I get asked this all the time (Adam Rizzo, one of the founding partners of Palomar Solar). Why does Palomar Solar prefer Enphase microinverters over central inverters in residential applications? We were just like most solar contractors when we started out. We started with central inverters right about the time Enphase was coming to market. One of the partners at Palomar installed one on his home not convinced of this new technology. It wasn’t until about six months later when we received a call from a customer who was having trouble finding anyone who would install Enphase. We took it as the perfect opportunity to try it out and we have not looked back since. Why?
- Enphase Microinverters have a 25 year warranty vs. a central inverter that comes with 10 years
- Low voltage AC coming from the panel to the main electrical panel. Not DC like a central inverter
- Every system we have ever installed deals with shade whether it’s dust, bird droppings, clouds, etc. So say you have been sold on SunPowers 327 watt panel. One is in the shade and only putting out 100 watts. With Enphase it only impacts that particular panel. But with a central inverter the system has to balance out to the weakest panel in that string. The difference in production is significant. Many home owners I meet with get caught up in the wattage of the panel. I tell everyone that the solar panel is only 50% of the production equation the other 50% is the inverter being deployed. This is why most SunPower dealers only talk about how great their solar panels are. Very few brag about or talk about the private labeled central inverter they are using.
- Rather than having a big central inverter hanging on the side of your beautiful home or inside your garage taking up valuable space. With Enphase you simply have a single piece of ¾” conduit running from the panels to your main electrical panel which we paint to match the home. Often time this can be done within the walls eliminating exterior conduit all together.
- Probably the most significant reason we prefer Enphase microinverters is the accountability. With Enphase you have the ability to monitor each individual solar panel at any given time from anywhere you have access to the internet. Unlike a central inverter where you can only see the production as a whole. So if six months down the road you have a panel that is underperforming by 10% and it’s bringing the rest of the system down you would have no way of knowing. With Enphase it would send you an e-mail alert saying something is wrong look at me. This eliminates finger pointing and lot’s of headaches. The number one complaint with Solar is underperformance of a system. This eliminates that and is why I believe most companies do not install it. They do not want to be held accountable for lies their salesman said to get the contract.
We have installed over 10,000 microinverters. We have installed every Enphase product including the M190, M215 and M250. We have had very few issues with the exception of the first version M190 where we may have replaced 10 units along with a complete 34 solar panel system where after the fourth failure Enphase sent us all new M215’s and paid us two days labor to replace all of the customers M190’s. All the stories I hear about companies trying them and having a bunch of issues in my opinion is there sales pitch against it. The truth is most of them are SunPower dealers and SunPower is not compatible with Enphase.
At the end of the day if a company is unable to show you at least 50 systems they have under monitoring I would recommend looking elsewhere. Only about 10% of solar companies monitor their systems. The other 90% hope you never call after you write the final check. I tell everyone I meet with whether or not you choose Palomar Solar I highly recommend Enphase microinverters. The 25 year warranty and per panel monitoring are unmatched and will provide years of peace of mind that your investment is producing properly.