Solar Inverter Buyer’s Guide 2021

2021 inverter buyer's guide web banner

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.

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SMA

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.

 

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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

STP_CORE1_WhtBG

The Sunny Tripower CORE1 is the world’s first free-standing PV inverter for commercial rooftops, carports, ground mount and repowering legacy solar projects. From distribution to construction to operation, the Sunny Tripower CORE1 enables logistical, material, labor and service cost reductions, and is the most versatile, cost-effective commercial solution available. Integrated SunSpec PLC for rapid shutdown and enhanced DC AFCI arc-fault protection ensure compliance to the latest safety codes and standards. With Sunny Tripower CORE1 and SMA’s ennexOS cross sector energy management platform, system integrators can deliver comprehensive commercial energy solutions for increased ROI.

  • Innovative design requires no additional racking for rooftop installation
  • Integrated DC and AC disconnects and overvoltage protection
  • 12 direct string inputs for reduced labor and material costs
  • Integrated SunSpec PLC signal for module-level rapid shutdown compliance to 2017 NEC
  • Increased ROI with SMA ennexOS cross sector energy management platform

MVPS_S2_5996

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 1500 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.
  • This is a great solution for large utility plants as it optimizes cost of energy
  • With a greater power density and smaller footprint than competitors, large-scale projects with SMA require fewer inverters, reducing integration and balance-of-systems costs.
  • Fully integrated solution including switchgear and transformer further reduce logistical costs as well as installation labor costs.
  • Simple integration of turnkey AC and DC coupled storage solutions from SMA allows system owners the opportunity to capitalize on new revenue streams.

Peak 3 SMA

With Sunny Highpower PEAK 3, System owners can achieve superior economics in ground-mount projects with 480 VAC interconnections using 1,500 VDC modular inverter solutions. Opportunities abound for integrators to improve their bottom line with the Sunny Highpower PEAK3, the only 1,500 VDC inverter with the ability to connect to the grid at 480 VAC. For large ground mount projects, SMA’s PEAK3 delivers the most cost-effective solution and highest energy production.

  • The PEAK3 125-US offers the lowest installed cost for ground-mount, distributed generation projects with a 480V AC interconnection.
  • Other 1,500 V DC inverters would require a step-down transformer, while SMA’s PEAK3 solution does not. This reduces balance of systems costs as well as transportation, logistical and installation labor costs.
  • Alternative solutions with 1,000 V DC technology would require more inverters and are not as economical due to their higher cost per watt.
  • SMA’s centralized/modular system architecture reduces balance of system costs by centrally locating a group of inverters. Installers benefit from minimal AC collection and communications wiring as well as a shared inverter structure. This plant architecture also simplifies commissioning, communication, and control.
  • The PEAK3 offers maximum energy production throughout system lifetime.

Sales contacts


APsystems

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.

The APsystems YC1000 has evolved since it first hit the market. Now at 1130W with a single MPPT, it can be paired with 4 PV modules up to 350W+ or 3 high capacity PV modules up to 470W+. The “+” here means that higher W modules will not negatively affect the inverter, you would just experience increased clipping. This shared MPPT allow installers to use the 1130W as they choose, while still providing all the same YC1000 benefits: true, 3-Phase out of the box, 5-wire cable for plug and play, phase-balanced and phase-monitored. With its simple plug-and-play installation, and no need for phase balancing, additional equipment or an inverter closet, the YC1000 can turn residential installers into commercial installers overnight.

• True 3-Phase, 5 wire inverter
• 1,130W, single MPPT
• Serves 4 PV modules up to 350W+ or 4 PV modules up to 470W+
• Phase-balanced and phase-monitored.
• Inherently Rapid Shutdown compliant (NEC 690.12)

Sales contacts

  • 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
  • sales.usa@apsystems.com
  • usa.apsystems.com

CPS

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 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

Sales contacts


Darfon

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.

Sales contacts


Enphase

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.

Enphase Microinverters offer the most advanced inverter technology on the market, which means higher production, greater reliability, and unmatched intelligence. Our microinverters operate independently, so each panel performs to its fullest. One shaded or dirty panel won't affect the rest of the system. Enphase microinverters undergo the most rigorous product testing in the industry and are backed by a 25-year warranty. With Enphase, our streamlined components make for quicker and less costly installations and high-quality materials and remote problem-solving mean fewer truck rolls for installers.

  • Built-in rapid-shutdown technology
  • Enphase IQ 6 or IQ 7 microinverters or those based on M-Series microinverters can be retrofitted with Enphase Storage for energy resilience
  • Per-module design flexibility
  • Burst technology produces more at dawn, dusk, and in low-light conditions, for a longer solar day.

Sales contacts


FIMER

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 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

Sales contacts


Fronius

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.

Fronisu Symo

The Fronius Symo Advanced is the ideal compact three-phase inverter for commercial and industrial applications. This inverter combines the benefits of a modern string inverter, such as the Dynamic Peak Manager for shade mitigation and an integrated Power Line Communications (PLC) transmitter for SunSpec Rapid Shutdown, with light weight, field serviceability, and zero-tilt mount. True field-serviceability reduces cost for operations & maintenance, delivering superior returns. Multiple 208V three-phase versions are perfect for agriculture, carports, or office buildings.

  • Integrated SunSpec Rapid Shutdown transmitter
  • Shade mitigation with Dynamic Peak Manager
  • Wide voltage windows for flexible system design
  • 2 MPP trackers
  • Multiple 208V three-phase versions available

Sales contacts

  • Distributors to purchase through: Krannich, The Powerstore, BayWa, Soligent
  • Fronius website

Generac

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.

PWRCELL_HOUSE_PHOTOS_ex3.1_final2_2020-10-02

The PWRcell inverter was designed with the installer in mind. The PWRcell inverter DC couples to solar and storage devices via built-in combiner, which makes installing nearly any combination of solar and storage devices a plug and play operation. Because it is DC coupled, no other inverter is required to build a powerful backup power system for your client, especially when paired with Generac load management technology for whole home power.

  • Single hybrid inverter for grid-tied solar and whole home power
  • Easy to install, DC-coupled architecture
  • Transformerless islanding, up to 9kW continuous throughput
  • Seamless integration with Generac Load Management
  • Backed by a 10-year limited warranty

Sales contacts


GoodWe

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.

Sales contacts


NEP

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.

Sales contacts


Schneider Electric

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.

Schneider Electric hybrid inverter

Schneider Electric’s hybrid inverter range, led by the XW Pro, provides installers with greater flexibility while designing and installing a solar and storage system. The XW Pro offers an attractive package with its high overload power rating of 1.75x and ability to integrate with lithium-ion batteries. The ability to stack the inverters to increase overall power output allows installers to setup larger systems. Schneider Electric’s solar hybrid inverters come with a complete ecosystem of accessories to enable quick, easy and efficient installation. They can be used for solar and storage, or backup power systems without solar.

  • 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
  • PV integration with DC coupling or AC coupling
  • Compatible for use across a wide range of applications such as grid-tie, off-grid, self-consumption, backup power

Sales contacts


Sol-Ark

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).

Sales contacts

  • 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
  • sales@sol-ark.com
  • www.sol-ark.com

Sungrow

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.

SG36CX-US

Sungrow’s new SG36CX-US features a fuseless, direct DC input design, utilizing Staubli MC4 Evo2 series connectors for ease of install and peace of mind. Additionally, with safety and reliability at the vanguard of its introduction, our new CX line includes an all-new external AC wiring box.

SG3600UD_MV

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

Sales contacts

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