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Solar Energy News

What's happening around the world in the solar industry and how it might affect you

Enphase introduces most efficient microinverterEarlier this week, Enphase Energy introduced the world’s most efficient microinverter. Inverters aren’t the sexy part of a solar installation, but they’re the integral, stalwart workhorse of every installation, converting the power produced by photovoltaics into power that can be used by homes and businesses. The new M215 microinverter was unveiled at Intersolar 2011 in Germany.

The device converts the DC power produced by a photovoltaic panel into AC power, at the modular level, meaning less heavy wiring as electricity travels from the microinverter to a centralized hub, and ultimately where the solar power is used. Since the microinverters are on each panel, and report data back to a hub, they also offer the system owner a better picture as to whether or not the each module is working properly.

The new microinverter is the world’s most efficient, according to Enphase, which says it can convert the electricity produced by a solar panel from DC to AC—the power used by household devices across the world—at 96 percent efficiency. The company previously held the microinverter record with conversion efficiencies at 95 percent, according to Enphase spokesperson Christine Bennett.

“The 215 series is a stand-alone product. That’s sort of the same type of system we have today,” Bennett said. However, it’s designed to integrate with the new Engage Port and Engage Cable system that Enphase developed to ease interconnection.

“As one of the first installers of the new M215, we like the cabling system as it’s lightweight, quick to install and reduces cable waste with its flexible cut-to-length design,” Michael Flood, Solar Universe’s director of operations and logistics, said in a press release.

Regular inverters, which tie numerous photovoltaic modules together into one inverter to convert the current into AC current, have reached similar efficiency levels. But they don’t offer the same level of data about each module.

In the past, Enphase has partnered with photovoltaic manufacturers like Westinghouse Solar, Canadian Solar and Suntech to integrate its microinverters directly into their photovoltaic modules. The integration creates a plug-and-play type photovoltaic system that’s quicker to deploy.

Similarly, some installers, like SolarUniverse, Inc., integrate the microinverters into modules.

“We’re a strong believer in Enphase microinverters for their reliability, high performance and ease of installation,” Flood said.

“They are now available for sale in North America,” Bennett said.

The U.S.-based company will start introducing the modules to the worldwide market later in 2011.