Frequently Asked Questions


General FAQ's
· I am interested in purchasing a PV Powered inverter. Do you sell online or direct?
· How many DC input terminals do the PV Powered inverters have?
· Where can I find the dimensions of the PV Powered inverters?
· Where can I obtain a soft copy of the StarInverter Installation and Operation Manual?
· I need help determining how to purchase and configure a PV Powered inverter.
· What exactly does the display read out for the StarInverter?
· I am interested in becoming a dealer/distributor for the PV Powered inverters. Who do I contact?

Documentation & Certification
· Are your products UL Certified?
· Are your products certified for use in Canada?
· Where can I find the User manuals and data sheets for the SunPower line of products?

General Technical
· Do PV Powered inverters contain a GFI circuit?
· Do PV Powered inverters contain an AC/DC disconnect?
· What happens when NEC 690.8A1 yields a short circuit current greater than the inverter's maximum DC current input?
· Do you have software for logging the performance data of the inverter?
· How is "greenhouse gasses saved" on the inverter display calculated?
· Where can I find the dimensions of the PV Powered products?
· Are your inverters positively or negatively grounded?
· Can your inverters be used for off-grid installations?
· Can your inverters be combined with a generator for continuous power when there is a power outage?
· How much power from the array does the inverter require for continuous operation?
· Can your inverters be tied to a wind-based system?
· Is the AC output of the PV Powered inverter a pure sine wave output?
· Why is my inverter only showing 2000 AC watts during the day when I have over 2800 DC watts installed?
· Are lightning arrestors required on the inverter installation to satisfy the warranty?
· What happens when there is a power outage?

Installation Support
· Can I use one DC Disconnect for a multiple inverter installation?
· How far apart do I need to space the inverters in a multiple inverter installation?
· I need to run wire a long distance from the inverter to the service panel or from the modules to the inverter. What do you recommend for wire sizing?
· I have an installation with multiple roof pitches, angles and orientations. How can I make sure this installation will work?
· How is shading going to affect my power output?
· How does a 208volt split phase inverter wire into a 3-phase commercial installation (208v). How does this differ from a residential split phase (240v) installation?
· If I have a 120 volt single phase inverter back feeding my house's meter will the meter accurately record my credits?
· When I use your string sizing tool to configure my system with a PVP2800-XV, I notice that the CEC watts is listed as 3072 watts, which is higher than the wattage of your inverter. Can I get a rebate on 3072 watts?

Troubleshooting
· Why do I see negative AC wattage in low light conditions or in a new install?
· What is the ticking sound coming from the inverter?
· What is the buzzing sound coming from the inverter?
· Why is my inverter showing the fault code 0000 0000 0000?


- General FAQ's -

Q. I am interested in purchasing a PV Powered inverter. Do you sell online or direct?
A. Sorry, no. Currently all of our products are sold through one of our dealers or distributors. Please contact one of our distributors for more information on purchasing a PV Powered inverter.

Q. How many DC input terminals do the PV Powered inverters have?
A. Our inverters have enough input terminals for three strings.

Q. Where can I find the dimensions of the PV Powered inverters?
A. The dimensions of our inverters as well as other technical information is available on our web site under the Inverter Products page.

Q. Where can I obtain a soft copy of the StarInverter Installation and Operation Manual?
A. The installation and operation manuals are available through the PV Powered website. See the link on the product pages or Installation Support to download a copy of the manual.

Q. I need help determining how to purchase and configure a PV Powered inverter.
A. We provide a string sizing calculator on our web site or we suggest you talk with your local dealer for exact information. If you are a dealer or installer, please contact us here.

Q. I am getting an error code on my inverter display. How do I determine what is wrong?
A. A list of error codes as well as additional troubleshooting information is available in the StarInverter Installation and Operation Manual that was included with your inverter. Please visit the product page for your PVP inverter to download a softcopy of the manual.

Q. What exactly does the display read out for the StarInverter 1800, and 2800?
A. The StarInverter display will show DC input voltage, AC Power Output, Accumulated AC Power Output and Green House Gases Saved.

Q. I am interested in becoming a dealer/distributor for the PV Powered inverters. Who do I contact?
A. PV Powered currently sells its products through distributors. Please contact PV Powered for distributor related qualifications.

- Documentation & Certification -

Q. Are your products UL Certified?
A. Yes, all of our inverters are tested and certified to UL standards. See the certification listings. PV Powered's inverters are tested to UL 1741 at Northbrook IL, in a UL facility. We are one of the few inverters left on the market that can claim actual UL personnel testing, not an interpretation through an approved agency.

Q. Are your products certified for use in Canada?
A. Yes, all of our inverters are tested and certified to UL and Canadian Standards Association standards. View UL Online Certifications Directory.

Q. Where can I find the User manuals and data sheets for the SunPower line of products?
A. The user manuals and data sheets for the SunPower 2000, 2900, 3200, 4600, and 5200 can be found at www.sunpowercorp.com or by calling 1-877-SUN-0123.

- General Technical -

Q. Do PV Powered inverters contain a GFI circuit?
A. Yes, each inverter has a GFI circuit included inside. PV Powered uses a one amp, 600 volt DC fuse to make this connection. Here is a basic line diagram showing how the system works: GFI circuit diagram

Q. Do PV Powered inverters contain an AC/DC disconnect?
A. No, none of the current models have an integrated AC/DC disconnect. That will need to be added by the installer. Learn more on NEC compliance. We do not recommend any particular brand, but more information on products and pricing can be found at Platt.

Q. What happens when NEC 690.8A1 yields a short circuit current greater than the inverter's maximum DC current input?
A. PV Powered inverters have internal static overcurrent protection ranging from 40 amps to 60 amps, depending on the inverter model. During operation the inverters will internally limit the DC current limit to their "Maximum DC operating current."PV Powered limits the amount of current through its control software. For example, if the Imp (current at maximum power) is higher than the continuous 17 amp rating of the 2.8kW inverter, we will limit the input, and sacrifice available power.

Q. Do you have software for logging the performance data of the inverter?
A. Yes. We operate a secure website called www.mypvpower.com that lets you monitor the performance of your PV system and gather specific inverter information over the internet. Simply install a PVM1010 Data Monitoring Module in your PV Powered inverter and register your www.mypvpower.com account. Our PVM1010 Data Monitoring Module is a data acquisition and communications interface that we designed as an accessory to your PV Powered inverter. The module connects to the internet through your local area network. It automatically creates a secure connection to our server through your broadband router, so you don't need to download software.

Q. How is "greenhouse gasses saved" on the inverter display calculated?
A. Greenhouse gasses saved is calculated at 2 lbs of green house gasses saved per Kilowatt hour produced by the inverter. The calculation is an estimation based on a complex number of factors, taking into account the fact that fuel sources vary from state to state and country to country. We calculated the average emissions from the various energy sources, including dirty coal, clean coal, natural gas, oil, and wood to come up with one formula. More information on calculating greenhouse gas emissions can be found at the EPA's Global Warming Resource Center.

Q. Where can I find the dimensions of the PV Powered products?
A. The dimensions of our inverters as well as other technical information is available on our web site under the Inverter Products pages.

Q. Are your inverters positively or negatively grounded?
A. The PV Powered product line are all negatively grounded. The SunPower products are positively grounded.

Q. Can your inverters be used for off-grid installations?
A. No, our inverters are designed to be grid-tied. We do not recommend or support our inverters being used in off-grid installations. There is a company that specializes in this, and they can be found at Outback Systems.

Q. Can your inverters be combined with a generator for continuous power when there is a power outage?
A. No, we do not recommend or support our inverters being used with a backup generator. When the power from the grid goes out, it is dangerous for the inverter to continue producing power and feeding it back into the grid. It could result in a power company worker getting severely shocked or electrocuted.

Q. How much power from the array does the inverter require for continuous operation?
A. The inverter operating ranges vary from inverter model to inverter model, but in general the inverter needs about 100 watts of input to start up and sustain operation. Operating and input voltage ranges of each model can be found on our website under the Inverter Products page: http://www.pvpowered.com/inverter_products.php.

Q. Can your inverters be tied to a wind-based system?
A. No, our inverters are only recommended for grid-tied photovoltaic (solar) systems.

Q. Is the AC output of the PV Powered inverter a pure sine wave output?
A. Yes, PV Powered inverters export a pure sine wave.

Q. Why is my inverter only showing 2000 AC watts during the day when I have over 2800 DC watts installed?
A. Grid Tied inverters can only convert the available energy from the DC solar array. The available power from the solar array is dependent on temperature and irradiance, which vary significantly from moment to moment. The name plate rating of your solar array is based on Standard Test Conditions performed in a laboratory and are not representative of a system's expected daily peak performance.

Q. Are lightening arrestors required on the inverter installation to satisfy the warranty?
A. Not having a lightening arrestor installed does not automatically void the warranty. However, damage to the inverter caused by lightening strikes or other natural disasters is not covered under warranty. We do recommend lightening arrestors as part of an installation to help safeguard against this occurrence.

Q. What happens when there is a power outage?
A. All grid tied inverters are required by UL1741 standards to automatically disconnect from the AC grid the moment there is an out of specification interruption.

- Installation Support -

Q. Can I use one DC Disconnect for a multiple inverter installation?
A. There must be one 600v rated DC Disconnect present per inverter. There is a single exception, the Square D HU361. Please refer to the manufacturing specifications for the single pole current rating of the device and interpret the feasibility per the applicable NEC standard. For liability reasons, PV Powered will not go on record designing a system of this nature.

Q. How far apart do I need to space the inverters in a multiple inverter installation?
A. As a rule of thumb, we recommend spacing the inverters with 36" of ground clearance and 8" in between inverters. It is important to note that the installation should have a small amount of airflow through the heat sink and should not be installed in locations where they are exposed to direct sun in south facing environments

Q. I need to run wire a long distance from the inverter to the service panel or from the modules to the inverter. What do you recommend for wire sizing?
A. We recommend sizing your system for less than a 1% drop in AC or DC line voltage. Use the following link for an example of online wire sizing calculators. Ideally this calculation should be double checked by hand. See below for a screen shot of this wire sizing calculator: wiring sizing calculator

Q. I have an installation with multiple roof pitches, angles and orientations. How can I make sure this installation will work?
A. General guidelines for roof pitches and angles - no more than 10% pitch variance. General rule for orientations - no more than 10% difference. PV Powered inverters are designed around a single Maximum Peak Power Tracker (mppt). Variance of installation techniques outside of coplanar installation will slightly reduce the overall performance of the solar system.

Q. How is shading going to affect my power output?
A. Shading greatly affects the ability of the solar array to output current. For example, a single hand placed on a solar module could reduce the performance of that module by 33% depending on location.

Q. How does a 208volt split phase inverter wire into a 3-phase commercial installation (208v). How does this differ from a residential split phase (240v) installation?
A. A 208 volt split phase inverter receives only two of the three 120 volt phase legs. 208v three phase is usually comprised of three individual 120 volt Vac inputs separated by a phase angle of 120 degrees (depending on whether the transformer is a Y or Delta transformer - contact your utility company for that information.) Residential installations of 240 volts contain two Vac inputs. The major difference between a split phase 208 installation and a 240 residential installation is, with the 208 you pick any 2 of the 3 legs, whereas with the 240, you only have 2 hot legs.

Q. If I have a 120 volt single phase inverter back feeding my house's meter will the meter accurately record my credits?
A. The utility grade meters are designed to pick up the current flow either in consumption or export regardless of balanced loads. For example, during your household's normal Vac consumption, both of the 120 Vac lines are not balanced, yet the meter records your total usage.

Q. When I use your string sizing tool to configure my system with a PVP2800-XV, I notice that the CEC watts is listed as 3072 watts, which is higher than the wattage of your inverter. Can I get a rebate on 3072 watts?
A. No, the inverter will only ever produce up to the nameplate amount (e.g. a PVP 2800-XV will produce a maximum of 2800 watts) and since the CEC rebates are based on system potential, they will only rebate up to 2800 watts. Follow the CEC guidelines for rebate information.

- Troubleshooting -

Q. Why do I see negative AC wattage in low light conditions or in a new install?
A. The PVP inverter has an algorithm which decides under specific conditions whether to regulate the DC bus voltage. The theory behind the algorithm is to maintain a net energy yield during low light conditions. The inverter consumes AC wattage in order to maintain the DC bus at a specific voltage level, rather than shutting off, and waiting five additional minutes prior to connecting to the AC grid.

Q. What is the ticking sound coming from the inverter?
A. The ticking sound is normal. The ticking sound is mechanical resonance within the magnetic components caused by the anti-islanding mechanism with the PV Powered inverter family.

Q. What is the buzzing sound coming from the inverter?
A. A small amount of buzzing is normal and comes from the transformer in the inverter. If the sound is very loud and bothersome, call PV Powered Technical Support at 1-877-312-3832 Opt. 2 for assistance.

Q. Why is my inverter showing the fault code 0000 0000 0000?
A. The most common reason the inverter shows a fault code of all zeros is when it's in the 5-minute start-up sequence. This is normal, and generally occurs in low light conditions such as early morning and late afternoon, and in cloudy, foggy or shading conditions. If the inverter stays in all zeros mode for an extended period of time when there is plenty of available light, there may be a problem with the array or the inverter. Contact PV Powered Technical Support at 1-877-312-3832 Opt. 2 for assistance.