Solar energy has gained tremendous popularity as a sustainable and clean source of power. One of the key components in a solar power system is the solar inverter, which converts the direct current (DC) generated by solar panels into usable alternating current (AC) electricity. In this blog post, we will explore some of the best solar inverters of 2023, highlighting their key features and benefits.
A solar inverter is an essential component of a solar power system. Its primary function is to convert the direct current (DC) electricity generated by solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity that can be used to power household appliances, and business equipment, or fed back into the grid.
Solar panels produce electricity in the form of direct current, which is a flow of electrons in one direction. However, most of our electrical appliances and the power grid operate on alternating current, where the flow of electrons periodically changes direction.
The solar inverter bridges the DC electricity generated by the solar panels and the AC electricity required for use.
There are three main types of inverters: String Inverters, Grid-Tied Inverters and Micro Inverters
In this blog, we will be mainly analysing the different features of hybrid or grid-tied inverters. Also known as battery-ready inverters, these are the most common type of solar inverter we install here at Dorset Electrical Solutions and are the most common type of inverter used in the UK.
Selecting the right solar inverter is crucial for maximising the performance and efficiency of your solar power system. With numerous options available in the market, choosing the best solar inverter can be a daunting task. Luckily, we are here to guide you through the essential factors to consider when selecting a solar inverter, ensuring that you make an informed decision that aligns with your specific requirements.
Solar inverter efficiency determines how well an inverter can convert the DC electricity generated by solar panels to AC electricity so that the energy can be used in our homes and by the National Grid. The more efficient the inverter, the more green energy you will get to use, which means more savings!
In comparison to Solar Panels, Solar inverters are very efficient. The efficiency of an inverter usually sits around 95-98%, depending on the brand and model. No inverter is 100% efficient, as energy is always lost during the conversion from AC to DC. Currently, Solaredge offers the record for the most efficient solar inverter, with an efficiency of 99.2%. Allowing for greater energy production and a quick ROI.
Different brands of solar inverters offer a different range of products. From three-phase to single phase, and hybrid inverter solutions, solar inverters come in different shapes and sizes, with some brands offering greater flexibility, scalability and oversizing.
BACK UP MODE
The majority of leading inverter brands now have (Emergency Power Supply) EPS capabilities. This allows the consumer to have power in the event of a power cut. Different brands of hybrid inverters support different size loads during back up mode, some systems are capable of offering full home backup whereas on some inverters only a number of Amps can be supported.
Safety is probably the most important factor to consider when choosing an inverter. Ensuring that a solar panel system is safe starts by installing high-quality components. As solar panels generate energy in Direct current (DC), this automatically brings an element of danger to the premise. The DC cables running from each solar panel to the inverter can carry up to an enormous 600V, and up to 1,000 volts in commercial solar systems. The worst-case scenario for any Solar PV system is for a fire to occur. It’s for this reason that safety within inverters is so important.
Batteries can charge and discharge at different rates of time, depending on the capabilities of their connected inverter. The charge rate is the time it takes to charge or discharge in Amps. Most common UK and EU households will use low-voltage batteries with a discharge/charge rate of 3kW. However, we are finding a greater demand for High Voltage solar batteries, with a higher charger and discharge rate. This is because a higher charge/discharge rate means that your solar PV system can manage higher base loads and surges, and with electric vehicles in the home becoming the new normal, many homeowners are future-proofing their homes for higher demand. As we know, everything has a plug these days.
Monitoring platforms make it possible for users to view and monitor their solar generation and energy usage. This data provides invaluable information to each customer, including how much energy is being stored in their battery, or exported to the Grid at any given time. These monitoring platforms are usually accessible via an app on your phone or web browser.
They also allow you to implement functions such as setting time periods where you wish to charge or discharge your battery, which is perfect for users on Agile or Economy 7 tariffs. For some homeowners, this is an essential addition to their system. However, for some homeowners, they prefer having an interface on the inverter itself.
Your inverter is likely to be the first major component in your PV system you will need to replace. As the typical lifespan of a solar inverter is between 12-15 years, ideally you want to pick an inverter brand which provides a similar warranty timeframe. Different brands of inverters offer various warranty periods, some exclusive to certified installers and registered products. Some inverter brands also give you the option to purchase/extend your warranty, which are all factors that should be considered. Spending more money initially could save you down the line!
Our team put together a comparison of some of the best solar inverters available on the market. We have used the specifications for a single-phase residential 5kW hybrid inverter throughout so that the technical information shows a like-for-like comparison. Also because this is the most commonly used inverter type and size for households in the UK.
Only entering the market in 2010, Growatt’s vision to build a green and sustainable future has quickly made the China-based company one of the world’s largest inverter manufacturers. Growatt offers a wide range of high and low-voltage solar and battery solutions, suitable for residential and commercial projects. Today, Growatt is already ranked among the Top 3 inverter suppliers in the world, and the No.1 residential inverter supplier globally. We have experienced first-hand the quality and reliability of Growatt inverters.
SolarEdge is a global leader in smart energy technology, with a relentless focus on innovation. The New SolarEdge Home Hub Inverter is the next generation of inverter from Solaredge. Offering greater efficiency, flexibility, and enhanced safety. As the brain of the system, the SolarEdge inverter has full control over the SolarEdge Home ecosystem, which includes the SolarEdge Home Battery, SolarEdge Home EV Charger and mySolarEdge App.
As a DC-coupled, the inverter sends PV power directly to the battery without AC conversion losses. The Hub inverter also enables up to 200% DC oversizing, to yield more energy and full home backup during power outages.
SolarEdge inverters offer advanced monitoring with module-level data thanks to their unique power optimisers. SolarEdge Optimisers enable larger strings of panels, module-level shutdown, and reduce the impact of panel shading. Although the optimisers add additional cost to the installation, they do come with several benefits.
The Givenergy storage range comprises of its own inverters, batteries, and monitoring platform, which together as an eco-system offer an exceptionally popular storage package. The Givenergy monitoring platform offers one of the most advanced and powerful platforms, and when you choose to install a Givenergy system it will work with Agile Octopus to take advantage of plunge pricing.
Founded in 2018, the British brand is the newest entry to the industry on our list, but that doesn’t discredit their award-winning energy storage systems and their exceptional UK-based technical support. Givenergy has currently released its 3rd Generation of solar inverters.
Established in 1945, the Austrian company Fronius have been involved in solar technologies since 1992. Offering top quality, with one of the widest ranges of inverters to suit every kind of single-phase or three-phase system. Fronius inverters have a long history, of reliability and quality performance. One of the reasons for Fronius’s reliability and performance is due to the active cooling system incorporated into all Fronius snap-in inverters, released in 2021. The fan-forced cooling system extracts heat at a higher rate which reduces thermal stress and can increase power output in high ambient temperatures.
The base warranty for all their inverters is 5 years, however, when the inverter is registered a fully 10-year warranty is provided. Wifi monitoring comes standard with all inverters via the Fronius Solarweb. There are upgrades that come with a Fronius inverter, such as a premium subscription to the Fronius Solarweb, and Fronius Smart meter both of which are relatively expensive, but provide useful additions.
Founded in 2005, Solis, meaning sun in Spanish, is a well-established Chinese solar inverter manufacturer. Due to their price-point Solis inverters are often considered entry-level inverters, but don’t let that fool you. Their popular Residential 5G series offers some excellent features including: a wide operating (MPPT) voltage range, Certified DC isolator, and integrated export power control.
Solis caters for on-grid, off-grid and commercial applications, and operates globally. Solis inverters come standard with a 5-year warranty, with an extended 10-year warranty option available.