We have just learned that Run on Sun’s leading module manufacturer, LG Electronics, is introducing its new NeoN line of modules.
This is an exciting product that provides 280-290 Watts in the same footprint as their previous 250-260 Watt modules! But how will they match up with existing Enphase products? Here’s our take.
First, some product highlights:
- Dramatically improved module efficiency – increasing from 15.5% for LG’s current, 255 Watt modules to 17.1% for the new 280’s all the way up to 17.7% for the 290’s!
- Same footprint – the NeoN modules are the same size and weight as the current 255’s.
- Same 60-cell module format – 280 Watt modules remain compatible with Enphase M215 micro-inverters, providing higher yields (more on this below).
- Best in class linear power warranty (25 years) and product warranty (10 years).
- Positive power tolerance from 0 to +3%
This is a significant product breakthrough – but one that we were anticipating from LG which is on a design path to produce a 300 Watt module before the end of the year!
But this development begs the question: how do these significantly higher wattage panels mesh with the tried and true Enphase 215 Watt microinverter? Quite nicely, it would appear. Enphase has released a white paper titled: Bigger is Better: Sizing Solar Modules for Microinverters that makes the case that modules as powerful as 285 Watts remain an excellent match to their existing inverter product.
Here’s the reasoning: all solar modules mounted, in a fixed position, produce power over the course of the day that resembles a bell curve, peaking at solar noon and rolling off on either side. That means that for the majority of the time, the module is actually producing significantly less than its nameplate power. Thus, when you tie a 280 Watt module to a 215 Watt microinverter you are actually well below the cutoff point for the inverter the vast majority of the time. But the higher wattage means that you do a better job of filling in the gaps and increasing your annual yield. Check out this graph:
The orange bars represent the improved energy yield for the higher power modules (relative to a 250 Watt module) whereas the grey areas are losses due to clipping the output of the inverter. Even accounting for the slight loss at the 280 Watt module, you are still looking at more than 10% improvement in annual yield! This means a lower levelized cost of energy from the array, and that means more benefit to system owners.
This data suggests that the new 280 Watt modules will be a very desirable match with the M215’s. By the time LG releases their 300 Watt module (Summer? Fall?), Enphase should have their new product out as well (almost certainly a 240 or 250 Watt microinverter) – which should allow for similar “right sizing” gains.
We anticipate having the new LG modules in mid-to-late March – let us know if you want to get in the queue!
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