Inverter brand comparison: Sungrow vs SMA vs Fronius

Published: 1 May 2018

Inverters, the brains of the PV system. But how do you choose the right inverter brand? Let’s look at how Sungrow, SMA and Fronius stack up.to remove)

Without question, the brain of every PV system is the inverter. This device administers all the power distribution and control of solar and grid energy to supply the loads your house requires and even to charge your batteries. When choosing an inverter, the right brand can be a determining factor in ensuring the best reliability and performance of your solar system. 

The Australian market is filled with multiple choices available for inverters. 

Therefore, any homeowner could be confused and find it difficult to make a wise decision between so many brands and products.

Here we will examine three of the most remarkable inverter brands for the Australian PV market: Sungrow, SMA and Fronius

We will compare the products available, features and the quality that every brand offers and hopefully this will help you to make a wise decision.

1. Inverter Brand Comparison: General Overview

Let’s start our brand comparison by analysing the companies.

Sungrow

The first one is Sungrow Power Supply Corporation. 

This is an international enterprise that is based in China and manufactures many products for the solar and wind industry. 

It is one of the biggest companies that manufacture inverters in Asia.

The company has over 68GW in inverter capacity installed all over the world and has over 20 years of experience in the market. 

SMA

The second one is SMA. 

This is a German company that leads the solar industry in Europe. 

They are definitely one of the biggest and most recognised companies in the world for their quality standards, innovation, and reliability. 

SMA has almost 40 years of experience and over 900 million euros in sales.

Their innovation has awarded them multiple prizes in several areas. 

For instance, the Electrical Energy Storage Award 2018 prize was given to SMA due to their new Sunny Central Storage design. 

And the previous year they won the Intersolar award 2017 for the SMA Sunny Tripower inverter.

Fronius

Finally, Fronius, the Austrian brand has always received attention in the market due to its innovations and friendly solutions for the PV industry. 

The company has 60 years of experience developing battery charging systems and over 28 years of experience in the industry of photovoltaics. 

The 24 hours of sun vision of Fronius has developed multiple business units in sectors like generation, storage, distribution and consumption of solar energy.

2. Choosing an inverter: Looking at the product specs

To properly decide a brand, you must first take a look at the products they offer you.

Let’s see some of the top products that each brand has to offer. 

Sungrow

Sungrow has two main models available that are all hybrid inverters. 

The models SH3K6/SH4K6 are 50 Hz hybrid inverters with a maximum PV array power input of 6.5 kW, a maximum input voltage of 600VDC and two MPPT inputs to track the maximum power point of the array with a PV current input of 22 A.

These inverters can use the power grid at 230VAC to charge the batteries if  the solar power is not enough to do so, with a maximum of 3kW that can be drawn from the grid. 

These inverters count with an AC short-circuit protection, anti-islanding and leakage currents as well. 

A DC fuse for the battery and a DC switch that goes to the solar array is also included as part of the design. 

To charge batteries, the inverter has a 48V output, ideal for the integration with the LG Chem RESU 48V. 

The inverters also include other remarkable features such as reactive power regulation, active power response and power derating. 

Sungrow also offers the grid-tied alternative to its customers in Australia with products like the SG2K-S, SG2K5-S and SG5K-D.  

These models belong to the NextGen Crystal Inverter series of the brand that is compatible with single-phase or three-phase energy meters.

You might also like: Sungrow Inverters: SH3K6/SH4K6, SH5K-20

SMA

On the other hand, SMA presents other alternatives. The brand has grid-tied and battery-based inverter solutions, but does not offer hybrid inverters yet.

The iconic product of the brand is the Sunny Boy. 

A comfortable solution with a grid-tied feature that is essential for the residential market. 

This inverter has multiple size options such as 3kW, 3.6kW, 4kW and 5kW that can be installed in 600VDC PV arrays. 

Moreover, nominal voltage values range from 220V, 230V, and 240V at 50Hz and 60Hz grid-frequency.

The Sunny Island is another remarkable product. 

The battery-based inverter that is suitable for charging all types of lead-acid batteries from 100Ah to 10,000 Ah and lithium-ion as well, that could also be coupled with the 50 Ah – 10,000 Ah energy balance.

Meanwhile, the Sunny Tripower offers the top solution of the industry for three-phase systems. 

A single device that can be connected to three-phase 50Hz or 60 Hz grid-frequencies at nominal voltages such as 220V/380V -230V/400V and that is compatible with TS4-R module optimizers from Tigo.  

It’s important to mention that all inverters of the brand incorporate the SMA’s OptiTrac Global Peak feature for maximum performance against shades.

You might also like: SMA Inverters: Sunny Boy, Sunny Island, Sunny Tripower

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