APsystems to deliver micro-inverter technology to Subsol in France

SUBSOL selects APsystems’ micro-inverter technology for a large scale social housing project supplying solar energy to more than 680 homes in the metropolitan area of Vienne, France.

More than 280 residential and small commercial roofs with an average power of 8 to 9 kWp will be equipped with innovative micro-inverter solutions from APsystems.

  LYON, France – 18 September 2017 – APsystems, the world leader in microinverter technology for the solar industry, today announced that it has been selected by SUBSOL, a design office and developer of roof integrated solar power plants, to be its partner in providing micro-inverter solutions for over 12,000 sqm of solar roofing, an unprecedented project in the metropolitan area of Vienne, Isère, France. A portfolio combining individual and collective multi-residential social housing projects and some small commercial public buildings will be able to provide approximately 2MWh/year, equivalent to the annual consumption of 680 households.

“It is a project put into place by the mayor, financed by local authorities and citizens, and developed above all to bring added value to the territory. SUBSOL is committed to these socially responsible projects and wishes to develop awareness of energy efficiency among tenants.” Said Jean-Baptiste Rouquerol, CEO of SUBSOL.

“We chose APsystems because of its extensive range of micro-inverter solutions, making it possible to easily address single-phase residential projects as well as small commercial buildings with a native 3-phase microinverter solution. The fact of having a local team to support us throughout the project, from the study phase to the ongoing installation phase, has reinforced our decision to work with APsystems.”.

The project is scheduled for completion by July 2018 at a rate of 45 installations per month. Thanks to APsystems’ complete solution that includes 1 micro-inverter for 2 or 4 panels, cables and accessories and an ECU communication gateway used to commission the system, enabling access to online energy monitoring anywhere, anytime via the EMA portal, the installation team, an average of 3 people, is able to complete an 8 or 9kWp installation in only 2 days, ensuring that each site meets its completion date.

“We are delighted to take part in such an avant-garde project. The innovation not only comes from the business model it is based on but also from the social dimension it carries. Solar energy in urban and built-up areas allows room for more innovative, safe and productive solutions, such as APsystems microinverters. We are convinced that this solar operation in Vienne will be a great success, and that it will be a source of inspiration for other cities,” said Olivier Jacques, Executive Vice President, APsystems.

See related coverage articles in the specialized European press :

Photon here

PES Solar here

PV Europe here

Renewable Energy Magazine here

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 230V 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.