There are two giants in the solar inverter business, SolarEdge and Enphase. In our article about SolarEdge vs Enphase, we will highlight key differences, product highlights to help you understand how these companies operate.
SolarEdge vs Enphase: What is Better?
Within the inverter’s world, both SolarEdge and Enphase have a 95% global share of the business.
In the U.S. they lead the market, without stronger competitors coming close to their market share.
This is why you see a SolarEdge vs Enphase sort of competition in the inverters business. Let’s overview a few important details about inverters, such as what they do and the different PV implementation topologies.
You might wonder why is this even relevant if all you want to know is which is better, SolarEdge or Enphase.
These two companies center their business around inverters but from different perspectives. This is why it is important to understand the product’s related basics before moving on.
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What do inverters do?
Inverters are one of the most important power electronic devices, making PV systems widely usable as they are.
These devices convert the DC current produced by the panels into AC. This way the power is usable for all the appliances at home.
But their function goes beyond that. They can also perform a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT).
MPPT ensures that the panels are working at their best before voltage conversion. In this manner, inverters guarantee to a high-power output from the solar array.
Implementation Topologies of Solar PV Systems
There are around four different implementation topologies of PV systems:
They perform a bulk voltage conversion. That is, the total voltage from all the panels is converted by one single inverter.
- Ease of system design and implementation.
- Minimized up-front costs.
- Decreased safety and increased wiring costs.
- Maximum power point tracking is done for the overall system.
- Designed for fixed power outputs, limiting possible and future system power output expansion.
Module inverters or microinverters
Consists of each PV module having its own individual inverter with MPP tracker on its back.
In this sense you get:
- A more resilient PV array to partial shading or power falls from single panels.
- Reduced DC wiring and increased safety.
- Higher investment and maintenance costs.
- Enhanced system flexibility in case of expansion.
String inverters are sort of a combination between central and microinverters.
- Each string of PV modules operates at its top efficiency.
- Partial shading will have a greater influence on general power output than with microinverters.
More complex implementation than microinverters.
There’s another topology classification called “Multi-string”, but we won’t focus on that one during this review.
Well, so now you are aware of the fundamentals. You’re totally convinced to go for that PV roof array, or just giving your existing system an upgrade.
Now you’re stuck ‘cause you can’t decide whether to buy SolarEdge or to buy Enphase. That’s why they were both mentioned in our list of the best solar inverters out there.
No problem. We’ve got you covered.
Let’s move to the core of it all, the Solaredge vs Enphase playing field.
Difference between SolarEdge and Enphase
In the past, central inverters were more popular but now, the solar industry is moving towards module-level power electronics, giving preference to decentralized systems.
This circumstance was pushed by safety reasons and the increasing deployment of smart grids.
SolarEdge and Enphase focus on inverters for residential and commercial applications, yet their systems configurations are different.
Enphase centers on having the microinverter installed on the panel, so power optimization and conversion happen both in the module. That is, the current is transformed into AC before leaving the panel. SolarEdge works with power optimizers on the panels.
Optimizers enhance the current before being sent to a central or string inverter. The inverter is placed apart from the modules, like your garage, cellar, etc.
Enphase products and SolarEdge products started to experience expansion towards the energy storage field. But they both customize their business each in their unique way.
Let’s talk a little about each company and what they do.
This Israel headquartered company is the leading manufacturer of power optimizers in the U.S, with about a market share of 60%.
Within the inverter and power optimizer business, SolarEdge is still a distributed solar company focusing mostly on residential applications.
Module optimizers instead of microinverters
Note that before we mentioned power optimizers instead of power inverters. That is because that’s SolarEdge’s current business.
Unlike power inverters, SolarEdge’s power optimizers do not perform optimization + conversion in a single device. Instead, they balance or “condition” the panel-produced DC current, maximizing the output efficiency.
That conditioned current is then converted into AC by the real inverter.
Within this operating mode, central or string inverters are used to convert the current, and they are installed apart from the optimizers.
A video is worth ten thousand words…
In this regard, expect to have a maximized power output at the SolarEdge price, i.e. lower than using microinverters while counting on a high-performing product.
SolarEdge’s principle is about maximizing the output of the system with lower costs, opposed as to working with microinverters.
Configure and monitor your system from your phone
SolarEdge allows you to monitor the performance of the panels individually, a feature that separates SolarEdge’s systems from the rest using string or central inverters.
If you are a PV freak, this attribute you will find pretty cool.
The SolarEdge monitoring app allows you to activate, configure and overall check how your system is doing.
The SetApp makes the inverter commissioning to be as easy as texting. Activating and configuring the inverter is done right at the palm of your hand using your smartphone.
The StorEdge solution, allows you to add battery storage to your on-grid PV system and increase self-consumption while also monitoring and managing your power, so you don’t pay as much for electricity.
SolarEdge products also offer the advantage of being compatible with the Tesla Powerwall 2.
The World’s first 2-in-1 EV Charger and Solar inverter
SolarEdge is thinking about the future of mobility and are stepping onto EV charging grounds. This is part of their business diversification strategy.
The SolarEdge SE7600H-US Inverter plus EV Charger, as featured on Amazon, enables you to charge your EV 2.5 times faster than a standard EV charger and directly from the sun.
If you are thinking of or already driving an EV, forget about installing a separate standalone EV charger and PV inverter. SolarEdge has got you covered.
Best Selling SolarEdge Products
Here are some of the best SolarEdge products to consider.
- Internal Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) for added safety per NEC 2011: 690.11
- Inherently compliant with NEC 2014 690.12 rapid shutdown requirement
- Built-in module-level monitoring
- RS485 and Ethernet Communications interface included
- Optional ZigBee Wireless Communication Kit
- Wall mountable
- NEMA 3R enclosure included for outdoor protection
- 12 Year Warranty
- Specifically designed to work with SolarEdge power optimizers
- 3kW to 11.4kW range
- 99% weighted efficiency (33%-50% less losses than the market standard)
- Small, lightweight, and easy to install
- Up to 155% oversizing allowed
Other SolarEdge products, like inverters, power optimizers, monitoring platform, along with a more detailed review of their EV charger + inverter novelty, you can find in our SolarEdge Review: What products are best to consider?
Enphase is a California headquartered company and manufacturer of the most popular microinverter for sale in the U.S.
Just like SolarEdge power optimizers, Enphase’s microinverters are coupled to each module on the roof. In this case, power optimization and conversion happen both on your roof. Nonetheless, prepare for higher up-front and maintenance costs. Microinverters are indeed more complex devices than optimizers, resulting in higher expenses.
If you are purchasing smart panels from any of these two companies, expect them to come with Enphase microinverters. Enphase wants you to have the smartest home electricity grid you can ever get.
Of course, this comes at an “Enphase price”, the price of having advanced devices assembled in each of your modules.
In the world of microinverters, Enphase is going beyond and moving towards including energy storage within its smart energy systems. They want to give you the full comfort and reliable energy package.
This they achieve with Ensemble.
What is Ensemble by Enphase?
Having an on-grid solar PV array guarantees to lower the grid-consumed electricity, thus shrinking power bills. Yet, it doesn’t set you free from power outages.
The only way to keep you from being in darkness is to count on energy storage and a smart system that switches your load from the grid to your backup batteries.
With this in mind, Enphase created Ensemble. This Enphase product is a package that includes energy storage and a smart inverter capable of performing that switch once a power outage is registered.
This way, you’ll still have PV panels produced power coming from your battery to rely on.
See Related: Are Solar Panels a Fire Risk?
Track your power via the Enlighten app
With the Enlighten monitoring system, it’s possible to interact with Ensemble via your smartphone in real-time.
The app allows you to see how much power your panels have produced, how much you consumed and how much is stored in your battery. If you couple Ensemble with a virtual assistant your smart grid will literally speak to you.
This Enphase’s video explains it way better.
This technology gives you a flexible home power system that can go off/on-grid depending on the situation.
If you also want to minimize your grid consumption at night, Ensemble’s battery, Encharge, gives you that.
The Ensemble technology can be customized to cover as much of your power needs as you desire.
With a Whole Home Backup, you will be able to have all of your appliances running in case of a power outage.
Here’s a diagram of how the system works
If instead, you prefer to cover only your basic needs, like cell-phone charge, a few bulbs and keep the internet running, then go for a partial home backup, like the one shown in the diagram below.
List of the Best Enphase Products
Here is a list of the best Enphase products and their corresponding descriptions.
The Enphase IQ7 is designed for modules from 235 W to 350 W, targeting residential and commercial applications.
The IQ7 polymeric enclosure and innovative wiring system make installation a simpler and safer process.
- Optimized for 60-cell modules, making them suitable for residential and commercial applications.
- 97% CEC Efficiency.
- Operating Range / MMPT : 27 V – 37 V.
- output power: 250 VA
- Smart-grid ready.
Part of the cool of having a smart grid is being able to monitor it from your smart devices. That is what the Envoy is for.
It delivers solar production and energy consumption to the Enlighten app for remote maintenance and management of the Enphase IQ microinverters system.
Some Envoy features are:
- Consumption metering for total energy insight.
- Bi-directional communications to adapt the IQ system to future requirements.
- Flexible networking options with integrated Wi-Fi.
- 3G and 4G cellular options.
- Easy configuration with the Installer Toolkit mobile app.
- 5-year warranty.
The Enphase Q Cable is a distributer generation lightweight cable that supports faster, simpler and more reliable installations thanks to its pre-installed connectors.
- It is 50% lighter than previous Enphase cables generations.
- Simplified wire management due to new cable numbering.
- More cost-effective with less cable waste
- Plug-and-play connectors for faster installation.
This accessory enables home energy consumption monitoring when used with the Envoy.
- 8 ft. 18 gauge wire.
- Meant for residential use only.
- Requires an Envoy-S Metered.
This cellular networking of an Enphase system comes with flexible data plans to cover your needs.
It’s preconfigured for residential applications of up to 60 microinverters, and it enables bi-directional communication allowing for remote firmware updates.
- 3G and 4G LTE coverage
- 12-year prepaid AT&T data plan
- Up to 60 microinverters.
SolarEdge vs Enphase Conclusion Summary
To help you decide which is better, SolarEdge or Enphase, we will sum it all up for you.
Enphase products are being aimed towards making your home energy system a smart asset you can rely on regardless of being connected to the grid or not.
They understand that centralized systems can fail at some point and they want you to not even notice when that happens while at the same time keeping you safe.
They are aware that decentralized systems with shared energy are the future, so they are focusing on smart-grids.
This being said, here come the “ifs”:
- If an EV is not painted in your picture for the coming years,
- The Enphase price is nothing to care much about for you in exchange for having a smart-grid at home,
- You prefer microinverters instead of central or string ones,
- You are serious about smart grids and their coolness,
Enphase products are for you.
After all, who wouldn’t like to have a smart grid at home?
On the other hand, SolarEdge wants you to go even cleaner by including an EV into your assets, but without leaving you bankrupt on the attempt.
But wait, SolarEdge is not talking about charging your EV with grey electricity, they want the sun to power your ride, which is actually pretty cool.
Here come SolarEdge’s “ifs”:
- You are thinking about driving an electric car in the near future
- Want to be able to seize all the sun has to offer to charge your car and run your home appliances,
- Do not want to spend all of your and future generations’ life-time savings trying,
the SolarEdge price might sound more convincing to you.
At the end of it all, the only thing cooler than having a PV roof and driving an EV is driving a sun-powered EV and living in a sun-powered home.
If that panorama resembles your future, then SolarEdge products are for you.