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Solar Power World: Address Connectivity Issues to Reduce Trips to Solar Sites

screen-shot-2017-05-12-at-4-29-45-pmYou’re a solar installer not “the IT guy,” so why spend time dealing with connectivity issues, rebooting customers’ Wi-Fi networks?

Real-time monitoring is an essential feature of today’s PV systems, but communication between system monitoring devices and the customer’s router is often overlooked.

Do you know best options and best practices? Christopher Barrett, Director of Techincal Services for APsystems, guides installers through the maze of options and issues for gateway connectivity in “The Installation Issue,” a special publication of Solar Power World on newsstands now.

Read “Address Connectivity Issues to Reduce Trips to Solar Sites” online here.

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Address connectivity issues to reduce trips to solar sites

April 10, 2017 Solar Power World

You’re a solar installer, not “the IT guy,” so why spend time dealing with connectivity issues, rebooting customers’ Wi-Fi networks?

While real-time monitoring is an essential feature of today’s PV systems, communication between system monitoring devices and the customer’s router is often overlooked. Understanding the options for today’s connectivity—and making smart choices for your customers—can save you costly return visits to jobsites.

Photo credit: APsystems and Lighthouse Solar

The challenge
Relaying performance data from the solar system to the customer’s computer or smart device and the manufacturer’s database involves constant, reliable communication between specialized components. The typical signal chain for communication links the solar array to the data collector, which is typically called a gateway—such as the APsystems ECU or the Enphase Envoy. The signals travel to the home internet router and onto various monitoring stations.

It sounds straightforward, but differences in home size and layout can mean the gateway and router are separated, likely by walls and floors.

Bridging the gap
Today’s solar customers have an almost bewildering array of choices (and acronyms) for linking the gateway to their router. There are Wi-Fi extenders or Ethernet cables, such as Ethernet-over-powerline (EoP), where wires used to distribute power inside homes also transmit digital data based on time division multiple access (TDMA) technology. You can even use old-school CAT-5 or CAT-6 Ethernet cables. Each option has its particular strengths and weaknesses, and the right answer for one installation may not work for another.

Making the right choice
Solar customers want reliability, from the solar modules to inverters to production. Connectivity should have the same level of reliability.

Match your hardware choices to the size and layout of the house with proven technologies and products to ensure uninterrupted, around-the-clock monitoring. Keep in mind that the best choice will invariably be a hardline connection whenever possible. With potential signal disruption, a wireless connection will only ever be as reliable as wireless allows. Today’s wireless technology is incredible, but critical connectivity requires highly reliable communication devices. You simply can’t beat a direct, uninterrupted connection. Test each solution to find your ideal answer for each installation scenario, and remember the best solution is the one that requires the least follow-up once you’ve left the jobsite.

This installation tip was provided by Chris Barrett, director of engineering and technical services, APsystems

See full article on Solar Power World

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APsystems featured in Solar Builder Magazine’s special Inverter Issue

Solar Builder Magazine’s special Inverter Issue is out now, and APsystems is featured throughout.

Always follow best practices to head off gateway communication issues, says Christopher Barrett, APsystems Director of Technical Services, in the “Ask An Expert” feature compiled by Solar Builder editors. Even in a “wireless” world, hard-wired CAT-5 connections can be the best and most reliable option, Christopher says – and save you the time and trouble of returning to the jobsite to sort out Wi-Fi problems.

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Remember to compare warranties when doing your calculations – there’s real value in that certificate, should a system component ever need to be replaced. That’s one of the insights APsystems contributes to an informative story on Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), the formula that determines a solar array’s investment value over its lifetime.

Power and versatility are the hallmarks of the new APsystems YC500i with EnergyMax, a microinverter designed and built for today’s high-output modules, profiled in Solar Builder’s 2017 Inverter Buyers Guide.

Find out more about APsystems microinverters, “The Installers’ Choice,” on the inside front cover of the edition, on newsstands now.

Download the digital edition of Solar Builder’s Inverter Issue here.

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What are the Advantages of Microinverters Going Into 2017

Start early, work late – low-light production at either end of the day is just one more advantage of solar microinverters over conventional string systems.

Learn about the many others in “What Are the Advantages of Microinverters Going Into 2017,” a feature in Solar Power World’s 2017 Renewable Energy Handbook.

Read it here.

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APsystems YC1000-3 microinverter certified for Los Angeles market

The APsystems YC1000-3 microinverter has been certified for use in commercial PV systems in the Los Angeles market.

apsystems_yc1000_4module_board_final_rgbsmGeneral Approval under the City of Los Angeles’ rigorous certification process was announced by the Department of Building and Safety, following testing by the Los Angeles City Electrical Testing Laboratory.

General Approval certifies compliance with Section 93.0303 of the Los Angeles City Electrical Code, “New Methods and Materials of Construction.”

The YC1000-3 is the industry’s first true 3-phase, four-module microinverter, specially designed and built for commercial PV applications. It is available in both 208V and 277/480V configurations.

“The YC1000 created the market for microinverter technology in the commercial PV segment,” said Andrew Nichols, APsystems Senior Vice President of Sales. “These challenging environments demand a rugged unit, and certification under the high standards of Los Angeles and other local jurisdictions show that it’s built for both safety and reliability.”

The City of Los Angeles previously certified the APsystems YC500i microinverter, a powerful dual-module, single-phase unit designed for today’s high-output modules.

Both the YC1000 and the YC500i microinverter are available for order through APsystems U.S. distribution channels.

YC500i LADWP Approval:
 
YC1000-3 LADWP Approval:

 

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Multi-module micros touted in Solar Builder

A microinverter that handles more than one module is not just quicker for install – it’s an investment in long-term reliability. Fewer units per array mean fewer potential points of failure, notes Chris Barrett, director of engineering and technical services for APsystems.

Find out how design improvements like multi-module micros and smarter chips are moving the MLPE segment forward in “Module Level Electronics O&M Equation,” a new article at solarbuildermag.com
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All new YC500i microinverter certified for Los Angeles market

The APsystems YC500i microinverter with EnergyMax™ has been certified for use in the Los Angeles market.

General Approval under the City of Los Angeles’ rigorous certification process was announced by the Department of Building and Safety, following testing by the Los Angeles City Electrical Testing Laboratory.

apsystems-solarpower-online-ad-300x600-oct-2016General Approval certifies compliance with Section 93.0303 of the Los Angeles City Electrical Code, “New Methods and Materials of Construction.” The unit is certified for both residential and commercial applications.

“The YC500i microinverter is built for safety and reliability, to meet the highest standards of local jurisdictions like the City of Los Angeles,” said Andrew Nichols, APsystems senior director of sales.

“We’re excited to earn certification and bring this powerful new unit to such a dynamic and fast-growing metropolitan market.”

EnergyMax™ technology allows the dual-module microinverter to produce 274 watts peak output per side (548W total), an almost 10 percent increase in peak power output over conventional microinverters to harvest the power of today’s high-output PV modules.

The YC500i builds on the same advanced platform as the popular YC500A flagship model. EnergyMax™ technology developed by APsystems maximizes the inverter’s output for higher energy harvest across the solar array.

The unit utilizes a trunk cable, offering installers an alternative to the daisy-chain design of APsystems YC500A microinverters. This provides a solution for installers who favor trunk cable architecture as well as markets where regulatory bodies prefer an integrated ground.

The YC500i microinverter is now available for order through APsystems U.S. distribution channels. Email sales@APsystems.com for ordering information.

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APsystems featured in Solar Builder’s new Rooftop Report

Solar Builder Magazine’s new “Rooftop Report” is out, featuring APsystems advanced microinverter technology.

APsystems Director of Engineering Christopher Barrett contributes “Get Connected: Data Monitoring in a Wireless (and sometimes wired) World,” an in-depth look at the challenges of gateway data collection in the home solar environment.

Also look for the article “Time Hacks for Installing MLPE,” features labor-saving tips and tricks for solar installers, and a report from Solar Builder’s Chris Crowell on the rapid-shutdown features built into the APsystems microinverter platform.

Find the “Rooftop Report” online here, and look for hard copies bundled with the next issue of Solar Builder Magazine, and distributed at the upcoming Solar Power International conference in September.

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Why microinverters are a good option for commercial solar projects

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 1.52.14 PMSafety and NEC compliance, system monitoring, energy harvest – count the reasons for the popularity of microinverters in the MLPE marketplace.

APsystems and Solar Power World Online recently collaborated on an article and informational webinar discussing these and other advantages of microinverter technology. The webinar event was hosted by Christopher Barrett, technical services manager for APsystems USA.

Read the article here, then sign up to watch the archived webinar and find out why installers worldwide choose APsystems for the residential and commercial customers.

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Why microinverters are a safer design for solar

Solar power is gaining a coalition of fans, their numbers growing as PV spreads around the globe. But many emergency responders aren’t yet sold, and understandably so. They, and others, are concerned with the electrical safety of these new and often unfamiliar systems. The idea of high-voltage DC sizzling across a rooftop is a stark prospect for anyone who might come in contact with a PV array while battling a building fire, or even performing routine maintenance.

APsystems-supportSeeing the need for safety standards, regulators enacted “Rapid Shutdown” requirements (found in NEC 2014 690.12) to protect first responders from any high-voltage DC hazards that might remain after AC service has been disrupted or shut off. While manufacturers have responded to NEC 2014 with varying strategies–including add-on “DC combiner boxes” for string inverter arrays–one popular PV product already has Rapid Shutdown built into every unit: the microinverter.

When the AC circuit goes down for any reason, each unit in a microinverter array performs its own shutdown function in just 100 milliseconds–100 times faster than the code-specified standard of 10 seconds for shutdown.System voltage at shutdown is about 30V DC, meeting the stringent NEC 2014 requirement and well below the 80-V threshold generally considered safe for contact.

chrisSafety doesn’t end there. Microinverters also offer safety advantages when it comes to the DC conductor requirement in the standard. For example, a system designed using APsystems microinverters will have no DC conductors energized more than 5 ft in length within a building or more than 10 ft from the array, which meets the NEC 2014 standard (and is already looking ahead to NEC 2017).

Also, any present low-voltage lines will be located beneath solar modules, eliminating the chance of contact during rooftop activity.
Powerful, reliable, economical, microinverters have had plenty to recommend them since they entered the MLPE product field. As electrical codes evolve to protect responders and homeowners alike, the humble microinverter is not only meeting these tough new standards, but anticipating them.

By: Christopher Barrett, engineering and technical services manager for APsystems USA. Contact him at christopher.barrett@apsystems.com.

To learn more, watch his webinar presentation here.