Sunday, April 25, 2021

My 1st generation Enphase microinverters are failing fast

10 failed microinverters


I was a very early adopter of the Enphase micro-inverter (devices that convert power from solar panels directly to 240 V AC right under the panel on the roof).  I began installing my solar power system in 2009 and added to it over the years to the point that I now have 32 solar panels each with its own micro-inverter.  My installation was the 1239th and there are now literally millions of these micro-inverters in the world.  In the intervening years Enphase have continually revised their products and they are now selling seventh generation microinverters.  Enphase were the pioneers of this technology and remain one of the front runners in the highly competitive field.

To date 10 of these micro-inverters have failed and Enphase have honored their warranty which goes to 15 years. I am now seeing one or more failures every year for the last five years.  The most recent unit to fail is shown in the chart below on the bottom left.  A major advantage of using micro-inverters is that they allow you to monitor each device and its power output in near real time.

Below you can see a recently removed failed device and the new one that looks quite different.  Each new micro-inverter comes with a different set of cable adapters as they evolve the technology and make it backwards compatible with the early models.

Failed, and replacement micro-inverter.

New inverter is smaller lighter and form fits to the components

Every time one of these units fails, I go on to their website and order a replacement - a process that is made quite simple for me as a self installer (rather than end-user).  To replace these inverters, a friend and I need to go up on two ladders, remove the solar panel to access the inverter underneath and then unplug and replace it.  This takes about an hour to do this safely and carefully.

While I am very pleased that the warranty is being honored, I am concerned that I have only four years left on the warranty on some of my older devices and will be left having to buy them at over $200 each when they fail after that.