The following information is based on 7 years experience in dealing with failed inverters.
It’s the question we’re always asked… “What is the best solar inverter?”
If you’re looking at installing a solar system please read this because it will give you the heads up on what’s good and what’s not. If you’re system is already installed, you’re stuck with whatever brand the company provided at the time. If you’re lucky, it will be an SMA (Sunny Boy) or Fronius inverter both of which offer great support in Australia.
For more detailed information on the support level of inverters in Australia, please visit our “What’s Your Inverter Brand?” page. However in this blog, we’re going to explain why we align ourselves with the 2 major solar inverter manufacturers in the world.
It comes down to 2 things… (1) “Proven” reliability and (2) support when something goes wrong.
Fronius inverters are manufactured in Austria by a globally recognised company who have invested decades into the manufacture of high end welding equipment. It was only a matter of time before Fronius turned their talents to the solar PV system market as it’s closely aligned technology to welding ie: inverter technology. They did that over 20 years ago.
We tend to align ourselves with Fronius (over SMA) because Fronius provide technical training to people like us to fix issues on site if something does go wrong. This is very important because it reduces the amount of time your solar system is “Off Line” and losing you money. Our business is an “Accredited” Fronius Service Partner (FSP AU-1733) which means we repair Fronius inverters while the inverter is on your wall. No other inverter manufacturer has progressed to this point which is disappointing. Fronius put their trust in us and in return we trust their products. They’re support level is excellent in Australia and their ongoing product improvement is testament to their commitment to the solar industry in Australia – long term! Generally speaking Fronius is less expensive than SMA per size which is another benefit to customers.
SMA inverters are manufactured in Germany and are considered to be the global market leaders in solar inverter technology. In our experience (per capita) they have required the least amount of attention after installation. This is not to say they don’t have issues, they do. However the number of SMA inverters installed in SA compared to the number that fail is a very small return rate. Compared to Fronius, SMA do NOT offer on site repair which I believe needs to be addressed. They are (in general) more expensive than Fronius although not by a great deal. SMA tend to offer a 5 year standard warranty unless you opt for an extended warranty which costs several hundred dollars more.
If the brand inverter you have is something other than Fronius or SMA then you’re subject to either no support or very poor support depending on which brand you have. It’s a sad state of affairs that after years in the solar PV system industry, Australia lacked the composure to define the “quality from the crap”. We blame the Clean Energy Council for this screw up because they seemed to have leaped at the chance to allow any manufacturer into Australia without doing the due diligence to ascertain whether or not the suppliers/manufacturers were of good credibility and were willing to be a solid long term supplier to the Australian solar industry.
The consequences now are that hundreds of thousands of solar PV system owners in Australia are out of pocket because the installation company / inverter manufacturer are no longer present in Australia to support their products. That’s exactly why we exist, to help consumers repair their systems and get back on line fast so you’re saving money again and to provide ongoing information about the solar inverter industry.
I hope this information has helped you.