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Smart software for fewer truck rolls

By Larry Busby, Technical Services Manager at APsystems USA

For a PV installer, there’s nothing worse than having to return to a jobsite. Except, of course, having to do it more than once. We’ve all heard the expression “work smarter, not harder,” but you would be surprised how often solar installers get in a truck and roll out to a jobsite to adjust or repair something that probably could have been fixed remotely back at HQ. Many software-savvy solar installers are boning up on best-practices to better utilize the systems and information already available to them—most of it right at their fingertips—to save both time and money.

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For solar arrays, the most critical software typically lies within the power conversion devices, gateways and interconnected online monitoring platform provided by the inverter manufacturer. The online platform not only monitors the performance of the system, but also tracks a profusion of data points simultaneously and stores that information in the cloud. By checking certain performance specs, settings, activity and historical data, installers can quickly troubleshoot and fix common hitches or, at worst, narrow down the problem that’s plaguing a PV system.

Every inverter monitoring interface is a little different, but much of the information and tools available are typically the same. With an MLPE system like microinverters, you’re able to drill down to the PV panel level to see what each module is producing at any given time. When troubleshooting a system issue, or perhaps if you see a PV panel which is reporting low or zero watts, first try rebooting the system remotely if your monitoring platform offers that capability. With some systems, a reboot may help the interface identify the issue or it might reset the array to its default parameters in case an unusual grid event threw a monkey wrench at it. It could also spur the system to begin downloading recent updates which may have stalled when the system encountered the issue. You may even consider rebooting more than once.

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If you’re still troubleshooting the issue, check the DC side of your system. For a microinverter system, you want to be sure each inverter is reporting at its minimal operating range (such as 16V) incoming DC from the panel. Next, check your AC output. If your system shows it registering 0V or 120V, the inverter may not be sensing the grid or enough volts from the grid to register as a 240V grid connection. Without an identified grid connection, the inverter will not convert energy, so if you see this as an issue with multiple sequential inverters, it could be a cable or connector problem. If it applies to the entire string or array, the problem could be a loose wire in the junction box, or a tripped or off breaker.

With a low wattage problem, you can drill down to the panel level online and check the voltage. If it’s registering under its minimal operating range, it’s likely a panel problem and not the inverter. You may still have to visit the site, but at least you know what you’re replacing and exactly where it is on the array which saves you time troubleshooting. When you hit the site, unplug the suspect panel from the inverter and take a live load DC voltage and current reading. If your panel is reading below its minimum startup voltage and 0 current, then the panel is the culprit and needs replacing.

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Also, don’t underestimate the value of historical data. Looking back over a system’s history—especially that of a single panel—may allow you to identify recurring issues that seem to affect that particular panel. Perhaps a chimney shadow hits the panel at the same time each day. You can look back through the production history to see if it occurs often, or if you have multiple installations in a particular area, you can check each of those when you see unusual grid activity to see if and how it may be affecting your other sites.

Understanding what the site metrics are telling you will give you better insight into what’s happening at a job site. Learning what you can do to troubleshoot an issue online can not only save you a truck roll, but also significantly reduce your time identifying the problem if you do have to drive to the site. Most importantly, if you do need to hit the job site, remember that safety is paramount and to always turn off the AC before doing any work on the roof.

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APsystems congratulates the Top 500 Solar Contractors of 2017

Solar Power World’s 2017 Top Solar Contractors list is out, and APsystem solar partners are in the top ranks.

The annual list ranks solar installers and other contractors according to their influence in the U.S. solar industry. These leading firms are active in markets across the country, and SPW notes the cumulative installation numbers from the past year in all markets, services and states.

Congratulations to APsystems solar partners who made the list.  Thank you for showing leadership across the industry and pointing the way to a clean energy future.

Find the entire list of Solar Power World’s 2017 Top 500 Solar Contractors online here

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Join APsystems at Intersolar North America, July 11-13 2017

Intersolar 2017: North America’s most attended solar event and premier networking platform.
APsystems: The global leader in solar microinverter innovation.

Join APsystems at this year’s Intersolar North America event, July 11-13 in San Francisco. APsystems will bring its full line of dual- and four-module microinverters to booth 9245, with live training for installers.

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APsystems live training courses are registered to confer NABCEP CE credits and cover proper installation and setup of APsystems microinverters, the APsystems Energy Communication Unit (ECU) gateway and APsystems Energy Monitoring and Analysis (EMA) web portal.

Jason Higginson, APsystems Director of Marketing USA, will be a featured speaker at the conference on two panels.  Don’t miss the Executive Panel Discussion: Evaluation of Main Technologies and Application Segments for Energy Storage Systems on July 12th at 11.30 am.  And on July 13th 11.30am the Executive Roundtable Discussion: Emerging Technological Advancements that Foster Sustainable Solar Deployment.

Meet the team and find out how you can bring APsystems power, reliability and value to your customers today. Email sales.usa@APsystems.com to set up a meeting during Intersolar North America 2017.

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APsystems joins Dividend Solar Approved Vendor List

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEATTLE, Washington – June 5, 2017 – APsystems joined the approved vendor list for Dividend Solar, a leading home-energy financing platform.

apsystems-dividendThe agreement brings APsystems advanced microinverter technology to Dividend’s portfolio of top-tier, consumer-friendly solar products.

“Dividend Solar is a recognized leader in bringing affordable solar to homeowners nationwide,” said Jason Higginson, Senior Director of Marketing for APsystems USA. “Their fast-track financing is an excellent match for our own quick, easy-to-install microinverter systems. Consumers and installers alike will benefit from this pairing.”

Dividend Solar, a division of Dividend Finance, offers $0-down financing which enables homeowners to maximize the benefits of going solar while also enjoying hassle-free performance guarantees and warranty management.

Founded in 2013, Dividend has led the shift towards the direct ownership model in solar. In 2016 the company expanded into home energy financing options to include the next frontier of energy saving upgrades.

Dividend’s technology platform has streamlined the credit approval and installation process, thereby lowering the cost of installing solar panels and energy efficiency upgrades for its customers and partners.  Learn more by visiting www.dividendsolar.com.

 

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APsystems supports new Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House & Culinary Garden in Orlando

Good nutrition has been a popular part of the curriculum at Orlando Junior Academy since 2011, with students in grades 5-8 “sowing and growing” fresh vegetables in garden plots and learning cooking skills with each harvest.

But the school’s cooking stations were rudimentary. So Edible Education Experience, a Florida-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, dreamed of providing something more grand for students and the greater community.

emeril3-jpgThree years of fundraising and friend-raising paid off this month with the opening of the new Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House & Culinary Garden in Orlando’s College Park Neighborhood.

The 3,500-square-foot facility features four cooking stations for food pre, hand-washing sinks, and modern appliances. An educational lounge provides additional instruction space, while the Edible Education Experience organization maintains its offices upstairs. A second-story catwalk looks down into the kitchen area.

The Kitchen House facility was designed to meet LEED standards, including a metal roof and cisterns for rainwater catchment to irrigate the garden, energy-efficient A/C, and other features.

The building also includes a small solar array to power exterior lighting for the building and grounds.
APsystems contributed YC500 dual-module microinverters to the project through area distributor UMA Solar. Superior Solar of Altamonte Springs, Fla., contributed installation and balance-of-system, with modules donated by Solartech Universal.

“The Kitchen House offers Orlando kids a great new facility for learning about healthy cooking and healthy eating,” said Jason Higginson, APsystems Senior Director of Marketing. “We think it’s great that they can also learn about healthy energy through solar power, and we’re proud to be among the solar vendors that came together in support of this excellent project.”

EEE RENDERING 1The $1.2 million Kitchen House facility was built with support from, and named for, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, established by the popular celebrity chef “to create opportunities to inspire, mentor and enable youth to reach their fullest potential through culinary, nutrition and arts education with a focus on life skills development.”

The building is situated in the middle of a 1,000-sf culinary garden, cultivated by students and volunteers to provide a bounty of fresh produce for cooking classes and events. A veranda and picnic area allow outdoor events, as well.

The Kitchen House & Garden now provides educational programming for K-12 students in both public and private schools, area kids’ clubs and other community groups. Summer and holiday camps will be offered where students will use locally grown food and learn how to cook healthy, affordable meals – developing skills and menus that they can take home, and use throughout their lives.

The mission of Edible Education Experience is to connect kids with seed-to-table, garden-to-classroom, learning experiences to build a healthy future, said Janice Banks, executive director.

“We are so grateful to APsystems and Superior Solar for partnering with us and for ‘setting the stage’ where kids can learn innovative ways of turning Orlando’s sunshine into sustainable energy,” Banks said. “The reduced energy bill will be a monthly reminder of this generous ongoing partnership.”

For information on the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House & Culinary Garden project, see www.EdibleEd.org and www.emeril.org.

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Take our 2017 survey and enter to win $500 cash!

435802d5-8b9e-44ad-a3c7-97b88f92b4e5Are you an installer, contractor or distributor? Do you use, specify, purchase, market or install solar inverter products? Yes, well then take a few minutes to complete this survey, and you will be eligible to win a $500 Visa® gift card.

It’s this easy: By answering all questions in the short survey, you’ll help us better understand customer needs and improve our products and services. The survey is completely anonymous, and any personal information is only gathered for prize notification purposes.

The survey closes June 16, 2017- please share your opinions today.

To thank you for participating, we’ll enter you in a drawing for our prize – a Visa® gift card valued at $500.

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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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Olivier Jacques named APsystems Executive Vice President of USA & EMEA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

SONY DIGITAL CAMERASEATTLE, WA, and LYON, FRANCE – APsystems, the global leader in advanced microinverter technology for the solar PV industry, today announced Olivier Jacques has been named Executive Vice President, USA & EMEA.  Jacques is based in Lyon, France and most recently served as APsystems Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Europe, Middle East and Africa.  He will report to Dr. Zhi-Min Ling, Co-founder, President & CEO of APsystems worldwide.

“APsystems globalization and scale have increased dramatically under Olivier Jacques’ leadership,” said Dr. Ling. “His appointment to EVP of USA and EMEA opens up new horizons for product portfolio development, go-to-market strategies, and the MLPE innovation for which APsystems is known worldwide.”

Jacques will be a featured speaker at the upcoming GTM Solar Summit, May 16-18 in Scottsdale, Ariz. He will appear at the forum “Residential Inverters – Differentiating in a Maturing Market,” at 2 p.m. May 17. See www.greentechmedia.com for information.

“I am delighted to lead APsystems’ next stage of growth across USA and EMEA, two of the most developed PV regions in the world,” Jacques said. “Synergies are becoming more and more evident as the fast-growing PV industry is maturing. We are observing convergence today with tomorrow’s winning business models, system sophistication and customer expectations. In this context, I believe APsystems is now ideally positioned within this dynamic.”

Olivier boasts more than 25 years of experience in industrial, automation, energy and high-tech industries. Prior to joining APsystems in October 2015, he served as Managing Director, EMEA for Enphase Energy. There, he developed the microinverter market in Europe from scratch, achieving leading share positions in key European solar regions.

Olivier previously served as Managing Director for international companies including Norgren (IMI group), a leading industrial automation and fluid control company, where he spurred growth despite an economic recession.

As Managing Director and HVAC-R Southern Europe Director at Danfoss Drives, Jacques increased revenues, created sales channels, launched a new product platform and repositioned the company as a value-added solutions provider.

He has also held senior executive positions as International Sales & Marketing and Managing Director at major companies ranging from WATTS Industries (fluid control and HVAC), Schlumberger (water, gas and thermal energy) and Samsung Electronics (launching their HVAC business).

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About APsystems

Founded in Silicon Valley in 2009, APsystems has grown to encompass three global business units with offices around the world, serving customers in more than 80 countries with its ground-breaking multi-module microinverters, including the YC1000, the world’s first true 3-phase, 4-module unit for commercial applications and still the top seller its product class.

Today, with hundreds of thousands of units installed producing more than 130 GWh of clean, renewable energy, APsystems continues to be a leader in the ever-growing MLPE segment and a solid corporate performer, profitable each of the past five years. APsystems USA is based in Seattle, Washington; APsystems EMEA is based at Rotterdam, Netherlands and Lyon, France.

 

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Join APsystems at GTM Solar Summit, May 17-18

ss-2017-web-300-250APsystems is the Registration Sponsor for the upcoming GTM Solar Summit, the premier conference for defining industry needs and creating new business opportunities, May 17-18 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Olivier Jacques, APsystems’ Executive Vice President, will be a featured speaker at the conference.

See the full line of APsystems microinverter products at our event booth. Set up a meeting with a member of our attending team by emailing sales@APsystems.com.

Presented by GreenTech Media, the Solar Summit is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2017, with two full days of packed networking opportunities and a unique mix of market intelligence with engaging panel sessions among industry leaders.

For more information on the GTM Solar Summit, see https://www.greentechmedia.com/events/live/solar-summit-2017

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Join APsystems at CSPE, May 1-2 in San Diego

APsystems brings its industry-leading MLPE portfolio to the California Solar Power Expo, May 1-2 in San Diego.

John Doerr of the APsystems technical services division will offer a training session on Monday, May 1, 2:15 pm – 4:15 pm titled ‘Commercial Three Phase Microinverter Solutions – Including Design for Communication’ in a course registered to confer 2 NABCEP CE credits. Contact support@APsystems.com to register today.

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Find the APsystems team at Booth 58 in the Lower Level Exhibit Hall of the San Diego Convention Center.

The California Solar Power Expo, powered by SEIA and SEPA, is an interactive marketplace designed specifically for the California solar supply chain, including installers, developers, manufacturers, and service providers. More than 400 companies are registered to attend, with technical training, networking and a Solar Job Fair in store.

Click here for more information on this year’s California Solar Power Expo, or email sales@APsystems.com to set up a meeting during this year’s event.