The residential solar industry in the US has long been dominated by two inverter companies: Enphase and SolarEdge. However, recently, a number of inverter companies have been making headway in the US market to expand inverter technology and diversify the options available to consumers. We sat down with Northern Electric Power (NEP), an inverter company founded in the US, to learn more about their mission and their product offerings.
[ES] Tell us more about NEP – what's the background of your company?
[NEP] NEP has been actively making microinverters for over ten years, installed in over 35 countries; in recent years, NEP invested in the US with localized microinverters and rapid shutdown solutions. The entire founding team of NEP is based in California.
[ES] What's NEP's mission?
[NEP] NEP is driven to improve beyond the 'status quo' for module-level power electronics (MLPE) providers; we are focused on simpler, easier, and lower cost with tough, reliable, smart products.
We think the current duopoly is unhealthy for the US solar industry (residential and small commercial inverter suppliers). In the short term, NEP wants to be the best, most credible alternative to the top two players today.
[ES] What's your target market with your inverters?
NEP micros are ideal for residential and small commercial applications. We are oriented around the need for speed, simplicity, repeatability, and flexible use of the products. Installers can complete residential installations in just a few hours with NEP microinverters, and get the job done with one visit.
[ES] Why microinverter technology?
[NEP] Our microinverters are as easy as installing Christmas lights: daisy chain via integrated alternating current (AC) cables, then home run to the AC combiner. Our micros support both 60-72 cell modules – no need to carry different inverters. The gateway with wifi is plug-and-play easy.
[ES] Tell us about the BDM-800!
[NEP] The BDM-800 is the highest power, most affordable, dual-micro solution for the US. It includes Rule 21 functionality, up to 400 Watt (W) AC power output per panel (up to 2 x 600 W direct current, or DC input), and an integrated AC cable. (ES note: Rule 21 is a requirement in California for connecting your solar system to the utility grid).
[ES] What makes NEP's BDM-800 microinverters different from options available on the market?
[NEP] These microinverters have no clipping, and no energy harvest loss even with very high power modules, offering 400W AC power output. The BDM-800 micros include wide DC voltage input for 60-72 cell panels, integrated AC cables, and simpler and fewer accessories; they also cost about 30 percent less than major microinverter competitors.
[ES] What warranties do you offer for the BDM-800 microinverter? Does it cover the cost of shipping and labor in the case that a replacement is needed?
[NEP] We include a simple, easy-to-read, one-page 25-year warranty that you can actually understand! If ever needed, NEP covers the cost of shipping replacement products: no cumbersome RMA process hassles with NEP!
[ES] Where are NEP inverters available? Do you have a certified installer network?
[NEP] NEP is available via national and regional installers. We enable installers with training but no certification is required for successful and efficient installation. NEP provides nationwide technical support – customers have a 'first name basis', personal phone number of technical support staff which is supplemented by NEP's centralized hotline: 888-598-9901.
[ES] What’s the one thing you wish potential customers knew about inverters?
[NEP] Don't be afraid to test alternative suppliers to challenge the largest players – it's best for the industry's continuous improvement.
[ES] What questions should customers ask when choosing a solar inverter?
[NEP] Ask for the technical support line, then call it… see what you get! This is a good indication of the reality of the company's commitment to fast, available, and real support.
The best way to find a system that meets your needs at the right price is to compare your options; on the EnergySage Marketplace, you'll receive free, custom quotes from local installers to provide you with that comparison. Want to explore different inverter options? Check out our Inverter Buyer’s Guide to see what different companies offer. If you're already set on certain equipment – NEP or otherwise – make a note in your profile to alert your installer to your preference.