Summer is here, and the world is at it’s best. Winter jackets and spring sweaters have been replaced with bathing suits and sandals. Children have been given 3 months to rest up from the stresses of school, and family vacations have gone from planning to execution. Smiles run rampant as kids slurp treats from the ice cream man, while others spend hours absorbing the sun laying on the sand. The warm summer evenings offer an opportunity for barbequing and meals watching the sunset. Summer is amongst us, and it is the best!
However, temperatures and spirits are not the only things that go up in the summertime. The hot days and nights lead to air conditioning/ fan use, which leads to higher utility bills. Significantly higher, in fact, sometimes 3X the average monthly bill. That causes quite a strain on the monthly finances, leading many people looking for cheaper alternatives. As we see it, there are basically two options: Be too hot during the day and sleepless at night, or GET SOLAR! With solar, a family can run their air conditioning or fans as much as they want, and with little impact to their pocketbook. Now that makes for a nice summer!
We get endless calls from both professional solar installers and DIY solar installers, asking what is the most common inverter trend to use in a residential installation. These days, it seems that most are using micro inverters for residential solar installations, due to ease of installation, productivity increase, etc. Many have been using Enphase for their micro inverter installations for years, and are now asking us, which is the best micro inverter? Which microinverter should I choose?
As we see it, there are really only two choices: Enphase and AP Systems. Enphase is the wily veteran, while AP Systems is the newer contender. But which micro inverter is the best? First, let’s look at it with a quick breakdown based on facts and our opinions/ experience:
Enphase: Let’s start with the veteran in the microinverter game. Enphase makes a very good product, and they stand behind it extremely well. Enphase comes standard with a 25 year warranty, and for many, the sales pitch starts and stops there. When we have seen failures with Enphase, their service program is outstanding, and they are ready to help you out and get you back up and running. So is it the perfect product? Is it the best micro inverter? The new IQ series eliminated the lack of flexibility with past models. We would like to see the IQ7X out soon so we could finally pair Panasonic solar panels with a micro inverter, but overall, their offering is very current and strong. With Enphase, you are buying the veteran product and name power, thus the most expensive. Even with recent price reductions, they are still the most expensive. Also, another con we see with Enphase is the bankability of their company. They are a public company, http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=ENPH, and they have recently not been profitable. While it’s true that they are the largest seller in the space, it is worrisome that they were not profitable in the past without good competition, and now the competition has arrived. Their recent deal with Sunpower may help with profitability, but financials have been a consistent concern. In summary, they make a good product, and you get what you pay for – good micro inverter with good service and a great warranty.
AP Systems: Now, let’s look at the newer competitor, AP Systems. AP Systems has been around for a while, but are really making noise with their new YC600 release. We get many information requests about AP Systems, as well as many longtime customers of Enphase switching over. Why? Well, there are many good reasons. First and foremost, they are the least expensive. I will include a chart below on the pricing comparison, but it’s safe to say that AP Systems is going to be the cheapest of the Top Tier micro inverter companies. This is due to a couple or reasons. The AP Systems Micros are 600W, instead of the standard Enphase 295W models, so they work 1 for every 2 panels. This eases the installation and lowers the overall cost. Another positive for APS is the warranty option. They offer a standard 10 year warranty, but have an option to increase it to a 25 year warranty for a small additional cost. In the chart below, we have included the 25 year option for the APS micro inverters. Overall, they don’t necessarily have the track record of the others, but in our experience, their failure rates are consistent with the others.
So what is the best micro inverter? Which micro inverter should I buy? To answer, there is no clear cut winner, as both Enphase and AP Systems have different pros/cons. To assist with your decision, I have included a sample price table below to help you gauge the cost of the system. This table shows the cost of micro inverters for a 7KW system.
We are available for any questions that you may have when trying to make your decision with regards to the Micro Inverters. I hope that this document has helped highlight the differences.