In this article, we're going to take a look at Huawei Inverter - Smart Energy Center.
Huawei is well known as a global leader in information and communications technology manufacturing mobiles phones, tablets, mobile broadband to wearables. This year, Huawei became the 2nd largest mobile phone manufacturing company in the world.
But it may come as a surprise to those who don’t follow the solar industry closely, that the company has expanded out into the renewables industry, developing solar PV inverter technology for commercial, residential and even utility applications.
Leveraging their experience in the ICT industry they have integrated cutting-edge digital internet technology into their line of inverters.
Actually, the company influence on renewable energy market is so huge that Huawei was the ninth largest inverter manufacturer in the world in 2013 jumping from there into the top five in 2014, rising from obscurity in the Solar PV industry in 2012. This is quite an achievement.
The Huawei Smart Energy Center is Huawei’s first attempt at taking on the highly competitive residential smart solar PV inverter market.
The inverter has been designed from the ground up; it looks sexy and sleek, on anyone’s wall, but how does it stack up and what makes it different from other inverters in the same category?
Huawei Inverter SUN2000L-2/3/4/4.6/5KTL
The Internet of Things (IoT) and smart technologies are current catchphrases in the world of sustainability and as the technology becomes more prevalent in society and integrated into the concept of smart home and smart city, it will become crucial for renewables to also integrate into this technology.
Huawei, already having seen this coming, decided to develop a new line of inverters from the ground up that will seamlessly integrate into smart homes, in effect developing a future-proof technology.
Some of the features the Huawei Smart Energy Center offer are power optimisation, energy storage and smart home integration.
Did we forget to mention it’s a one-man band installation that’s literally plug and play?
Energy storage is the future, as net metering and feed-in tariffs may well be phased out of the market as we start shifting to increasing self-consumption technologies, making use of Energy Storage technology to store excess clean power produced during the day to use at night when grid power is more expensive.
The Huawei SUN2000L inverter comes battery-ready with an integrated plug and play energy storage interface that supports the LG Chem range of Lithium-ion batteries.
The need for inverter retro-fitting and an additional AC/DC conversion module is eliminated when the PV system is upgraded with self-consumption energy storage.
The inverter also supports the use of PV optimisers on select PV modules.
A PV Optimiser is a DC to DC converter that maximises the energy harvesting from individual solar panels.
It does this by individually tuning the performance of the solar panel through maximum power point tracking.
PV Optimisers are specifically useful when modules are impacted by shading or partial shading and are beneficial for complex roof structures with varying roof orientations. Using PV Optimisers maximises energy yield and improves the system’s ROI.
The efficiency of the inverter compares well too, with other leading inverter brands, having an inverter efficiency of 98%!
The inverter also comes with a fully digitalised and connected smart home service with smart PV cloud-based, home energy management centre.
The inverter is lightweight, weighing in at only 10.4kg, which makes it a breeze for a single person to install.
The inverter uses less copper wiring and more silicon-based semiconductors, reducing the inductor and cooling sink size significantly.
Installation is easy as it supports plug and play quick wiring without opening the inverter chamber.
Commissioning the system is even simpler, one-click startup configuration and it conducts a system startup health check.
Quality concerns have been a major issue for Chinese manufactured inverters over the years.
However, Huawei have put their money where their mouth is this time around, offering a 10-year warranty that is extendable to 25 years!
The smart inverter also comes in four different sizes, ranging from 2.66 kW to 6.75 kW DC.
How Does Huawei Inverter Stack Up Against Leading Brands?
In the world of inverters, it’s not always easy to compare apples with apples as different inverter brands offer different functionalities.
The Fronius Symo Hybrid is a hybrid inverter supporting both a PV and battery inverter with an integrated energy management system that supports seamless bi-directional energy flow from all energy sources.
The inverter only supports its own proprietary lithium-ion battery that can store enough surplus power for a 24-hour run.
Surprisingly the inverter efficiency is a bit lower than the Huawei Smart Energy Center at 95.2% and weighs in at 19.9 kg compared to the Smart Energy Center’s 10 kg unit.
The Fronius Symo Hybrid also comes in 3 different sizes 3kW, 4kW and 5kW.
SolarEdge is another premium brand of inverters that Huawei is competing with.
SolarEdge StorEdge single-phase inverter functions as a PV inverter and acts as a battery inverter.
It also includes an energy management system to maximise self-consumption.
Like the Huawei Smart Energy Center, it supports the LG Chem range of Lithium-ion batteries.
It also comes in two sizes, a 5kW and a 6kW. The inverter efficiency comes in at 97.4%, slightly less than the Huawei Smart Energy Center.
It weighs more than double than the Huawei SMART Energy Center at 26.5 kg.
The solution comes with its own built-in Lithium-ion battery, providing 2kWh of energy storage that can be used when required.
The battery system is scalable up to 6kWh, with a maximum of 3 Lithium-ion batteries.
The 3.6 TK model includes two MPPT trackers. The base version provides 5kW of DC power and 3.6kW of AC power, whilst the 4.6 TL provides 6kW of DC power and 4.6kW of AC power.
Both models have a sophisticated communication interface providing both wired local monitoring and wireless local monitoring accessible via a web server.
The box can be accessed via a mobile app to monitor vital system components such as system health and energy production and energy consumption data.
The ABB REACT series of hybrid inverters also supports backup and off-grid mode.
Without a battery unit, the inverter weighs in at a hefty 30 kg and with a single battery unit, 67 kg.
Huawei has always been known for their products in the ICT space such as mobile phones, tablets and mobile broadband.
However, in recent years they have expanded into the renewables industry, developing a product line of inverters targeting the utility, commercial and residential inverter market.
Their latest offering in the residential inverter market is the Huawei Smart Energy Center.
It combines support for PV optimisers at the solar module level and integrating a battery inverter and energy management system.
The device is plug and play, making it a breeze when it comes to installation.
It’s also future proof as it supports the global movement to smart homes, being able to integrate with a smart home easily.
The inverter supports the range of LG Chem Lithium-ion batteries and has a decent warranty of 10 years that is extendable to 25 years.
The Smart Energy Center also has a sleek, sexy look to it, doesn’t take up much space and comes in a variety of different sizes.
The Huawei seems to be taking on the heavyweights in the premium inverter brands and ranks up there with SolarEdge, Fronius and ABB.
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Photo credit: Huawei