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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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Solar MLPE hacks for the installer edge

APsystems-Fresno-roof1Time is money. We’ve all heard the age-old adage, but if you’re a solar installation company, it absolutely rings true: time is your worst enemy. Labor is expensive, so the longer a project takes, the more it costs an installer to put in a solar system, and it comes right out of their bottom line. Non-hardware costs such as installation labor, permitting fees and interconnection costs are referred to as “soft costs.” According to the U.S. Department of Energy, these soft or “plug-in” costs of solar account for as much as 64% of the total cost of a new solar system, and labor is one of the largest culprits. It’s no surprise that solar installers are looking for ways to reduce these costs, and any tool or trick they can employ to speed a project along may just give them the edge they need to not only survive in this highly competitive industry, but to thrive.

One challenge in this effort to reduce labor costs, is the growth in utilization of module-level power electronics (MLPEs) such as microinverters and DC optimizers. Unlike string inverters which, for residential applications, typically mean a single string inverter is serving all the PV modules on the roof, each MLPE is typically serving a single module. Although an MLPE solar system is often more expensive in initial capital costs and more labor-intensive to install compared with string inverters, it also has a better levelized cost of energy (LCOE) over string inverters as MLPE systems produce more energy over the life of system. It makes sense, then, why MLPE systems comprised 62% of the U.S. residential solar market in 2015, according to GTM Research, and the market isn’t done there as MLPE is predicted to be the fastest-growing product segment over the next five years.

Installers are feeling the time crunch and the challenge today is even greater to take a high-demand yet labor-intensive product and still perform a profitable installation. Let’s take a look at a few ways to streamline the MLPE installation process with some serious solar hacks.

 

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Microinverters which serve multiple modules exist today and with 2-to-1 and even 4-to-1 module to microinverter options available, homeowners can still get the benefits of an MLPE systems with independent MPPT per module, while installers cleverly reduce the amount of units they’re having to put on the roof by 50% to 75%.

 

MLPE ARCHITECTURE
Most MLPE systems utilize a trunk bus cable to which installers then attach every microinverter. Not only are trunk cables an expensive part of the system, but placing it on the roof and securing the cable to the racking takes time. Products, such as the APsystems YC500A, utilize a daisy-chain method of cabling and do away with the trunk cable. What’s more, the daisy chain is pre-integrated into the unit so it comes completely pre-cabled and ready to go.

 

APsystems demo-thumbFREE TRAINING
Most solar equipment manufacturers offer free training webinars and videos on their products anymore so absolutely take advantage of this. Don’t miss out on the time (and money) saving tips you can pick up in a short training course or online video series.

 

GATEWAY SET-UP
The gateway communication unit for microinverter installations can be a breeze if installers follow a few simple tips for commissioning the system. Connect the gateway to the internet via a standard Ethernet cable so it can download the most current firmware before you begin to commission the system. Ideally, you’ll want to do this after the inverter installation but before module installation so the unit can update while your team puts panels on the roof so you don’t lose time. Be sure to connect cables in the right order as some gateways may take longer if power is applied before the network cable (unless the system will be connected via Wi-Fi). Obtaining the homeowner’s Wi-Fi network information and password before hitting the jobsite will also save you time in connecting the gateway.

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TIME-SAVING APPS
There are some amazing apps out there for solar installers that can help installers streamline system setup. ArrayApp by APsystems, for example, allows installers to create the homeowner account for online monitoring, scan units directly without having to wait for up to 30 minutes for auto-detection of the inverters and create the array site map all from their mobile phone or tablet. Simply search for ArrayApp on your iPhone App Store or Google Play for Android devices.

Taking advantage of these time-saving measures can save an installer money but also help them get more installations completed in a single day. As the solar industry continues to lean heavily toward MLPE systems, finding ways to install faster and more effectively can mean the difference between a profitable operation and one that struggles to be competitive. Be sure to do your research, training, find out what other installers are doing and build your own list of valuable solar installation hacks.

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APsystems reveals competitive edge on Solar Power World podcast

A smart microinverter takes a smart chip – and every APsystems unit has one inside.
The powerful FPGA chip that drives APsystems advanced microinverters is among the topics covered by Solar Power World editor Kathie Zipp and Jason Higginson, APsystems senior director of marketing, during a recent interview.

The pair sat down recently for an informative program on solar technology, the fast-growing Module Level Power Electronics segment and other topics.

Listen to the podcast here.

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APsystems helps Extend the Day bring solar to kids in developing nations

c6a4d851-f6f6-448d-9efe-989852f7f33fAPsystems is teaming up with the nonprofit Extend the Day to bring portable solar-powered lights to students in developing nations.

APsystems engineers assisted in the design of small, personal-sized lights, now being distributed to kids and families in remote villages in Kenya, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Myanmar and Namibia.

The lights allow students to study in the evening, dramatically changing their educational experience and opportunities.

Seattle-based Extend the Day was founded by Andrew Lonseth, APsystems President for USA Operations, and his daughter Jo, who saw the opportunity to improve lives through personal-scale solar during their global travels.

The clean-energy lights have a secondary benefit of eliminating the health hazards associated with noxious kerosene-burning lamps in homes.

“My eyes don’t burn anymore when I read,” a Kenyan student told Jo Lonseth recently. The youth now hopes to become an electrical engineer.

“Here he was in the middle of nowhere, and the light has changed his path,” Jo told Bainbridge Island Magazine.

Read the whole story here.

Click here for more information about Extend the Day.

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APsystems Exhibits at SPI 2016 – Sept 12-15

192b3d9d-30bb-4b34-9831-5a427aa69045Solar Power International, North America’s largest PV convention, comes to Las Vegas Sept. 12-15 – and APsystems will be there in force.

Look for our enhanced, interactive booth 659, where we’ll be offering APsystems product training, hands-on demonstrations, and great promotional giveaways.

We’ll have the full line of APsystems advanced microinverters on display, including the powerful new YC500i with EnergyMax™ and the ArrayApp all-in-one mobile installer tool.

Email sales@APsystems.com to set up a meeting with a team member, or just drop by and find out why APsystems is the global leader in next-generation microinverters for solar PV applications.

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APsystems microinverters powering multifamily solar at Grow Community

Condos, apartments, townhomes – three flavors of multifamily construction, each with its own challenges for reaping the power, and financial benefits, of solar investment.

Asani development company is tackling all three at once at Grow Community on Bainbridge Island, across Puget Sound from Seattle.

On buildings dubbed the Salal, the Juniper and the Elan, now complete in the project’s expansive second phase, solar arrays will benefit both homebuyers and renters alike.

One roof apiece, with many beneficiaries beneath.

“Our investors said, ‘let’s go for it,’” said Greg Lotakis, Asani president and Grow Community project manager. “Without their desire to be the largest solar community in Washington, and wanting to plant the solar flag in the ground, we wouldn’t be doing this. Without their support, it wouldn’t be possible.”

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The Salal condominiums, with 12 units spread over three stories, is effectively a “community solar” project on a rooftop. Solar was included in the purchase price – no buyer option – and incentives from the State of Washington will be apportioned equally among condominium owners. Each will own a one-twelfth interest in the array.

Asani worked with state officials and the local utility provider to craft a program that satisfies the complicated provisions of Washington law.

The opening was a provision allowing common use of single roof for solar in multifamily buildings. Asani banked on prospective buyers seeing shared solar as a good investment as they bought their condo units, one that promised annual paybacks while lowering operational costs of their building through solar harvest.

Solar was designed into the Salal building. A single production meter monitors total system output, while 12 sub-meters track consumption in individual units for utility billing.
Buyers are rolling the cost of solar, about $15,000 per unit, into their mortgages to take advantage of low interest rates at the time of purchase.

“We wanted it very clean and divisible by all the owners,” Lotakis said. “I think it would be pretty difficult for six, 10, 12 people to come together and agree upon how the system would work after the fact. This gave us a chance to just deliver it.”

Lotakis expects the 44kW array to produce about $1,500 in incentives per unit annually – cumulatively much higher than the state’s $5,000 cap on incentives for a single-family residence.

Next door at the 12-unit Juniper apartment building, the 44kW rooftop array is similar but the equation is different. Renters will enjoy the benefits of solar production through net-metering, but not the annual state solar rebate. That will go to the building’s single owner, and will max out at the state’s $5,000 cap. The Juniper building array includes APsystems YC1000 true 3-phase microinverters.

The two-story Elan townhomes presented the most straightforward challenge. Individual 6-9kW solar packages are offered for each section of the common roof. No modules will cross the “virtual lot lines,” making each system self-contained within the owner’s patch of rooftop. Three systems have been installed so far, including APsystems YC500A microinverters.


GROWING NEIGHBORHOOD SOLAR

From project inception, Asani set out to build the most environmentally friendly development possible.
Relentless sourcing of renewable materials and low-impact fixtures, and close connection to the island’s town center, have positioned Grow Community in the marketplace for healthy lifestyle-conscious buyers.

The project’s first phase is noted for its shared pea-patch gardens and winding footpaths through close-set homes. The second and third phases are oriented around a woodland grove and open greenway.

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The project has earned recognition in national magazines and won awards from local and national homebuilder associations. It is only the second planned community in North America to be certified under the rigorous One Planet Living standards.

Grow’s first phase of 23 detached units sold out immediately, and every homeowner chose to add the solar package.

Asani has also showcased Made In Washington components to support the state’s solar industry.
Modules at the Salal are by Itek Energy of Bellingham, WA, while the Juniper and Elan arrays include APsystems microinverters manufactured and distributed by Blue Frog Solar of nearby Poulsbo.

Using a mix of in-state and out-of-state components allows Asani to achieve different price points for buyers while optimizing local incentives where possible.

Lotakis cautions that Grow Community’s multifamily solar program relies on particularities in Washington law. Multifamily programs elsewhere would face their own challenges, although he believes Grow offers a useful model for developers nationwide to consider.

With the Salal building only recently certified for occupancy, new residents have no comparative data on their energy savings. But the solar component was attractive, as it has been to buyers throughout the three-neighborhood, 142-home project due to be completed in late 2017.

“Solar was a factor,” one new resident said, “along with a development that encourages a sense of community.”

Between the federal tax credit and annual rebates from the state, Lotakis said, owners buying into the Salal condominiums could have their share of the common array paid off within five years.

“And because they’ve rolled the cost of solar into their mortgage, they don’t really see it,” he said. “Those production checks will be like a dividend.”

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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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APsystems Launches INSTALLER VIDEO TRAINING Series

APsystems microinverters are unparalleled for speed and ease of installation.

The new online video training series from APsystems guides installers step by step through the fast, hassle-free installation and setup of the flagship YC500 microinverter.

The 12-part series covers fundamentals, tips and best practices for professional installation and system registration.

Topics include
* Installation preparation and safety
* Microinverter rooftop layout
* Cabling, connections and grounding
* Energy Communication Unit gateway basics
* ArrayApp mobile installer tool and much more.

The video series is designed for registered, professional solar installers, and complements our online training webinars, technical manuals and other support resources. To find out how to register as an APsystems installer, visit us here.

Each video is hosted by Christopher Barrett, Director of Engineering and Technical Services for APsystems USA. The entire series runs about 24 minutes, with installments viewable individually or in a single video.

Here’s a look at the first 3 videos in the series. You can view these and other APsystems videos on our YouTube channel http://youtube.com/APsystemsSolar or here on our website.

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APsystems introduces YC500i microinverter with EnergyMax™ designed for high-output PV modules

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SEATTLE – APsystems extends its advanced microinverter line with the new YC500i with EnergyMax™ power handling and integrated ground, now available in North America.

EnergyMax™ technology allows the dual-module unit 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.

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“The new generation of solar modules demand a microinverter built to handle dramatic increases in power and output,” said Andrew Nichols, senior vice president of sales, APsystems USA. “With EnergyMax™ technology, we’re able to match the advances in module output capacity and offer higher rates of energy production to customers.”

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

The YC500i 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.

apsystems-YC500I-1-768x512APsystems customers with a cabling preference can now choose—daisy-chain connection with the YC500A or trunk cable connection with the new YC500i with EnergyMax™.

“APsystems has always endeavored to provide flexibility and choice to our installers,” said Chris Barrett, director of engineering and technical services. “Some of our installers have experience utilizing a trunk cable architecture and the YC500i gives them that option in addition to our very popular daisy chain design.”

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

Information on the complete APsystems solar microinverter line can be found at www.APsystems.com.