3 of the best solar inverters in 2018 by PSW Energy

3 of the Best Solar Inverters in 2018 (plus runner-up)

PSW Team Learn, Products 5 Comments

HOME OWNER EDITION - 1.5kW to 10kW INVERTERS.

Baffled by choices? It's especially tough when comparing quality and cost. The PSW Energy technical team have selected what will be the 3 best solar inverters of 2018 in Australia considering specifications, adaptability, design, reliability and performance. As a bonus, the very close runner-up with one major advantage over all three.

Continue reading to discover which of the 3 best solar inverters of 2018 will best suit your particular scenario. The right solar inverter selection is pivotal, need to know information before committing to solar of any kind. After all, it defines how your power will be delivered and utilised.

#3

BEST SOLAR INVERTERS - SMA - PSW ENERGY

As the world's largest and longest serving solar inverter manufacturer, SMA continues to build reliable quality solar inverter hardware under 2 main variants in the 1.5kW - 10kW range. The SMA Sunny Boy for single phase applications and the SMA Sunny Tripower for three phase applications. 2018 is almost certain to become the year of the optimised solar panel if 2017 wasn't that already. Considering SMA recently acquired a large stake in Tigo Energy, an SMA system owner can integrate Tigo monitoring capabilities through SMA Sunny Portal, arguably one of the best solar inverter supplied monitoring softwares available.


The question mark.

Or more to the point, the false news; SMA inverters are now made in China - FALSE. Only one variant is. The SMA Sunny Boy AV-40 range. A correspondence from SMA Australia to PSW Energy stated "all SMA solar inverters are designed and made according to the German quality standard irrelevant of the assembly location". The good news is, the SMA Sunny Boy AV-40 range is one of the more advanced solar inverter technologies available for reliability, compatibility, communication and expansion.

Almost every SMA Solar Inverter model remains to be made in Germany. Download the proof here >


2018 and beyond.

To back the claim of German product quality irrelevant of assembly location, SMA recently increased the product warranty of Sunny Boy solar inverter variants in Australia to match Fronius's much adored 5+5 year product warranty. It's important to mention that like the Fronius warranty, the additional 5-year product warranty is via activation and the system must be connected online to receive firmware updates during the 10-year period. The additional 5-years is a parts only warranty and applicable for activation until the 31st January 2018, expect this to be extended though as homeowners begin to expect a 10-year solar inverter warranty as the new normal for premium equipment.

PSW ENERGY CUSTOMER BONUS:

PSW Energy will absorb the cost of the labor component should SMA's product warranty be activated within the remaining 5-years. Like many things though, conditions and exclusions may apply, always view the purchase agreement for details.


SMA manufactures everything you need to control your future self generated energy supply and recently took a major step, upscaling manufacturing capacity to satisfy an increased global demand. The investment in Tigo Energy has ensured SMA remain at the forefront of energy control with its already superior product range.


Overall

SMA represents good value for German quality standard solar inverters. As the world's largest solar inverter manufacturer by reach, SMA continue to innovate with change. An investment into an SMA inverter for your future energy supply will not disappoint.


#2

BEST SOLAR INVERTERS - FRONIUS - PSW ENERGY

The must have inverter of 2017. An early adoption of Wifi connectivity, potentially the widest operational voltage window (SuperFlex design) and superior resilience in the Australian conditions, the Fronius suite of solar inverters has been the standout performer of recent years for both installer and home owner.


The question mark.

Superior solar inverter technologies have minimal deficiencies, essentially what makes the Fronius range of solar inverters great. Within the last few years, almost everything about the Fronius range of solar inverters has been faultless. Considering 2018 is here and the next generation of solar inverter technology is upon us, what must Fronius do to regain the number one position?

  1. REDUCE THE SIZE: The fronius range of solar inverters are larger than the next generation, although the size allows for better ventilation, in 2018 the public will begin to expect sleeker, minimalist technology options from inverter manufacturers.
  2. DELETE THE SCREEN: With the rise in WiFi connectivity of smart devices, LCD displays are already becoming a feature of the past. A major weakness for solar inverters are LCD screens often suffering premature failure due to fluctuating and unstable installation environments.
  3. ELIMINATE MOVING PARTS: Although convection cooling is integrated within Fronius solar inverters there are still internal fans. Along with smaller, smarter technology, consumers will begin to expect almost no noise and virtually zero maintenance beyond 2018.

2018 and beyond.

Expect Fronius's 5+5 year product warranty to remain. Each year for the last 2-years. Fronius continue to rebuff the extended warranty offer. A major contributor of Fronius's recent success.

If it isn't broken, then don't fix it. Fronius won't rush upgrading the Galvo, Primo and Symo inverters to compete with the new wave. Quite simply each model is proven to be the most reliable solar inverter technology on the market. The size and fan isn't an issue for most as solar inverters are often installed out of the way in garages. Many people still love the ability of interacting with a device locally, therefore the display can be viewed as an advantage. Plus a recent affiliation with SolarWatt in 2017 now ensures that Fronius inverters are battery ready without the need for expensive hybridising of single phase variants.


PSW ENERGY CUSTOMER BONUS:

PSW Energy will absorb the cost of the labor component should Fronius's product warranty be activated within the remaining 5-years. Like many things though, conditions and exclusions may apply, always view the purchase agreement for details.


Fronius have more recently begun expanding the intelligent side of their offerings. The Fronius Smart Meter is a household must have for monitoring energy import and export in conjunction with solar power production data through the Fronius Solar.web portal. To better optimise storage electric hot water run times in conjunction with excess solar energy production Fronius have recently developed the Fronius Ohmpilot. To be released in 2018, anticipate the arrival of the Fronius solar panel optimiser.


Overall

The most successful designs for Fronius have been the Galvo, Primo and Symo variants and very for good reason. Well built solar inverters successful for both installer and end user over the last 5-years. However times and expectations are changing. Fronius will need to evolve on its inverter offerings to stay relevant.

Fronius scorecard and review in detail, read more >

#1

BEST SOLAR INVERTERS - FRONIUS - PSW ENERGY

Huawei will shape the next generation of solar inverter technology. With products of such refinement, the manufacturing location is irrelevant. Huawei's technical specifications alone are enough to make an industry professionals eyes water. Huawei is a mega global electronics manufacturer and if you haven't heard of the Huawei name before in relation to solar inverter technology it was the worlds largest solar inverter manufacturer by volume in 2017.


The question mark.

Will Huawei solar inverters be able to cope in the enduring Australian climate? Specifications are one thing but reliability and performance are another. Although unknown by the mass installations yet to occur in the performance category, expect Huawei to surpass. Huawei SUN2000 solar inverters are built with a 'less copper philosophy'. Less copper ensures better efficiency via the Huawei patented 5-level topology. Reliability will remain to be tested by the numbers over time.


2018 and beyond.

2018 will be the year of the Huawei lead new inverter technology revolution. Visually pleasing, compact, super efficient solar inverters built to do more than simply convert solar energy into useable energy. Think of the solar inverter as the foundation to your energy smart home. The main device which will facilitate a communications gateway for associated energy dependent devices with ease.

Huawei will raise the bar of what is expected from a solar inverter technology with big features, including AC coupled LG Chem RESU HV solar battery inputs and options for LTE communication capabilities, putting an end to WiFi connection issues. As energy fluctuations occur frequently, eliminating WiFi dropouts (communication issues) ensures your technically supported system is up to date with live system warnings, often critical information, allowing your technical support team to respond accordingly should a system fault develop, in-turn mitigating the effects of system down time.

PSW ENERGY CUSTOMER BONUS:

Purchase any Huawei inverter variant and enjoy PSW Life Support at no extra cost. Your technology excellence supported by PSW Energy technical experts for life. Learn more >


In a similar fashion to solar panel technology, the basic principals haven't changed, they are refined and improved upon to increase efficiency. Huawei has done this to the inverter market. With a suite of offerings, including solar panel optimisers (soon to be released) Huawei have developed an exceptionally refined product built with the home of the future in mind.


Overall

Technically speaking, Huawei solar inverters are nothing short of brilliant when compared to the current offerings on the market. Only time will tell exactly how brilliant the Huawei solar inverter range is and therefore, only one minor uncertainty from a perfect score.

Runner-up

BEST SOLAR INVERTERS - ENPHASE - PSW ENERGY

As pioneers of micro-inverter technology, Enphase has lead the charge of innovation in the previous decade. Beautiful software, module level optimisation, battery compatibility, excellent reliability and a leading product warranty. Enphase is an energy enthusiasts dream. The downside for Enphase however has always been the price when vs a standard string inverter system, especially if there is minimal shading or performance inhibiting factors.


The question mark.

With solar 3.0 (300Wp and greater) becoming the norm in 2018 and alternative inverter manufacturers developing DC solar panel optimiser technology for less than the cost of a micro inverter system, where will Enphase fit in? The good news, Enphase has superior advantages even if the initial outlay in cost seems more expensive.


2018 and beyond.

Enphase has one distinct advantage above all other central/string inverter type solar power solutions. The simplicity of an AC installation.

Where installations have difficult access points, multiple orientations (greater than two) or if there is no good location for a central/string inverter, Enphase is the ideal solution. Australia's regulations surrounding DC cabling requirements can add significant cost to a central/string inverter system to be installed correctly. A cost which can ensure an Enphase micro inverter solution as a more viable option. View the ideal Enphase scenario below >

Similar to Huawei, Enphase have the option to be relieved from WiFi dropouts with an LTE communications option. Although slightly underwhelming, Enphase also have an available battery option ready to connect.


Overall

Like most things in life, one size does not fit all. Enphase is a superb option to cater for the really odd and difficult sizes of life. Trying to force a central string inverter system onto an installation which should be adopting micro inverters is much like forcing a square peg through a round hole. You can make it fit but corners will be cut to adopt the solution.

Which suits you? 

BEST SOLAR INVERTERS - SCENARIOS - PSW ENERGY
Scenario a

Single or multi-level home with an abundance of available roof area for solar panels, simple access for installation, no shading, and the ability to add batteries easily in the future if need be.

INVERTER OPTION

Take your pick: Huawei, Fronius or SMA. With the lower purchase cost of a central string inverter technology and the need for module-level optimisation obsolete, a central inverter is an ideal investment.

BATTERY OPTION

SolarWatt MyReserve or LG Chem.

Scenario b

Single or multi-level home with minimal available roof area for solar panels or future solar panel expansion, difficult access for installation, partial shading, and the ability to add batteries easily in the future if need be.

INVERTER OPTION

Enphase. The best inverter technology for optimum performance in less optimum scenarios. Enphase microinverters also reduce installation cost in difficult scenarios.

BATTERY OPTION

Enphase AC Battery.

Scenario c

Single or multi-level home with enough roof area for solar panels, simple access for installation, partial shading, and the ability to add batteries easily in the future if need be.

INVERTER OPTION

SMA (with Tigo Optimisers) or Huawei (with Huawei optimisers). When it comes to shading, module level optimisation is the key.

BATTERY OPTION

LG Chem.


Here's the great news. Each inverter technology listed above has earned the respect of professionals within the solar industry and is exceptional in its own right. Buying either will avail you from future disappointment. It’s important to remember that each property is unique as to the individual preferences of the owner. Therefore which should you choose? Cost will always play a part in any final decision. There is no point though outlaying hard earned money on a capital investment with a product which delivers below expectation.

Get the right tools for the job. Seek advice from a reputable source to accurately evaluate your scenario and present options which work both beneficially and financially as no two scenarios are ever the same.

Got a different perspective? Or believe an alternative inverter technology should have made the list? Then share your thoughts below and be heard!


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SAVE: Shopping for an SMA, Fronius, Huawei inverted energy system or inverter replacement? 2017 Bonus offers available  SHOP NOW > 

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Comments 5

  1. I think you may have to ring SMA and speak to them as to where SMA are now made.

    In Australia we are receiving Chinese SMA products.

    1. PSW Team Post
      Author

      Hey James,

      We hear ya! This post was originally written around the Sunny Tripower TL-20 & the Sunny Boy TL-21 series which are a German-made product, still available for purchase in Australia. It is true, the new Sunny Boy AV-40 range is apart of SMA’s expanded production capabilities and remains the only model not assembled in Germany.

      The Sunny Boy VL-40 1.5 & 2.5 variants continue to be built in Germany and are available in Australia. The great news, SMA Australia have stated that all solar inverters produced by SMA Solar are built to German quality standard irrelevant of assembly location. Will do our best to keep the posts updated as the product evolves and be more specific. Thanks for the heads-up.

      Note: Prior to market change and the expectation to keep this post relevant, the above post originally stated SMA Solar inverters (generally) are Made in Germany.

  2. One of the major factors in decision making is price. You have NONE.
    I’m a retired marine engineer and my fist criteria is cost and replacement cost based on life of unit.
    All this solar stuff comes with 5-10 yr warranty. But installers give sfa.
    A cheap chinese unit replaced every 5 yrs may be better than an expensive ABB for instance. Plus there would be upgrades thrown in.
    Solar edge sell 25 yr warranty upgrade for $160.
    That mdans very little when i cant establish the cost of purchase.

    1. PSW Team Post
      Author

      Hi Robin,

      Thanks for your perspective. We hear you about the pricing and understand your point 🙂

      Prices are very often circumstance driven to the end user as they incur a level of installation component which is subjective based on the individual installation. Furthermore, each individual installation should also be assessed on its merits for the right technology by an experienced industry professional.

      Most solar arrays require alternative wiring configurations based on the inverter technology incorporated which can also affect the cost. The best advice to get a price would be to obtain at least 3 quotes from alternate providers in your area, assess the specifics of the quotes (which relate specifically to your installation) against each other and try to gauge the failure rate of the recommended components in your part of the world.

      The above product models of Fronius, SMA and Enphase have all proven to have an exceptionally low failure rate in Perth, Western Australia for an extended period of time given the mass volumes installed and provide the end user with an opportunity to expand to additional future energy technologies with ease.

      Hope this helps in your research for the right inverter technology to suit your specific requirements. Happy solar shopping 🙂

      1. PSW Team Post
        Author

        Considering this post has now been updated to reflect the best solar inverters of 2018, throw Huawei into the mix and things get very interesting when considering price, warranty, features, etc.

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