Akeena & Enphase Introduce AC Solar Panels

Akeena Solar Inc. and Enphase Energy have announced a strategic partnership to develop and market Andalay solar panel systems with ordinary AC house current output instead of the high voltage DC output that is produced from most solar panels. Andalay AC panels are expected to cost less to install and provide higher performance than ordinary DC panels.

Under the agreement Akeena will purchase a minimum of 5,000 microinverters in each of 2009 and 2010, and Enphase will supply up to 100,000 microinverters to Akeena during this same time frame. These microinverters will be built into Akeena’s Andalay solar panels.

Akeena estimates that up to 25 percent of the total costs necessary to design and install a solar power system can be eliminated with solar panels that have integrated racking, wiring and grounding, and that operate with standard AC wiring. According to Enphase research, panels outfitted with Enphase microinverters boost solar energy collection by 5 to 25 percent.

As a result, systems using Andalay AC solar panels could be less expensive to design and install, and have the potential to provide higher efficiency and better long-term performance for both residential and commercial customers.

“Since George Westinghouse founded the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1889, the world’s electric grid has operated on AC power. But the solar industry has always installed DC panels. A big challenge for every solar installer has been to design, install and wire high voltage DC solar panels on rooftops,” said Barry Cinnamon, CEO of Akeena Solar. “Now — finally — we can dramatically simplify the design and installation of a rooftop solar system with standardized AC solar panels.”

RenewableEnergyWorld.com talked with Raghu Belur, co-founder and vice president of marketing at Enphase about the company’s product at Solar Power International in October where there was a lot of buzz surrounding the micro-inverter. To hear more from Belur about the micro-inverters, play the video below.

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