What are the Best Solar Inverters?
All solar inverters weren’t created equal
And while a vast number of companies are selling “budget” systems, more established and reputable manufacturers are engineering high-quality inverters – with much higher price tags. So how do you decide what is worth your investment, when there are so many options to consider? What are the best inverters for solar panels?
Choosing the correct solar inverter is a serious task – one which should not be taken lightly. This device is the foundation of your solar system and is responsible for a variety of important functions:
- Conversion of the solar panels’ DC current to AC current, to be utilised by your home or energy grid.
- Monitoring and reporting on the performance of the entire solar system
- Regulating energy voltage to ensure maximum power output
All of the energy captured by the solar panels will travel through the inverter’s electronics, so selecting an inverter that can handle the load is critical.
The Problems with Cheap Solar Inverters
As the demand for solar energy increases, more companies are manufacturing and selling cheap inverters with inferior electronics and poor-quality engineering. These cheaper units are often sold for thousands of dollars, by companies that are out of business when the time comes to replaced failed equipment. Other buyers are given no warranty, and the owner is unable to repair expensive—and premature—malfunctions when they arise.
Many low-cost inverters on the market are inefficient, consuming more electricity while in use, resulting in higher power bills. Furthermore, cheap inverters come with the risk of poorer levels of service and customer support, especially if the installer is not based in your local area. Small and less reputable manufacturers are able to sell for lower price points, simply because they use inferior components which may cost less, but are often very unreliable. Such low-cost inverters have led to numerous fires and other catastrophes over the years.
What are the best solar inverter brands?
Not all brands are bad; some produce very good inverters. “Good” solar inverters are proven to be efficient, reliable, durable, and have been officially certified as safe. These units can last for several decades, while most last an average of ten years. The five companies detailed below are the top players in the industry, based on numerous solar inverter reviews from customers around the world.
Considered the industry leader for solar power inverters amongst installers, SMEs and residential owners, SMA is on the top of the list. As a German company with more than 30 years of expertise in developing solar and wind inverters, SMA is one of the most-trusted players in the industry. And they’ve become a household name in the Australian solar industry. The company’s leading-edge technology ensures 98% efficiency to provide maximum power output and optimal energy-savings.
Established in Austria, in 1945, this company’s early days were spent producing welding transformers and battery chargers. Now considered a strong competitor to industry leader SMA, Fronius designs inverters that are proven to be reliable, user-friendly and virtually packed with monitoring options. The company shines in providing trained installers to service system problems when necessary, instead of owners needing to replace the inverter.
With over 40 years of expertise designing power inverter and converters, ABB has become one of the largest players of inverter technology on the market. The company engineers solar inverters that are not just reliable, but also covered by the global service and support offered by the mega company. ABB is known for solar inverter prices which are less than comparable units from its popular competitors, SMA and Fronius.
Founded in 2006, this company may be younger in comparison than the previously-mentioned powerhouses, but age is nothing but a number. Solar Edge can be found in 11 locations worldwide, and the company provides cost-effective—but highly-reliable solar inverters. The company makes the top 10 list of inverter suppliers with their variety of options for residential installations, as well as utility and commercial.
What questions should I ask the solar power sales person?
Following are best practices—what to look for in an inverter and what you should ask a sales rep, before pulling out your wallet.
Is the Company Standards Compliant?
The first question to ask a company or sales rep (especially for unknown companies), is whether or not the inverter complies with the Australian Standard (AS4777). To perform this search on your own, visit the Clean Energy Council’s website, and access the list of compliant companies. Only purchase inverters which have made the list!
Do you have a local presence?
Is the installer local or does the manufacturer have an office in your state? It will be too late to ask this question when there is a system fault and no one is in your area to service it. Worse if you have to pack the inverter up and send it overseas for repair.
What are the Warranty Terms?
In the event of a problem, how will the warranty terms work? Will you need to ship the inverter to the company for replacement or will a replacement be sent out immediately? If the inverter needs to be shipped, how long will it take to get it back?
What’s the Power Rating?
How much power can the inverter provide in wattage?
What is the Efficiency Rating?
When the inverter is drawing little power from the panels, how much power does it use? How much power does it use when drawing medium or high-levels of power? How efficient is the inverter when it’s idle?
Has the product model got a record of high performance?
How long has the particular inverter model been available? What problems have previous owners experienced with the unit?
Now that you’ve read this solar inverter review and comparison to learn who makes the best solar powerhouses, hopefully your next purchase (or first) is the last you’ll ever need.
By taking the time to research solar inverter manufacturers and asking sales people the right questions, you will be better placed to make the right purchase decision.
If you would like more information on solar inverters please click here or call one of our knowledgeable sales consultants on 1300 074 669