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  • Enphase S280 widespread failure

    A few weeks ago, we had a power outage that lasted for about an hour. A few days later noticed that 27 of my 42 S280 microinverters were not producing any power and was able to determine that they never came back online after the power outage. They are all showing low AC voltage. Since Enphase has made it impossible for a homeowner to get through via telephone, I've opened two supported tickets, but weeks later, I still haven't received a response.

    This is a new system that had only been online for about six weeks at the time. I had purchased the S280's from Renvu and paid a local installer to set up the system. I had the installer call them this week and they were told that my microinverters were "fried" guessing that there must have been a power surge at the time of the power outage. They basically told my installer that they will not replace under warranty and I am SOL.

    This outage neither blew my disconnect fuses or tripped any of the panel breakers. Nothing else in my house was damaged by the outage and I have a ton of electronics. Surely there is a design defect if these can't even survive a simple power loss. After a search today, I also see that these inverters have just been discontinued even though they were just introduced less than two years ago..why? The older M250's are still being sold. There appears to be a problem with these and Enphase doesn't want to stand by their product. This is very frustrating, particularly since I purchased these units directly and I can't even speak to anyone at Enphase about it. And they advertise an "industry leading warranty". Can anyone recommend an outlet by which I can pursue this directly with an Enphase representative?

  • #2
    Check your line voltage, maybe after the outage it really is low. I had an outage that came back
    with very high line, which caused problems. I complained and weeks later is got adjusted to a
    more normal range. Bruce Roe

    Comment


    • #3
      Nilknarf, I'm assuming you are getting the voltage low error from using the installers toolkit on your phone. If not - please search (either apple store or google play) for the Enphase Installers toolkit and install it. This will let you look at the actual logs for any microinverter. The app requires you have a wireless setup in your house for the phone to connect to AND your Envoy unit is on the same subnet (either wired or wireless).

      I personally found Enphase more than willing to work with me when one of my M250's at install time did not work. I did make sure they knew that I was the owner installer, so maybe the installer you hired registered the system for you.

      Another thing you may be able to check. The bottom of each micro has a LED light, it will be either RED, GREEN, or blinking RED/GREEN. (if its on your roof, may be hard to see, hopefully one is in an area you can get near and use a mirror to see under). I forget what the colors mean but its in the micro manual.

      When I had a bad micro - it could not even communicate with the Envoy - it really was DOA on arrival. No logs - nothing.
      Last edited by tyab; 10-05-2017, 10:12 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by bcroe View Post
        Check your line voltage, maybe after the outage it really is low. I had an outage that came back
        with very high line, which caused problems. I complained and weeks later is got adjusted to a
        more normal range. Bruce Roe
        Line voltage looks ok. ~253V across L1 and L2.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by tyab View Post
          Nilknarf, I'm assuming you are getting the voltage low error from using the installers toolkit on your phone. If not - please search (either apple store or google play) for the Enphase Installers toolkit and install it. This will let you look at the actual logs for any microinverter. The app requires you have a wireless setup in your house for the phone to connect to AND your Envoy unit is on the same subnet (either wired or wireless).

          I personally found Enphase more than willing to work with me when one of my M250's at install time did not work. I did make sure they knew that I was the owner installer, so maybe the installer you hired registered the system for you.

          Another thing you may be able to check. The bottom of each micro has a LED light, it will be either RED, GREEN, or blinking RED/GREEN. (if its on your roof, may be hard to see, hopefully one is in an area you can get near and use a mirror to see under). I forget what the colors mean but its in the micro manual.

          When I had a bad micro - it could not even communicate with the Envoy - it really was DOA on arrival. No logs - nothing.
          Yes, using toolkit and Enlighten Manager. The down microinveters are blinking red. I can generate reports showing DC voltage, AC Voltage, etc. Everything looks fine, except I'm not getting any AC voltage on these. It does show AC frequency.

          How did you get in touch with Enphase? After I input my system ID on the phone system, it gives me a message about having an installer contact them and then disconnects.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by nilknarf View Post

            Line voltage looks ok. ~253V across L1 and L2.
            That isn't low, definitely on the high side. Use a meter when the others are working; 264V may
            be the high trip out point. Bruce Roe

            Comment


            • #7
              Try the following to reach them. support@enphaseenergy.com (im sure you have tried this). or 877 797-4743 (which you tried already). It sure appears that your system id is associated with a contractor and not yourself as owner install. Try (again) sending them an email telling them you are the owner installer - maybe that will help. Or call and trying 0 and see if you can get to a live person. This is a sizable purchase and its new and the squeaky wheel gets that grease so don't give up until you get the service you expect.

              The warranty is here: https://enphase.com/sites/default/fi...anty-US-CA.pdf
              One could always try to RMA 27 inverters via: https://enphase.com/en-us/support/re...tion-procedure
              but now your talking a lot of work.

              The guys that helped installed - are they familiar with Enphase at all in terms of trouble shooting?

              I'm with bcroe - 253 is getting high but not out of spec. I wonder what the value is right at the micro's. If you were a ground mount I would say to swap a good one with a bad one and see if the bad one in the new location is still not working but that may be a real pain on a roof top install but it may be a necessary task to start the troubleshooting process. Or take a reading right at the micro. I wonder if misc voltage losses in the installation are now putting some of those right near the trip points as bcroe is inferring to.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by tyab View Post
                Try the following to reach them. support@enphaseenergy.com (im sure you have tried this). or 877 797-4743 (which you tried already). It sure appears that your system id is associated with a contractor and not yourself as owner install. Try (again) sending them an email telling them you are the owner installer - maybe that will help. Or call and trying 0 and see if you can get to a live person. This is a sizable purchase and its new and the squeaky wheel gets that grease so don't give up until you get the service you expect.

                The warranty is here: https://enphase.com/sites/default/fi...anty-US-CA.pdf
                One could always try to RMA 27 inverters via: https://enphase.com/en-us/support/re...tion-procedure
                but now your talking a lot of work.

                The guys that helped installed - are they familiar with Enphase at all in terms of trouble shooting?

                I'm with bcroe - 253 is getting high but not out of spec. I wonder what the value is right at the micro's. If you were a ground mount I would say to swap a good one with a bad one and see if the bad one in the new location is still not working but that may be a real pain on a roof top install but it may be a necessary task to start the troubleshooting process. Or take a reading right at the micro. I wonder if misc voltage losses in the installation are now putting some of those right near the trip points as bcroe is inferring to.
                I had the guys that did the install come out and all I know that they did was check the voltage at the subpanel and somewhere on the roof....I assume at a micro. He told me voltage checked at 120V on the roof. He said they've installed a lot of enphase micros and never seen this before. Many of the panels are reverse tilt mounts, so I could do a swap a working one with one of the down units fairly easily. Someone else also told me yesterday that since I purchased these units from Renvu, that Siemens is responsible for the warranty and not Enphase. I'm going to call Siemens tech support tomorrow and see if I can get some help from them.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Enphase mentions on their site that the microinverters have some surge protection capability but they do not warrant against surge damage and recommend a whole house surge protector as a part of any solar installation.

                  The document is here: http://www2.enphase.com/global/files..._Lightning.pdf

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by PhotonConv View Post
                    Enphase mentions on their site that the microinverters have some surge protection capability but they do not warrant against surge damage and recommend a whole house surge protector as a part of any solar installation.

                    The document is here: http://www2.enphase.com/global/files..._Lightning.pdf
                    Yes, as I stated in the original post, this apparently is the basis of Enphase denying my warranty. What I am questioning is how a simple power outage that didn't trip any breakers in the PV system's subpanel, blow any disconnect fuse, or affect any other electrical device in my home somehow takes out 27 basically brand new microinverters. There was no lightning the day of the outage. After extensive searches online, I can't find a single instance of anyone losing micros to surges from a power outage. The warranty mentions surges from generators, which I do not have. Not that it can't happen, but I think there's something else going on here and I cant' get anyone with Enphase to help me troubleshoot it. Hopefully, Siemens will come through. A person of knowledge in another forum has suggested that this is a voltage issue and that the micros are fine.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Here is an idea to help out a bit. First you will want to know the wiring layout. With Enphase, there is long black cable that has these rounded rectangular plugs along it that the micro's plug into and you need this orange tool to remove. There is a maximum number of micros allowed per cable. What you want to know is the layout of the micros for each of those Enphase cables. Does each cable go into its own circuit breaker or are they combining the cables first in a junction box. Technically every Enphase cable (or combined cables) must be protected by a maximum of a 20 amp circuit breaker, and you cannot have more than 16 amps of micro output per that circuit breaker. This is something you should be able to get from the installer in terms of a line diagram or something - it could even be a google picture of your roof with hand drawn panels on top and red lines for the cables. Once you have this - is there some sort of pattern for the failed micros? For example, if the failed micros are all at the opposite end of the cable from the cable junction box - this may indicate excessive resistance in the wiring layout causing the micros to trip. Or maybe many of the micros are all grouped together - maybe indicating a wiring issue (loose wire nut or something like that). It is even possible that one or more of the micros is not plugged into its plug all the way (they have multiple rubber seals to prevent moisture) and you really have to push them together well until you hear a solid click when installing. Enphase recommends that the maximum total wire resistance from your service panel to the last micro on the longest cable run be no more than 2% and it might be worth the small amount of time to recompute this for your wiring setup to make sure the installer did this correctly.

                      While anything can happen with surges - I agree you that it would be unusual for a large number of micros to suddenly die after a power outage when you have no other indication in your home that any sort of surge took place.

                      In any case consider whole house surge protection - this can be as simple as something like a Square D QO2175SB or it can get as expensive as you want to spend.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by tyab View Post
                        Here is an idea to help out a bit. First you will want to know the wiring layout. With Enphase, there is long black cable that has these rounded rectangular plugs along it that the micro's plug into and you need this orange tool to remove. There is a maximum number of micros allowed per cable. What you want to know is the layout of the micros for each of those Enphase cables. Does each cable go into its own circuit breaker or are they combining the cables first in a junction box. Technically every Enphase cable (or combined cables) must be protected by a maximum of a 20 amp circuit breaker, and you cannot have more than 16 amps of micro output per that circuit breaker. This is something you should be able to get from the installer in terms of a line diagram or something - it could even be a google picture of your roof with hand drawn panels on top and red lines for the cables. Once you have this - is there some sort of pattern for the failed micros? For example, if the failed micros are all at the opposite end of the cable from the cable junction box - this may indicate excessive resistance in the wiring layout causing the micros to trip. Or maybe many of the micros are all grouped together - maybe indicating a wiring issue (loose wire nut or something like that). It is even possible that one or more of the micros is not plugged into its plug all the way (they have multiple rubber seals to prevent moisture) and you really have to push them together well until you hear a solid click when installing. Enphase recommends that the maximum total wire resistance from your service panel to the last micro on the longest cable run be no more than 2% and it might be worth the small amount of time to recompute this for your wiring setup to make sure the installer did this correctly.

                        While anything can happen with surges - I agree you that it would be unusual for a large number of micros to suddenly die after a power outage when you have no other indication in your home that any sort of surge took place.

                        In any case consider whole house surge protection - this can be as simple as something like a Square D QO2175SB or it can get as expensive as you want to spend.
                        I discovered earlier today that there does appear to be a wiring issue. As you can see from my attached layout, the three colors are the three circuits in my system, each protected by a 20 amp breaker in the subpanel. The green circuit has 15 S280 micros and the red has 16 S280's, so both are exceeding the maximum of 14 per circuit. Could this cause low voltage errors? I would also think that the circuit with 11 panels would be unaffected. The randomness of the down inverters makes no sense to me at all.
                        Attached Files

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I was just going through my grid profile settings and noticed an over-frequency disconnect of 65.00 Hz and a reconnect of 60.50 Hz. I looked over several of the down microinverters and they are all showing AC frequencies of about 73.50 Hz. Attached are a few graphs showing the days leading up to and days following them going down. You can see my dropoff in AC voltage that has remained at 0. It seems the microinverters were reporting differing behavior in regard to the frequencies, but they all show the frequency eventually leveling out at about 73.50 Hz, where they remain today. Some of them have leveled off at 82.70 Hz. Could my problem be frequency related? Why are they seeing AC frequency, but no voltage?
                          Attached Files
                          Last edited by nilknarf; 10-12-2017, 02:39 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Here are a couple of my working micros. You can see that they also were down for a day or so with high frequencies and no AC voltage, but somehow recovered and their voltage and frequencies have normalized at 245 VAC and 60.0 Hz. So did the voltage normalize at 245 VAC because the frequency dropped to 60.0 Hz, or did the frequency drop to 60.0 Hz because the voltage normalized at 245 VAC?

                            Two more questions:

                            1) Is it possible for the actual voltage and frequency measured at one inverter to be radically different than the voltage and frequency measured at the next inverter on the circuit. I have this going on randomly all over my system.
                            2) If I did indeed have a voltage surge, wouldn't it show up on the graph?

                            Thanks!
                            Attached Files
                            Last edited by nilknarf; 10-12-2017, 02:44 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Wow - what is going on with those frequencies? I wonder if someone is running a generator and it is backfeeding the grid in your neighborhood from the power outage?
                              Might be time to call the PoCo and tel them that your solar system is shutting down and reporting high frequency and see if they will check it out.
                              About your layout - call the contractor that installed it and have a chat about with those S280's, you can't have more than 14 on a single branch - this is clearly called out in the installation manual.
                              And while I doubt they did it - enphase also recommends center feeding long branches to significantly reduce the resistance losses.

                              https://enphase.com/sites/default/fi...e_TB_EN_US.pdf

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