Field study shows Enphase microinverter installations outperform PVWatts estimates

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Enphase Energy recently conducted a field performance study, which the company states has resulted in its installations performing, on average, 8% higher than the PVWatts calculator’s predictions. The study looked at energy production from over 143 Enphase systems installations by Real Goods Solar, Solar Universe and Astrum Solar located in California and the Eastern US.

The data from the 143 installations was evaluated and compared to performance forecasts that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) PV Watts calculator generated, which based its calculations on geographic location, system design and product specifications for each installation. Upon concluding the study, Enphase found that while its average system outperforms the PVWatts calculation by 8%, the company claims that many of its sites outperformed the original calculations by 10% or more.

Enphase noted that a similar study conducted in 2009 by Gostein found that similar installations using traditional central inverters ended up underperforming from the PVWatts estimates by an average of 8%. Comparing its findings from its own study, and combining it with the results from 2009, Enphase maintains that its microinverters can improve the performance of a solar installation, on average, by 16%.

“Enphase microinverters increase energy production versus standard inverter technology, and this study further confirms it,” said Raghu Belur, VP of products and co-founder of Enphase Energy. “This level of superior system performance is one of the key benefits of the Enphase Microinverter System enjoyed by system owners.”

Enphase additionally noted that it has formally launched its new performance estimation tool in Enlighten. The web-based monitoring and analysis software is supposed to allow installers a better picture of the performance of Enphase installations. Installers can register solar energy system design information, including location, azimuth, tilt, module type and additional parameters, so that a PVWatts production estimation can be produced in Enlighten.

“Integrating estimation tools into Enlighten provides a whole new dimension of information for our installers,” added Belur. “By adding integration with estimation calculators such as the PVWatts system, we’ve enabled our installers to hone their estimates and provide the most accurate and informed recommendations to their customers.”

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