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The time spent researching a major purchase should be no different when it comes to solar. And the process of choosing which system is right for you can often feel overwhelming, especially if there are so many options available!
On average people look at between 3-4 systems before finally deciding on their perfect match; but with all these choices out there how do we know what will work best? Luckily help may have arrived in our inboxes just recently because now scientists from MIT Media Lab say that they’ve developed software called “Solar Scorecard” designed specifically as an aid for people deciding to go solar.
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There are two primary reasons that comparing solar quotes can save you money: competition and transparency. The competition effect means each additional quote will help in finding the right system for your home, at a competitive price point. Transparency becomes trickier to put into numbers but knowing what equipment is going onto our roofs, helps ensure we’re getting an excellent solution tailored exactly how we want it!
When you receive multiple solar quotes through Solar Directory, the two of these components are utilized to ensure that your home’s energy needs will be met with a more affordable and sustainable alternative. Plus, going solar can cost as much as 15% less with our software!
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An American NASDAQ-listed energy technology company headquartered in Fremont, California. Enphase designs and manufactures software-driven home energy solutions that span solar generation, home energy storage and web-based monitoring and control. Enphase has shipped about thirty million solar microinverters, primarily into the residential and commercial markets in North America. Microinverters convert the direct current power from the solar panel (DC) directly into grid-compatible alternating current (AC) for use or export. Enphase was the first company to successfully commercialize the microinverter on a wide scale, and remains the market leader in their production.
Enphase Energy pioneered the concept of a microinverter. The basic idea behind a microinverter is to convert, manage and monitor energy per panel, rather than the entire array of panels. This reduces the size of the inverter that can be placed on the back of the panel, producing an “AC panel”. Such a system can be connected directly to the grid, or to each other to produce larger arrays. This contrasts with the traditional central inverter approach, where many panels are connected together in series on the DC-side and then run en-masse to a single larger inverter.
In the aftermath of the 2001 Telecoms crash, Martin Fornage of Cerent Corporation was looking for new projects. When he saw the low performance of the string inverter for the solar array on his ranch, he partnered with another Cerent engineer, Raghu Belur, and they formed PVI Solutions. The two tapped Paul Nahi to be CEO at the end of 2006, and Fornage, Belur and Nahi formed Enphase Energy, Inc. in early 2007. Thereafter, the first prototype microinverter was developed. With approximately $6 million in private equity by 2008, Enphase released its first product, the M175, to moderate success. Their 2nd generation product, 2009’s M190, was far more successful, with sales of about 400,000 units in 2009 and early 2010. Enphase quickly grew to 13% market share for residential systems by mid-2010, aiming for 20% by year-end.
They shipped their 500,000th inverter in early 2011, and their one millionth in September of the same year. The 3rd generation M215 was released in the summer of 2011, and had sold over a million of all models in 2011, bringing their installed base to 1.55 million inverters and 34.4% market share. A 4th generation, the M250, was released in 2013.
As of 2012, their inverters captured 53.5% market share for residential installations in the US, which represents 72% of the entire world micro-inverter market. This makes them the sixth largest inverter manufacturer, of any kind, worldwide.
In 2012 and 2013, Enphase experienced increasing pricing pressure due to rapidly falling prices in the inverter market. Market leaders faced market share erosion in the face of newer companies, most of them from the far east. However, in 2019, Enphase remains the leading supplier of solar microinverters globally.
All Enphase microinverters are completely self contained power converters. In the case of a rooftop PV inverter, the unit will convert DC from a single solar panel into grid-compliant AC power, following the maximum power point of the panel. Since the “S” series microinverters (e.g. S280) all Enphase microinverters have been both Advanced Grid Function and Bidirectional power capable. This allows a microinverter to produce power in the DC-AC direction, for solar applications, or in the DC-AC and AC-DC directions, for battery use. The microinverter(s) in the Enphase battery products are exactly the same units as installed on the roof, with only software settings changed.
The M175 was their first product, released in 2008. It was designed to output 175 Watts of AC power, but is capable of up to 5% over that. The M175 was packaged in a relatively large cast aluminum box, similar to the boxes used on cable tv amplifiers seen on telephone poles. Wiring was passed through the case using compression fittings and the inverters connected to each other using a twist-lock connection. A limited number of M210 models, based on the same generation system, were also available for a limited time.
Due to a high level of failures the M175 was recalled and replaced by the M190 in 2009. The M190 offers a slightly higher power rating of 190 Watts (peaking to 199). The system was packaged in a much smaller case, this time filled with epoxy potting material to handle heat dissipation, and built-in cable connections replacing the earlier compression fittings. The system was otherwise similar, using the same connectors and cabling as the M175, and the two designs could be mixed in a string. Like its predecessor the M175 the M190 has also been plagued by a high failure rate.
Around the same time the company also released the D380, which was essentially two M190’s in a single larger case. For small inverters like the M190, the case and its assembly represented a significant portion of the total cost of production, so by placing two in a single box that cost is spread out. The D380 also introduced a new inter-inverter cabling system based on a “drop cable” system. This placed a single connector on a short cable on the inverter, and used a separate cable with either one or three connectors on it. Arrays were constructed by linking together up to three D380s with a single drop cable, and then connecting them to other drop cables using larger twist-fit connectors.
In 2011 the entire lineup was replaced with the 3rd generation M215, combining the features of the M190 and D380 while improving reliability. Like the M190, the M215 was a single inverter, now in a much smaller box. Like the D380, the M215 used a trunk cabling system with short connector cables on the inverters. However, instead of one or three-drop cable, the M215’s Engage system, used a long roll of cables with connectors spliced into it. The installer cuts the Engage cable to the required length, and then caps the open ends that result.
In 2013 the M250 was released, offering a new grounding system (Integrated Ground – IG) that eliminates the otherwise NEC – required external grounding conductor, increased reliability, and increased efficiency (96.5%), along with a rating bump to 250W. Whereas previous models were all named after the maximum power rating, the M250 actually refers to its peak power. Using the same convention the M190 would be called the M199. The M250 is otherwise identical to the earlier M215 (which also was upgraded with IG) and compatible with the same Engage cabling system.
All Enphase models use power line communications to pass monitoring data between the inverters and the Envoy communications gateway. The Envoy stores daily performance data for up to a year, and, when available, allows Enphase’s Enlighten web service to download data approximately every 15 minutes. Customers and installers can review the data on the Enlighten web site.
In 2015 the company launched its fifth generation of products. The S230 and S280 microinverters have the highest efficiency for module-level power electronics at 97%, offer advanced grid functionality like reactive power control, and comply with regulatory requirements like Electric Rule 21 in California and Rule 14H in Hawaii. The next-gen Envoy-S offers revenue-grade metering of solar production, consumption monitoring, and integrated Wi-Fi. The company also moved into home energy storage with its Storage System featuring an AC Battery, a modular, 1.2kWh lithium-iron phosphate offering aimed at residential users that is part of a Home Energy Solution. The Home Energy Solution launched in Australia in mid-2016.
2017 began the introduction of the new IQ architecture, which uses a new cabling system. Two conductors, down from four, are integrated and compliant with electrical codes due to the use of GFCI, no need for a neutral and no conductive materials in the enclosure. The initial products were the IQ6 and IQ6+, followed in 2018 by the IQ7. In 2019 the IQ8 series will enable continuous power production during grid outages during daytime without the need for batteries.
Hanwha Q Cells (commonly known as simply Q CELLS) is a major manufacturer of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells. The company is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, after being founded in 1999 in Talheim, Germany, where the company still has its engineering offices. Q Cells now operates as a subsidiary of Hanwha Solutions, an energy and petrochemical company.
Q Cells has manufacturing facilities in China, Malaysia, South Korea, and the United States. The company was the sixth-largest producer of solar cells in 2019, with shipments totaling 7.3 gigawatts.
In 1999, Anton Milner, Reiner Lemoine, Holger Feist, and Paul Grunow established Q Cells in an area of Thalheim, a part of former East Germany that had seen 50,000 people lose their jobs after German reunification. On 23 July 2001, the company produced its first working polycrystalline solar cell on its new production line in Thalheim. Q Cells would grow to become one of the world’s largest solar cell manufacturers, employing Over 2,000 people and encouraging other companies to open facilities in the surrounding area, which would come to be known as “Solar Valley.”
The company went public on 5 October 5, 2005, listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. High share prices during the initial public offering poured money into the company and made the founders wealthy. Lemoine died in 2006, and shortly thereafter, Fest and Grunow left the company to go back into research. Only Milner remained and served as the company’s CEO.
In 2005, Q-Cells established the CdTe PV manufacturer Calyxo. In November 2007, Q-Cells agreed a deal with Solar Fields, which intellectual property and assets were merged into Calyxo’s newly established subsidiary Calyxo USA. In 2011, Solar Fields took over Calyxo.
In 2008, Q-Cells acquired 17.9% stake in Renewable Energy Corporation. This stake was sold in 2009. At the same year, Q-Cells’ subsidiary Sontor merged with a thin-film company Solarfilm.
In June 2009, the company acquired Solibro, a joint venture it had established in 2006. Solibro manufactured thin-film solar cells based on copper-indium-gallium-diselenide. These modules were marketed until the sale of Solibro to Hanergy in 2012.
Q Cells was hit hard by the Great Recession in late 2008, with share prices slipping from over 80 euros to under 20. In response, the company laid off 500 employees. Milner resigned as CEO in early 2010, and by the end of the year, the company’s finances appeared to stabilize. Just a few months later, in 2011, the global solar cell market crashed, with production overcapacity driving prices extremely low. Q-Cells saw sales slide by around 1 billion euros, ran a loss of 846 million euros and on 3 April 2011, the company filed for bankruptcy.
In August 2012, the Hanwha Group, a large South Korean business conglomerate, agreed to acquire Q Cells, saying that it presented synergy opportunities. In 2010, Hanwha had purchased a 49.99% share in Chinese manufacturer Solarfun which had been renamed Hanwha SolarOne. SolarOne had been producing solar cells for Q Cells under contract.
Due to high costs, production in Germany ceased in 2015, with Hanwha moving the work to its SolarOne facilities in China and newly opened manufacturing facilities in Malaysia and South Korea. In 2019, Q Cells opened another manufacturing facility in the United States.
In recent years, Hanwha has since worked to simplify the structure of units, merging SolarOne into Q Cells in December 2014, merging Q Cells and the company’s Advanced Materials (petrochemicals) group in 2018, Q Cells & Advanced Materials acquired a solar company operated by the Hanwha Chemicals group in 2019, and in 2020 Hanwha Q Cells & Advanced Materials merged with Hanwha Chemical to form the Hanwha Solutions group.
Q Cells develops and produces mono– and polycrystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and solar panels. It produces and installs PV systems for commercial, industrial, and residential applications and provides EPC services for large-scale solar power plants.
The company’s engineering offices are located at the original headquarters in Thalheim, German. In the United States that have a production facility in Dalton, Georgia in the United States.
Often referred to as LG Chemical, is the largest Korean chemical company and is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. It was the 10th largest chemical company in the world by sales in 2017. It was first established as the Lucky Chemical Industrial Corporation, which manufactured cosmetics. It is now solely a business-to-business company (consumer products division was spun off into LG Household & Health Care).
The company has eight factories in South Korea and a network of 29 business locations in 15 countries. The Financial Times reported on April 2, 2017, that LG Chem would be expanding battery production in China. At the time, China accounted for one-third of the company’s total sales. In April 2019, LG Chem sued rival SK Innovation for allegedly stealing trade secrets for manufacturing electric vehicle batteries.
LG Chem has three main business areas:
LG Chem is a supplier of petrochemicals ranging from basic distillates to specialty polymers. For example, it is a large producer of common plastics such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), styrene-acrylonitrile resin (SAN), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It also produces raw materials and liquids, including plasticizers, specialty additives, alcohols, polyolefins, acrylic acid, synthetic rubber, styrenics, performance polymers, engineering plastics, elastomers, conductive resins, and other chemicals.
LG Chem supplies display and optical films, polarizers, printed circuit materials, and toners. It also supplies LCD polarizers, which are multi-layer sheets of film applied to the top and bottom surfaces of TFT-LCD panels to transmit the light from the backlight unit through the panel, and 3D FPR (film-type patterned retarder) film, which enables three-dimensional viewing.
LG Chem completed development and began mass production of Korea’s first lithium-ion batteries back in 1999. At the end of 2011, LG Chem was the world’s third-largest maker with an annual production capacity of 1 billion cells. It is also a supplier of automotive battery for electric vehicles, such as the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Volt and Renault ZOE.
LG Chem Michigan is a wholly owned subsidiary of LG Chem based in Holland, Michigan which operates a plant to manufacture advanced battery cells for electric vehicles in Holland, Michigan. The US$303 million Holland plant received 50% of its funding from U.S. Department of Energy matching stimulus funds, and started manufacturing battery systems in 2013. The plant can produce enough cells per year to build between 50,000 and 200,000 battery packs for electric cars and hybrids such as the Chevrolet Volt by General Motors, the Ford Focus Electric, and upcoming plug-in electric vehicles from other carmakers. Its research and development arm, called LG Chem Power, is based in nearby Troy, Michigan. LG Chem Power and LG Chem Michigan were originally one company called Compact Power, Inc.
Both the Chevrolet Volt and the Ford Focus Electric initially used cells manufactured in Korea by parent LG Chem and then later switched to cells produced in LG Chem Michigan’s Holland plant once it opened.
In September 2020, LG Chem unveiled its plan to publicly list its energy division under the name of LG Energy Solution by December.
Is an American electric vehicle and clean energy company based in Austin, Texas, United States. Tesla designs and manufactures electric cars, battery energy storage from home to grid-scale, solar panels and solar roof tiles, and related products and services. Tesla is one of the world’s most valuable companies and remains the most valuable automaker in the world with a market cap of nearly $1 trillion. The company had the most sales of battery electric vehicles and plug-in electric vehicles, capturing 16% of the plug-in market (which includes plug-in hybrids) and 23% of the battery-electric (purely electric) market. Through its subsidiary Tesla Energy, the company develops and is a major installer of photovoltaic systems in the United States. Tesla Energy is also one of the largest global suppliers of battery energy storage systems, with 3 gigawatt-hours (GWh) installed in 2020.
Founded in July 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning as Tesla Motors, the company’s name is a tribute to inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla. In February 2004, via a US$6.5 million investment, X.com co-founder Elon Musk became the largest shareholder of the company and its chairman. He has served as CEO since 2008. According to Musk, the purpose of Tesla is to help expedite the move to sustainable transport and energy, obtained through electric vehicles and solar power. Tesla began production of its first car model, the Roadster, in 2009. This was followed by the Tesla Model S sedan in 2012, the Tesla Model X SUV in 2015, the Tesla Model 3 sedan in 2017, and the Tesla Model Y crossover in 2020. The Tesla Model 3 is the all-time best-selling plug-in electric car worldwide, and, in June 2021, became the first electric car to sell 1 million units globally. Tesla’s global vehicle sales were 499,550 units in 2020, a 35.8% increase over the previous year. In October 2021, Tesla’s market capitalization reached US$1 trillion, the sixth company to do so in U.S. history.
Tesla has been the subject of several lawsuits and controversies arising from statements and acts of CEO Elon Musk and from allegations of creative accounting, whistleblower retaliation, worker rights violations, and unresolved and dangerous technical problems with their products. In September 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ordered Tesla to submit data pertaining to all sold US vehicles equipped with Autopilot.
Tesla subsidiary Tesla Energy develops, builds, sells and installs solar energy generation systems and battery energy storage products (as well as related products and services) to residential, commercial and industrial customers.
The subsidiary was created by the merger of Tesla’s existing battery energy storage products division with SolarCity, a solar energy company that Tesla acquired in 2016.
Tesla Energy’s generation products include solar panels (built by other companies for Tesla), the Tesla Solar Roof (a solar shingle system) and the Tesla Solar Inverter. Other products include the Powerwall (a home energy storage device) and the Powerpack and Megapack, which are large-scale energy storage systems.
In 2020, the company deployed solar energy systems capable of generating 205 megawatts (ranked third in U.S. residential solar installations) and deployed 3 gigawatt-hours of battery energy storage products.
Tesla has developed a software ecosystem to support its energy hardware products. Autobidder, Powerhub, Opticaster, Microgrid Controller and Virtual Machine Mode are the products that Tesla offers.
SolarEdge Technologies, Inc. is an Israel-headquartered provider of power optimizer, solar inverter and monitoring systems for photovoltaic arrays. These products aim to increase energy output through module-level Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT). Established in 2006, the company has offices in the United States, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Israel. It is incorporated in Delaware.
SolarEdge was established in 2006 by Guy Sella, first CEO and Chairman, Lior Handelsman, VP of Product Strategy & Business Development, Yoav Galin, VP of R&D, Meir Adest, VP of Core Technologies and Amir Fishelov, Chief Software Architect.
The company is venture capital backed and investors include GE Energy Financial Services, Norwest Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, ORR Partners, Genesis Partners, Walden International, Vertex Ventures Israel, JP Asia Capital and Opus Capital Ventures.
At the end of 2009, the company started mass production of its products by electronic manufacturing services provider Flextronics International Ltd.
In 2010, the company shipped an estimated 250,000 power optimizers and 12,000 inverters – amounting to a total generation of 50 megawatts and 70% of the power optimizers market.
In March 2015, SolarEdge had an initial public offering of 7,000,000 shares of its common stock at a price to the public of $18.00 per share, raising $126 million. The shares began trading on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “SEDG.” Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank acted as joint book-running managers for the offering.
Following a battle with cancer, founder Guy Sella died in 2019. Former Global Sales VP Zvi Lando, was appointed acting CEO.
In October 2020, SolarEdge has partnered with Schneider Electric. This alliance is planned to provide a cohesive electricity environment for installers and device owners, while also accelerating solar installation experience across the region.
The Square D Energy Center is operated by Schneider Electric’s Wiser technology, along with Solaredge’s Energy Hub Inverter with Prism Technology, for home automation and electronic energy storage.
Traditional PV systems are typically characterized by a centralized inverter or string inverter architecture*. In this topology the inverter performs MPPT for large quantities of solar panels as a whole. Since the solar panels are connected in series to form strings, the same current must flow through all the modules, so the solar inverter continuously adjusts the electric current in the system to find the average optimal working point of all the modules. As a result, potential power may be lost whenever a mismatch exists between modules.
*Panel mismatch is unavoidable in many cases, due to panel manufacturing tolerance, partial shading, uneven soiling, or uneven tilt angle. In addition, power may also be lost due to slow tracking of dynamic weather conditions caused by moving clouds, and on extremely hot or cold days when the system DC voltage may exceed the inverter’s permissible input voltage range*. These factors cause small losses in yearly yields, but they are present. Other drawbacks of traditional PV systems include:
These drawbacks, however, can be mitigated by newer string inverters with advanced electronics and features such as dual, shade-tolerant and improved MPPT.
In October 2018, SolarEdge announced agreements to acquire a major stake in Kokam, a South Korean provider of Lithium-ion battery cells, batteries and energy storage solutions.
In January 2019 SolarEdge announced the acquisition of a majority stake in SMRE – an italian EV/Powertrain manufacturer. SMRE has since been renamed to SOLAREDGE e-MOBILITY SpA.
Silfab Solar is a world-class manufacturer of solar panels, offering unparalleled performance and reliability for North American consumers. They have been recognized as one the largest module manufacturers in America with their process being specifically designed to meet our needs here at home!As an organization that balances production between original equipment makers (OEM) partners like themselves; they make sure there’s always enough supply on hand so you can get your hands dirty installing or maintaining these beautiful energy generating devices today – without worry about running out anytime soon