What happens if the SolarEdge inverter or Enphase micro-inverter malfunctions?
Although both offer a technology that isolates the performance and enables the monitoring of each individual panel, their modes of failure are quite different.
SolarEdge failure mode:
As mentioned above, a SolarEdge system is composed of optimizers; one optimizer per solar panel, and a string inverter that centralizes the DC currents from the optimizers and converts them into an AC current. Most of the failures we noticed in SolarEdge installations happen at the inverter level which means that the entire system will cease to produce power until the inverter is fixed or replaced.
Of course, if the inverter is under warranty, this doesn't mean that you are out of luck. NuWatt Energy will make the necessary steps to get the problem fixed for our clients - provided that the inverter is still under the manufacturer's warranty.
Enphase Micro-inverters failure mode:
Micro-inverters are installed for each panel and are non-centralized. This is an advantage over centralized or string inverters such as SMA, Fronius, or inverters with optimizers such as SolarEdge. If one micro-inverter malfunctions, the other micro-inverters will keep producing power.
Enphase warranties the micro-inverters for 25 years. If any repair is required, your inverter will be replaced at no additional cost to our clients by our technicians.
Scalability - Enphase vs. SolarEdge
SolarEdge's scalability is limited in comparison to Enphase micro-inverters. SolarEdge systems are limited to the size of the central inverter, which can intake only a certain number of solar panels (for example an SE10000 can take up to 27 400W panels (in the Northeast). Enphase micro-inverters have higher flexibility to scale by simply adding solar panels with compatible micro-inverters. A typical IQ4 combiner box can accommodate up to 44x 400W solar panels (in the Northeast).
Scalability matters to clients who project an increase in their future power demand in the case of adding an electric vehicle or adding a large battery backup system, for example. Theoretically, you can add more panels (some modifications possibly required in some cases) when you have a micro-inverter system, but you may have to change the central inverter if you want to increase the number of solar panels beyond the inverter's DC intake capacity.