Our annual Solar PV Inverter Buyer’s Guide is a chance to check in with all of the inverter manufacturers – from the market leaders to the up-and-comers – to get a sense of how their technology has evolved and what new products are now available for installation. This year we have a snapshot of one product from each segment these companies serve, from residential to utility-scale. We start with this year’s featured brand, SMA, and then continue alphabetically.
What’s new? In 2021 we see our role in the utility storage market primed for significant growth. SMA America has sold a cumulative 1 gigawatt of Sunny Central Storage inverters in North America. As a result of this tremendous growth, SMA is doubling sales and applications engineering support for the large-scale storage category. Going forward, this will increase the capacity for business, improve customer support, and pave the way for future storage milestones, as the company participates in dozens of projects globally. Within our portfolio are a wide variety of AC and DC coupled solutions with 1,000 and 1,500 Vdc options for storage. This includes solutions for grid services and renewable integration. In utility-scale SMA offers both a centralized Medium Voltage Power Station and the modular Sunny Highpower PEAK3. The options offered with these two solutions give developers and integrators flexibility. Both utility-scale solutions are storage-ready.
SMA Sunny Boy inverters feature ShadeFix optimization and integrated SunSpec certified rapid shutdown transmitters. ShadeFix optimization is a proprietary, integrated inverter technology that optimizes PV system energy production in every situation – even when shading occurs. SMA’s ShadeFix optimization produces more energy and reduces system componentry by more than 50 percent compared to using traditional DC optimizers. SMA inverters paired with SunSpec certified rapid shutdown receivers are the simplest, most reliable way to achieve compliance with NEC 2017.
- More energy produced than traditional DC optimizers
- Fewer components and improved reliability
- Simple design and installation
- No unnecessary risk of fires or accidents
- Faster service thanks to SMA Smart Connected
The Sunny Boy Storage battery inverter has been precisely engineered to serve as the intelligent interface between PV, the electrical grid and industry-leading high-voltage batteries. Its AC coupled architecture enables installation at any point in time, providing greater flexibility and giving installers the opportunity to generate new business with existing customers. Along with its ability to address the large retrofit market of existing PV systems, it also delivers the most cost effective, versatile and innovative residential storage solution available. Whole home backup is also available with the SMA Automatic Backup Unit.
- AC coupled for new PV systems or retrofitting existing systems
- Multiple configuration options with the ability to expand
- High level of system integration provides unmatched monitoring and control
- Three separate DC inputs allow for maximum power and energy capacity
- Solutions for energy management, zero export, and demand charge avoidance
The Sunny Tripower CORE1 is the only inverter that offers an intelligent IV curve diagnostic, advanced string monitoring, and SMA Smart Connected. The world’s first free-standing PV inverter for commercial rooftops, carports, ground mount and repowering legacy solar projects, the Sunny Tripower CORE1 enables logistical, material, labor, and service cost reductions, and is the most versatile, cost-effective commercial solution available.
- Requires no additional racking for rooftop installation
- System visibility with intelligent IV curve diagnostic and advanced string monitoring
- Integrated SunSpec PLC signal for module-level rapid shutdown compliance to 2017 NEC
- ShadeFix optimization generates more power
- SMA Smart Connected, Sunny Portal, and SMA’s Online Service Center provide automatic, proactive, and unmatched service support
The SMA Medium Voltage Power Station offers the highest power density in a plug & play design, which is suitable for global use. Integrators can rely on the most robust, technically advanced, and internationally certified hardware for power conversion in any climate. As one of the first truly global systems, it is the ideal choice for next generation PV power plants operating at 1,500 VDC. The SMA Medium Voltage Power Station combines the highest plant safety with maximum energy production and minimized logistical and operating risk for large scale PV power plant projects.
- The MVPS is encased in a CSC compliant container (meeting international safety standards), which provides the lowest logistical and transportation costs.
- Fit for large utility plants as it optimizes cost of energy
- Power density and smaller footprint means fewer inverters on large projects, reducing integration and BOS costs.
- Fully integrated solution including switchgear and transformer
- Turnkey AC and DC coupled storage solutions from SMA available.
What’s new? APsystems has some exciting new products on the horizon, including a higher wattage dual module microinverter, the DS3, and a higher wattage 3-Phase microinverter, the QT2. Both are due to hit the market before the end of the year. Our APsmart brand has just released a dual-module rapid shutdown device, the RSD-D, which should be hitting the U.S. market within the next several weeks.
1. The DS3 is the most powerful dual microinverter in the world. Three models cover most all panel types, sizes and capacities.
2. Far less equipment and at a lower cost. Competing systems require up to 3X the inverters and up to 60% more PV modules on the roof to hit the same output.
3. It installs faster than conventional microinverters and is simple plug-and-play.
4. Built-in Zigbee 2.4GHz wireless communication creates a mesh network for high-speed data transfer.
5. Fully NEC 690.12 and UL 1741 SA (CA Rule 21) compliant.
- Distributors to purchase through: CED Greentech, Krannich, Soligent, Sonepar, Wesco, Fortune Energy, EDGES, iSolar Brokers, RENVU, Crescent Electric, ECO Distributing, Enertech, French Gerleman, GenPro, Ontility, Solar Wholesale, The Power Store, Van Meter, VP Supply, UMA Solar, and Wholesale Electric
What’s new? CPS America has shipped over 4-GW of UL-listed string inverters in North America. This year, CPS has expanded its rapid shutdown offerings including factory-integrated RSD wire-boxes and certified PVRSS solutions with TIGO, APS, and NEP devices. One of our exciting new products coming this year is the 100kW-480Vac string inverter optimized for 1500Vdc ground mount applications with 480Vac service voltages. The 100kW-480V model includes all the great features of our 100/125kW 3-phase inverter platform and allows low-cost 480Vac interconnections by eliminating the need for a step-down transformer. CPS will also be releasing our new high power 275-kW string inverter designed for large utility-scale applications (more below).
The 275kW high power CPS three-phase string inverters are designed for large utility-scale ground mount applications. High efficiencies, wide operating voltages, broad temperature ranges and NEMA Type 4X enclosure enable this inverter platform to operate at high performance across many applications. The 275kW inverter includes touch safe DC fuse holders for added convenience and safety. CPS will accompany the 275kW inverter with an 800Vac Balance of System offering for optimized system designs.
- 12 MPPTs with 36 fused inputs for maximum flexibility
- Full power capacity up to 42oC
- Wide operating and MPPT voltage ranges
- Integrated DC disconnect switches
- Copper and Aluminum compatible AC connections
The CPS 25kW-208V three phase string inverters are designed and optimized for rooftop and carport applications with 208Vac service voltages. The CPS 25kW product ships with the Rapid Shutdown wire-box, fully integrated and separable with touch safe fusing, monitoring, and AC and DC disconnect switches. The integrated PLC transmitter in the Rapid Shutdown wire-box enables PVRSS certified module-level rapid shutdown when used with the TIGO, APS, and NEP products. The CPS Flex Gateway enables monitoring, controls and remote product upgrades.
- 208V AC output
- 3 MPPTs with 2 inputs each for maximum flexibility
- Integrated RSD wire-box options with TIGO, APS, and NEP
- NEC 2017/2020 compliant and UL listed Arc-Fault protection
- Separable wire-box design for fast service
What’s new? Darfon will be launching a new monitoring app for its hybrid inverters in Q2 of this year. While designing the app, our main focus was to make it easy-to-use, expand functionality, and be aesthetically pleasing. I believed we achieved that and am looking forward to the launch and reaction from homeowners and installers. The cool thing about our monitoring service is our hardware’s connectivity options. Our latest data logger used in conjunction with our hybrid inverters, can connect to the internet via a LAN, WiFi or 4G cellular connection.
The H7 hybrid inverter is sold with the B17 LFP battery. Since they are both out-door rated, they can be installed outdoors for easy access. Since Darfon makes both the inverter and battery, we can gather data to monitor and troubleshoot both products. The H7 comes with an external wireless display to control and see the current status of the system from inside the home. Like out previous hybrid inverters, the H7 is transformerless and has breakers, disconnect switches and generator support circuitry.
- Support loads of up to 7.6kW
- Grid input and output can be as much as 9.6kW
- Up to 12kW of PV with 4 MPPT when DC-coupled or 7.6kW when AC-coupled
- To be installed with the B17, a high-voltage LFP battery
- It only weighs 86.8lb, so it can be easily mounted and installed.
Darfon’s H5001 hybrid inverter can be used as a string inverter. Why is this useful? A hybrid inverter is more than double the cost of a string inverter. But if you look at the system cost, the inverter is only a small portion of that cost. The batteries are the most expensive component in hybrid system. In some cases, the additional cost of the batteries is what people cannot afford. So, it makes sense to install the H5001 as a string inverter and have a system that is energy storage ready. Then the batteries can be purchased and installed down the road. The thing that installers like about the H5001, is that it is straight forward to install and configure.
- PV Operation Voltage Range 120 to 500VDC
- Two MPPTs
- Output to Grid: 5000W, Output to Load: 5500W
- SGIP Compliant
- Compatible with various battery chemistries
- Distributors to purchase through: Maximo Solar, RenVu, Solar Solutions for All, Volts Energies, World Technologies
What’s new? Enphase offers a comprehensive solar-plus-storage system that brings plug-and-play simplicity to installers and powerful energy management for homeowners. Backed by the high reliability of Enphase microinverters, Enphase Storage automatically detects and transitions from grid power to off-grid mode during a grid failure. With storm-detection features and full Internet of Things connectivity, Enphase Storage and Enphase Solar make up the most comprehensive, always-on, and intelligent renewable energy power plant for homeowners. Enphase Storage features Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery chemistry, which provides a long cycle life, safe operation through excellent thermal stability, and a UL9540A fire safety certification.
IQ8 Microinverters are UL Listed as PV Rapid Shut Down Equipment and have more than 1 million cumulative hours of power-on testing. IQ8 also unlocks new backup power opportunities for customers and sales avenues for installers. In addition to providing sunlight backup for the first time ever, typical storage sizing and ratio restrictions no longer apply with IQ8. Installers can add a range of battery sizes to customers’ homes and expand their systems over time as needed.
- Grid-forming microinverter with proprietary microchip makes sunlight backup possible for the first time and eliminates constraints on battery sizing for home energy systems;
- Split-phase power conversion capability efficiently converts DC power to AC power;
- Included Q-DCC-2 adapter cable with MC4 connectors supports quick PV module connections;
- Warranty of up to 25 years;
- UL Listed as PV Rapid Shut Down Equipment.
What’s new? Since 1983, FIMER continues to expand on its global inverter portfolio in 2021, with integrated solutions in all market segments from residential to large utility. Inverter sizes ranging from 3.3 kVA to 5.0 MVA. Most notable for 2021 is the upcoming release of a new commercial inverter with 10 – 33 kVA capacity for 1000 Vdc rooftop and carport applications, in addition to expanding the range of energy storage options with residential, C&I and utility scale systems.
The UNO-DM-US inverter family continues to be a reliable industry standard, updated to today’s standards and advanced features. Fully compatible with industry leading rapid shutdown solutions, and designed for easy AC coupling with energy storage, including FIMER’s own Universal 10|4 energy storage product.
- UL1699B Ed. 1 DC arc fault certified
- Integrated rapid shutdown options
- 3.3 - 6.0 kVA capacity range
- FIMER Universal 10|4 storage packages (4 – 8.5 kW, 10 – 30 kWh)
- 4-Step wireless commissioning
The PVS-10/33-TL-US inverter family will be introduced in 2021 to compliment the currently available PVS-60 commercial 60 kVA 480 Vac inverter. With capacity ranges of 10 – 15 kVA (208 Vac), and 20 – 33 kVA (480 Vac), this inverter is designed to cover the full range of commercial 1000 Vdc applications, with accommodations for bifacial PV modules and increasing DC:AC ratios. The FIMER commercial inverters are fully compatible with industry leading rapid shutdown solutions, and may be AC coupled with energy storage.
- UL1699B Ed 1 DC arc fault certified
- Integrated rapid shutdown options
- 10 – 15 kVA (208/120 Vac)
- 20 – 33 kVA at (480/277 Vac)
- 4-Step wireless commissioning
The award winning 1500 Vdc PVS-175-TL-US inverter, updated to today’s standards and new features for 2021, provides an optimized solution for small- to mid-size utility scale applications. The integrated fuse-less DC combiner and DC AFCI reduces both upfront balance of system equipment costs and operational costs. With 12 independent MPPTs and 24 DC inputs, the PVS-175-TL-US is proven to be a choice for community solar and utility scale projects.
- UL1699B Ed 1 DC arc fault certified
- Max power output of 185 kVA
- 12 independent MPPTs/24 DC inputs
- Integrated fuse-less DC combiner
- 4-Step wireless commissioning
What’s new? Fronius just released three new apps that help to better commission, monitor, and service solar systems. These steps can be tedious without the proper tools and potentially slow down installer business operation. With the new Fronius App portfolio, however, business can improve their experience, from first setup to operations and maintenance. Solar.Start: Commission your internet connection easily. Solar.Web: Monitor your system. Solar.SOS: Create cases 24/7 without any wait time, contact technical support, and stay up to date on open issues.
With power categories ranging from 3.8 kW to 15.0 kW, the Fronius Primo is the ideal compact single-phase inverter for residential applications. This sleek inverter is equipped with the SnapINverter hinge mounting system, which allows for lightweight, secure, and convenient installation. The Primo inverters provide maximum safety, reliability, and highest energy yield even on complex roofs of shaded systems – giving customers the best return on their solar investment.
- Two size ranges: Fronius Primo 3.8 – 8.2 & Fronius Primo 10.0 – 15.0
- Smart shade mitigation with Dynamic Peak Manager
- SuperFlex Design for complex roofs and maximum design flexibility
- Wide voltage windows from 80V to 1,000V
- Integrated energy management feature
- Truly field-serviceable
The Fronius Symo Advanced inverter line features six models ranging from 10 kW to 24 kW, ideal for commercial and industrial applications. The Symo Advanced is lightweight and combines high-power density with flexibility to ensure the fastest possible installation for your PV project. The small number of total power conversion electronics adds to the high serviceability from any mounting spot. You get total system granularity with only a low number of system components.
- Smart shade mitigation with Dynamic Peak Manager
- SuperFlex Design for complex roofs and maximum design flexibility
- 208V AC and 480 AC versions available
- SunSpec transmitter for Module Level Rapid Shutdown integrated
- Truly field-serviceable
- Distributors to purchase through: Krannich, The Powerstore, BayWa, Soligent
- Fronius website
What’s new? The PWRcell line of products was expanded with new capabilities, giving PWRcell the capability of providing intelligently managed whole-home backup power. The PWRcell Automatic Transfer Switch is able to island the system from the grid in the event of an outage and Smart Management Modules (SMMs) are able to manage loads so homeowner’s essentials never miss a beat. Generac’s SMMs and load management technology increases system performance and reliability. They do this by sequencing (or managing) the loads, preventing them from all turning on or running at once which might overwhelm the battery. By controlling some non-essential loads, the system ensures that the essentials never lose power, which can happen if loads are permitted to demand more than the system can serve. Generac Load Management ensures that the system owner maintains access to all their loads during an outage, even if they can’t all run at once.
The PWRcell Inverter was designed with the installer in mind. Its ability to DC couple to solar and storage devices via the built-in combiner makes installation easy, allowing for plug-and-play operation. Solar + storage is simplified with this single hybrid inverter for grid-tied solar and whole home power. Ideal for backup power applications, as well as self-supply and zero-export energy cost management
- Available in 7.6 kW single-phase or 11.4 kW three-phase models
- Over 97% peak efficiency
- Simplified system design: No autotransformer or battery inverter needed
- Seamless integration with Generac Load Management options and Automatic Transfer Switch for whole-home backup capabilities
- Backed by a 10-year limited warranty
The microinverter technology you’re familiar with, coming soon from the leader in home energy technology. Generac Dual-module PWRmicros will offer up to 720W continuous power for maximum performance and faster installation at an unbeatable value. Market-leading power throughput taps the potential of larger solar modules and maximizes lifetime system value. Install single-module PWRmicros in combination with dual-module units for unmatched design flexibility. Simplify installation, maximize production, and navigate difficult shade scenarios and complex rooflines with Generac’s line of microinverters.
Five key specs:
1. Two models available: 720W Dual-module PM2-720-01, and 290W Single-module PM1-290-01
2. Minimizes losses due to shading and debris
3. Eliminates single points of failure
4. Integrated grounding and modular bus cabling
5. NEC rapid shutdown compliant
What’s new? As the market leader in storage inverters, we will continue offering consumers high-quality hybrid inverters throughout 2021, as well as high-voltage batteries and Smart Energy Management Applications. 2021 is the year we move from inverter manufacturer to solution provider in the solar storage segment.
The 5-9.6-kW, single-phase A-ES is one of the only hybrid inverter on the market with 4 MPPTs. With UPS-level switching, the inverter can switch to backup in less than 10 milliseconds in case of power outage. This ensures household appliances are not compromised.
- 4 MPPTs, 50% DC oversizing
- AFCI & Rapid Shutdown
- UPS-level switching
- Smart Meter integrated
- Optional AC bypass switch
What’s new? 1. High power microinverters to reduce lost energy due to power clipping; microinverter power levels must keep up with higher PV panel power. For example the NEP BDM800 dual 2x400Wac micro will begin shipping in March 2021. Our BDM500, a 500Wac ‘Macro-inverter’ is shipping now to support the new 500Wdc PV panels launching in 2021. 2. NEP Rapid Shutdown products will enhance safety, ease commissioning, time-saving IV curve trace test and lower service costs while also meeting NEC 2017 RSD requirements.
NEP microinverters emphasize lower cost via dual-panel devices, and higher AC power production to maximize energy harvest. Less labor, lower cost per Watt and power capacity to eliminate energy clipping on even the largest PV panels.
- EQ-800, 800Wac – 400Wac per panel
- For 1.5 DC/AC ratio up to 2x600Wdc modules
- RULE 21 compliant
- Integrated AC cable… less labor, no cost adder
- 25% lower cost than industry leading supplier
NEP’s unique, two-way data communication Rapid Shutdown solution enables installer confidence that rapid shutdown is functioning correctly. This is valuable for safety assurance, code compliance, AHJ approval and characterization of the array performance upon commissioning. Further, NEP includes IV Curve trace ‘service mode’ to enable easier measurements at time of commissioning and through the life of the project. NEP’s optional data gateway is available for remote PV panel diagnostics and data performance.
- PVG-1 and PVG-2 for single and dual PV panels
- Mounting for racking rail and optional clip available for PV module frame mount
- Two way data flow for safety and performance with optional NEP gateway
- Transmitters available in stand-along enclosure and integrated with leading C&I inverters providers
- Distributors to purchase through: CED Nationwide (USA)
- RSD products sold via NEP, distributors and CPS America, Solectria/Yaskawa
What’s new? Schneider Electric recently launched the MPPT 100 600 Vdc solar charge controller. With a constant focus on delivering high-quality products, the MPPT 100 is an ideal solution for residential grid-tied self-supply and off-grid systems. The new MPPT 100 offers much faster installations and is compatible with our XW and SW storage inverter solutions. Another exciting development to look forward to is the integration of the XW Pro inverter with Square D Energy Center, which is an industry-first, future-ready residential system that enables easy and safe connections for different types of power sources (solar, battery, generator). Schneider Electric’s Insight Energy Management platform is adding integrations with Google and Amazon voice assistants. With this update, homeowners will be able to take complete control of their home energy information by pairing their Insight devices with the Google Nest and Amazon Alexa.
The XW Pro leads Schneider Electric Solar’s hybrid inverter range, as it provides installers with the flexibility to design and install a complete solar and storage system. The XW Pro offers a high overload power rating of 1.75x with the ability to stack up to 4 inverter units to increase overall power output. Because of its scalable and adaptable infrastructure, the XW Pro can also be integrated with lithium-ion batteries for solar and storage, or backup power systems without solar. Schneider Electric’s solar hybrid inverters come with a complete ecosystem of accessories to enable efficient installation. This includes integration with MPPT charge controllers and Insight Energy Management, Schneider Electric’s energy management software that allows solar professionals to remotely manage multiple installation sites with ease.
- Reliable performance with a 6.8 kW output with up to 12 kW peak overload
- Flexibility in installations and operations with Stacking capability of up to 4 units in single-phase or 6 units in 3-phase
- Compatibility with a wide range of battery technologies, including Lithium-ion battery integration
- Optional integration with generator
- Compatible for use across a wide range of applications such as grid-tied, off-grid, self-consumption, backup power
What’s new? To make installers job easier, Sol-Ark released its outdoor/indoor 12K hybrid all in one. Multiple partners introduced matching outdoor battery enclosures to complete the package. In Q2 2021, we are releasing our dynamic wind brake so DC rectified 3phase wind turbines can be directly connected to one MPPT with solar on a 2nd MPPT. In Q3, the 100A x 14 circuit Sol-Ark Smart Load will allow installers to backup an entire home with one $20K ESS instead of 2-3 at $40-60K. Unlike other load management solutions that cover 30A or 50A and switch in 20-1000ms, Smart Load shaves 100A loads in 4ms. This immediate response time makes sure the inverter is performing to its max power without overload. What makes this load mgmt so Smart? Built in AI automatically learns your loads and can program itself, so the installer doesn’t have to. And because Sol-Ark’s mission is reducing ESS cost, you can use the Smart Load with any inverter (not just ours).
The Sol-Ark family of hybrid inverters, the SA-5K, SA-8K and SA-12K, are truly workhorses for solar + storage systems, and the newest model, the Limitless SA-15K has a number of new features and advantages, including a 200A main switch (so there’s no subpanel needed). Features and benefits include parallel stacking, grid sell, meter zero, time of use, smart load, AC coupling, & peak shaving. Sol-Ark’s stackable 12K inverter does both split phase and true 3 phase. The company has partnered with many battery companies like SimpliPhi, Fortress, Blue Ion, Storz Power, PowerSync, and Discover to advance inverter and battery control through extensive communications.
- 20 kW pk power
- 4ms UPS Transfer times,
- Generator support,
- 93% Round Trip Efficiency
Sol-Ark's Microinverters are the M-1000 (2-channel) and M-2000 (4-channel). More info coming soon.
- Distributors to purchase through: CED Greentech, Soligent, City Electric Supply, AEE, Krannich, Beacon, The PowerStore, GenPro energy solutions, Zonna Energy, Inter-Island, R&R, BayWa, AltE store, Northern Arizona Wind & Sun, Renvu, Multi Batteries, Warren, HES, Sentinel, Solar Solutions, & more
What’s new? At the beginning of 2021, we introduced a new series of rooftop string inverters with NEC rapid shutdown requirement compliance as well as a 3.6 MW turnkey central inverter MV station. We will be expanding the product lines including storage and will announce the new generation at SPI.
The Utility-scale turnkey product is the SG3600UD-MV.
- All in one, MV system, Block communication and AUX. power supply
- Reduces transportation cost, standard 20-foot sea-shipping container
- Plug & Play, Reduced installation cost and commissioning time
- 3-level Inverter technology, Inverter peak efficiency 98.9%, CEC eff. 98.5%
- Complies with UL 1741-SA and IEEE Std 1547TM -2018
- Complies with latest NERC & FERC grid support requirements
- Reserved space for 3RD party equipment, communication and tracker controller enclosures
- Distributors to purchase through: CED, WESCO, AMICUS Members
Have you checked out our YouTube page?
We have a ton video interviews and additional content on our YouTube page. Recently we debuted Power Forward! -- a collaboration with BayWa r.e. to discuss higher level industry topics as well as best practices / trends for running a solar business today.
Our longer running side project is The Pitch -- in which we have awkward discussions with solar manufacturers and suppliers about their new technology and ideas so that you don't have to. We've discusses everything from residential rail-less deck attaching and home solar financing to large-scale energy storage value stacking and utility-driven new home solar + storage microgrids.
We also post our Project of the Year announcements there! Interviews with this year's winners will be up starting the week of Nov. 8. Head there and subscribe today to stay on top of all this extra stuff.