How To Choose A Solar Inverter
There has never been a better time to switch to solar in Australia. Some households can even switch for $0. As the focus grows on solar energy, so does the list of available equipment. The solar inverter is like the heart of a solar system, and there are a number of considerations that go into choosing a suitable solar inverter.
You may need a bigger inverter to handle the load of your home or business. Conversely, it would be a waste of money to opt for a powerful inverter without the rest of the system (or the sunlight) providing enough power for it to invert.
To figure out which type of inverter, you’ll need to consider its durability, efficiency, and reliability. But don’t worry, we have you covered.
Read on to learn the different types of solar inverters and what you need to check to ensure you buy the most appropriate solar inverter for you.
Types of Solar Inverters
Solar inverters are usually categorized as on-grid, off-grid or hybrid inverters.
On-grid Inverters – These solar inverters are connected directly to the grid. After the inverter converts DC to AC, it sends any surplus energy to the grid.
Off-grid Inverters – These inverters can power large projects such as several commercial and residential projects. The inverters convert DC to AC to a battery.
Hybrid Inverters – The Hybrid inverters combine the capabilities of the on-grid and off-grid inverters; they can be used in either an off-grid or on-grid system. As such, hybrid converters also convert DC to AC.
Compare the Efficiency of Various Solar Inverters
To calculate the efficiency of an inverter under specific work conditions, take the ratio of output power to input power. When choosing a solar inverter, its efficiency is paramount to make the most of your investment.
The efficiency rating will help you gauge if the inverter is suitable for household applications.
Check the Durability of the Inverters
Purchasing a solar inverter should be a long-term investment. It is, therefore, crucial to consider performance and lifespan under adverse weather conditions.
Australian weather can be particularly harsh in the summer months so an ability to handle high temperatures is usually a top priority. Yet, you should also be aware of any potential issues arising from interactions with the cold or rain.
Usually, high temperatures raise the solar power system’s voltage, and low temperatures decrease its voltage. Once the voltage exceeds the maximum specification, it can cause irreversible damage to the solar inverter. On the other hand, the extremely cold weather is also likely to make the solar inverter stop working.
When choosing a solar inverter, go for one which is resilient to rough climatic and atmospheric conditions. You can consider looking for a solar inverter that uses the IP65 tech as it ensures it is seldom affected by terrible weather conditions.
What is Your Budget?
If you are eager to go completely off the grid, then off-grid inverters are the best choice; however, they can be costly. Alternatively, you can opt for a grid-connected inverter which is less expensive and can help you significantly subsidize your utility bills via net metering.
The more capable an inverter is to handle larger loads, the more expensive it will be too. So you should try to get an understanding of your energy needs first.
Choose a Reliable Brand
There are many solar inverter brands in the market, so you need to research before choosing one. Reading reviews gives you users first-hand experience; hence you can make an informed decision.
Consider the warranty offered by the brand and other forms of customer service.
Do you Have an Estimate of Your Energy Requirements?
Do you know the amount of energy you will need, whether it’s for your home or business? Estimating your energy requirements is essential before buying a solar inverter.
In addition, your solar power requirements will directly affect the size of the solar panels and, by extension, their pricing.
Consider buying a solar inverter of a slightly higher capacity than your energy needs, as there might be some energy losses in the system or particular periods where you might need a little more.
Look for the Critical Parameters of a Solar Inverter
To work effectively, solar inverters need a specific series of parameters even though it does not generate the power itself.
Below are the important parameters you need to pay attention to;
- Input DC voltage
- Output AC voltage
- The type of circuitry
For example, the input voltage for residential solar power should be 24 and 48 V DC.
Check for Tracking Devices and Other Accessories that Accompany the Solar Inverter
To track whether your solar inverter is working optimally, some manufacturers design tiny devices or chips that give alerts in case of malfunctions. If something troublesome occurs,a signal is sent to the installing company who can deal with the issue.
Other than trackers, some solar inverters have useful additional accessories that can help in monitoring your system.
One such beneficial accessory is a monitoring device that can help you keep track of the amount of solar power your system generates and how much it uses daily, monthly, or annually.
Ensure the Solar Inverter has Strong Features
If you intend to install your solar inverter outside, you must check whether it can endure any eventualities. A tough build protects the inverters from harsh weather conditions and the effects of vandalism. You, therefore, should get an inverter with a hard shell.
Examine the Solar Inverter’s Cooling System
Any electrical device requires a cooling system for optimal performance. If you install your solar inverter inside your house or outdoors, it can produce a lot of heat from working or the sun’s rays.
Therefore, you need to make sure the solar inverter you choose comes with an efficient cooling system.
Carefully Read the Solar Inverter’s Instructions and Parameters
The Solar Inverter’s instructions will give you basic information about its functioning, helpful tips, and precautions to follow when using the product. Further, you can learn its basic structure and size.
Manufacturers provide guidelines on where and how their inverters should be installed. Whether you are looking for a residential or commercial inverter, this information can be found easily in the instructions so take time to read through them.
Even if you have a professional team install your inverter, it doesn’t hurt to get acquainted with the system.
What Size of Solar Inverter Do You Need?
Like solar panels, solar inverters come with ratings in watts (W). Solar Inverter installers usually take three factors into account;
The Size of Your Solar Panel Array
The size of your solar array is the essential factor in determining the best size for your solar inverter.
Since your inverter converts DC electricity coming from the solar panels, it needs to have the capacity to handle all the solar energy the panel produces.
Solar inverter manufacturers typically give a size guideline with the solar array capacity paired with their products. If you purchase an inverter that is below their recommendation, manufacturers may withdraw their warranty offer.
Geography will impact the sizing of your solar inverter due to its direct influence on the production of power from your solar panel system.
In locations with more sunshine and moderate temperatures, the solar inverters need to have a wattage close to the maximum production of the solar panel.
Conversely, for areas with low sunshine, a small solar inverter will be more suitable. High temperatures decrease panel efficiency, so you need to consider using undersized solar inverters.
Your solar panel’s site designs will also affect the size of your solar inverter. The tilt and azimuth of your solar panel will contribute to the amount of solar energy the system will generate.
The amount of sunshine reaching your solar panels is affected by environmental factors such as dust or leaf shading that settles on the panels.
The solar installers you will commission will help in all these site specifications and advise the most appropriate solar inverter size.
The Best Solar Inverters: Fronius Vs Sungrow Vs Huawei
These are three of the biggest brands in solar inverters in Australia. Take a look and compare them to decide which is right for you.
Fronius solar inverters have been around for almost three decades, having launched their first on-grid solar inverter in 1995 in Australia. Fronius has since grown to be one of the leading manufacturers in the solar inverter market.Pros
Superior Quality – The Fronius model is a high-quality premium solar inverter. Considering it is made in Australia, the manufacturer aims to give only the best, so all their products undergo rigorous quality controls.
Reliable – It is rare for a Fronius solar inverter to develop issues due to its excellent design, active cooling, and quality controls.
Flexible – The inverter’s design usually allows for more MPPTs and strings compared to similar capacity solar inverters.Cons
Noise –The Fronius inverters active cooling system consists of a noisy fan
Lack of Commercial inverters – The largest reliable Fronius inverter is 27kW, while other manufacturers have solar inverters with 110kW+ capacity.
Price – Since it’s a premium inverter, it also attracts a premium price.
Sungrow is a Chinese Solar inverter manufacturer that has been in renewable energy for over 24 years and operates in over 150 countries. They are also known for venturing into wind energy.Pros
Flexible – It is a String Inverter type with 2 MMPTs.
Efficient – Has a maximum efficiency of 99%. The inverters have a night power consumption of below 2 Watts.
Tough – Sungrow inverters have a high anti-corrosion rating at C5, which can be installed in areas near the sea.Cons
It is Chinese manufactured. Some people cite low quality as a result of a cheap manufacturing process
Even though Huawei was a later entrant to the Solar Inverter arena, it has rapidly gained the top market share position. Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of a Huawei solar inverter.Pros
Affordable – Generally, Huawei Solar inverters are cheaper than other inverters in the market.
Hybrid battery charging – Huawei features an inbuilt battery charger. This feature is the only battery inverter system and gives customers room to choose when to use the battery – either immediately or only for emergencies.
Option for power optimizers and Multiple MPPTs – This means the solar inverters are more economical since they come with 2 MPPTs for two orientations.
Smart IV Curve Diagnosis 3.0 – This feature is an industry first and monitors the Solar Panels degradation to ensure it meets the manufacturer’s warranty specification
Natural Cooling Replaces Fans – Huawei inverters incorporate natural cooling technology, so there are no noisy fans in the temperature control unit. Cons
No EPS –Huawei solar inverters do not feature an Emergency Power Supply mode (EPS), a major limitation.
Unusable by the sea –Huawei advises customers not to install their inverters in salt areas meaning areas in direct contact with the sea breeze. Unfortunately, that covers a large number of Australian buildings
How Do You Order A Solar Inverter?
So, now you should be familiar with which solar inverters are the best on the Australian market and have a better idea of what will suit your home or business. But, where do you go from here?
We have a huge range of solar inverters available and offer the most streamlined and professional installation and maintenance services.
You can contact us today with any questions you may still have or to book a quote. Feel free to browse our other articles to get a full picture of what your solar system could entail.
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