PV String Inverters - A Buyer's Guide: Page 3 of 3

Intermediate

Inside this Article

Fronius Inverter
Fronius Inverter
Chint Power Systems' Inverter
Chint Power Systems' Inverter
Delta Inverter
Delta Inverter
Eltek Inverter
Eltek Inverter
Ingeteam Inverter
Ingeteam Inverter
KACO New Energy Inverter
KACO New Energy Inverter
Power-One Inverter
Power-One Inverter
Schneider Electric Inverter
Schneider Electric Inverter
SMA Inverter
SMA Inverter
SolarEdge Technologies Inverter
SolarEdge Technologies Inverter
Solectria Renewables Inverter
Solectria Renewables Inverter
Fronius Inverter
Chint Power Systems' Inverter
Delta Inverter
Eltek Inverter
Ingeteam Inverter
KACO New Energy Inverter
Power-One Inverter
Schneider Electric Inverter
SMA Inverter
SolarEdge Technologies Inverter
Solectria Renewables Inverter

Schneider Electric (schneider-electric.com) is headquartered in Rueil-Malmaison, France, and entered the electricity industry in 1891. Schneider is a multinational corporation with a long history of manufacturing electrical motors and equipment for power stations. Schneider acquired Square D, which transformed the company into the world’s largest manufacturer of electrical distribution equipment. Schneider Electric entered the solar inverter market in 2008 with the acquisition of Xantrex Technology, a well-known solar and wind inverter manufacturer in the United States offering residential and commercial products for on- and off-grid systems.

For batteryless residential inverters, Schneider Electric offers its transformer-based Conext TX, in 2.8, 3.3, 3.8, and 5 kW models, with CEC-rated efficiencies ranging from 94.5% to 96%.

SMA (sma-america.com) was founded in 1981 and is headquartered in Niestal, Germany. SMA Solar Technology provides inverters for all PV market segments. The company’s U.S. subsidiary, SMA America, was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Rocklin, California, and has a production facility in Denver, Colorado.

SMA offers many Sunny Boy residential string inverters. Its transformer-based series includes a smaller high-frequency (HF) model in 2.0, 2.5, and 3.0 kW capacities. These units have slim profiles (14 inches wide by 29 inches tall) and are lightweight (51 pounds, including the DC disconnect box). Their CEC efficiencies range from 96.5% to 97%. Seven low-frequency (LF) transformer-based models range between 3.0 and 8.0 kW, with 95.5% or 96% CEC efficiency depending on the model.

SMA offers six transformerless (TL) models spanning 6 to 11 kW, with CEC efficiencies (at 240 VAC output) between 98% and 98.5%. The newest TL models have 3.0, 3.8, 4.0, and 5.0 kW capacities and a 96.5% CEC efficiency. These models include dual MPPT inputs and a secure power supply feature, which allows for some daylight backup power during utility outages (see “Backup Power—Without Batteries” in HP159). With the exception of the HF models, all of these Sunny Boy string inverters have integrated arc-fault protection (either as a standard or optional feature).

SolarEdge Technologies (solaredge.com) was founded in 2006 and is based in Israel, with offices in China, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Fremont, California. SolarEdge inverters are designed specifically for use with its module-level MPPT power optimizer system.

SolarEdge offers seven residential transformerless inverters, in 3 to 11.4 kW capacities. These inverters have integrated arc-fault protection and 97.5% to 98% CEC efficiency at 240 VAC output. Because they are specifically designed to be used with the power optimizer system, they have a built-in module-level monitoring receiver.

Solectria Renewables (solectria.com) is headquartered in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and was founded in 2005, and focuses on utility-interactive grid-tied PV inverters and string combiners. However, its predecessor, Solectria Corp., acquired its power stage technology in 1989. Solectria Corp. manufactured electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as power electronics and controls for high-power systems.

Solectria’s residential inverters include its PVI 1.8 and 2.5 kW transformer-based models, which have a NEMA 4X rating and a 92.5% and 93% CEC rating, respectively. Solectria’s latest residential inverter is a transformerless series including a 3.8 kW version with a single MPPT input. The 5.2, 6.6, and 7.6 kW versions with dual MPPT inputs, were projected to be available in the second quarter of 2014. All of these transformerless models have a 97.5% CEC efficiency and are slated to offer optional DC arc-fault protection.

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Justine Sanchez is a Home Power technical editor and an instructor for Solar Energy International. She is certified by ISPQ as a PV Affiliated Master Trainer. Justine is planning her next PV project—a backyard PV shade structure—and is currently considering her inverter options.

Comments (5)

ideas2014's picture

dear Guys and experts
i have question may leads us to debate i hop any one with good understanding & experience in solar power can give me good productive answer ,,
we all know that the new interactive BB grid tie inverter has 2 AC input , one usually used for gird and the second one used for Diesel generator as standbye power supply ...in case no wind or no grid .
here i want suggest new option , which i hop we can share opinions and solutions ...
i want use the main AC input relaying on my solar power which generates 230 AC 10 KW and will use the other AC input for the grid ,,incase my solar power supply fails for any reason i can relay on the grid immediatly
thru this way i will avoid the losses from the power generation source from the solar power cells thru charge controler , charging batteries and then inverter ,,or even using DC from my solar to feed the battery

i think this model can work with outback power and SMA ..i wish to know this wrong , possible or not ,,,better or not

what or how u see guys this suggestion ? am i crazy or stupid ,,,thanx for sharing
thanx

Eric Hoffmann's picture

How is this a "Buyer's Guide"? You list a variety of inverters, you repeat their stated ratings and you say where they are headquartered. There is no information about pros and cons of each unit, any effort to test their stated specifications, or anything else I would expect in a typical "Buyer's Guide."

william von novak_2's picture

The inverters above are not standalone inverters; they cannot generate power without the grid being present. Thus the grid, not the inverter, determines the shape of the output voltage waveform - and the grid is usually close to a sine wave. However, they do follow regulations that say they cannot distort that utility sine wave.

True sine wave off-grid or hybrid inverters are generally easier on motor loads and reduce buzzing and interference.

"Dirty" electricity (i.e. electricity with high harmonic content) is caused by poor loads (peak rectification or inductive loads.) High power factor loads and capacitor banks can ameliorate these problems.

"Magnetic field pollution" - since we all live in a big magnetic field this doesn't seem like much of an issue. Specifically inverters do not cause any more low frequency magnetic fields than, say, overhead power lines do.

lawrence abbott's picture

Are any of the above true sine wave inverters? Is there an advantage for a true sine wave grid tied inverter? What about "dirty electricity" and high tech electronics, or magnetic field "pollution"?

Don Barch's picture

All newer grid-tied inverters generate a true sine wave because they track the grid sine wave.
This issue of true vs "modified" sine wave is pertinent to off-grid inverters that have to generate their own waveform.
There is an advantage to true sine wave, especially for electronics and motor-speed controllers that rely on the waveform to work properly. However, any battery charging like cell phones and laptops does not much care about true sine waveform.

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