Why We Recommend SolarEdge Inverters
Established in 2006, SolarEdge developed the DC optimized inverter solution that changed the way power is harvested and managed in photovoltaic (PV) systems. The SolarEdge intelligent inverter solution maximizes power generation while lowering the cost of energy produced by the PV system, for improved ROI. Mountain View Solar recommends SolarEdge based systems for the reasons outlined below.
Unlike a typical string inverter, SolarEdge utilizes optimizers which ensure maximum energy harvest from each individual solar module in the array. Within a solar array, even when brand new, some panels will generate more power than others, referred to as “module mismatch”. Without optimizers, the entire string’s power output would be limited by its weakest module. In addition to mismatch when new, soiling such as bird droppings, dust accumulation, and even partially melted snow can significantly limit overall energy harvest of that string temporarily. In addition, every module may not necessarily degrade at the same rate, further increasing mismatch in future years. As each optimizer operates solely with the module it is connected to, it can make independent adjustments in voltage and current to get the maximum DC energy output into the inverter.
An important term to understand when talking about power optimizers is the term MPPT, or Maximum Power Point Tracking. In the same way that having a smart thermostat in each room or floor of your house allows you to track temperature separately, the module level optimization allows for maximum power point tracking of each module. This is especially important in the shade mitigation and monitoring aspect discussed below. Getting live data on what sunlight is going into each solar panel allows the whole array to operate more-or-less “intelligently,” adjusting itself toward the best possible output.
The worst enemy for solar installations is shade. With a standard string system, if a single module in a string is shaded, the power output of all the remaining modules also goes down quite significantly. It doesn’t matter if that shade comes from a tree, bird droppings, or any other soiling. With optimization at each individual module, the performance of one module in the string has no effect on the performance of the others. The SolarEdge system constantly works to find the maximum power point of each individual module regardless of shade, and feed all available power to the inverter.
The real world reality of solar modules is that they will all perform differently. SolarEdge’s module level optimization simply means capturing the energy that would otherwise be lost when your array is brought down by a low performer.
While being properly installed by a licensed and experienced contractor is generally enough to make a solar array safe against starting fires, the SolarEdge system adds the safety of being able to flip a single switch and turn off both the inverter and the panels themselves. This stops the high voltage DC supply from the roof, which can be life threatening, for example, if firefighters were to spray water onto it while energized and damaged.
SolarEdge’s SafeDC technology has paved the way forward in the safety of solar power systems. In addition to safety during an emergency, SafeDC Mode stipulates that each optimizer only puts out just one volt so that installation and maintenance is performed under the same safe conditions.
Automatic Rapid Shutdown & First Responders
When there is an emergency, be it on a residential or a commercial PV array, it is important to be able to quickly and carefully shut down the entire system as described above without having to figure out how the system works. The addition of manual and automatic Rapid Shutdown has become another valuable aspect of SolarEdge both for complying with the 2017 National Electric Code and to prevent the need for manual shutdowns or any kind of string-by-string or panel-by-panel shutdown, all of which take much longer to get all panels to a safe voltage while handling an emergency. SolarEdge’s automatic rapid shutdown brings the entire system to safe voltage levels in less than 10 seconds, whether turned off on the AC or DC side. Lastly, this is all built in, without the need for any additional and costly rapid shutdown devices as is common with other string inverters.
SolarEdge enables the monitoring of individual modules rather than only at the string level. A monitoring system that only records performance at the string level might notice a minor dip in energy output, but your contractor will have to hunt down the weak panel in the field, which has labor costs. A module level monitoring system will detect a single deficient panel, which can then be identified instantly and replaced before the warranty expires.
Similarly, this monitoring can help with shade mitigation, or adjustments made due to the presence of trees or buildings that over time may change the amount of hours of sunshine that some panels receive. Other uses for the monitoring system include identifying malfunctioning parts quickly and replacing them to rapidly restore high-efficiency energy output, as well as simply learning more about the day to day functioning of solar panels, possibly in anticipation for future solar panel additions or projects.
With the SolarEdge electricity meter, the monitoring portal is expanded to show all of the energy your home uses, and what is sent to the grid and what is pulled from the grid. With the SolarEdge EV charging inverter, discussed below, the portal includes information about the energy put into your car each day. Last, with the StorEdge system, the monitoring portal will include all the details about battery usage and health.
Standard and Extended Warranties
SolarEdge stands by their products: they have limited product warranties that guarantee performance for 25 years on the power optimizers, and inverter warranties that are above industry standard at 12 years. What’s more, their belief in their product allows them to offer extended inverter warranties to 20/25 years, depending on the exact model in question. When an extended warranty is purchased, it puts the lifespan of the inverter’s warranty to the same length as the optimizers, offering some piece of mind and a reminder of how little maintenance these systems typically need. With a typical ROI of 10-12 years in the West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania area, the system will have paid for itself long before the warranty expires.
Producing Extra Energy Through Efficiency
While plenty of other reliable inverters exist, none compare to the efficiency of SolarEdge HD-Wave inverter systems, which tend to hover at around 99%, whereas standard non-optimized string inverter systems anecdotally get 3-5% less than that due to panel mismatch alone. Even micro-inverters can’t reach 99% efficiency and are stuck around 97%. This translates to faster payback, since any energy lost through the inverting process extends the time it takes for the system to pay for itself in avoided utility costs.
Easy Storage Tie-In
SolarEdge inverter systems make it easy to add battery storage, like the StorEdge + LG Chem RESU10H. While StorEdge battery backup systems are often designed to have battery storage from the beginning, you can choose to delay that investment and add the battery at a later time. The options available keep the prices low compared to retrofits that may require replacement of existing equipment to add storage safely and efficiently.
Inverter with built in Level 2 EV Charger
SolarEdge recently released its combined inverter + electric car charger solution. This solution has many benefits for the system owner, including:
- Only one conduit and wire run from panel box to inverter & charger. This saves money and has other benefits as well.
- The EV charging inverter can supplement the grid with solar power to charge the car faster.
- The EV charging inverter can be programmed via an app to charge only when you choose.
- The combined solution is less expensive than a separate inverter and car charger installation.
- Since the charger is built into the inverter, it also receives the same 12 year standard warranty.
The SolarEdge inverter with EV charging capability can also be first installed just as an inverter, without the EV charge cord. The cord and plug can be easily added by the homeowner upon purchase of their EV down the road. We have a couple of recent articles describing electric car options and the financial benefits of charging them from the sun.
Easy System Expansion
With a SolarEdge optimized system, adding modules in stages is easy! Unlike a string inverter, which has strict requirements on string length and therefore limits how you can expand your system without new inverter equipment, the SolarEdge system permits complete flexibility. mtvSolar can strategically size your inverter so that any future expansion can be handled without replacing or re-wiring any other part of the system. This avoids significant costs for you in both equipment and labor. And not only can you easily add more modules, SolarEdge even allows for different types of modules to be added, allowing for maximum flexibility down the road.
Get Started Now!
As you can see, there are many ways in which SolarEdge’s technology has increased the safety and efficiency of solar energy installations. We are a company committed to the highest quality equipment for our customers, and our passion for a safe, efficient inverter system is only the start.
Contact us now to learn more about SolarEdge and other perks that set Mountain View Solar apart.