Solar Inverters Installed across Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & the Hunter Valley
Have you ever heard of solar panel inverters? While everybody knows what a solar panel is and what it does, the inverter is a lesser-known element of the photovoltaic system. What kinds are available and which type is best? Let’s have a closer look at them together.
What’s an Inverter and Why Do You Need One
A solar panel is an inherently DC device, meaning that it’s a piece of equipment that generates direct current, not unlike batteries. Here in Australia, however, our households run on AC, or alternating current. This is where the inverter comes in: it takes DC, converts it into AC and matches it to the electricity grid. The inverter has another important job. When it’s not able to find that match to the grid, an inverter goes into safety mode and automatically shuts down. This arrangement will avoid interference with potential power line work and is mandated by law.
Microinverters are devices installed behind the solar panels, on the rails that mount to the roof. There are essentially two types of inverters: string inverters and microinverters. The string inverter, which is an older setup type, connects all the panels to a centralised unit via “strings”. So when the panels produce energy, they send it to the one central inverter for conversion. While cheaper, this system presents several drawbacks. First, just like a buffalo herd which only moves as fast as its slowest member, so the panel system only works as efficiently as its least efficient member. If one of the solar panels is partially shaded, or degrades due to age or damage, this will affect your whole PV system, and production will immediately drop. Second, if the string inverter has a malfunction, this will affect all of the panels, too.
Microinverters, on the other hand, are smaller (hence the term “micro”) and get installed individually, one per solar panel. A microinverter system has no single point of failure, so an issue impacting one panel will have no consequences on the rest of the system. This type of setup also allows you to expand your PV system at a later stage, simply by installing additional solar panel-microinverter units. Added bonus: a PV system subdivided into these smaller, standalone units needs less light to power up the morning. This extra light captured each day can add up to an extra 160kWh generated per year for the typical household PV system. With the current peak tariffs, this can translate into some $2,400AUD over the life of the system. That in itself pays off a sizeable chunk of your micro-invertors’ initial cost.
What Brand of Inverter is the Best?
We have chosen Enphase as our exclusive inverter brand, simply because their product is the best currently available on the market. Enphase is the leading microinverter producer in the world, based in California. Their latest model, the fifth-gen Enphase S270 microinverter, is highly reliable and achieves the highest efficiency for module-level power electronics (60-cell and high-powered 72-cell modules). It delivers maximum energy productivity for your PV system, without neglecting the safety aspect, and is compatible with storage systems, including battery management systems. The Enphase S270 microinverters boast an expected life of 25 years or more and come with an all-inclusive manufacturer’s warranty of 10 years (parts and labour).
The latest innovation by Enphase, in collaboration with our trusted solar panel supplier, LG, is called ACM and will deliver an integrated unit called Enphase AC Module. This all-in-one solution combines cutting-edge Enphase microinverters and high-quality LG solar modules for a faster, more cost-effective installation. Watch this space, folks!
We hope we’ve shed some light on your questions regarding inverters, what they do and the different kinds available. Thinking of setting up a PV system on your property? Give us a call and we’ll give you professional advice to help you work out the best solution for you. Or browse through our Frequently Asked Questions section below.
Q: Who is your microinverter supplier?
Our brand of choice for microinverters is Enphase, the leading microinverter producer in the world, based in California, United States. With more than 16 million inverters shipped worldwide, Enphase aims to be the clean energy solution partner of choice and guarantees uncompromising quality in every product. Here in Australia, since day one, we’ve been working with the Victoria-based distributor L&H Solar + Solutions, an integral component of the Sonepar Group, active in Australia and NZ for 130 years. Our business partnership with Solar + Solutions is now in its 8th year!
Q: What do I do if something goes wrong with my inverter? Does your team provide maintenance or repairs?
Our job here at GoSolar is to help. We’re constantly monitoring the systems’ performance data, and if any parameters out are out of range, we’ll know within 20 minutes. We’ll be on our way even before you might notice the problem.
Q: Which size of inverter is best?
Microinverters work best when they’re matching panel size as closely as possible. If you’re going with 330-watt solar panels, we recommend using 270-watt microinverters.
Q: Are your microinverters expandable, in case I will be requiring higher energy generation in the future?
Absolutely. Microinverter-based PV systems are modular: all you need to do is put up another panel with a microinverter attached, that easy.
Q: How long can I expect my inverter to last?
Enphase’s manufacturer’s warranty is 10 years for the Australian market because it includes parts and labour. On the American market, the same product is guaranteed for up to 25 years—there’s no reason to expect a shorter life-cycle from them here.
INVERTERS Enphase S270
The 5th Generation from Enphase is called
S-Series Microinverter ™ For a reason: it is smart ,
sophisticated and seriously powerfull.
Built on the fifth-generation platform, the Enphase S270 Microinverter™ achieves the highest inverter efficiency for module-level power electronics for both 60-cell and high-powered 72-cell modules. With its all-AC approach, the S270 simplifies design and installation, and delivers the most reliable energy solution.
The S270 is compatible with storage systems, including battery management systems.
The Enphase S270 integrates seamlessly with Engage Cable, the Enphase Envoy-S™ communications gateway, and Enphase Enlighten™ monitoring and analysis software.
Enphase S270 Microinvertor // DATA
|INPUT DATA (DC)||S270-72-LN-2, S270-72-LN-2-AU, S270-72-LN-5, S270-72-LN-5-AU|
|Commonly used module pairings1||230 W - 350 W|
|Maximum input DC voltage||60 V|
|Peak power tracking voltage||27 V - 48 V|
|Operating range||16 V - 60 V|
|Min/Max start voltage||22 V / 60 V|
|Max DC short circuit current||15 A|
|Ambient temperature range||-40ºC to +65ºC|
|Enclosure environmental rating||Outdoor - IP 67|
|Connector type, Mc4||S270-72-LN-2
|Connector type, Amphenol H4||S270-72-LN-5
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||172 mm x 175 mm x 35 mm (without bracket)|
|Cooling||Natural convection - No fans|
|Humidity range||0% - 100% (condensing)|
|Compatibility||72-cell and 60-cell PV modules|
|Monitoring||Enlighten Manager and MyEnlighten monitoring options|
|Compliance (Pending)||AS 4777.2, AS 4777.3, RCM, IEC/EN 61000-6-3,
IEC/EN 62019-1, IEC/EN 62109-2
|Automatic disconnect||Automatic disconnect according to VDE 0126-1-1|