Enphase Energy on Monday released a solar power system that takes a dramatically different approach to harnessing energy from solar panels.
The start-up company,, has built a "microinverter" that converts a solar electric panel's direct current to alternating current on the panel.
Inverters are typically separate devices that are hung outside or in a basement. By placing an inverter right on a panel, Enphase Energy says that it is more efficient at converting light to electricity.
In addition, the microinverters give panel owners a better means for monitoring the performance of individual panels.
The company also has a gateway that transfers panel performance data which is displayed on a Web site.
Its design has garnered high praise from University of California at Berkeley professor Dan Kammen who is director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory. In a statement, he called microinverters "disruptive technology" and said, "I think this is, in some sense, the most important technological breakthrough solar has ever seen."
Solar installer Borrego Solar beta-tested the microinverter system at residential sites and intends to use it.