As the world continues to grow, change and evolve, the move towards a greener and more sustainable lifestyle is on the rise. Every year, new innovations and inventions hit the market, and each of these has one thing in common: they are trying to reduce our carbon footprint, and help give our weary planet a well-earned break.
A large element of this is the move towards using solar power, and solar inverters have become an increasingly important purchase for those looking to boost their eco-credentials.
|Fronius GALVO 4,200,011,800||
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|SolarEdge SE5000H-US Single Phase||
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|SMA Sunny Boy 7.7-US 7700W Grid Tie Inverter||
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|EPEVER 5000W Pure Sine Wave||
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|EDECOA 3500 Watt 24V Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter||
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|WZRELB RBP300012 3000W||
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|Fencia Solar Inverter 3000W||
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|Growatt 5000W Solar Hybrid Inverter||
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|PowMr 5000W Hybrid Inverter||
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|Growatt 3000W Off-Grid Solar Inverter||
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Essentially, a solar inverter works to convert electricity captured in the solar panels (known as direct current) into the electrical energy that can be used by-products in our homes (known as alternating current). Solar inverters can therefore be a great way to get the power you need, without relying on harmful fossil fuels.
With so much innovation comes choice, and it can be hard to decide just which solar power is the best for your needs. Do you want a grid-tied model or a hybrid design?
Fortunately for you, we have taken care of the hard work, and put together the ultimate guide to get you started with solar inverters – all you need to do is work out your needs, preferences and requirements, decide on a budget, and then pick your favorite – your solar power journey is just a few short steps away.
Best Solar Inverter
Input Voltage: 120 Volts
Fronius is a name that will be instantly familiar to anyone with a knowledge of solar tools, and they have more than earned their spot at the top of the list. They first hit the market in 2012 with an innovative, creative snap-in design, and credit a large element of their successful performance to an active cooling system that is present in all models.
Essentially, this is a fan-forced cooling system that removes heat from the unit in a faster and more effective manner. This, in turn, rescues the thermal stress that the inverter is under, and will increase the power output for more efficient and effective results.
This has the added bonus of reducing the potential for overheating and damage, allowing your unit to last for longer.
As well as maintaining heat and boosting power, the Fronius model also has the added advantage of allowing you to stay in control of your unit at all times, thanks to the inclusion of wifi monitoring.
Offered by the “Fronius Solarweb”, this allows you to check in on the energy that has been generated, the energy that has been used, and the total amount that you have saved – this can be a great incentive and allows you to really track where your energy is going.
The ability to monitor your home’s energy is very useful and gives users a chance to really see the benefits of solar power in action. As an added bonus the Fronius unit is waterproof and can be used indoors or outdoors for ultimate convenience.
- Receive up-to-date information on your energy use, the amount generated, and the amount you have saved
- Active cooling system keeps the unit safe, productive and increases the energy generated
- Waterproof and durable – suitable for indoor or outdoor use
- Easy to read and use – allowing you to stay on top of your home energy system
- Only three days of consumption statistics and data can be accessed without signing up for the premium subscription service.
Output Power; 5000 Watts
SolarEdge is another top name in the world of renewable energy and has been making waves in the industry for all the right reasons, with a large climb in popularity over the last few years.
This inverter is no exception and offers a compact, reliable and easy-to-use option to convert your solar energy to usable power quickly and effectively, optimizing each and every drop of sunlight and solar energy. Part of the secret to their success is the inclusion of DC optimizers – these unique additions help to optimize the power of each solar panel while offering ongoing monitoring of your panels.
In the simplest terms, DC optimizers are small electronic modules that are fixed to the back of each solar panel on your property. Once in place, they allow the solar panel to operate to its maximum power level every time, allowing you to harness the maximum potential energy.
This also allows strings of panels of up to 22 modules to be installed and can help to counter any issues around shading which can reduce the energy generated. Safety is also enhanced thanks to the ability to shut down rapidly in the event of an emergency, and the inclusion of a quality monitoring system also means that the optimizers can detect any potential issues or errors early on, ensuring that these are fixed as soon as possible.
Accessing the monitoring system is also made easier by the creation of a simple, effective smartphone app.
- SolarEdge DC optimizers allow you to optimize every solar panel and extract the maximum amount of power from each panel.
- Rapid shutdown helps to enhance safety
- Easy-to-use app allows you to monitor your system at every step
- Enables longer strings of panels for increased efficiency
- Optimizers add more complexity to the system – this can increase the risk of something going wrong
Another top name within the industry, SMA are amongst the top options for quality and reliability – a fact that is enhanced by their amazing 10 to 20 year extended warranty, which demonstrates excellent faith in the brand on the part of the manufacturers.
The design is sleek and smooth, with minimal disruption and visual noise. The decision not to include an interface is a bold one, but the end result is super modern, and better suited to an outdoor environment, where visible displays are at the mercy of the elements.
The display itself is replaced by WiFi communication, and all set up and monitoring occurs through this method.
SMA uses its own system, known as the “Sunny Portal ” to take care of all monitoring, and this is convenient and easy to access.
Purchase of the Sunny Home Manager 2.0 energy meter means that you are in complete control of your homes energy system at every stage, and it is easy to see the data that you need at a glance – keep track of how much energy is being generated by your solar panels, the amount of energy that is being used around your home, and the total savings that you are making by using the system.
SMA has a reputation for reliability, and so you can rest assured that this is an investment that is designed to stand the test of time.
- Excellent brand reputation for reliability and peace of mind
- Manage your data through a single, easy-to-use portal for extra convenience
- No display means that the unit can be installed outside without issue
- A 10-20 year extended warranty means this is an investment built to last.
- SMA mobile app looks dated and had received mixed feedback from Android users
- Lack of display means a strong WiFi connection is essential
Item Weight: 48.4 Pounds
Input Voltage: 48 Volts
If safety is one of your main concerns, then this Hybrid inverter from EPEVER should be your first choice when opting for your new solar inverter. The system comes with a comprehensive wealth of electronic protection features to keep you and your family safe, and your system up and running even when things go wrong.
PV protection limits the current, and offers protection from reverse polarity, while built-in utility protection offers a barrier against overcurrents, short circuits, and overloads. The battery is protected from over-voltage, over-discharge, and reverse polarity, while the inverter and the charger are both designed to discharge or stop charging, as soon as the internal temperature reaches a certain level.
Once the temperature returns to normal, the system will kick back into action. All of these features come together to create a safe, efficient and effective system that is designed to maximize energy production.
In addition to prioritizing safety, the unit also comes with a choice of three charging modes: Solar, Solar First, or Solar and Utility.
This is where the hybrid element of the design comes in handy, allowing the use of diversified energy management modes to allow users and homeowners to select the best energy sources for their needs – this also helps to guarantee that you will always have power, even in adverse weather conditions or an unfavorable light. The charger included in the inverter raises the guaranteed rate of the power supply, and this offers reliability and stability in every situation.
- Choose the best energy source for your needs – offering you total control over your power
- Reliable and stable for added peace of mind
- Brand has a solid reputation within the industry – helping to ensure longevity and reliability
- Includes a number of safety features designed to keep your unit running and to offer you extra peace of mind.
- Battery systems must be configured properly to reduce the risk of energy loss or waste.
Item Weight: 18.7 Pounds
Input Voltage: 24 Volts
When it comes to flexibility and versatility, this EDECOA Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter is the leader of the pack for all the right reasons. From outdoor camping sessions to general home use, there are a multitude of potential purposes and functions available, and there is a strong reputation for excellent reliability and safety that surrounds the entire brand.
Users can connect the power inverter to their desired appliance using a batter, and you are ready to enjoy the comforts of modern life and the wonders of technology, whether you are on a boat, in a tent, or on a long journey, far away from home. Enjoy continuous power at 3500 watts, as well as peak power of 7000 watts to really push the inverter to the limit.
The multi-purpose design of this unit helps it really stand out from the crowd, especially when compared to static or single-function inverters. Though the price tag is a little higher than those of some competitors, the benefits of the EDECOA far outweigh this higher financial cost, and the inclusion of a year’s warranty means that you can make this significant investment with the added peace of mind that you are protected.
The inverter also offers protection against overheating, and will automatically shut off the device if it detects that the temperature has risen beyond a safe level – this not only keeps you and your equipment safe but allows you to enjoy maximum efficiency with every use.
- Very flexible and versatile – suitable for a wide range of uses and functions – this offers excellent value for money.
- Auto shut off feature above a certain temperature is important for safety
- Safe for outdoor use increases convenience
- One year warranty for added peace of mind
- Quite expensive compared to other models
- Display is tricky to read when the unit is mounted on the wall
For the ultimate quality and convenience, this WZRELB solar inverter is one of the top options – and it has the added bonus of a sterling reputation for reliability. A high-frequency transformer transfers direct current to alternating current quickly and easily, and the inclusion of high-quality copper in the construction boosts this, ensuring that the output is stable, full, and consistent, to offer you the power you need, whenever you need it.
A number of safety features help to protect not only your equipment, but your home, and these include cut-off protection for high and low voltages, as well as alarms to let you know when something is not quite right. You can also enjoy protection from surges and overpower problems, as well as fuses to reduce the risk of short-circuiting, as well as reverse connection.
It is also super easy for you to stay on top of what is happening in your system thanks to the inclusion of an integrated, high-quality LED display.
This clearly shows you both the DC voltage and the AC voltage for instant data, and you will be able to quickly and easily discern the amount of power usage that is ongoing while the unit is in operation – this information can be very useful when it comes to planning your energy allocation and usage around the house.
Perhaps most importantly, this is a unit that is reliable and trustworthy, and you can rest assured that your investment will be protected for many years to come.
- High-quality, easy-to-read LED display gives you the information you need at a glance.
- Inverter can be used indoors or outdoors for the ultimate convenience
- Run a number of devices thanks to powerful, reliable performance
- High-end, quality feel, and appearance make this a worthwhile investment
- Multiple power capacities are available allowing you to choose the best fit for your needs and lifestyle.
- A little expensive compared to other models
Sleek and stylish, the Fencia Solar Inverter has been receiving rave reviews from those in the know – and it is easy to see why. With a pure sine output of 3kw, you will be able to run your home appliance without issue or interruption and can kick back and relax without having to worry about sudden or unexpected blackouts.
The inverter is fully compatible with both mains voltage and generator power for added versatility, and this means that you can make the most of your inverter in a way that is the best fit for your needs and lifestyle.
The smaller size and light weight of the model offer a sleeker and more compact finish than some of the other products that we have looked at, and you can also enjoy the option of parallel operation, up to a total of 6 units – ideal for meeting all of your needs around the home and further afield.
Safety is also taken care of thanks to built-in protection against short-circuiting, overload, and deep discharge, allowing you to enjoy your appliances and devices with total comfort and peace of mind. In addition, the unit supports both Lead Acid and Li-Ion batteries for extra choice for users.
- Sine output allows devices and appliances to run smoothly – without the risk of interruption.
- Protection against surges, overloads, and short circuits offers extra peace of mind
- Clear LED display makes it easy to access data
- Parallel communication ports for extra convenience
- Sleek, stylish finish
- Quite expensive compared to some other models
Item Dimensions LxWxH: 19.09 x 12.99 x 5.31 inches
Item Weight: 14 Kilograms
For a solar inverter that also works as a stylish new addition to your home, this Growatt hybrid model is an ideal selection. With 5000w and a pure sine wave design, you can rest assured that you will have more than enough power for the appliances and devices in your home, and this is a unit that can operate using the mains power, or via a generator for extra convenience and security.
Parallel operation is also supported, allowing you to increase and extend capacity up to 30kW to offer plenty of support to three-phase equipment.
Monitoring and managing your energy consumption is also made easier thanks to the inclusion of WiFi and GPRS remote monitoring, which allows users to monitor the PV system status whether from the website or, more conveniently, from your mobile phone – this means that you can keep track of how much energy is being generated, collected and used.
A bright, clear LCD display also makes it easier to keep a close eye on operating status and system data, and you can configure the settings to ensure that you have the information you need close to hand at a moment’s notice.
- Three charging modes: Solar first, Solar and Utility, and Only Solar allowing you to change as needed
- Four output modes: Solar first, Utility first, SBU priority, and SUB Priority to allow you to meet the needs of different appliances
- LCD display for all the data and information that you require
- Check data consumption on the move thanks to web compatibility
- Sleek, stylish finish
- Suitable for indoor or outdoor use
- Care must be taken not to overload the system
- WiFi can be a little unreliable in bad weather conditions
Item Dimensions LxWxH: 19.09 x 12.99 x 5.31 inches
Item Weight: 14 Kilograms
For multi-function, plenty of power, and the chance to ensure consistent, reliable power, this inverter from PowMr should be a serious consideration. The unit offers pure sine wave power, and this means that you can enjoy power for all of your main household appliances with minimal fuss or issues.
From booting up the air conditioning to keeping your fridge running, sine waves are a compatible fit, reducing the stress and risk of issues. This is also an inverter that prides itself on being multifunctional, and works as a battery charger, inverter, and solar charger – there is no need to worry about purchasing three separate devices when you have everything you need right here.
The LCD display is crystal clear, and this allows you to alter the input voltage range for any personal computers or home appliances – you are in charge of your energy at every step of the way. If you want to switch priority to another item, this can be done at the touch of a button, keeping your home running smoothly and effectively.
You can also rest assured that you and your loved ones will remain protected thanks to protection against overloads, short circuits, and high temperatures, and the smart battery charger means that your battery will always be running at optimum performance.
- Multifunctional, three in one technology saves you time, energy, and money
- Total control over every aspect of your power, including the ability to reroute power
- Sine wave energy is compatible with home appliances
- Safety features will keep you safe and protected.
- Fan housing screws can be fiddly and tricky to replace
Another top option for those keen to ensure that they get their money’s worth is this Growatt inverter, which allows you to charge your solar battery, direct power to your home, or connect to mains services if more energy is needed.
You can also increase your power thanks to the inclusion of parallel operations – compatible with up to six units – and the use of pure sine waves means that this is a unit designed to be fully compatible with most of the appliances in and around your home.
As an added bonus, you are in total control of your energy consumption and generation at every moment – choose from one of three output modes to power your load: solar first, utility first (this is the default setting), or SBU priority.
The first allows you to use solar energy first and then switch to battery if this is not sufficient, while the second will use utility power as the first choice, switching to the battery if this is not available.
The last option will use solar power as the first priority, then switch to battery and turn to Utility power as a last resort. These options can also be used to charge your battery for extra peace of mind. WIFi allows you to monitor your unit from anywhere, and this keeps you in the driver’s seat at every stage.
- Offers three options for power – ensuring that you are always connected
- Supports parallel connections for that extra boost
- Control your system using WIFi for up-to-date data
- 24v battery must be connected to operate
Now that we have taken a look at the best solar inverters on the market, you may still be wondering just how you can make the right decision – how do you know which of these are the top option for your needs? To help you out, we have put together the ultimate guide to investing in a solar inverter, and everything you need to know to make a smart, informed decision.
What Is A Solar Inverter?
Before we go any further, it is important to have a solid understanding of just what a solar inverter is, and how it can help you. In the simplest terms, a solar inverter refers to one of the most important elements of your home solar power system.
The role of the solar inverter is to transform Direct Current (DC) received from the energy of the sun, into Alternating Current (AC), which is the energy used to power the goods, items, and appliances in your home. Essentially, a solar inverter turns the energy stored in your solar panels into something you can actually use. Without an inverter, your solar power home system will not be able to light your home, power your appliances or provide the energy needed for everyday tasks.
As a growing number of manufacturers and energy specialists turn their attention to solar power, there are a huge number of solar inverters hitting the market, and the trend for going green is expanding – all of which is great news for the planet.
Home battery systems and hybrid systems are also growing in popularity, but these are still in a relatively early stage, and most solar power installations and setups will still rely on a solar inverter. As a result, making the right choice is crucial – this can be the difference between you running your home successfully on solar energy, and being forced to revert to more traditional methods of power.
Where Should I Place My Solar Inverter?
The location of your solar inverter is an important decision and one which can have a significant impact on its effectiveness and suitability. Different models and products also come with different levels of suitability for different locations, so this is something to bear in mind.
These days, the majority of solar inverters are designed to be water and weatherproof, and should be able to be installed outside without too many issues – you will need to double-check the product to ensure that this is the case.
Remember, however, that solar inverters are electrical appliances, and, as a result, need to be installed in a shaded or protected location, in order to shield them from the worst of adverse weather, or extreme weather such as storms or heavy rain. It is also a good idea to install your inverter in a sport that enjoys a fairly consistent temperature all year round; any extreme temperature changes can reduce the lifespan, effectiveness, and performance of the device.
The best spots tend to be inside garages, under carports, and out of direct sunlight, where there is no contact with hot afternoon sunlight. If this is not possible, specialist protective covers can be purchased and used to help extend the lifespan of your solar inverter, as well as improve its performance.
It should be noted that while the solar panels themselves can become damaged, degraded, or faulty, this is unlikely to result in a whole-system shutdown, as there are typically other panels available to pick up the slack. When it comes to your solar inverter, however, a fault or damage could see your whole system go down at once, leaving you without power. It is therefore important that you ensure that you choose wisely and protect your product as much as possible.
Types of Solar Inverter
Not all solar inverters are created equally, and these products come in a variety of different types and formats, as we have seen in our pick of the best products above. Some of the most common and popular types of solar inverters for home and rooftop use include:
String Solar Inverters
As the name suggests, string solar inverters refer to an inverter that is connected to a string of solar panels, all linked together in a specific series. These are usually the most popular options in the UK and Europe, as well as Asia and Australia, and are becoming increasingly common across the rest of the world, including the United States.
Another example that we have seen in the products recommended above are hybrid inverters, and these are sometimes also referred to as “battery-ready” inverters. Hybrid inverters operate in a similar way to the string solar inverters, but they also allow a battery storage system to be directly connected.
This offers users a greater level of self-sufficiency with devices and appliances powered using solar energy. As an added bonus, many hybrid inverters will also offer users a basic level of backup power, and this can be extremely useful if you find yourself in a blackout.
As a rule, most hybrid inverters are not the best option for off-grid use on a continuous basis, and they can also be more expensive – though this is changing as technology continues to advance.
Another popular type of inverter is the “off-grid” inverter, which may also be referred to as a stand-alone power system. These will typically require a more powerful type of battery inverter, complete with inbuilt chargers.
These chargers can then be set up as AC or DC coupled solar systems and used to create sleek, advanced hybrid systems that are connected to the grid, offering maximum convenience and flexibility. These tend to be the best option if you are looking for a powerful off-grid option that will be sufficient for your energy needs.
It is also worth mentioning solar regulators here – these are not inverters, but act as DC solar battery chargers. They can be connected between the battery and the solar panel, or panels, and used to regulate the charging process of the battery.
This is important for ensuring that the battery is not overcharged and that it is charged enough to be useful. Remember: with some units, no battery, no power – even if it is not being used at the time.
Where space or budget is an issue, microinverters can be very useful. Sometimes referred to simply as “micros”, these are very small solar inverters that are attached directly to each individual solar panel. Each micro-inverter and panel then operate independently, making them an ideal solution if your roof is very shaded, or has a complex layout.
They also help to ensure that even if one inverter breaks down, you will still have power and energy – this is a significant advantage over strong solar inverters. While micro-inverters are currently on the expensive side, the growth and evolution of technology mean that this is likely to change in the near future.
Can My Inverter Power My Appliances?
Another consideration is ensuring that you invest in the right type of solar inverter to power the appliances in your home, and these come in three main types:
Sine Wave Inverter
Another example of types of solar inverters can be seen in sine wave inverters – these focus on the power produced, rather than the design of the inverter. As the name suggests, these generate sine waves for which each appliance is designed, allowing the majority of appliances to be run safely and smoothly. This is the best option when you are investing in your new solar inverter.
Square Wave Inverter
Also known as a Digital Inverter, a square wave inverter will generate square wave AC output. This is typically not enough to run the majority of household appliances – as we have seen, these are usually made to run on a sine wave AC pattern. You may hear a humming, but will generally not be able to run home appliances on a square wave inverter; this is best reserved for smaller items.
Stepped Sine Wave Inverter
A rarer option stepped sine wave inverters are not very accessible to most consumers but act as a good central option balanced between sine and square wave inverters. These inverters are most commonly used for smaller appliances and electronic gadgets, such as computers and portable sound systems.
How Much Power Will You Need?
When making your purchase, you will also need to have an idea of how much power you will need – a rough estimation will help you to determine this. It is important to distinguish between a generator and an inverter – the latter will be unlikely to be enough to power your entire home, and so if your energy requirements are over 4000 VA, an inverter alone will probably not be sufficient.
As a rule, some of the main wattage ratings of the main home appliances include:
- Ceiling fan – 50-75 watts
- Table fan – 25-50 watts
- CFL – 18 watts
- Computer – 80-150 watts
- Laptop – 20-75 watts
- 32 inch LCD TV – 150 watts
- Refrigerator – 160-250 watts
- Tube light – 40 watts
Remember that in addition to the energy that is required to run each device, you will also need to account for the starting power required for each appliance. Some appliances and devices, such as washing machines and refrigerators, may take double the amount of power to start.
It is also worth making a distinction between VA and watts – this can be a confusion that some individuals make.
Any power that is drawn by the appliance in question, be that air conditioning, fridges, or bulbs, may have this power communicated in volt-ampere (VA), or in watts, but these are slightly different – the power in watts is the genuine power that is provided or drawn by the appliance, while VA is the evident power acquired when the voltage and current drawn are duplicated.
When opting for an inverter, watts are usually the more reliable measurement.
Power Efficiency and Consumption
While you will be using your solar inverter to produce energy, you also need to remember that these units will consume energy in order to operate.
The battery is an important consideration here; solar batteries tend to be made of high-powered lead-acid batteries or lead corrosive batteries, and their capacity is based on Ampere Hour (Ah) – this demonstrates the rate of current that any battery will be able to supply over a given time.
As an example, a battery with a capacity of 100Ah will supply 100 Ampere current for an hour before needing to be charged. Remember to make sure that the solar battery you choose will be able to power your appliances if necessary, without needing to be constantly charged.
The efficiency of your solar inverter will also need to be considered – this is proportional to the amount of power that it draws, and can range from anything to 90% to 50%. The most efficient inverters will use between ⅓ and ¾ of their full rating, so check this out. In order to charge batteries, your solar inverter will need to use solar energy – the main priority here is to ensure that you are not wasting electricity.
Your budget and price range will also play a role in your decision, and solar inverters come in a variety of price options, as we have seen in the examples and best buys above. Those at the lower end of the scale may come in at around $700, but prices can reach over $1500, depending on your needs and specifications.
The trick is to make sure that you know what your non-negotiables are, such as a high capacity or backup options, and then pick a product in your price range that includes these features.
Warranty and Servicing
The best solar inverters will come with extended warranties – and these are good news for customers. Not only does a warranty help to offer you greater protection and peace of mind in the event of an issue, but it also demonstrates that the manufacturer has a lot of faith in their product, and usually suggests a higher quality solar inverter.
|Fronius and SMA in particular have a sterling reputation for customer service and offer low failure rates, generous warranties, and fast replacements if you do encounter an issue. Often, top brands will offer warranties of between 10 and 12 years, though some of the value and budget options are shorter than this.
Others will repair your unit – but only if you ship it to them at your cost, and this can take several weeks or months. To give yourself the best protection, make sure that you read the warranty carefully.
Making the most of solar energy is a great way to save money, do your part for the planet, and boost your green credentials. As technology expands and evolves, this is also something that is likely to become far more prominent.
Choosing the right solar inverter can make or break your green energy experience, so make sure that you take the time to do the research you need for the best possible result.