In the 2013 timeframe, I started building a solar PV system on my home. I had attended the Solar Energy Institute (S.E.I.) in Paonia, Colorado, and learned the basics of solar. While at S.E.I., I was introduced to Enphase Energy microinverter technology, and it was their multiplicity factor of having a microinverter under every solar panel that attracted me to the technology.
Before microinverters existed, the predominant solar PV system configuration was to have a string of solar panels connected to a single central string inverter which converted DC electricity to AC which your home’s electric grid runs on. By having a microinverter under every solar panel ensured system reliability such that even if a microinverter did fail, the rest of the system would remain operable.
This was and still is the true superiority of an Enphase microinverter system, and for a home residential system, that reliability factor is of the utmost importance. Of course, the safety of an Enphase system dealing in AC versus high-voltage DC is just as important, and the recent Walmart fires which were caused by high-voltage DC solar systems is a telltale of that technology’s inferiority.
I began my solar PV installation with two branch circuits, each containing 14 solar panels with 14 microinverters; these branch circuits were installed at the pinnacle of my home's east and west roofs, respectively. A short time later, I installed an additional 12-panel branch circuit on my south roof. Over the next two years, I installed three more branch circuits on my barn, for a total of 85 Enphase microinverters using Enphase M215 and M250’s, and a total of 20,000-Watts AC generation capability.
Since that time frame, my solar PV system has never failed completely, and the two micros I have replaced in that time, resulted in only a single branch circuit being switched off for about 30 minutes; now that is the true meaning of reliability! Other vendor solar PV systems cannot match Enphase when it comes to that reliability, and reliability means less need for service. With an Enphase microinverter system, when service is required, it is not a crisis situation of the entire solar system being inoperable, just a single solar panel.
With systems using a central string inverter, when that component fails, the entire solar system is inoperable. That difference between the two main competing solar technologies in the marketplace is what makes microinverters the better choice.
When I built my system seven years ago, 260-Watt panels with 215-Watt microinverters were the standard.Now, here we are in 2020, and the solar panel and microinverter technology have practically doubled in efficiency and power generation. If I were designing a system now, I'd be looking for Enphase IQ7A microinverters paired with the highest wattage panels I could find. The beauty of the IQ7A is that it is compatible with 60-, 66- and 72-cell solar panels and produces 366-Watts AC output.
The solar panel technology available now is in the low 400-Watt range with efficiency ratings in the ~20% range. Furthermore, the price of the solar hardware has gotten less expensive, so that what you can now design for a system is lightyears better than what was available on the market 7 years ago.
In summary, with bank interest and T-bills at near zero, your money in the bank may give you a better ROI if you put it on your roof. Furthermore, a solar PV system is truly a hedge against inflation, and in our economy now, government spending appears to be at full throttle with no end in sight.
In addition, many utilities have implemented revenue-generating schemes involving high TOU rates and demand charge fees, so in my opinion, now has never been a better time to go solar, and if you can afford to add storage batteries to the mix to make it a full-blown energy system, then go for it. My 20,000-Watt solar system paid for itself in seven years, and with no moving parts, I expect it to go for another 20!
Going solar is easy with Renvu and Enphase Energy. Renvu can help configure your basic system design, and then Enphase’s Installer Network can be accessed to find certified installers to do the job! But, if you’re like me, you may want to do it yourself, and with Enphase microinverters, the ease and simplicity of installation are really there to make that a possibility. Good luck!