Simple, Safe and Superior Enphase Energized® AC Modules

After being commercially released in August 2017, Enphase Energized® AC Modules have now matured as a product and are rapidly gaining in popularity and use in the solar industry. With more than 1.98 Million AC modules shipped in North America and EU region and preferred by more than 990 installers AC modules are now gaining adoption rapidly. The AC module combines three separate parts into a single product — solar panel, microinverter and accompanying cable for connecting to the rest of the solar system. AC Modules offer optimized performance, simplified logistics, and quicker installations with factory assembled and fully tested module-microinverter pairings.
 
Enphase Energized® AC Modules are Safer, Simpler and Superior
 
AC modules have built-in rapid-shutdown capability, guaranteeing NEC 2014 compliance. For optimized-string systems to be NEC 2014-compliant, many require not only solar panels, power optimizers, and central string inverters, but also the addition of a rapid-shutdown kit in order to meet compliance. With a module and microinverter paired for optimal DC ratio, factory assembled DC connectors and AC output from each unit, AC modules offer a safe, simple and higher performance product.
 

  • AC modules use low-voltage AC and eliminate the risk of fire hazards caused by DC arc faults.
  • Low-voltage AC solutions are PID-free unlike high-voltage DC systems operating at 600-1,500 Volts which are prone to this degradation.
AC modules offer a higher level of safety over optimized-string systems that utilize high-voltage DC electricity. With AC modules, it is 240 Volts AC coming off each module, and not a string of high-voltage DC like the optimized-string systems present in ranges of 340 - 450 Volts. This difference between AC and DC electricity can actually protect a homeowner from a catastrophe like electrical fires which are generally caused by high-voltage DC solar systems. With no additional effort required to assemble the optimizer or microinverter, AC modules are simple and easy to install. Simplicity wins over complexity, and AC panels are the best choice for residential and small commercial solar PV systems. It is important to note that as module wattages increase, the $/Watt value of the Enphase Energized® AC Module also increases in a linear fashion. The power generated by 24 panels from just a decade ago, can now be matched by about 14 panels today; that’s a 40% improvement in power density packaged in a single unit with optimized DC/AC ratio (Max DC power output of module to Max power AC power output of microinverter) to deliver maximum energy yield.
 
The AC modules offer the most reliable solar system configuration currently available on the market, for their design topology has no single-point-of-failure; if an AC module does fail, the other AC modules will continue to operate with no impact to the overall energy yield except of the malfunctioning unit. In comparison string inverter topologies could lose up to 50% of the energy yield due to a single module failure (current limited to the weakest unit in the string). Competing systems using string inverters are inferior since they can completely fail with a single connector issue.
 
Enphase has enjoyed much success with its AC modules since their debut in 2017. Solar panel companies like Sunpower, Panasonic, Hanwha Q Cells, Solaria, LONGi, Maxeon Solar(EU, Australia & New Zealand), Sonnenstromfabrik (EU) and DMEGC (EU) have partnered with Enphase to produce AC modules. Just to spotlight the growth of the product, companies such as SunPower have now converted 95% of their residential product portfolio to AC modules from the old way of using a separate solar panel and MLPE (Module-Level Power Electronics) component. Panasonic had phenomenal success with its AC module which sported an integrated IQ™ microinverter, selling over 187,000 of them. Panasonic has also seen much success with their Enphase Energized® AC Modules, and has introduced an additional triple-guard warranty for their AC modules; this has leveraged IQ 7X™ microinverter quality and reliability, allowing Panasonic to rapidly gain market share with their flagship HIT® N-series modules and other award-winning products. Hanwha Q Cells has launched their AC module product in North America recently pairing their flagship Q.PEAK DUO BLK-G6+/AC module paired with the Enphase IQ7+ Microinverter. The low DC/AC ratio combined with optimal low light performance of the Q.ANTUM DUO solar panels and burst-mode operation of IQ microinverters delivers significant value with mid-tier pricing. Solaria has doubled its production capacity and is now on its second major generation of AC module which has been a very successful product. Solar distributor Renvu has sold out of earlier models and is now selling the PowerXT® 365-Watt AC Module.  The Enphase online store currently is selling LONGi and Solaria AC modules.
 
Below is a table showing AC modules offered by some of Enphase’s solar panel partners; more models and partners are expected later this year; the addition of LONGi’s AC module, sporting an integrated low-end IQ7 microinverter, is the latest arrival.
 

 

Panasonic

Solaria

SunPower

Q Cells

Model 

N330E-HIT

Power XT

E- and X-series

Q.PEAK DUO G6+

# Cells

96

60

96

60

Wattage

330

365

327-360

340-350

MLPE

IQ 7X 

IQ 7+

IQ 7XS, IQ 7AS

IQ 7 +

Efficiency %

19.7

20

21-22.2

19.5

Warranty(Years) 

25

25

25

25

Available Now

Yes 

Yes 

Yes 

Yes

 
The impressive product line up of AC modules shows combination of top-modules and Enphase’s IQ7 microinverter variants. Each AC module product is launched after significant reliability testing to ensure complete peace of mind for homeowners. With every unit being assembled on automated module manufacturing lines with string quality testing, installers are assured of high-quality product that is easy to install and service. The rigorous combined testing of AC modules combined with Enphase’s reliability is reflected in the 25-year warranty offered on all AC module products. AC modules also take advantage of the Enlighten monitoring platform to facilitate service of both PV module and Microinverter through Enphase customer service. All AC module issues are triaged through Enphase customer service offering a quicker resolution for module and microinverter issues saving time for installers in the rare event of a field failure.
 
The following installation video shows the simplicity of installing Enphase Energized® AC Modules. 
Enphase now has over 990 professional installers using the Enphase Energized® AC Modules.  Long-Tail installer, Damon Egglefield, of Mirasol Solar in Florida is installing SunPower X22 series Maxeon 5’s with integrated Enphase IQ 7AS™ microinverter.  Damon says “AC modules are the better way to go in that they simplify installations due to several, less-needed steps, offering much better logistics since the inverter is not a separate product to account for in inventory. Compared to the first-generation AC module which had microinverters bolted onto the solar panel that SunPower was using, the detachable Enphase microinverter simplifies any potential service issues, as well as provides better cooling for the components”. “As a business owner in a competitive industry, I’m always looking for advantages without sacrificing quality; Enphase AC modules accomplish that goal. They eliminate several steps on the roof, saving time, which equals money.” says Doug Sabetti of Newport Solar, an AC module advocate who encourages installers to adapt their processes and take advantage of AC modules. "With the Enphase Energized ACM, we offer our installers a high-performance product that is precisely tailored to meet their needs for simple planning, cost-effective logistics and faster and safer installations," said Matthias Meir, head of photovoltaics at CREATON GmbH. "Homeowners are realizing more and more how important it is to invest in high-quality photovoltaic systems, and the innovative AC modules enable us to meet these requirements."
 
The widespread adoption of AC module and impressive product line up from top brand module providers in the marketplace is a sign that a shift is occurring towards this better technology, so AC modules are clearly the future for rooftop solar. If you consider that most homes have AC appliances and devices throughout, then AC panels on roof make common sense.