Different Types of Inverters & Popular Inverter Brands
Inverters are one of the main components of solar systems. If you are considering installing a solar system for your home or business, there are a few things you need to know about inverters. Choosing which types of inverters to use for your project will depend on the location of installation, sun exposure, budget and more. Once you narrow in on the type of inverter best suited for your needs, you then need to familiarize yourself with the popular inverter brands. This knowledge will help you choose the best type of inverter and solar inverter brand for your residential or commercial solar system.
Types of Inverters & Their Installation
An inverter converts the Direct Current (DC) energy generated by your solar panels into usable Alternating Current (AC) to power your home or office. Inverters are of utmost importance and must be chosen as carefully as solar panels.
String Inverters, Microinverters, & Power Optimizers
The three main inverter options available are string inverters, microinverters, and power optimizers. String inverters are the most common and most cost-effective option.
However, microinverters and power optimizers are becoming more affordable and quickly gaining popularity.
Microinverters and power optimisers are collectively known as Module-Level Power Electronics (MLPEs).
With string inverters, solar panels are “stringed” together and connected to a single inverter. It is a tried and true technology that works well for installations with consistent, full sun exposure. Since they are linked together and only perform as well as the least exposed panel, they are not a good choice for roofs that face multiple directions (i.e. gabled) or are shaded by nearby obstructions.
Microinverters tend to be more expensive but are quickly becoming more affordable. Unlike string converters, microinverters are installed on each panel or are integrated into the solar panel itself. Because they are not linked together, each solar panel will capture solar energy to its fullest potential even if other panels are shaded.
Though they are not technically inverters, power optimisers are a good compromise between more expensive microinverters and less expensive string inverters. Like microinverters, optimisers are installed by or integrated into each solar panel. But unlike microinverters, they do not convert the DC electricity to AC electricity on the spot. Instead, they prep the DC electricity and send it to a string inverter. Essentially, it “optimises” a string inverter system by reducing the effect of shade on system performance.
Popular Inverter Brands in Australia
When choosing your inverter, you must consider several factors. There are no one-size-fits-all, but there are brands that consistently rank high across the board. These top brands are well regarded for:
- Features, including Monitoring
- Quality & Reliability
- Service & Support
At Essential Energy Solutions, we have found the following manufacturers (in no particular order) provide the best balance of the above criteria.
Fronius is in high-demand in Australia as the inverter of choice for both domestic and commercial solar installations. Customers rave about their performance, reliability, and the manufacturer’s customer service. The Fronius Primo & Fronius Symo Inverter lines are among their most popular products.
Zever and SMA
Ever since SMA acquired the majority of Zeversolar, their products have been quickly and steadily improving. Though Zeversolar and SMA are nearly one in the same company, they still keep some products separated. Zeversolar’s Zeverlution solar inverter product line uses less power electronic components for increased reliability, are now 40% lighter, and have an even wider MPPT range (Maximum Power Point Tracking). SMA’s Sunny Boy Inverter boasts the same improvements.
Sungrow inverters have become very popular due to the competitive price, great reliability record, and an internationally-wide good reputation. Their customer service and product quality are considered some of the best among Chinese inverter manufacturers. Sungrow also has an office based in Sydney, which increases their popularity in Australia.
Tigo is known for their TS4 Solar Optimisers. The TS4 universal platform enables plug-and-play functionality for any solar module. Other optimisers usually require the same brand inverter to be used, but TS4 optimisers are not limited by which inverter your solar system uses. They are easy to install, reliable, and though Tigo is a California-based company, an Australian invented the Tigo optimizers.
Budget for Types of Solar Inverters
As mentioned, the different types of solar inverters come with different price tags. Typically, the order of affordability from most affordable to most expensive goes as follows: string inverters, solar optimisers, and microinverters.
You need to first establish which type of solar inverter you need based on how much sun exposure your solar panels are going to receive. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to save on the upfront costs of string inverters if shade on your roof will cost you energy production in the long run. When designing your system, you must also remember that some solar panels have inverters built-in; though they are not always cost-effective.
Choosing the Right Inverter for your Solar Power System
This may seem like a lot of information, but one step leads to the next once you know what type of solar inverter you need. To make things even easier, you can contact a professional solar system installer to discuss your individual needs. Experienced installers can usually point you in the right direction either through talking with you over the phone or email or by visiting the job site in person.
If you live in the beautiful Gold Coast and want to turn Brisbane’s sunshine into energy savings, Contact Us to learn more about solar inverters or to receive a free quote.