TIGO vs Enphase? (TIGO wins…big time!)

Aug 23, 2011PV installations

Should I use TIGO or Enphase?

I’ve been in the solar industry for 4 years and have heard this question over and over industry people as well as customers. Not wanting to seem a pushy salesman I’ve always tried to empower my customers with information and let them make their own decision. The customer is always right after all. My experience so far has proven Enphase has a great web based monitoring software, much better than you can get from any inverter based monitoring system. Enphase is a microinverter that mounts under the panel and converts DC power to AC and then feeds directly into your service panel. The main benefit of which is that there are no strings so each panel produces power independently, a big advantage if you experience any periodic shade as most residential systems do. There is also no large inverter located near your service panel and they claim you can easily expand the system later by simply adding panels and micro-inverters. Nice if your budget only allows for you to buy a 5kw system but you would really like a 10kw some day.

So Between Tigo and Enphase, Who Wins?

Until recently I haven’t known the answer to this big question, who performs better TIGO or Enphase?Answer… TIGO blows Enphase out of the water! I’ve installed many Fronius, SMA and PVpowered String inverter systems as well as Enphase systems and have not seen a definitive advantage to using Enphase accept for applications with partial shade.It always bothered me that Enphase had a max output of 190 or 210w for the older versions and now 215watts in the newest version.Enphase recommends you use a max panel of 240w for the M215 but that means in periods of high irradiance and cool temperatures you will never reach your true potential output.In July I installed a 10.34 kw DC TIGO system with REC 235 watt panels.The array was facing due south and angled at 25 degrees on a house in the middle of an open field.Pretty much the perfect solar application.I thought the web monitoring system would be helpful but unsure if I would really see a noticeable difference in production.Not only is over all production noticeably higher I am thrilled and amazed at the peak production at solar noon under high irradiance.(SEE ATTACHED SCREENSHOT)The panels have been regularly peaking in the high 240 watt area.Remember these panels are rated at 235 watts DC!I attached a screen shot with the all time highest peak and am seeing panels peak at 260 watts DC.Unbelievable!Now of course you might say well this is DC not AC and Enphase only reports to you the AC production at panel level.The Fronius 10.0 UNI inverter has a DC-AC conversion rating of 95.2 percent.So if a panel is producing 245 watts DC assuming no loss in the lines you are going to get 233 watts AC out the other end.Still 23 watts higher than the newest Enphase M215 is capable of outputting.Incredible!And the customer confirmed this to be true.His system was peaking at over 10,000 watts AC at the inverter.That’s 96.7% of what his DC name plate rating. According to PV watts your conversion factor of DC to AC is going to be around 84% under ideal conditions.For most of my regular string inverter systems I’ve seen normal AC output levels at 70% to 80% of DC name plate.The best peaks I’ve ever seen are outputs at 84% of the DC name plate rating.Enphase has always been comparable.It seems the secret is in TIGO’s impedance matching.In conclusion TIGO outperforms Enphase under normal conditions and especially during peak conditions.Now that I’ve had a chance to install and monitor both Enphase and Tigo I confidently recommend Tigo.

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