Inverters are the hardest working components of a solar energy system. They convert DC energy produced by solar panels into AC energy that can be used at your business, farm, or home. These are the brains of your solar system, and as a result of their hard work, the part of a solar system that is most likely to have issues. If something goes wrong, it could cause your solar system to shut down.
It’s important to pick a quality inverter for your system, whether it be a string inverter, microinverter, or power optimizer. Cutting corners here could be costly down the road. At Paradise Energy, we’ve selected three brands to offer our customers. These were selected based on their quality, durability, efficiency, and service. We selected brands that have been in the industry for a long time and have a reputation for great customer service and have the financial stability to uphold their warranties.
Below, we’ll outline each brand we offer, so you can compare and make the best decision for your solar system.
The top solar inverter brands:
Headquartered in California, Enphase was founded in 2006 and has grown to become what many consider as the number-one microinverter company in the industry. They have experienced some quality issues over the years, but appear to have resolved the problems.
Enphase microinverters are typically the highest-cost option. As a result, they have struggled to stay relevant in the solar industry. However, they have made some recent innovations that may make their product more attractive in the future.
Enphase offers a 25-year warranty on their microinverters, which is the most robust standard warranty in the industry.
Similar to SolarEdge’s power optimizer inverters, Enphase’s microinverters are located on each individual solar panel, making it a great option for complex rooflines or systems in areas with shade. However, unlike SolarEdge’s inverter-optimizer system, each micro-inverter converts DC energy to AC electricity right on the roof. Due to their complexity, the upfront cost will be more and the maintenance cost could be more, should something go wrong.
Enphase inverters also offer monitoring for each panel individually, as well as the system as a whole. The solar system owner, the solar installer, and Enphase can monitor the system remotely, which makes identifying faults and troubleshooting easier.
Based in Germany, SMA has been producing and manufacturing solar inverters since 1981 and is widely considered the most reliable inverter on the market and enjoys a reputation for high-quality inverters.
As an averaged priced solution, SMA offers efficient inverters and a long and stable company history.
SMA offers a ten-year standard warranty with the option for an extended warranty ranging in duration from five to ten years. For 2020, SMA has updated their residential inverter line to extend the standard warranty to 15 years at no additional cost! Having been in the inverter game for nearly 40 years, the company’s stability goes a long way to providing confidence when it comes to backing these warranties up.
In recent years, SMA inverters, along with some other leading brands, have been skipping the digital display panel on their inverters. Display faults, prompted by extreme cold and exposure to the weather, could negatively impact the inverter and increase the chances of something going wrong. They combat this with the Sunny portal, a well-received and free system monitoring software. However, the lack of a display panel means the inverters are reliant on Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection.
SMA inverters also offer “SMA Smart Connected.” This optional system constantly monitors the inverter for any issues. Once diagnosed, SMA will share this information with the installer and PV system operator, which cuts down on time and money spent troubleshooting. If a replacement part is needed, they will ship it to the customer automatically.
SolarEdge is an Israel-based company founded in 2006. They have quickly gained a positive reputation for their unique power optimizer design which allows for individual panel-level monitoring which enhances efficiency. As with all the inverter brands we offer, SolarEdge is touted for their quality.
While not a budget brand, SolarEdge offers innovative and efficient products with a 12-year standard warranty.
SolarEdge’s inverters work a little differently than the previous inverters (we’ll explain that soon), meaning their warranty works a little differently, too. A SolarEdge inverter system is composed of both a string inverter and power optimizers installed under each panel. The string inverter is covered with a 12-year warranty. Depending on the model, you can purchase an eight- or 13-year extended warranty. The power optimizers come with a 25-year warranty.
Standard PV systems typically use an inverter that performs MPPT for several solar panels in the system. Since the panels are connected, this means the inverter is constantly adjusting the electric current to average the current flow through each module. This can lead to a loss in output, especially if you have certain panels that are often under-producing due to continued shade or faults.
However, SolarEdge’s power optimizers are installed under each panel instead of the typical junction box. This optimizer can optimize energy output for each panel, meaning your inverter won’t have to average output across all the panels.
While this panel-level MPPT is similar to microinverters, it alone does not have the ability to convert DC to AC, so the energy from all the power optimizers are sent to an inverter for conversion from DC to AC. However, SolarEdge power optimizers do condition DC electricity, making this process easier for the inverter.
Because of both the DC conditioning and panel-level MPPT, SolarEdge inverters enjoy a high level of efficiency. Its downside is that it is more complex, which means more potential for fault and can be more difficult to fix.
SolarEdge offers power output monitoring for each panel individually, so you can see what areas of your array are performing optimally and which are lagging – either due to shade or a fault in the panel itself. This information can be accessed either through the web or a smartphone app and provides alerts for various issues that affect how much your system is generating. These alerts have the ability to pinpoint specific locations, making troubleshooting and maintenance easier.
While we have confidence that all the inverters we offer are high-quality, efficient, and backed by comprehensive warranties, there’s a good deal to consider when choosing which inverter is right for your project. Inverters are a crucial part of your solar system, and getting the right one can save you time and money. We’d love to talk to you about choosing the right inverter.