Instyle Solar Product Review- Inverter ABB UNO DM 5kW

Today we're going to talk inverters, and specifically single-phase inverters.

We are going to look at the ABB UNO DM 5kW Plus single-phase inverter as an option for providing your house with solar power. With so many inverters from this and other manufacturers available, it is important to take a step back and figure out exactly what you are getting.

We’re curious to see what ABB has put into this one, so without any further delay let’s take a closer look.

The Company ABB

If you have been paying attention to the world of solar energy or engineering, in general, you will know who they are. ABB is a group of companies divided into 5 major divisions: electrification products, robotics and motion, industrial automation and power grids, serving customers in utilities, industry, transport and infrastructure.

The solar system components that they manufacture fall into the ‘Power Grid’ division and they are known for manufacturing single-phase and three-phase inverters. With revenue of 34.31 billion USD and almost 135 thousand employees, they have enough resources to develop the top engineering products that you would expect from the Swiss.

Products

The electricity industry can be divided into three major sections: Generation, Transmission and Distribution. ABB is involved in all 3 and provides inverters in the form of single-phase string inverters, central inverters and turnkey stations. Everything from the solar panel to final grid-connected output can be provided from this one supplier.

The single-phase and three-phase string inverters will give you between 1.2kW and 120kW of output power. This is more than enough for homes and small businesses. The average house rarely requires more than 5kW of power from the solar system to comfortably run everything.

Central inverters manufactured by ABB can provide up to 320kW of power capacity. This is more for commercial solar projects, where solar farms with hundreds of solar panels are set up in remote locations.

Turnkey stations are custom-built solar systems and the ones ABB provides can produce up to 4.6MW of output power. These can be thought of like miniature power stations, supplying an entire area of a town or city with electrical energy.

Awards

ABB has been a recipient of the Zayed Future Energy Prize for advances in solar and other renewable energy forms. They registered the most patents at the European Patent Office and are almost always amongst the top-ranked patentors from Europe. The Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) rates the company in the world-class performer category, showing the company has international recognition for the work that it does in solar energy.

The ABB UNO DM 5kW

Initial thoughts

An output of 5kW makes this single-phase inverter suitable for households or small businesses with reasonable electricity demands. This does not come with solar panels, and assuming you have these already provides you with simple control options that will help you optimize your energy generation process.

Features

Plug and Play

This is an easy-to-install inverter because all the connections are laid out for you clearly and you will not have to open up the inverter at any point. Some inverters, believe it or not, require the adding of additional electrical components at specific values to get it to work.

Not ideal if you don’t know your circuit elements, and even if you do, it’s unnecessarily complicated for a basic setup. This will save you a lot of time in the installation process.

Dynamic Feed-in Control

In some states in Australia, there will be time-dependent feed-in tariff and not the fixed rates that are currently available. This is where a feature that can control the amount of energy being sent to the grid will be helpful because when the feed-in tariff is at its lowest, that is when the least amount of energy should be injected into the grid.

This inverter can even stop feeding power into the grid altogether. The interface for this is very simple and user-friendly so anyone can optimise the system, even a beginner!

Over-The-Air Firmware Upgrades

The UNO has a controller that isn’t hard-wired but are made of what we call programmable logic. Basically the firmware (the controller circuitry) can be modified or replaced by new and better coding. The firmware can be updated Over-The-Air using wi-fi, so the user does not need to even open up the inverter in order to update the controller. This makes the inverter future-proof because you can revamp the controller of the device if you need to.

String-Sizing Tool

To form a string inverter solar panel, strings would have to be connected to the UNO. The string sizing tool can help you determine the best size for your solar panel strings to get maximum benefit from your system.

You specify the design location, maximum and minimum temperatures and are provided with design options. This makes the UNO your first component in, potentially, a very efficient solar system.

Aura Vision Remote Monitoring

In order to get optimum performance from the system, the operating conditions need to be analysed and the controller can be set to the right values knowing this information. It would be very difficult to attach measuring instruments to the inverter regularly to get meaningful measurements.

Aurora Vision provides the owner of the solar system with real-time information about how much energy is being converted from solar energy to electrical energy. This is cloud-based, meaning you will be able to access that information online from anywhere where there is internet access.

If the owner of the system wants the very best performance, this is going to come over time and this is software that will let them store the results digitally for further analysis.

On-Board Microprocessor

One look at the inside of the UNO and you will know this is not a basic inverter and is capable of doing everything you would need to control the operation of the inverter. For those of us who don’t have coding skills, there are presets available that can get you a decent setup, but in order to get the most out of this setup it is better to learn some coding.

Instyle Solar Product Review- Inverter ABB UNO DM 5kW Diagram

An example of when the features in the inverter would be helpful is when one string of solar panels is covered by shade and another is not. You can get energy to come from the string with no shade and in doing so prevent the shaded portion of the solar panels from negatively affecting the overall flow of energy. Pretty good for an inverter that can be bought off the shelf—and highly customizable.

Technical Specifications

The datasheet for the UNO may be downloaded here. This is an inverter that will give you more options for controlling it than most. In order to even begin using the resources it provides, you need to have a better understanding of its operation and the data in the datasheet, so let’s go through some of the technical specifications.

 

Data Type

Absolute Maximum DC Input Voltage

600V

Start-up DC Input Voltage

200V
Rated DC Input Voltage

360V

Rated DC Input Power

5150W

Number of Independent MPPT

2

Reverse Polarity Protection

Yes from limited current source

Rated AC Power Output

5000W

Maximum Apparent Power Output

5000VA

Nominal Power Factor and Adjustable Range

0.995±0.1

Anti-islanding protection

According to local Standard

Absolute Maximum DC Input Voltage 

This is the maximum voltage coming from the solar panel strings. This voltage should not be exceeded, otherwise it will cause irreversible damage to the UNO. Just make sure you do not connect too many solar panels to the inverter and you should be fine.

Start-up DC Input Voltage 

This is the minimum voltage required from the solar panels connected to the inverter for it to start up. Once the inverter has started up, it can go below this value but not too far below.

Rated DC Input Voltage

This is the voltage that should not be exceeded at the input of the inverter from the solar panels. The difference between this and the absolute maximum is that this is what the inverter was designed to be able to handle.  

Exceeding the rated voltage for a short period of time will not cause permanent damage. Exceeding the absolute maximum for even a short period of time will cause damage.

Rated DC Input Power 

The input power is the product of multiplying the input voltage and input current. This should not be exceeded, otherwise damage may occur to electronic components within the UNO.

Number of Independent MPPT 

Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) technology adjusts the current and voltage of the solar panels to get the most efficient flow of energy from them. The UNO has two such controllers, so MPPT can be done for two strings of solar panels which opens up many possibilities for optimisation.

Reverse Polarity Protection 

The UNO is protected from electrical current flowing into the inverter if this current is from a limited current source. Without going into too much detail, there are electrical circuits that are known as current sources and there is what is called an infinite current source.

An infinite current source does not actually exist in practice but can be approached by some circuits and these circuits will damage the inverter if allowed to source current into the output of the inverter. No real reason why you would want to do this, but good to know all the same.

Rated AC Power Output 

The inverter will not release more electrical power than this value. If it does, there is something wrong. For the UNO, the Absolute Maximum Power value is the same as the rated so it is designed to never go above this value.

Maximum Apparent Output Power

When the power factor is 1.0, the power and apparent power are the same. When the power factor is less than 1.0, the apparent power is higher and is an indication of what the absolute maximum value of power can be. The UNO will limit this to 5000VA.

Nominal Power Factor and Adjustable Range 

Under ideal test conditions, this is what the power factor would be. The power factor can be varied using the inverter’s internal electronics and the data gives us the range of this. The ideal value of the power factor is 1.0 and when connecting to the grid there will be a minimum power factor value to be adhere to.

Anti-Islanding Protection 

This is a requirement by law. Islanding is when homes connected to the grid provide power to the grid when the grid is down. This can be very dangerous for anyone who needs to work on the grid, so anti-islanding turns off the grid-connected inverter when the grid is down.

Conclusion

The UNO is one of the best 5kW output single-phase inverters out there because of the optimisation options it provides users.

The plug-and-play structure of the inverter makes it ideal for someone who wants to make constant adjustments to the system. You will be able to update the system remotely and Aura Vision software will help you monitor the system input and output values from any device, even an iPhone app.

It is almost always a good idea to connect to the grid and this inverter has all the features that will help you do it. In order to be allowed to connect to the grid, the power factor and total harmonic distortion have to be within acceptable limits.

In the event that the grid is down, the anti-islanding feature of the UNO will stop feeding power into the grid. The timing of the feeding into the grid is crucial to ensure you recover the investment costs the fastest.

This ABB inverter has all the features you need for a residential setup. If you need to customize the system any more than what the UNO offers, you better be an engineer who can take inverters apart and put them back together again!

Next Step

If you want to see how much solar or battery storage could save you over the next 5 years, then take our solar saving calculator quiz below!

Or talk to an Instyle Solar expert about the best solutions for home energy storage or PV-panels.

Otherwise, head back to the solar blog to find even more great educational content.

Photo credit: ABB

Start the discussion

Calculate What You Could Save With Solar.

Use our solar calculator to discover how much you could save with Instyle energy solution.

1 STEP 1
2 STEP 2
  • I
  • a home in

  • which uses power mostly during the

  • I currently:

  • My postcode is
  • and my average

  • quarterly bill is:

  • I am interested in
 
95% Complete
 
Calculate Your Savings Talk to an Expert