using the earth itself. Utility poles are anchored using this strategy. This could drastically save on traditional installation, and even created a new “lift and shift” category, where a portable unit is fixed into place on a drilling or mining site and then removed once the project has ended.

6. This wall-mounted 100-kW inverter

solaredge

The combo EV charger / inverter maybe received the most buzz on the floor, but we gravitated to its new wall-mounted 100 kW inverter. Yes, a wall-mounted 100 kW inverter. This prewired three box setup looks like (and installs like) three string inverters, but is commissioned as one inverter. Installing 1 MW in half a day is a possibility.

7. The wire management on this tracker

SF7 Soltec Bluxome party

Soltec made a splash at Intersolar this year as it tries to do more business here in the U.S. There is a lot to like about their product, like the amount of panels you can mount in one row (which makes for a more energy dense field), but it was the little things that stood out most. Specifically how the wire management of the system is housed inside the torque tube.

8. The potential of this smart home device for solar installers

smappee solar storage

I have no live photo of this (it was the afternoon of Day 3 and I forgot — give me a break, already.) but the Smappee is the coolest thing we saw the entire week. Attach it to the cable coming into the house, and the Smappee will listen to everything – what’s turning on and off, how much standby power there is, how much PV is being generated, and on and on. This gives homeowners much deeper (and easy to follow) insight into their home energy consumption and, at the same time, provides solar installers another touch point for customer follow ups and service. The low price point (under $400) makes it potentially an easy first foot in the door. Right off the bat, a homeowner is likely to save 12 percent on their utility bill, just through awareness and optimization tips from the app. From there savings could approach 45 percent.

9. This stepped-up decentralized tracker

solar flexrack tracker turnkey

Solar FlexRack launched its TDP Turnkey Tracker about this time last year. The update for this year is a newer, longer single row tracker (90 modules with 2 to 4 more posts), adjusted by a larger motor that will open up larger, utility-scale projects. The torque tube is offset to achieve better balance. The attention to detail is big for Solar FlexRack, which is why “turnkey” is built into this product’s name – its slew of engineers are involved in their installations to avoid adding their company name to the list of growing tracker system failures out in the field.

10. This tripod tile mount

Sun Modo tile

Sun Modo tripod

The last few years has seen a flood of great tile roof mount solutions enter the market. The TopTile Mount that SunModo debuted at Intersolar is an entirely above-the-tile system – no need to deconstruct the tile roof. The tripod mounting stanchion can be mounted on a tile ridge independent of rafter position. This could cut your install time in half, compared to a more conventional approach.

11. Smart surge software

Tabuchi Americas

Now with a two-battery system setup, Tabuchi Americas continues to improve upon its solar+storage system (now more than 20,000 installs worldwide). Thanks to an integrated transfer switch, everything needed to get a PV + storage system up and running is included in the package, which means at least $1,000 soft cost savings over an unbundled system. In fact, this is one of the first UL 9540 certified systems – the certification specifically for solar + storage systems. Updates to the system’s intelligence has also improved its defenses against power surges from things like water pumps.

— Solar Builder magazine