Inverters: Enphase – Microinverter Technology
“Caveat Emptor” or buyer beware. Most solar companies are stuck offering whatever solar products their lease allows. For example, SunPower dealers have to sell private-labeled central inverters in order to offer SunPower leases. (update: SunPower now offers microinverters, however, they do not stand up to the quality Enphase has proven). Keep this in mind, panels and efficiency are important but only 50% of the equation. Inverters are the other 50% perhaps 60% of the system’s production. In our many years of meeting with homeowners, the only companies that do not “like” Enphase, can not offer it. In some instances though, larger companies won’t switch to newer technologies. Possible reasons: not having to train on new products and the risk of possibly alienating their current customer base who was sold the older, less expensive technology. Palomar asks you to talk to homeowners that have invested in solar, and we are more than happy to provide referrals. Our systems are designed using state calculator numbers, which are very conservative. As long as the system size is the same apples to apples solar systems will produce apples to apples results. We prefer our customers to be pleasantly surprised when they see what their system is producing, compared to our competitors that often use inflated numbers just to seal the deal.
Enphase microinverters were introduced in 2008, and are arguably the most significant advancement in solar product technology in the last 25 years. Gaining significant popularity over the last three years with the introduction of their industry leading (by 15 years) 25-year warranty. For the first time ever the two main components of a solar system (solar panels and inverters) are warranted for 25 years with free lifetime monitoring. Palomar Solar includes per panel monitoring with every residential project sold with Enphase and can prove it on the Enphase Enlighten website, where all of our customer’s installations are monitored online. Unfortunately, research shows that only about 10% or less of solar companies monitor their installed systems, even fewer will actually turn on the per panel monitoring feature, Palomar Solar always does. We even believe in taking it a step further and granting YOU access to monitor your system as well. While most companies hope you never call after you write the final check, Palomar Solar cares about your long term positive experience and highly recommends you to utilize Enphase microinverters or Solar Edge Inverters with optimizers, whether you choose Palomar or not. Every single residential installation will have lifetime per panel monitoring with Palomar Solar, the per panel monitoring is currently the best on the market, holding all parties accountable and protecting your long term investment.
You no longer need a big box (central or string inverter) mounted on the side of your home. Enphase microinverters are individual inverters that are mounted underneath each solar panel. All you have is a single piece of conduit that is run from the array to your main electrical panel, making the most aesthetically pleasing installation possible. Palomar Solar will even paint the conduit (homeowner must supply the paint, thus ensuring matching colors).
Palomar Solar was one of the first companies in Southern California to embrace Enphase solar products. This is significant because we can show you real life production going back further than anyone. Palomar Solar is the leader in Enphase installations in Southern California and the first contractor recognized as an Enphase Premium Installer.
Microinverters and string inverters with optimizers can see gains of 8%-15% versus the old central or string inverters. Shade and defects do not effect Enphase microinverters like they do a central inverter. Imagine the power production lost while waiting on a service call and not sure where the problem lies.With Enphase, both the homeowner and Palomar monitor the system daily, if a problem should arise, both parties would know beforehand which panel or inverter needed servicing and you’ve only lost the production of that one panel, not your entire system.
Inverters: Solar Edge – Hybrid Inverter
Solar Edge is a hybrid inverter meaning you still have the central inverter to hang on the wall or outside of your home. But it also has DC power optimizers under each solar panel which gives us the ability to provide per solar panel monitoring that we have built our reputation on.
Solar Edge solar products are a great solution when you are dealing with three phase power and is our go to inverter for the majority of our commercial installations.
Residentially it is currently in our opinion the best solution for customers who want battery back-up right now as it pairs nicely with the LG battery.
While Solar Edge comes with a 12-year warranty on the main component, Palomar Solar goes ahead does a pre-buy of the warrant up to 25 years for your peace of mind. In effect, us doing this guarantees the cost of the second inverter that you will need to have installed during the lifetime of your solar system. Inverters just do not have a 25 year lifetime, and we want the system we sell you to continue to produce for 25 years, not 10 or 15 years. The DC power optimizers that are under each panel come with a 25-year warranty out of the box.
Racking: Roof Mounts or Ground Mounts
The forgotten piece of the puzzle. Make sure you to ask any contractor about the different options you have when it comes to racking.
Racking is the balance of any solar installation and the components that go into it are very important. If a contractor goes with low quality racking it can have major effects on a project ie; racking attachment, accessories, roof attachments etc. For example, roof attachments not lasting and even possible roof leaks. Racking not only can change the aesthetics of an install but even wire sizing can make a difference in your system’s production, albeit minuscule. Palomar Solar does not choose a product based on its popularity. We look at each job and decide what racking option is the best solution for that particular project. For instance, if you are in the market for a ground mount, we currently recommend Haticon Solar and Ironridge as we believe it represents the best ground mount racking in the market today. For roof mounts, when working with tile, we recommend a solution from Everest that encompasses their tile hook along with their racking.
Palomar Solar is constantly researching new innovations and companies. PV solar is a fast moving industry, similar to computers and cell phones. Therefore, with racking, much like panels and inverters, we will constantly be looking at new solutions that better serve our customers. You won’t ever see a contract with the specific racking called out in it, but it’s still an integral piece and a quality contractor should be able to explain what they intend to use and why.
Palomar Solar does not recommend building a house on top of sand or a solar system on top of just any racking system.