Different Types Of Solar PV Solutions

Solar power systems in Adelaide have evolved over their many years of existence. Over the past 15 years the industry has seen a solid push forward in new solar power technologies both in the solar panel manufacturing industry, the solar inverter manufacturing industry and now we have additional power controls and highly advanced energy monitoring capabilities that are commercially available that are cost effective.

When making any kind of purchase you wouldn’t compare apples with oranges would you? Well believe it or not that is exactly what most people unknowingly do when deciding on a solar energy solution. I know solar is a confusing market and it doesn’t help that every single darn sales guy promises you that only their product is the best on the market. You will normally hear that followed by “We have a super limited time only bonus special just for you, buy 18 panels right now and I’ll give you 4 free!” normally followed by “This deal is only available if you sign up right now” spoken in a thick foreign accent. Normally the low price, flash in home, boss approved sales looks great on the surface but very rarely will your experience with companies like this be a long and prosperous one. Like the old sayings go, nothing good is cheap and Nothing Cheap is Good. You get what you pay for. These types of high pressure sale tactics have really tainted my beloved clean green energy industry. So today I wanted to clearly explain the differences behind each system so that you can easily understand the difference between an apple, an orange and a black diamond encrusted, 24kt white gold solar inverter.

The most common comment we hear from a client when we provide them with an Adelaide solar panel quote is “I’ve been told by my friends the German inverters are the best I only want that please”. To be fair, years ago a German solar inverter like the SMA Sunny Boy was the only way to go to ensure a long lasting quality solution was provided because their was so much cheap unregulated junk in the solar market that couldn’t be trusted. The truth is that the industry has evolved and has cleaned up dramatically to the point where even SMA now makes their beloved Sunny Boy solar inverter range at a facility in China. Most of the cheaper Chinese products that remain in the market are those who have been around for years and provide local after sales support and have enhanced the quality of their product over years of research and development so there’s more reliability in the cheaper options nowadays that there use to be but you still need to be cautious.

I have decided to break up this blog in 2 sections. The first section is the break down of different inverter topologies. The second will be an analogy of different branded inverters and where they sit in the market place.
So there are many different brands of solar inverters but what are the different types of solar inverter topology in the market now? You have your standard DC string inverter (the likes of SMA,

Fronius<www.solarwarehouseaustralia.com.au/project/fronius-solar-inverters-adelaide/>,
ABB, Zeversolar,
GoodWe<www.solarwarehouseaustralia.com.au/project/goodwe-inverters-adelaide/>, Sungrow<www.solarwarehouseaustralia.com.au/project/sungrow-solar-inverters-adelaide/> etc).
Then you have your DC optimizer systems (Solaredge, Tigo). Then you have your Micro inverters (Enphase).

A standard DC String inverter is where a number of solar panels are wired together and then the collective DC power output of the solar panels gets converted into AC energy through the DC string inverter. This is the oldest style of solar inverter, the most simplest in design, and is the most cost effective solution if you are price driven and don’t care for any bells and whistles or advanced monitoring. This solution is not recommended if you have any risk of potential shading as with a standard DC string inverter the weakest performing panel will bring the performance down of all the other solar modules it is wired together with. DC String inverters have very limited installation flexibility and is normally an ideal solution for large roof area of one or two orientations only. The Globally renowned most reliable products in this range are the
European made
SMA &
Fronius<www.solarwarehouseaustralia.com.au/project/fronius-solar-inverters-adelaide/>
inverters followed by the Chinese made ZeverSolar inverter which is owned by The
SMA Group.
The next topology is a DC Optimised system like
SolarEdge<www.solarwarehouseaustralia.com.au/project/solaredge-solar-inverter-adelaide/> or
Tigo

which is basically a hybrid between a DC string system and a Micro Inverter System but have more similar characteristics to a micro inverter. A DC Optimiser is small device that is mounted behind each individual solar panel that effectively works as a brain for each panel allowing them to function independently and harmoniously with the other panels it is connected to. The DC string inverter that the panels are connected to communicates with the DC optimiser to regulate the current when a panel is not performing as it should and the other panels effectively are told to pick up the slack. This leads to greater efficiency, longer inverter life, proactive maintenance and also allows for flexibility with design and installation layout making it an ideal solution for shaded roof areas, premises with limited roof area and designer properties that have multiple roof orientations.

A SolarEdge<www.solarwarehouseaustralia.com.au/project/solaredge-solar-inverter-adelaide/>
system is a highly flexible inverter solution that is easily battery ready with a simple add on of the

StorEdge<www.solarwarehouseaustralia.com.au/project/solaredge-solar-inverter-adelaide/>
retrofit battery charge or the

StorEdge<www.solarwarehouseaustralia.com.au/project/solaredge-solar-inverter-adelaide/>
all in one inverter.

A Micro inverter is a small inverter DC-AC inverter mounted behind each individual solar panel which converts the DC output of the solar panels to AC output immediately on the roof. This solution is extremely flexible being able to function with as little as only 1 panel and can be installed on many different orientations. As the current is converted at the panel it doesn’t require any high voltage roof top DC isolators and if there is ever a fault in the system, the AC circuit breaker will trip and shuts down all cabling voltage to an extra low safe voltage. Every panel functions independently so this solution is best suited to sites with shading issues, different roof orientations, smaller sized installations. The leading brand of micro inverter available on the market is the Enphase micro inverter who are just releasing their 7th generation of micro inverter June 2018.

Realistically it can be broken down into 3 automotive related categories;
THE GREAT WALL
When I think of The Great Wall on one hand I think of Incredibly advanced, ancient Chinese civilisation architecture and highly skilled workmanship and on the other hand I think of low cost run of the mill, might just get you from A-B but will a cough and spatter as you cross the line, short life expectancy, costly to maintain, hard to diagnose an issue, limited features, limited style, poor fuel economy, no corrosion resistance, tiny resell value, disposable cheap motor vehicle. This is exactly the same with solar. You may get a hard wearing, long lasting and reliable solar inverter but more often that not if your buying cheap….. your not buying The Great Wall, you’re buying a Great Wall. All low cost Chinese made systems tend to fall in this category.

THE COMMODORE
When I think of a Commodore I think of 2 things, 1 being a dime a dozen typical Aussie battler car that gets you from A-B at an affordable price, with basic upgrade features and reasonable life expectancy, mid range motor vehicle. The other is a “naval rank used in many navies that is superior to a navy captain, but below a rear admiral.”<en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodore_(rank)> Either way you think about it it’s not the highest rank on offer but still a reasonable proposition. This is where your premium Chinese and European DC string inverters fit in. Read on to find out more about DC string inverters.

THE ROLLS ROYCE
The only thing that I think of when I think of Rolls Royce is ultimate styling, unsurpassable performance, world class engineering, luxurious comfort, supreme elegance, superior class and unrivalled quality. The Rolls Royce is the king of all cars and when I think of the Rolls Royce of all solar inverters I think of SolarEdge DC Optimised solar power system<www.solarwarehouseaustralia.com.au/project/solaredge-solar-inverter-adelaide/>.
So Remember try to do your research on the products you are being quoted. To ensure a lifetime of hassle free savings.