January 24, 2019
Inverters have a tough job – converting the DC energy produced by your panels to AC energy you can use in your home or business. They do this often times outside, subject to harsh weather, direct sunlight, and damaging humidity for up to ten hours each day. As one of the most complex parts of your grid-tied solar system, they’re also the part that’s most likely to have issues. And if something goes wrong, a faulty inverter could cause a system shutdown. While it can be tempting to keep costs as low as possible when having your system installed, opting for a budget-brand inverter can come back to cost you much more in the long run.
At Paradise Energy, we offer a variety of inverters from brands we 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 services and upholding their warranties.
Below, we’ll outline each brand we offer, so you can compare each option and make the best decision for your solar system.
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. 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. However, 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.
A subsidiary of Japanese-based Yaskawa Electric Corporation, Solectria is based out of Massachusetts and was founded in 2005. With many American-made products, Solectria is considered to be the leading PV inverter manufacturer in the United States. Like all of our selected brands, Solectria’s staying power and size make it a solid and stable investment. They offer a wide range of products that can accommodate most systems from residential to commercial to utility-scale projects.
Solectria is competitive in price with the other brands we offer with various add-ons such as an extended warranty and various monitoring packages.
Solectria offers standard limited warranties ranging between five and ten years. Some of their inverters covered under a five-year warranty are also eligible for a five-year extension (with a total warranty period of ten years).
Known as SolrenView, their web-based monitoring system is available on all their systems in a variety of packages delivering various levels of information depending on the main goal of your system. These include options such as an animated kiosk view created for public viewing and advertising, as well as a weather station which shares crucial environmental information that could impact the production of the solar system.
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. However, the jury is still out, and we recommend a more “wait and see” approach to customers considering using their products.
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 15- or 25-year warranty on their microinverters, which is similar to the warranty offered on SolarEdge’s power optimizers, but unlike SolarEdge, the system is not dependent on the string inverter.
Similar to SolarEdge’s power optimizer inverters, Enphase’s microinverters are located on each individual solar panel, making it a great option for complex roof lines 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.
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. Send us a message or give us a call!