APsystems microinverters now on Sunnova’s approved vendor list

APsystems

APsystems joined the approved vendor list for Sunnova, one of the leading U.S. residential solar and energy storage service provider. The agreement brings APsystems advanced microinverter technology to Sunnova’s portfolio of  solar services. Sunnova offers an array of solar lease, lease-to-own, and power-purchase options for customers all across the United States.

“Sunnova has earned a strong reputation for easy, no-nonsense solar packages for consumers,” said Jason Higginson, Senior Director of Marketing for APsystems USA. “We’re glad to bring our solar microinverter technology to their platform, to help more homeowners nationwide enjoy energy self-sufficiency and savings.”

“Our goal is to offer our customers a brilliant choice for energizing their lives,” said John Santo Salvo, SVP of Channel Operations and Chief Procurement Officer at Sunnova. “We believe APsystems’ advanced microinverter offering is an ideal addition to our customer-empowering portfolio of solar solutions.”

APsystems is listed on Sunnova’s 2018 Approved Vendor List and is now an option in their system solution platform.

— Solar Builder magazine

Ask a Distributor: We ask distributors for their purchasing advice, products to watch in 2018

solar distributors

Solar is now the No. 1 new source of capacity being added to the grid, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and solar installer is the fastest growing job in the country according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And what’s the reason for the rise of this new era? The impending doom of the ice caps melting? Hardly. The advancements in technology? Getting warmer.

Really, things just got cheaper.

This is to say that purchasing plays a large, perhaps outsized, role in the value proposition of the industry and your business. Given that reality, we wanted to kick off the year by polling a handful of solar distributors for their purchasing advice.

You’ll be hearing from:

purchasing

Here’s the No. 1 way to avoid purchasing problems

What are the common problems distributors see when it comes to purchasing systems to install? There are a few quick, solvable issues — stuff like reviewing the details of an order before signing off on it or avoiding last minute purchases.

“Plan ahead and inspect shipments to avoid/mitigate mix ups and ensure fast and timely solutions when needed,” McShea says. “Waiting three weeks until install to say something is missing and you need it now is not effective.”

But all of that feeds into the advice that resonated with us the most: Seeing the distributor relationship as a two-way street that adds value to your business. According to the distributors we talked to, the more often you communicate, the more the distributor knows about your business, the easier it is for them to help.

“Valuing price over loyalty and the quality of the relationship with a distributor, I think, is a mistake,” Schoder from Civic notes.

A simple step up in communication will not only solve a bunch of issues but could create additional value for your business.

“Good communication and transparency are always the best remedies for doing good business and mitigating potential errors,” Dufrenne says. “Everyone is busy and going to make mistakes, including distributors and shipping companies. When all parties pay attention to detail and plan accordingly, deliveries and installations seem to go more smoothly.”

And it’s not just an exercise in mistake avoidance. Keeping everyone on the same page, forecast-wise, can only make the ordering process smoother for everyone.

“At least one call a week to plan upcoming jobs would help avoid supply chain issues,” Kyler says. This ensures all orders and forecasting align with expectations.

There’s also the training aspect. “Manufacturers are constantly offering training, quite often through their distributors,” Bailey notes. “Yet we still see many installers deal with headaches for hours which they could have learned to avoid by going through some quick training on the product features and installation.”

Think about kits

Ordering from multiple suppliers for a given residential job can leave more room for error, such as damage during shipping, incorrect parts arriving or a delayed delivery, all of which lengthens install time and increases costs.

“The best solution I’ve seen yet for lowering soft costs is to have one to two standardized kits which the sales team and installation crew are both very familiar with,” says Leone with Civic. “This mitigates both sales and labor costs. We recommend having multiple kits to protect against upstream challenges such as availability.”

“Ordering from one supplier and having the experts kit the equipment per job before shipping to the jobsite or warehouse can reduce most mistakes that cause delays and additional labor/mobilization costs,” Dufrenne says.

Sticking with brands also avoids the hassle of resubmitting permits with different equipment types or brands.

4 soft cost reduction tips

Schoder: “Utilizing online software programs like Helioscope and Energy Toolbase to drastically reduce the amount of time and effort that goes into a respectable customer proposal.”

Bailey: “Smaller installers like to use microinverters for [lowering soft costs]. In many cases they don’t have the in-house expertise to properly design a string inverter system which can maximize production. Microinverters are flexible, and the installers can design in the field by adding modules as they see fit.”

Dufrenne: “Good operations management [from lead generation to final completion]. Use software, like ENACT.”

Kyler: “Installers should keep at least one administrator dedicated to handling all incoming and outgoing paperwork such as permits, SREC registrations and contracts. This would help reduce soft costs and avoid any confusion or dilemmas later on.”

Truck these rolls

For starters, it helps to have a mini-inventory of small accessories (L-feet, clamps, wire), but stocking extra parts for the rest of the system is always a good idea.

“A common purchasing mistake I see installers make is purchasing just enough for their project instead of calculating for inevitable adjustments when they get on the roof,” Kyler says. “Mostly when it comes to racking, I recommend keeping spare parts in each truck.”
Dufrenne laid it out like this: “Not ordering extra parts for racking and attachments ends up costing much more than you’d think, once you have to roll another truck and pay for overnight shipping charges for parts that are usually less than $10.”

When it comes to the inverter (and we will get into this more on page 28) MLPE or string inverters could each offer a route to reduced truck rolls, if handled correctly. But for now, we just note what Kyler recommends: “Select products that allow remote updates or choose manufacturers that provide service programs.”

“Carry spare parts and get your system up and communicating with your gateway and online account before leaving the site,” Bailey says. “Installers who use gateways can track performance as soon as the system lights up. They can coordinate with technical support and determine within a few minutes that all modules and inverters are performing to spec.”

Head to page 2 for advice on system purchasing

— Solar Builder magazine

Sunrun selects SMA America as inverter supplier for residential solar projects

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SMA America has officially entered into a purchase agreement with Sunrun, one of the top residential solar installers in the industry, to be a key supplier for its residential PV solutions.

“We are honored and excited to enter into this long-term partnership with Sunrun,” said Pierre-Pascal Urbon, CEO of SMA Solar Technology AG. “SMA is committed to building on its reliable Sunny Boy-US line of inverters and developing the best possible technology for the residential market, which continues to be an essential component of the U.S. solar industry. We look forward to providing everything from smart inverters to home energy management and residential storage solutions for Sunrun and its customers.”

SMA will supply Sunrun with Sunny Boy-US inverters, SMA’s Power+ Solution and Sunny Boy Storage-US inverters as one of several preferred inverter vendors.

“Residential solar and storage will increasingly become a key contributor to America’s future energy system. As households adopt our Brightbox home battery service, we want to ensure they are enabled with the industry-leading and smart technology,” said Lynn Jurich, Sunrun Chief Executive Officer and co-founder. “Sunrun selected SMA as a key supplier because of its long history of reliable and high-quality products, as well as the company’s ongoing pursuit of the best and most advanced inverter technology.”

In recent months, SMA has unveiled several new developments in residential solar technology. For example, all Sunny Boy inverters are now equipped with SMA Smart Connected, a new, state-of-the-art service technology for automatic monitoring. Additionally, the Power+ Solution combines the proven Sunny Boy-US inverter with the TS4-R Module Level Power Electronics (MLPE) to create a solution that cost-effectively optimizes residential PV systems and ensures higher energy yields. And, using intelligent inverter technology with Sunny Boy-US inverters and Sunny Boy Storage inverters, SMA can create smart homes where homeowners can produce and manage their energy to match their needs. SMA has also remained a pioneer for safety and reliability, having its Sunny Boy-US line of inverters certified to the latest UL 1741 SA standard ahead of state requirements.

— Solar Builder magazine

Eaton, NREL team up on new power management research

NREL Eaton

The Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO. (Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL)

To expedite research and commercialization of new energy-related technologies, power management company Eaton and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have entered into a cooperative agreement to co-locate approximately 15 members of Eaton’s Corporate Research and Technology team at NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) in Golden, Colorado. NREL is the DOE’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development.

“This first-of-its-kind agreement for Eaton and NREL is an exciting next step in our long relationship,” said Ramanath Ramakrishnan, executive vice president and chief technology officer, Eaton. “By having Eaton engineers on-site every day, we will be able to substantially accelerate the innovation process by more closely leveraging NREL’s energy integration infrastructure. This infrastructure, combined with Eaton’s ability to mitigate the risks associated with early-stage technologies, will help us more efficiently translate ideas into next generation solutions.”

On the Scene: We went to the Eaton Experience Center to see the grid’s future

For more than a decade, Eaton and NREL have collaborated on a comprehensive portfolio of joint programs that includes optimizing energy systems for microgrids, buildings and communities, and developing a predictive battery management system for hybrid electric vehicles. This new agreement augments this relationship by enabling both organizations to collaborate closely on the evolving state of energy solutions such as microgrids, energy storage systems and grid intelligence.

“NREL’s industry partnerships are integral to the advanced energy research revolutionizing the global energy landscape,” said Dr. Martin Keller, NREL’s director. “This on-site, direct collaboration allows our fully-integrated teams to expand knowledge related to grid integration and power management.”

Igor Stamenkovic, director, global technology, will lead the team on behalf of Eaton.

Eaton is a power management company with 2016 sales of $19.7 billion. We provide energy-efficient solutions that help our customers effectively manage electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power more efficiently, safely and sustainably. Eaton is dedicated to improving the quality of life and the environment through the use of power management technologies and services. Eaton has approximately 96,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 175 countries.

— Solar Builder magazine

CyboInverters receive 2017 Global Solar Inverter Technology Innovation Award

Cyboinverters

CyboEnergy was selected by Frost & Sullivan to receive the 2017 “Global Solar Inverter Technology Innovation Award”. The award recognizes CyboEnergy’s achievements and excellence in innovation, leadership, and growth. CyboEnergy will be presented this award at Frost & Sullivan’s Awards Gala to be held in Disney’s Grand Hotel in Anaheim, California, on Jan. 24, 2018.

 

To win the Technology Innovation Award, a company must demonstrate excellence in innovation, leadership and growth. This kind of excellence typically translates into superior performance in three key areas: demand generation, brand strength, and competitive differentiation. This three-fold focus must ideally be complemented by an equally rigorous focus on visionary innovation to enhance customer value and impact.

CyboEnergy offers on-grid, off-grid, and on/off CyboInverters. First released in 2013, the patented CyboInverter is the world’s first solar power Mini-Inverter that possesses the key merits of both central / string inverters and microinverters. CyboInverters offer better safety, scalability, grid-flexibility, DC-source flexibility, high efficiency, long life, easy installation, and good per watt price.

In June 2015, CyboEnergy released the groundbreaking On/Off-Grid CyboInverter that can operate in either on-grid or off-grid mode, switching between the two modes automatically, depending on the grid condition. This enables the same solar power system to generate power to the grid and also act as a power backup system when the grid is down. In July 2017, CyboEnergy released a family of battery-less off-grid and on/off-grid CyboInverters that can run Inverter-Air-Conditioners (IAC).

“Due to grid capacity limitations, on-grid solar systems are no longer welcomed or cost much more to implement in many parts of the world,” said Frost & Sullivan’s Industry Principal Gautham Gnanajothi. “CyboEnergy’s unique battery-less off-grid CyboInverters for electric water heaters and for Inverter-Air-Conditioners (IAC) can change the landscape of the solar industry.”

— Solar Builder magazine