Solar inverters are instrumental when it comes to solar energy harvesting and increasing the efficiency of the system.
While some solar panels and installations come with their inbuilt inverters, such as the Tesla Powerwall 2, they still require an external solar inverter to function as a solar array fully.
Here are six of the best solar inverters that you should check out as well as what to look for when buying one.
6 Best Solar Inverters in 2020
SolarEdge inverters have increasingly gained popularity globally, more so, in the United States and Australia. In recent years, the awakening of solar energy production, as well as its sleek design using DC optimizers, has made SolarEdge a global icon. The DC optimizers enable solar panels to be monitored and controlled at individual levels.
The SolarEdge HD-Wave inverters are one of the lightest inverters manufactured by SolarEdge. The HD-wave series is available from 2.5Kw inverters to 10Kw inverters, which makes it suitable for use within residential premises.
Regarding efficiency, they are among the finest, with a 99% efficiency mark. This mark is made possible by the fact that the inverter uses digital processors and advanced-thin-film capacitors to convert DC to AC with very minimal losses.
SolarEdge inverters allow system monitoring where the DC optimizers provide the power-output data. They can as well be connected to the Wi-Fi for remote control through the SolarEdge smartphone app. Another great trade-off provided by SolarEdge monitors is the 12-year warranty period, which is upgradable up to 25 years.
Want to know more about SolarEdge? Read about their bankability, performance and pricing in our full SolarEdge review.
Fronius is another global leader in manufacturing photovoltaic products, that is, from solar inverters to smart meters. The release of their snap-in design in 2014 brought the company to public stunt, but what is currently raving most people is the Fronius Primo. This solar inverter has attracted extremely positive feedback from all around the globe, thanks to its active cooling system.
The Fronius Primo has an active cooling system that is in-built, and which increases the inverter’s reliability and durability. The cooling system contains a fan that expels the generated heat, hence reducing thermal stress. Overheating reduces the efficiency of any electronic device, and it has the potential to cause irreversible damage.
Monitoring the system can be done remotely as well, using the Fronius Smart Meter or a free smartphone app provided by the manufacturer. Due to the increased demand in residential installations, there have been some supply issues and some minor faults.
However, Fronius offers a 5-year warranty. Better still, if you register this solar inverter online, you get a warranty extension by five more years, which makes it a 10-year warranty. Read more about Fronius in our smart meter review.
GIANDEL 1200W Power Inverter is an ideal solar inverter for both off-grid applications as well as a tight budget. The inverter is easy to install, and one can easily plug it into a home electric grid. It has two alternating current outlets as well as a USB port, which allows connection to other devices.
Their solar inverter has a durable aluminum alloy casing that shields the device from any external impact. Additionally, the inverter has a fan fitted to it that minimizes overheating as it increases efficiency. Both factors make it fit for both indoor and outdoor environments.
The GIANDEL 1200W Power Inverter is quite affordable than most quality inverters in the market. It is portable and light, thus making it an excellent option for residential installations.
The battery size is sufficient enough to support common appliances in your household. However, it is not quite as powerful as other solar inverter options.
Therefore, this might not be an ideal option if you have some powerful machines within the household. It may fail to start-up high demanding tools hence necessary to put this factor into consideration. The other downside of this solar inverter is the short warranty period by GIANDEL, which is 18 months.
SMA inverters are considered to be among the best solar inverters available in the market with a proven track record for durability as well as reliability. Most of the SMA inverters are suitable for use as string inverters. They used to dominate the market before the Fronius Snap-In series posing stiff competition.
SMA is a German-based company that is well known globally for the manufacture of string inverters. SMA Sunny Boy pricing varies depending on the kilowatts produced, which range from 3kW to 7.7kW. The average input voltage for the Sunny Boy series is 600V DC, while the output voltage is 240V AC.
The SMA inverters provide free and accurate monitoring options. With the smart monitoring techniques, the solar inverter can connect to Wi-Fi and send data collected to a centralized system. The user would then get access to the data from the Sunny portal.
One downside of this inverter with regards to monitoring is the smartphone app, which appears outdated as well as poor feedback.
This model is fit for anyone looking for a durable yet affordable solar string inverter. SMA provides a warranty for 10-years, which can also be extended to 20 years for any end-user. Extension of such stretched warranty proves that SMA is confident that what they release to the market is durable and of high quality.
Although ABB sold its solar inverter division to FIMER, which is an Italian company, and that will take over in 2020, it remains to be a major manufacturer of quality solar inverters. ABB has built a colossal reputation using the new series of UNO solar inverters, which are lighter yet more compact.
These solar inverters have incorporated modern technology with their new integrated intelligent home features. Additionally, they have the plug and play interfaces that make it easy for the installation and setup processes.
The inverter can work under any environmental conditions; whether indoors or outdoors, thanks to the natural convection cooling system as well as the outdoor enclosure casing.
ABB UNO inverters are one of the most affordable inverters that are built in Europe. The solar inverter poses excellent value for anyone seeking to acquire a mid-range priced, European build. Additionally, the solar inverter is TÜV Rheinland certified, but it is advisable to confirm it before purchasing it.
ABB UNO inverters are perfect for residential installation from 5kW. They can connect to Wi-Fi and send data to a centralized system that can be accessed remotely.
The system also has an intelligent algorithm that enables real-time tracking of energy harvesting as well as detection of power loss. ABB offers a 10-year warranty.
Enphase is a company based in the United States, and that is well known for its solar inverters. These inverters are micro-inverters that are installed on each solar panel. Although the installation of micro-inverters is not the cheapest, the reputation of Enphase IQ7 precedes it.
Enphase solar inverters have a long life-span and are a great option as a grid-tied solar inverter. These inverters are easy to install, shade tolerant, and are flexible to any array design. If you wish to install a micro-inverter in your solar system, the Enphase IQ7 solar inverter is an advisable option.
The Enphase IQ7 is designed to output 290watts, but one can also pair it with panels of up to 325-335 watts. Primarily, the added range caters to the natural efficiency losses within the system.
On average, 10% of the total wattage from the panels gets lost. This loss is due to inefficiencies emanating from factors such as temperature and resistance.
Despite the sleek design and its simplicity, the monitoring system is not included upon purchase. One has to buy the monitoring module and software for them to be able to monitor the system. Secondly, setting up the monitoring system is another task that requires expertise and more labor.
Comparing this solar inverter to the others, the lack of a monitoring system is a big blow to Enphase IQ7. However, even though monitoring is not all easy, Enphase IQ7 offers a 25-year warranty; the most extended warranty period compared to the other inverters on the list.
What is a Solar Inverter?
Within the power industry, an inverter is a device that helps to convert direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC). Solar inverters are devices that convert the electricity from the solar panels, which is generally in direct current, into alternating current. Most appliances, lighting, and household electronics use the alternating current hence the conversion need.
As sunlight hits the solar photovoltaic system, electrons within cells in the solar panel move around to produce direct current. Circuits within the solar panels collect this energy, but unfortunately, most homes use AC rather than DC. Well, that’s where the solar inverters come into play.
When the cells in the solar panel produce electric energy, the electric current flows to the solar inverter. The inverter then converts the DC into AC. From the inverter, the AC energy is ready for use to power the various appliances and lighting within the building.
As more people embrace the use of solar energy, it is crucial to ensure that you have an efficient solar system, that can meet all your power needs. The efficiency of a solar system not only depends on how powerful the solar panels are but also solar power inverters.
With a grid-tied solar inverter, if panels harvest excess energy, more than you need, you can always feed it back to the grid. This way, you will have electricity from the grid, when your panels are not active.
Purchasing a solar inverter might be an uphill activity sometimes. This is because one may get confused about which are the best solar inverters in the current market. This is why it helps to know what to look for.
Things to Know When Buying A Solar Inverter
These are some of the more important considerations with a solar inverter.
It’s essential to be apt with the various terminologies used around electric energy production as well as solar inverters. Being familiar with these terms will go a long way in assisting you to understand what you are buying fully. It also helps you to know what to look for in an inverter.
Some of these terms include amps, amp-hours, watts, watt-hours, volt-ampere, and many more.
Types of Solar Inverters
In evaluating solar inverters, it is prudent to place the various types of inverters into consideration. Primarily, there are two main types of solar inverters, namely, string inverters, and micro-inverters.
These types of inverters are the most common, cheapest, and easiest to install. They are sometimes also known as the centralized inverters since all the solar panels are interconnected, and they all feed into a single inverter. With this setup, the entire solar system acts like a giant-panel.
The major challenge with this kind of installation is that if a single panel lowers its energy production, the other solar panels also dramatically reduce their electric output.
A solar panel may reduce its energy production since it is faulty or due to shading.
Unlike string inverters where panels share a single inverter, microinverters are dedicated to a single solar panel. Solar systems with micro-inverters have small inverters installed to each solar panel on the roof. These micro-inverters are also known as distributed inverters.
These inverters are more efficient than the string inverters since they will still produce the necessary energy even though one or two panels under-perform. Additionally, it is easier to identify production issues as they arise. The only challenge here is that the cost of setting up the micro-inverters is a bit high.
These two types of solar inverters are the main ones, although more types of inverters are being produced based on how these ones work. The micro-inverters tend to have a long lifespan as compared to string inverters since they only convert energy from a single panel. String converters suffer some strain as they convert energy from several solar panels.
The weighing factors between the two types lie on cost as well as the lifespan. If you need one with a long life span, you better opt for the micro-inverter. However, if, on the other hand, you prefer a lower upfront cost, you definitely should get a string converter.
Calculate How Much Power You Need
Try and come up with a rough estimate of how much power you need before dashing out to purchase that solar inverter. Bearing in mind that a solar converter is not a generator, you ought to find one that will convert enough energy to power your appliances.
Solar inverters have their limitations; hence, it is necessary to find a solar inverter, as well as solar panels that will be ideal for you.
Check The Power Ratings As Well As The Surge
Solar inverters come in different classifications. And, while some have higher power ratings, some have lower power ratings. When you calculate the amount of power that you need, you will have an idea of which range of power ratings that match your solar power system.
Surge rating refers to the number of watts of overload that an inverter can handle over a short span.
Counter-check The Safety Certification
Just like any other electronic device, solar inverters ought to be tested and proven to be safe for use before deployment into the market. These tests are usually carried out in the labs and certified upon passing the tests. Before you purchase the inverter, it is highly advisable to check their level of safety.
Have The Right Battery Choice
The type of battery in your solar inverter highly determines how long the inverter will last. Therefore, this makes it essential that you choose the battery wisely. The battery capacity is one significant factor in determining whether the battery is the best option or not.
The estimation of how much power you need alongside the number of back-up hours will assist in determining whether the battery capacity is a good match.
Having noted some of the things to consider when buying a solar inverter, let us review the top best solar inverters in 2019.
Conclusion On The Best Solar Inverters
The market is full of various solar inverters, but having a draft of the qualities you need versus the cost you are willing to pay, will at least help in narrowing down your selection.
When deciding which are the best solar inverters, there were some of the factors that were placed into consideration.
These considerations include the following:
- Price, and
Solar panels offer a number of health and environmental benefits that will make the world a better place. So, buy the right inverter and start producing clean, renewable energy.
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