In any solar energy system, the inverter plays a crucial role in delivering the DC electricity generated by the solar panels and transforming it into normal household 240 VAC which our goods can then use. The inverter will also track how much electricity your system is producing.
With the recent explosion in solar power and solar hot water uptake in Australia, there have been a few ‘dodgy’ manufacturers creeping onto the scene. This is just like any market – there are sharks. Unfortunately this has meant many Aussies have been stuck with a broken or inefficient solar system due to equipment failures and quite often, it’s the inverter which packs it in first.
How to choose the right inverter?
There are a few factors to consider, and you should definitely not base your buying decision just on price:
- Size of your solar pv system – A good solar company will match the right inverter with the power rating of the solar panels. It sounds obvious but some shady operators will fit a 1kWA inverter with a 2.5kWA PV system as it saves them money. Just like fitting a rod and reel combo, one needs to be able to support the other.
- Usage – Will the solar system be used in a residential or commercial situation? Businesses draw a lot more power and they need the system to handle this. Many households find they use a lot more electricity than they think, it’s not uncommon to have 3 or 4 computers, stereos, two fridges, 3 televisions and more running for most of the day. Take into consideration what appliances you use and tell the salesperson.
- Is there overload protection fitted? Power spikes and higher voltages can ruin delicate equipment such as computers. Ask if the inverter is fitted with any safety mechanisms
How much should I be paying?
Prices are dropping all the time and with the Federal Government rebates, competition is fierce. At the moment, you’re looking at a starting price of around $2000 for a basic 1kWA inverter. The price of an inverter is normally around 15 – 20% of the total cost of the system.
Any particular brands I should know about?
There are some very good brands on the market however two of them are stand outs:
- SMA – German based company founded in 1981. They are the world’s largest manufacturer of solar inverters. They boast an efficiency of 97%, this is among the highest in the industry.
- Solar Edge – An Israeli company relatively new on the market, founded in 2006. They boast more reliable inverters as the voltage management is handled separately by ‘power boxes’ attachments.
For more information on solar inverter prices and a wealth of knowledge to help you make the switch to solar power, Solar Market can help. And you can even get 3 free quotes from accredited solar companies.