Solar PV Inverter Buyer’s Guide 2019: Faster installs, better serviceability and a focus on storage

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The 2019 solar inverter market is more robust and reliable than ever. From streamlined residential operations to beefed up large-scale string inverters to a cadre of solar+storage options for both on- and off-grid applications, there are products to match any solar PV design need. We reached out to every inverter manufacturer to hear about their latest innovations and to share some advice for installing their systems efficiently. All of those are below, starting with residential on through storage, commercial and finally utility-scale.

Residential solar inverters

Fronius | SnapINverter: Primo

Flexible system design, easy installation, integrated Wi-fi

Fronius Primo

The Fronius SnapINverter line offers integrated Wi-Fi and SunSpec Modbus interfaces, NEMA 4X rating, wide voltage windows, multiple MPP trackers and easy installation in 15 minutes or less. Power classes range from 3.8 kW to 24 kW, but with an identical look and feel combined with unique field-serviceability, Fronius SnapINverters reduce the costs for training and servicing. All Fronius SnapINverters offer wide voltage windows for easy system design. The Fronius Primo is available up to 15 kW, making it the biggest single-phase inverter available, offering the most flexible string sizing with string length as short as two or three modules (80 V startup voltage). It also allows for inverter oversizing of up to 150 percent within warranty.

Install advice: Few tools are needed to complete a Fronius inverter installation, but the most important tool in our opinion is a torque screwdriver. Using this tool and paying attention to the provided torque specifications of the inverter will always ensure a safe and optimal installation.

Monitoring: Free lifetime monitoring comes standard with Fronius and Solar.Web. In it, you can check the performance of a system in addition to performing remote updates. The Fronius Datamanager is included in all of the Primo inverters. This piece of hardware is the communications center for Fronius inverters for all applications. Whenever it is connected to the internet via a LAN or Wi-Fi, the Fronius Datamanager sends the PV system values directly to Fronius Solar.web to provide an overview of how the system is operating at all times.

Email: pv-sales-usa@fronius.com
Website: fronius-usa.com

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APsystems | The QS1

Can reduce installation time by 75 percent 

The QS1 is a four-module, single phase microinverter that doesn’t cost the equivalent of four individual microinverters either. The shared components reduce the overall cost per Watt in comparison with conventional microinverters.
On the technology side, the QS1 delivers the highest output power among microinverters today at 300 W per channel, can accommodate PV modules up to 375 W and has a 22V-48V voltage range. It also features four individual MPPT so each PV module is managed and tracked separately. The QS1 employs high-speed wireless Zigbee, which is up to three times faster than conventional powerline communication (PLC), creating a local 2.4 GHz mesh network for fast and reliable data communication between the microinverters and the gateway. The QS1 utilizes a common AC trunk cabling with the APsystem’s dual-module YC600, which means both microinverters can be deployed on the same circuit for better site design capability and to maximize circuit capacity. Because the QS1 tracks better through this voltage range at dawn and dusk, it gets the most out of the available sunlight, even in those lower light conditions, maximizing the energy harvest for the homeowner.

Install advice: We recommend that installers use a direct Ethernet connection from the gateway to the homeowner’s router. Even though Wi-Fi is an available function, a direct line is more reliable in instances when the homeowner changes ISPs or passwords. This will save the installer returns to the jobsite for IT issues.

Monitoring: APsystems’ EMA monitoring is a multiple-level, cloud-based platform that provides installers with detailed access to their installed projects, including module-level monitoring and analysis. Homeowners, likewise, can see module-level detail as well as a more comprehensive overview of site performance and health, all at no cost.

Email address: sales.usa@apsystems.com
Website: usa.apsystems.com

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SMA America | Power+ Solution

A proactive service solution to decrease truck rolls and system downtime.

Power+ solution-sma

SMA’s improved Power+ Solution builds on the company’s MLPE solution to provide even more speed and simplicity. The UL-listed Power+ Solution is one of the fastest residential PV systems to install. One of the most significant improvements to the Power+ Solution is a major reduction in system components within a new Rooftop Communication Kit, meaning fewer potential points of failure throughout the system and less equipment to service. Additionally, a single plug-and-play communication connection speeds installation and reduces labor. The new Power+ Solution offers 50 percent faster commissioning within Sunny Portal.

Install advice: SMA offers a useful YouTube library of Tech Tip videos for time saving instructions on the installation and commissioning of the Power+ system, including registration on Sunny Portal.

Monitoring: Power+ systems can be registered for free on SMA’s Sunny Portal, allowing module level monitoring of the whole system. Registration with Sunny Portal, the PV industry’s largest monitoring site (according to GTM Research, Oct 2017), allows installers to opt into the free Smart Connected service. Sunny Portal can be accessed via computer or smartphone app.

Website: www.sma-america.com

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Ginlong Solis | MLRSD

One rapid shutdown device for every two modules

Solis_MLRSD

The R&D Team at Solis HQ has created a new module-level rapid shutdown device (MLRSD) for the North American PV market. This new device meets all requirements of NEC 2017 Article 690.12 and is listed to the UL1741 (SA) and UL 991 Test Standards. Installers need only carry one Solis MLRSD for every two PV modules on the roof. Each Solis MLRSD device has dual inputs (for two 370 W max PV modules) and two PV Wire interconnection whips (MC4) for connecting the MLRSD’s together on the roof. The enclosure is rated NEMA 4X with an IP68 ingress rating. The enclosure is non-metallic and does not require grounding. An integrated mounting plate can be used to secure the unit to the PV modules or support rack. The MLRSD features a self-test, fault detection LED indicator. Solis residential PV inverters include an integrated, multi-channel PLC signal generator that can control as many as four (4) separate PV strings equipped with Solis MLRSDs.

Install advice: The Solis MLRSD utilizes MC4 connectors. An installer must make sure the connectors are fully inserted. Full, complete connection will ensure that the inverter does not detect a partial connection and post an Arc Fault Alarm message (series fault).

Monitoring: Solis Inverters can be connected to the Ginlong Solis web-based monitoring solution called Ginlong Monitoring. Solis inverters can be connected to a local router using the Solis Wi-Fi stick or connected to a local mobile phone tower using the Solis Cellular Stick. The owner/operator can get most information off the LCD screen at the inverter but data from each MPPT and all AC and DC production data is available on a friendly dashboard where owners can check current conditions and maintenance techs can review history performance and alarm code histories.

Website: www.ginlong.com

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SolarEdge | EV Charging Inverter

Six times faster than a Level 1 EV charger, using grid and PV simultaneously

solaredge ev charger

SolarEdge’s EV charging single-phase inverter is the world’s first EV charger with an integrated PV inverter. It enables homeowners to charge electric vehicles up to six times faster than a standard Level 1 charger through its innovative solar boost mode that utilizes grid and PV charging simultaneously. Reducing the hassle of separately installing a standalone EV charger and a PV inverter also means eliminating the need for additional wiring and conduit. By installing an EV charger that is integrated with an inverter, no additional dedicated circuit breaker is needed, saving space and ruling out a potential upgrade to the main distribution panel.

Install advice: When installing a PV system that will serve as a source of EV charging either immediately or in the future, be sure to factor in the additional power that will be required. In order to offset the increased electricity consumption by the EV, recommend a system size that is 3-4 kWp larger than a PV system that will not be used to charge an EV. By installing a larger system in advance, the homeowner saves on future installation costs, while the installer improves its ASP.

Monitoring: SolarEdge’s monitoring platform is free for 25 years. From a computer or a phone, homeowners are able to can smart-schedule for use with Time of Use (TOU) rates; track PV, EV, and grid consumption; control household energy usage; remotely control charging; view charging duration, charge energy, and percent charge from PV.

Email: infona@solaredge.com
Website: www.solaredge.com

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Enphase | Panasonic N330E HIT with Enphase IQ 7X

All-in-one smart panel for easier installations

panasonic enphase

Enphase seems to be in every AC module you find. Its most recent partnership with Panasonic on the HIT AC Series Module combines the efficiency of HIT solar panels with the intelligence of Enphase microinverters. An Enphase IQ 7X microinverter with Individual MPPT tracking (Module-level Power Point Tracker) is integrated with HIT high efficiency solar technology to deliver maximum power production. The AC Series alternative energy source offers extreme efficiency and high power output for residential solar systems. Panasonic solar panels are backed by a performance warranty that guarantees minimum power output of 90.76% after 25 years.

Install advice: The Enphase IQ 7X recesses into the frame of the AC Series Module, saving storage space, reducing trips up the ladder, and simplifying the purchasing process.

Monitoring: With the Enphase Enlighten mobile app, you can check your system’s status at-a-glance without scrolling and still dive into the details of your system’s health and performance, all while on-the-go. One tap takes you to energy production graphs and overviews of your energy consumption and storage (if applicable).

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Solar+Storage inverters

CPS America | 60-KW ESS storage solution

 Full ESS solution with full warranty and bankable performance guarantee

CPS turnkey energy storage

 

The Energy Storage Systems (ESS) for the North American market is designed for demand charge reduction, peak shaving and time of use shifting applications. These turn-key grid connected systems are a perfect fit for smaller commercial storage needs. ESS SW solution from its partner Pason Power, including upfront cash flow analysis from the Storage Architect platform and ongoing performance management, forecasting and control via the Intelligent Energy Management System (iEMS). It is UL 9540 listed for plug and play operation and Rule 21 certified for use in California with SGIP applications. Outdoor rated with complete climate control.

Monitoring: All CPS inverters, 3 phase or 1 phase, ship standard with Modbus RS485 communications. Our communication equipment uses industry standard Modbus protocol. The CPS Flex Gateway is a data communications and controls solution for the CPS inverter line. The gateway acts as a Modbus master data logger and gateway solution for communications and controlling commercial and utility scale inverter applications. This enables three parallel outbound communications options:

(1) Local pass-through Modbus data to 3rd party solutions,
(2) Ethernet based communications to CPS Service for remote diagnostics and updates,
(3) and a programmable Ethernet XML SunSpec Data Exchange connection for customers who want to manage their data directly.

Email: casey.miller@chintpower.com
Website: chintpowersystems.com

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Morningstar | Multiwave

The benefits of both low- and high-frequency topology

Morningstar Multiwave

With no transformer or cooling fans and fewer magnetics, the Multiwave is less cramped on the inside, making O&M simple.

Morningstar’s new MultiWave 4-kW inverter/chargers combine high-frequency (HF) power conversion with advanced, two-step voltage transformation circuitry, reducing circuit complexity while maintaining high surge capacity. It surpasses low-frequency (LF) performance with the advantage of being a HF inverter design. Precise cycle-by-cycle software controls for a pure sine wave AC, maximizing load starting capability and minimizing component stresses. It is truly bi-directional topology — its rated continuous inverter power equals its rated charger power and equivalent charging efficiency. LF designs often have different power paths for inverting and charging with much lower efficiency for charging. Morningstar over-spec’d components to achieve a hardware failure rate of less than 0.4%. And like all Morningstar products, it has superior thermal design. Morningstar has never used fans to cool high-power electronics.

Install advice: For the North American market, the pre-wired BOS models can cost less than comparable pre-wired inverter/charger electric panel systems that are often offered by dealers. The pre-wiring is designed to make an NEC code compliant installation quick and easy for up to two MultiWave Inverters combining the BOS model with a standard model.

Monitoring: Morningstar’s new Envision Cloud Service allows you to remotely collect data from all the sites you need to manage. Set up with Morningstar’s Ethernet MeterBus Converter (EMC-1), it is completely scalable for large mesh networks or site clusters.

Email: info@morningstarcorp.com
Website: www.morningstarcorp.com

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Outback Power | SkyBox True Hybrid Energy System

Can manage non-export, demand charge and TOU functions, regardless of which loads need backed up

Outback Skybox

The SkyBox True Hybrid Energy System provides the latest battery backup and energy management features in an easy-to-install, fully automated package that makes homes more resilient in the face of an unpredictable grid. SkyBox works with virtually any 48 VDC battery from traditional lead acid to lithium-ion and other advanced chemistries. Since the PV input is rated for 600 VDC, string sizing is similar to common grid-tie inverters – making retrofits easy. Designed for high-volume grid-tied solar PV installers who are new to energy storage, SkyBox provides simple integration with easy-to-identify terminals for Grid, Protected Loads, Battery, PV and Generator. The full-color touch screen walks users through set up for backup, non-export, time-of-use, demand-charge mitigation or all of the above.

Install advice: Popular batteries can be selected from a drop-down to streamline setup or custom settings can be used to accommodate others. SkyBox can even be installed without a battery and additional inverters and batteries can be added later.

Monitoring: SkyBox is integrated with OutBack’s OPTICS RE telemetry system for remote monitoring and full control. OPTICS allows installers and owners to keep an eye on system performance across their fleet and adjust settings remotely via the Internet.

Email: sales@outbackpower.com
Website: www.outbackpower.com

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Pika Energy | X7602  and X11402 Islanding Inverters

Easily integrates storage in light commercial settings with 208 V three-phase service

Pika_MAY17_006_web
Pika’s Islanding Inverters use a patented DC bus technology called REbus to seamlessly control solar and storage on the same inverter. With REbus, bus voltage and powerline communications synchronize the activities of connected PV Link substring optimizers and DC-coupled smart batteries with the inverter for resilience, self supply and arbitrage applications. The Pika Energy Island is a platform designed from the ground up. Hardware and software work together to deliver more power throughput, more energy capacity and more application flexibility than any other system on the market. Pika Islanding Inverters are able to deliver up to 50A of backup power to protected loads during power outages and control up to 68.4 kWh of Li-ion smart battery storage capacity.

Install advice: We expect to see our relationship to energy and the grid go through unprecedented change over the next decade. Anybody buying solar today will likely want a battery before too long, so plan in advance. With a Pika system that just means that you should leave some wall space clear near the inverter.

Monitoring: Every system ships with REview, a free system monitoring platform.

Email: sales@pika-energy.com
Website: www.pika-energy.com

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SMA | DC coupled storage solution

Can offer significant operating cost and efficiency advantages over AC coupled systems

DC-coupled-storage-solution-SMA

SMA’s DC coupled storage solution is built for new PV plants, and can be used to retrofit existing plants for operators who want the benefits of solar-plus-storage. The solution consists of SMA’s Sunny Central EV-US inverters with a DC coupling ready option and up to six 500 kW DC-DC Converters.

Install advice: SMA’s Application Engineering team can help determine the appropriate battery size and number of DC-DC converters for a particular array in a specific location.

Monitoring: SMA’s Sunny Centrals have many options for connecting to a PV plant SCADA system via copper or fiber connections through an embedded communications device or additional managed switch.

Website: www.sma-america.com

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Sol-Ark | 8K Hybrid Inverter

Built to survive EMP, solar flares, and cyber-attacks

sol ark hybrid

The DC Transformerless Sol-Ark 8K Hybrid Inverter is the most efficient battery inverter in the market, requiring 5-15% fewer solar panels, 5-20% less battery capacity and 25% lower cost electronics. Customers can expand as budgets allow. Built in 500 V MPPTs support five to 36 Solar panels (11 kW) DC coupled and also supports 7 KW AC coupling. Any type and size 48 V batteries can be used, even added later. Because it has 8 KW On Grid and 20 KW Off Grid peak power, home owners need only one. Install costs are reduced with a user wiring area and intuitive color touchscreen display. Sol-Ark 8K has many automatic modes: On Grid, Off Grid, Grid Tie/Sell, Home zero export, Battery Time of Use, Smart Load Time of Use, Peak Shaving, and auto gen start.

Install advice: Batteries can be an expensive investment. We are battery agnostic, but ask us for recommendations or use our online tools for sizing to a client’s needs. In 5+ years of business, we have never had a customer return because affordability and satisfaction are top priority to us.

Monitoring: In addition to the systems GUI graphical screens, free monitoring is offered on Android, Apple, and via web browser to understand and track solar generation, consumption, battery state of charge, and grid usage in 5-minute increments.

Email: sales@sol-ark.com
Website: www.sol-ark.com

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Commercial & Industrial solar inverters

CPS America | 50- and 60-kW 1,000 Vdc string inverters

Remote service diagnostics and remote firmware updates

CPS 50 60 kw

The 50- and 60-kW (55 and 66k VA) medium power CPS three phase string inverters are designed for ground mount, large rooftop and carport applications, specifically for the North American environment and grid. High efficiency at 98.8% peak and 98.5% CEC, wide operating voltages, broad temperature ranges and a NEMA Type 4X enclosure enable this inverter platform to operate at high performance across many applications. The CPS 50/60-kW products ship with either the standard wire-box or the H4 style wire-box, each fully integrated and separable with touch safe fusing, monitoring and AC and DC disconnect switches. Smart-Grid Rule 21 & UL1741SA Certified, plus capable of 0-90° mounting orientation (vertical, angled, or lay flat).

Install advice: Integrate the Flex Gateway in the DAS enclosure to simplify commissioning and streamline service operations for the life of the system (one card per 70 inverters).

Monitoring: All CPS inverters, 3 phase or 1 phase, ship standard with Modbus RS485 communications. Our communication equipment uses industry standard Modbus protocol. The CPS Flex Gateway is a data communications and controls solution for the CPS inverter line. The gateway acts as a Modbus master data logger and gateway solution for communications and controlling commercial and utility scale inverter applications. This enables three parallel outbound communications options:

(1) Local pass-through Modbus data to 3rd party solutions,
(2) Ethernet based communications to CPS Service for remote diagnostics and updates,
(3) and a programmable Ethernet XML SunSpec Data Exchange connection for customers who want to manage their data directly.

Email: ed.heacox@chintpower.com
Website: chintpowersystem.com

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Fronius | SnapINverter: Symo

Integrated SunSpec PLC transmitter for module level shutdown and field-serviceability

Fronius symo

The three-phase inverter line Fronius Symo features 10 models ranging from 10 kW to 24 kW, with the 208 V rated versions going up to 15 kW. The new Advanced versions combine the benefits of the Fronius Symo with additional value for states with Module Level Shutdown requirements, including integrated PLC transmitter for SunSpec Rapid Shutdown communication standard, compliance with NEC pre-2014, 2014 and 2017, zero tilt mounting, light weight and field serviceability. The Fronius SnapINverter line offers integrated Wi-Fi and SunSpec Modbus interfaces, NEMA 4X rating, wide voltage windows, multiple MPP trackers and easy installation in 15 minutes or less.

Install advice: Few tools are needed to complete a Fronius inverter installation, but the most important tool in our opinion is a torque screwdriver. Using this tool and paying attention to the provided torque specifications of the inverter will always ensure a safe and optimal installation.

Monitoring: Free lifetime monitoring comes standard with Fronius and Solar.Web. In it, you can check the performance of a system in addition to performing remote updates.

Email: pv-sales-usa@fronius.com
Website: fronius-usa.com

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Outback Power | ProHarvest XL 480 VAC

A compact form factor ideal for rooftop and carport installations because it can be mounted out of sight

Proharvest
The ProHarvest XL might be the most power dense inverter available today. This new 10 kW version is Rule-21 compliant and weighs just over 30 pounds. The waterproof NEMA6 enclosure and fanless convection cooling at up to 65 °C ambient temperatures allow it to be mounted in any orientation under the array, on the wall, or attached to a carport purlin. The compact size and integrated connectors eliminate the need for DC combiners and associated hardware, which reduces labor and BOS costs. With dual MPPT inputs and a 200 to 850 VDC range, the PHXL480-10k can be used in 600 VDC or 1,000 VDC nominal installations, reducing SKUs and simplifying design as well as installation. AC output is configured in a 480 VAC wye configuration, uniquely suitable for many commercial projects.

Install advice: The ProHarvest series inverters allow for modular and flexible building blocks that can be deployed in almost any size of project.

Monitoring: The ProHarvest Communications Gateway adds monitoring and control communication with local inverters over the power line. Once connected, it will log data and store it on an internal memory card. Information may be accessed through the touch screen, or over an Ethernet network. Power line communications (PLC) means there is no need to run separate wires.

Email: sales@outbackpower.com
Website: www.outbackpower.com

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SMA | Commercial: Sunny Tripower CORE1

Enhanced safety features and 2017 NEC compliance via the new SunSpec PLC signal

SMA-CORE1-RoofTop

The Sunny Tripower CORE1 inverter has been upgraded to new power classes. In addition to the 50 kW CORE1 model, a new higher power 62.5 kW model is available for large projects utilizing higher efficiency modules, and a 33-kW model is now available for projects with smaller or highly segmented arrays as well as 600 V repowering projects. The new CORE1 series will include advanced smart inverter capabilities to fulfill utility grid support interconnection requirements, as well as SMA’s next-generation DC AFCI technology for compliance to the new UL 1699B standard for arc-fault protection.

Install advice: String monitoring is a CORE1 feature that allows similarly strung inputs of the inverter to be benchmarked against each other, allowing for automated warnings if production of an input drops significantly. It’s a built-in O&M watchdog for the six inputs.

Monitoring: The SMA Data Manager M unlocks the updated Sunny Portal, powered by ennexOS. This updated portal allows for easy historical graphing of all data in the Analysis Pro section and provides improved fleet management. The classic Sunny Portal is available for internet connected CORE1 inverters, and either portal allows for signing up for SMA’s free Smart Connected.

Website: www.sma-america.com

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Utility-scale solar inverters

CPS America | 100- and 125-kW, 1500 Vdc String Inverters

No DC combiner box needed. A full featured 20 string input wirebox is integrated (and separable)

CPS 100 and 120

The 100- and 125-kW (111 and 132 kVA) medium power CPS three phase string inverters are designed for ground mount and carport applications at 1,500 Vdc, specifically for the North American environment and grid. High efficiency at 99.1% peak and 98.5% CEC, wide operating voltages, broad temperature ranges and a NEMA Type 4X enclosure enable this inverter platform to operate at high performance across many applications. The CPS 100/125 kW inverters ship with either the standard or “centralized” wire-box. The standard wire-box includes touch safe fusing, surge protection, AC and DC disconnect switches. The new centralized wire-box is designed for sites benefitting from DC combining near the array and locating the inverters closer to the point of interconnection. Both wire-box versions employ the CPS separable, “quick connect” wire-box design saving time installing and servicing the product.

Install advice: Install the Flex Gateway in the DAS box before commissioning the inverters in order to save time by commissioning the site at once, rather than each individual inverter.

Monitoring: The CPS Flex Gateway – normally one communications card per site – for remote service and product updates (to save service cost, increase diagnosis speed and uptime).

Email: ed.heacox@chintpower.com
Website: chintpowersystem.com

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KACO | blueplanet 125 TL3

Silicon carbide semiconductors for a higher switching frequency, less conduction losses and a lightweight device

KACO
The blueplanet 125 TL3 is a string inverter for decentralized, large-scale solar power plants. It is KACO new energy’s first inverter designed for 1,500 volt modules. It is also the first inverter to consistently incorporate silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductors, which means the blueplanet 125 TL3 weighs less than 80 kilograms at a rated output of 125 kVA. This allows for a high power density, especially since the inverter allows for an oversizing of its AC power by 1.5 times while providing a reactive power reserve. The efficiency of 99.2 percent and the wide MPP range of 875 to 1,300 volts underline this high performance. There are a host of optional features available to adapt the inverter to one’s requirements: PID set, surge protection for AC connections and the communication interfaces, XL version with DC switch, WiFi. A standard feature is the protection against corrosion by salty air near the sea, which makes it possible to reduce the minimum distance to the coast from 2,000 meters to 500 meters.

Install advice: Use Ethernet communication for safety reasons. With the blueplanet 125 TL3, you’ll still be able to commission up to 100 inverters simultaneously. An Installation Wizard guides you through the configuration process. Later on, monitoring and maintenance can also be achieved remotely.

Monitoring: Monitoring data can be accessed via the integrated webserver, preferably using Ethernet or WiFi, or your chosen monitoring portal.

Email: kacoinfo@kaco-newenergy.com
Website: kaco-newenergy.com

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Sungrow | SG3150U-MV

Containerized design and pre-defined lifting points make it easy and quick to set

sungrow 2500U_SG3150UThis allows installers to use bigger block sizes and eventually reduce costs. The MPPT window for this product is 915 Vdc-1300 Vdc, which allows it to be used on almost all the PV modules manufacturers and technologies available in the market today. It is NEC 2017 compliant with insulation monitoring and ground fault monitoring functions. It can also be used to produce reactive power at night to support the grid. This inverter is coupled with a medium voltage transformer on the LV side which then steps up the voltage from low voltage to medium voltage. All the monitoring sensors/gauges of the transformer are accessible from outside which allows ease operation. The transformer also comes standard with FR3 oil, which is environmentally friendly. Like Sungrow’s previous central inverter, this inverter also has the modular feature to provides higher availability. The inverter has grid support features likes LVRT, HVRT, FRT, etc., and is compliant with UL and other regional standards. It has a peak efficiency of 98.8% and CEC efficiency of 98.5%.

Install advice: Every inverter comes with a maintenance schedule, and SG3150U has the minimum required maintenance schedule. It is advised to follow the specific installation and maintenance schedules as outlined in the product’s user manual.

Monitoring: The inverter has a Smart Control Unit (SCU), which collects data from the internal power electronic components and it also collects data from the transformer sensors. These transformer sensors are pre-wired from factory which eliminates the need of running more wires from transformer to customer Data Acquisition System (DAS).

Email: sales@sungrow-na.com
Website: en.sungrowpower.com

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Ginlong Solis | Solis 1,500 V 125 kW string inverter

All DC array connectors integrated into the enclosure for fast wiring and commissioning

Ginlong Solar inverters

The first thing an installer notices is how compact and lightweight the NEMA 4X 125 kW Solis 3-phase 1500V inverter is. The inverter is enclosed in a new, thin rectangular case that can be rack-stacked to MW levels. The new 3-phase product features intelligent redundant cooling for maximum performance in hot climates. A two-way communicating inverter (MODBUS / SunSpec), the Solis 125 kW can be remote controlled using SunSpec complaint hardware. This new inverter encourages installers to avoid installing combiner boxes and instead bring all strings back to the inverter and connect directly to the pre-installed MC4 bulkhead connectors. Inside the wiring box of the Solis 125KW, the installer will find 20 integrated fuse holders, load-rated AC/DC disconnect switches and integrated Class II overvoltage protection.

Install advice: Take your time during commissioning. The Solis inverters are particularly easy to commission so there is extra time for the installer to check all electrical connections and make sure that all the settings are correct in the internal menus. This extra few minutes at commissioning time will save time, money and headaches in the future.

Website: www.ginlong.com

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SMA | Sunny Highpower PEAK3

Maximizes the benefits of distributed PV plant design

SMA-Sunny-Highpower-PEAK3-5830

SMA’s PEAK3 inverter fulfills the need for flexibility, simplicity and performance in large-scale ground mount solar projects. The 1,500 VDC solution offers developers a cost-effective, modular building block that provides scalability while reducing balance-of-system and installation costs. Array combiners send one long pair of high-voltage DC conductors to each PEAK3 in the inverter station, with short AC runs to a collection panel and transformer, minimizing energy losses. Centralizing the inverters reduces communications cabling and inverter O&M time and effort. It is available in two models: 125 kW/480 VAC and 150 kW/600 VAC.

Install advice: Both AC and DC terminals are approved for copper or aluminum conductors, and no neutral is run to the PEAK3.

Monitoring: Sunny Highpower PEAK3 inverters are eligible for the SMA Smart Connected service, which offers proactive monitoring and O&M support that reduces plant servicing time and costs while maximizing system uptime, energy yield and ROI. Plant communications with the inverter are supported by the SMA Data Manager powered by ennexOS, SMA’s cross-sector energy management platform, providing an optimized interface for plant commissioning as well as intelligent monitoring and controls required in large-scale PV systems.

Website: www.sma-america.com

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Yaskawa Solectria Solar |  SOLECTRIA XGI 1500

Access every inverter at once from a single location

 

yaskawa solectria xgi

Yaskawa Solectria Solar’s SOLECTRIA XGI 1500 inverters are powerful 1500V string inverters, with models rated at 125, 150 and 166 kW that boast a 99% peak efficiency rating. The SOLECTRIA XGI 1500 inverters use standardized communication protocols to ease connection to any network. This allows system owners to access all inverters on site from a single location using a secured WiFi and provides convenience for remote diagnostics and firmware upgrades. This new level of capability will lower system costs and improve the efficiency of operations.

Install Advice: Yaskawa Solectria Solar provides two lines of 1500V string combiners to accompany the XGI 1500 inverter. The 1500V Attachable Combiner is designed to mate with the XGI 1500 inverter, for distributed PV systems where the combiner and inverter are located together. For a centralized system configuration, we provide the 1500V Remote Combiner, for use when multiple XGI 1500 inverters are located in a central area and the combiners are spread throughout the PV array.

Website: www.solectria.com

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SolarEdge EV-charging inverter now works with Google Assistant

SolarEdge EV charger inverter

SolarEdge says its EV-charging solar inverter — already the first of its kind out there — now works with Google Assistant to make EV charging simpler for consumers and to better integrate all smart home solutions.

“Smart homes have mainly been about convenience and interconnectivity, but the next step of the smart home is integrating smart energy management, such as EV charg-ing,” stated Lior Handelsman, SolarEdge’s Founder and VP of Marketing and Product Strategy. “By merging the simplicity of smart homes with the value of smart energy through this collaboration with Google, SolarEdge is leading the way in making the power of smart solar energy more accessible to more people”

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Consumers can now tell the Google Assistant to start and stop EV charging. SolarEdge plans to add functionality to the Google Assistant commands, including inquiring about charging status, checking average miles charged in the charging session, and pre-schedule charging.

SolarEdge’s EV charging solar inverter offers up to six times faster charging than standard Level 1 chargers through its innovative solar boost mode.

— Solar Builder magazine

SolarEdge acquires electric vehicle powertrain provider SMRE

SolarEdge

SolarEdge Technologies announced a huge move today, acquiring SMRE Spa, a provider of integrated powertrain technology and electronics for electric vehicles.

Founded in 1999 and traded on the Italian AIM, SMRE has three business units: e-mobility, automated production machines and telematics software. The company has more than fifteen years of experience developing end-to-end e-mobility solutions for electric and hybrid vehicles used in motorcycles, commercial vehicles and trucks. These solutions include innovative high-performing powertrains with e-motor, motor drive, gearbox, battery, BMS, chargers, Vehicle Control Unit (VCU) and software for electric vehicles.

With governments and automotive manufacturers committed to the electrification of transportation, the global market for electric vehicles is expected by industry experts to increase from approximately one million EVs in 2018 to approximately 20 million annually in 2030, with a CAGR of 30.6% from 2015 and until 2030.

“The acquisition of SMRE is another step in executing our strategy of sustainable growth by addressing an additional fast growing and technologically synergetic market while diversifying into new fields outside the solar arena,” stated Guy Sella, CEO, Chairman and Founder of SolarEdge. “SMRE’s innovative technology and experienced, successful team provides SolarEdge with fast-track access to the high-growth e-mobility market. We believe that combining SMRE’s vast experience and full powertrain technology with SolarEdge’s innovative power and battery technology, proven operational excellence and global reach, positions us to become a market leader in this important market.”

The initial acquisition entails a purchase from the founder and an additional two stockholders of approximately 51% of the outstanding shares of SMRE pursuant to a standard share purchase agreement, for an aggregate investment of approximately $77 million, with 50% to be paid in cash and the remaining 50% to be paid in shares of SolarEdge common stock. The transaction is expected to close in the coming weeks and will be followed by a mandatory tender offer in which SolarEdge intends to offer to purchase in an all cash transaction, subject to regulatory reviews and approvals, the remaining outstanding ordinary shares of SMRE, that are currently listed on the Italian AIM stock exchange, with the goal of SMRE becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of SolarEdge.

— Solar Builder magazine

SolarEdge products ready to meet both NEC 2017 and Rule 21 Phase 3

 

SolarEdge

SolarEdge Technologies is ready for the implementation of both NEC 2017’s revision to the PV Rapid Shutdown System (PVRSS) requirements for 2019 and is prepared for the roll out of Phase 3 of Rule 21. The company offers solutions that comply with these regulations.

“By preparing our product lineup in advance of the soon-to-be implemented standards, we ensure that our installers can continue to meet installation demand without any delays or disruptions,” stated Peter Mathews, General Manager North America.

SolarEdge will continue to support increased solar proliferation with compliance to Rule 21 Phase 3. With the implementation in February 2019, some Rule 21 Phase 3 requirements will become mandatory. Accordingly, SolarEdge will provide an expanded feature set for smart inverters to support a more interactive and stable grid. Features like data monitoring, remote connection/disconnection, and max power controls will start to become the new industry standard.

All SolarEdge inverters sold in California will be certified for IEEE 2030.5, while already shipped SolarEdge inverters can be updated for compliance. To support the increasing need for cloud connectivity, SolarEdge will also offer a selection of flexible cellular data plans for all its inverters.

The newest provision of NEC 2017 (690.12), which reduces the shock hazard in PV arrays for enhanced firefighter safety, is set to go into effect in January 2019. Requiring no additional rooftop hardware, third-party vendor solutions, or changes to installation, SolarEdge offers residential and commercial power optimizers that meet the PV Rapid Shutdown System (PVRSS) 2019 requirements. SolarEdge’s fully integrated solution provides advanced safety compliance by controlling the system at the module level. Upon rapid shutdown initiation, SolarEdge’s power optimizers are designed to rapidly reduce the voltage inside and outside of the array.

— Solar Builder magazine

NEC 2017 Primer for Solar Installers: Manufacturers explain how their products meet the updated code

NEC 2017

Jan. 1, 2019, is almost upon us, which means the National Electric Code (NEC) 2017 is almost in effect. Not all jurisdictions will be up to speed (hell, some aren’t even up on NEC 2014 yet), but around 24 states will require compliance immediately. We asked a variety of manufacturers about their NEC 2017-ready products, how they work and any advice they have for solar installers to meet the new code.

This section is from our Nov/Dec issue of Solar Builder magazine. Subscribe for free right here.

Code to know

690.12 Rapid Shutdown of PV Systems on Buildings

PV system circuits installed on or in buildings shall include a rapid shutdown function to reduce shock hazard for emergency responders in accordance with 690.12(A) through (D).

(A) Controlled Conductors. Requirements for controlled conductors shall apply to PV circuits supplied by the PV system.

(B) Controlled Limits. The use of the term, array boundary, in this section is defined as 305 mm (1 ft) from the array in all directions. Controlled conductors outside the array boundary shall comply with 690.12(B)(1) and inside the array boundary shall comply with 690.12(B)(2).

1. Outside the Array Boundary. Controlled conductors located outside the boundary or more than 1 m (3 ft) from the point of entry inside a building shall be limited to not more than 30 volts within 30 seconds of rapid shutdown initiation. Voltage shall be measured between any two conductors and between any conductor and ground.

2. Inside the Array Boundary. The PV system shall comply with one of the following:

(1) The PV array shall be listed or field labeled as a rapid shutdown PV array. Such a PV array shall be installed and used in accordance with the instructions included with the rapid shutdown PV array listing and labeling or field labeling.

(2) Controlled conductors located inside the boundary or not more than 1 m (3 ft) from the point of penetration of the surface of the building shall be limited to not more than 80 volts within 30 seconds of rapid shutdown initiation. Voltage shall be measured between any two conductors and between any conductor and ground.

Know your signs

solaredge

SolarEdge’s SafeDC technology is embedded in its DC optimized solution and as such meets NEC 2017 without any additional components. The existing PV system AC disconnect is used as the initiator. Whenever the inverter or grid is turned off (i.e. AC power), then the DC voltage and current fall below the NEC 2017 thresholds within 30 seconds — each power optimizer is responsible for lowering its output voltage to 1 volt during rapid shutdown activation. This happens both in and outside the array boundary.

“New signs are required to inform emergency responders of the equipment meeting NEC 2017. NEC 2017 requires that equipment used as rapid shutdown devices be listed for rapid shutdown and evaluated according to stringent standards. Installers should check to ensure all equipment is properly listed. For example, inverters and combiners that are used inside or outside the array boundary as rapid shutdown devices must be listed for rapid shutdown in the event that they are used for that purpose,” says Lior Handelsman, founder, VP of marketing for SolarEdge.

HellermannTyton Don’t skimp on labels

HellermannTyton offers a line of NEC 2017 code compliant labels that have been tested to actual real-world conditions for over seven years and through accelerated aging tests, which show the labels will survive decades of exposure [see example of one that did not on the right]. Because of the extensive testing of these solar-compliant labels, HellermannTyton offers a seven-year warranty on all adhesive labels that include the HT check mark and a 25-year warranty on any aluminum labels.

“Many municipalities are very concerned about label life. In this age of OSHA and ANSI compliance, there is increased liability on installers and inspection services. If a label only remains visible for a few years, and if someone gets injured or killed in the process of interacting with the equipment, there can be substantial fines or costly litigation that can affect on-going business,” says Todd Fries, product category manager – identification for HellermannTyton.

Watch for SunSpec certification

sunspec

If you’re unfamiliar with the SunSpec Alliance, it’s time you became familiar. This trade alliance of more than 100 solar and storage stakeholders has been working on information standards for plug-and-play PV system interoperability, but its communication solution for meeting module-level power control and safety (rapid shutdown) with any panel and inverter combination might be its crowning achievement. Look for the logo to the left to find products certified to the SunSpec RSD Specification. Here’s a list of early adopter companies involved in the collaboration and rollout.

• ABB
• Adesto Technologies
• Canadian Solar
• Celestica Inc.
• Chint Power Systems –
North America
• Delta Products
• Enphase Energy
• ER Solar
• Fronius International
• Ginlong-Solis
• Hansol Technics Co.
• HiQ Solar
• Itek Energy
• Ingeteam
• JA Solar
• LERRI Solar Technology
• Maxim Integrated
• Mersen Electrical Power
• Midnite Solar
• Neo Solar Power
• Omron Global
• OutBack Power
• Phoenix Contact
• SMA
• Samil Power
• Seraphim Solar USA
• Semitech Semiconductor
• Silfab Solar
• Solartec
• ST Micro
• Sungrow
• SunPower
• Sunrun
• Sunpreme
• Suntech Power
• Talesun Tesla
• Texas Instruments
• Tigo Energy
• UL LLC
• Yaskawa Solectrica
• Yingli Solar

sunspec

This is a diagram of how the SunSpec Communication signal for module-level rapid shutdown works.

froniusCompliance doesn’t mean cost

“It is important to know what the actual requirement is and then getting to code compliance in the simplest, most cost-effective way to not put extra financial burden on the customer. We believe that industry standards and innovation will drive down cost and allow customer choice,” says Richard Baldinger, head of marketing for Fronius.

The Fronius Symo Advanced three-phase inverter combines the benefits of the Fronius Symo with the convenience of an open industry standard. Featuring 10 models ranging from 10 kW to 24 kW, the Fronius Symo Advanced meets NEC 2017 compliance in conjunction with the Tigo TS4-F cover via the integrated Power Line Communication (PLC) transmitter that uses the SunSpec communication signal for rapid shutdown. This eliminates the need for any additional communication hardware and provides the most cost-effective option for code compliance.

tigoTigo Energy’s TS4-F (Fire Safety) is a UL-certified multivendor rapid shutdown solution for commercial PV systems that complies with NEC 2017. The TS4-R-F is a simple add-on that retrofits a regular standard solar module with a module-level rapid shutdown device and is compatible with the power line-based SunSpec communication signal for rapid shutdown. Using the existing DC wires between the inverter and module-level electronics as a communication channel significantly reduces installation time.

midnite solarMidnite Solar’s MNLSOB line, in both 600-volt and 1,000-volt models, utilize one transmitter and multiple receivers per system. This product can be used for string or module-level shutdown by using one receiver per string or one per module. They plug directly into the MC4 connectors on your module and, because the MNLSOB transmitter induces a PLC signal into the PV Positive line, there is no additional or new wiring to be done between the transmitter and the receivers. Midnite Solar will be introducing a new SunSpec-compliant MNLSOB by January.

Make no compromises

“There are no additional design requirements to implement shutdown functionality. A designer can build a project for maximum energy harvest, optimal ROI, or with any other goal in mind and simply choose the most cost-effective MLPE to address his or her needs. The shutdown functionality is built into these solutions and does not impact other project considerations. Installers should also be aware of the upcoming release of UL Standard 3741 as another way to comply with NEC 201 690.12 without requiring module-level shutdown by using equipment listed as ‘PV Hazard Control Arrays,’” says Brad Dore, director of marketing for SMA America.

SMA’s Sunny Tripower CORE1 meets the shutdown requirements of NEC 690.12 when paired with a TS4-R-F module-level device. The inverter and MLPE retrofit unit operate on the new SunSpec Power Line Communication (PLC) signal for module-level rapid shutdown. This solution is the most cost-effective way to achieve module-level shutdown. The solution operates on a simple “stay alive” signal broadcast from the inverter over the existing DC wires. The TS4-R-F units will operate while AC power is present, and if AC power is cut via the AC disconnect, the MLPEs lose the “stay alive” signal and de-energize in accordance with code.

Streamline to ground

Section 690.43 states that “Exposed noncurrent-carrying metal parts of PV module frames, electrical equipment, and conductor enclosures of PV systems shall be grounded in accordance with 250.134 or 250.136(A), regardless of voltage.”

brilliant rack

Brilliant Rack racking systems feature mounting connections with serrated bolts that ensure the most effective metal-to-metal contact for proper bonding connections. These connections are essential for dispersing any electrical charge, providing multiple pathways to soil in compliance with Section 250.92 B. This reduces the danger of equipment damage or human injury should the rack become electrically charged through equipment malfunction, human error or lightning strike. Independent testing has demonstrated Brilliant Rack systems are capable of dispersing higher currents through the system into soil, and that the serrated bolt and nut are likely to maintain this connection better over a long period of time than WEEB clips.

sunmodo

SunModo’s ground lug, self-bonding clamps and self-bonding rail splices meet the requirements found in NEC 2017. The basis of the self-bonding system is its patented stainless-steel floating bonding pin, which is designed to be captive in the mounting components and provides a bonding path from the PV panel frames to the rails and rail splices and finally to the ground lug. The Ground Lug is compliant with both UL 467 and the equipment grounding requirements 690.43. The self-bonding system is for use with PV modules that have a maximum series fuse rating of 30A.

 

 

Rooftop Adder Table removed

quick mount pv

“The Rooftop Adder Table that has affected the ampacity calculations for conductors that are run at a specified distance above a rooftop has been deleted. This table generally hasn’t been well accepted by electrical personnel since its addition to the NEC several years ago. Because of the deletion, if raceways are kept at least 7/8 of an inch above the rooftop, there should no longer be a need for upsizing conductors and increasing costs,” says Randy Barnett, safety compliance professional for the NFPA.

Quick Mount PV has two NEC 2017-ready products in its classic conduit mount and conduit mount for tile. When used in conjunction with a standard off-the-shelf conduit hanger, the conduit is raised in excess of the minimum 7/8-in. off the roof surface, which is new in NEC 2017. These mounts are designed to lift electrical conduit off the roof to protect wiring from overheating. These mounts use Quick Mount’s proprietary waterproofing technology to seal the roof penetrations, and aluminum and stainless steel parts are used to secure the electrical conduit for the life of the system.

— Solar Builder magazine