Investing in excellent solar panels is pointless if you don’t have the best solar inverters to go along with them. Without a solar inverter, you won’t be able to use the solar energy harvested to power up your home’s electronics.
What to Look Out for When Buying a Solar Inverter
The popularity of solar-powered technology has made it possible for a few solar inverter brands to saturate the current market. Too many options can lead to confusion, so here are a few important features to look out for. Hopefully, this will help narrow down your options when picking a solar inverter for your home.
Efficiency is an important feature to consider when buying a solar inverter. It’s because efficiency determines how much solar energy is converted into usable AC power.
Remember that some DC power going into the inverter is lost due to heat production and other factors. Because of this, a higher-efficiency inverter will therefore have lower energy loss. How you use your power will also impact the inverter’s efficiency. The less power you use, the higher the efficiency can get.
When looking to buy solar inverters, pay attention to the manufacturer’s peak efficiency value. This value is the highest efficiency that your inverter can have at any given time. The principle is that the higher the peak efficiency, the more output energy is available.
Solar inverters can produce various types of output waveforms. These waveforms can be a sine wave, square wave, modified sine wave, and so on. The type of waveform is dependent on the inverter’s circuit design.
The best output waveform for solar inverters is the true sine waveform, also known as the pure sine waveform. This type of waveform is more efficient, especially when it comes to providing power to inductive loads.
Unlike pure sine waveforms, other types of waveforms, such as square or modified sine waves, tend to use up to 20% more power when powering inductive loads. Excess power can lead to earlier damage to your appliance due to overheating. For this reason, a true sine or pure sine waveform inverter is what you should be aiming for.
The IP rating stands for Ingress Protection Rating. This value is expressed as double digits and represents how well something is protected from elements such as water, dust, etc.
Because inverters are externally located, they are naturally subject to external elements. They are often exposed to extreme heat, water, dust, wind, and even fluctuating voltages. The higher the IP rating, the better your solar inverter’s ability is to withstand the elements.
Generally, it is recommended to go for at least IP64, as this entails total dust protection and protection from water sprays. The ideal is IP68, as it totally protects from dust and protects against long periods of water immersion under pressure.
Solar Inverter Frequently Asked Questions
What is a solar inverter?
A solar inverter essentially takes direct current (DC) from your solar panels and converts it into alternating current (AC). This conversion needs to happen for your household electric-run appliances to utilize the energy harvested from the sun. Solar inverters usually come as a box-like device installed either on the wall or on the roof of your home.
Other functions of a solar inverter include maximizing your solar system’s power output, monitoring its performance, and ensuring safe operation.
What are the different types of solar inverters?
There are generally four types of solar inverters currently available in the market, which we will briefly outline below.
String inverters are the most common type and are generally the cheapest and simplest to use. One or more solar panel strings are connected to an inverter. The inverter is mounted on a wall outside the home, usually near the switchboard.
Microinverters are named so because each solar panel has its own microinverter. They’re typically more expensive to install as they are directly attached to their respective panels on the roof. Microinverters are ideal if your roof has an unusual shape or experiences varying levels of shade. They’re also a great consideration if you plan on adding more solar panels later on.
Hybrid inverters tend to be more expensive, but this is because they can connect to the solar system’s storage battery. This capability allows hybrid inverters to keep running even during power blackouts. When getting hybrid inverters, it’s important to remember the need for a compatible battery to go with them.
Battery inverters are great when you already have a solar inverter in place but want an additional storage battery. They are essentially dedicated inverters that connect to your solar system’s battery. They work the same way – converting stored battery power into AC and delivering solar power into the storage battery.
What inverter size should I get?
Solar inverter sizes are expressed in kW. This value represents the maximum amount of solar your inverter can manage. Getting the right sized solar inverter is all dependent on your solar panel array’s size. As a general rule, the inverter’s maximum output capacity must be at least 75% of your solar array’s capacity. In other words, your solar panel array capacity can be as high as 133% of your inverter’s capacity.
For example, if your solar array has a power capacity of 6 kW, both a 6 kW and a 4.5 kW solar inverter will work in this instance.
Solar Inverter Reviews
1. Renogy 1000W Solar Inverter
Renogy is the brainchild of students from Louisiana State University. The concept started as a small group project but is now an award-winning, flourishing company in the renewable energy industry.
The Renogy 1000W Solar Inverter is optimized specifically for 12V DC system voltages. This makes it Renogy’s inverter solution for tiny homes, cabins, and other off-the-grid solar systems.
Efficiency-wise, this Renogy product produces pure sine wave output with minimal harmonic distortion. This type of wave output also enables the Renogy 1000W to provide smoother, cleaner, quieter, and more reliable electric output. This means you can operate your off-grid electric gadgets such as fans, lights, tools with little to no interference.
The Renogy is also packed with safety features. The Renogy 1000W has overload protection for both AC output and DC input to prevent damage to the inverter’s components. It’s also equipped with ground-fault circuit interrupters as well as high-speed ventilation fans for thermal regulation.
Speaking of safety, the Renogy 1000W has a great user-friendly monitoring system in place. It’s equipped with LED indicators that warn against and effectively protect from, under or over-voltage, over-temperature, overload, or short circuits.
Lastly, a competitive price is also a feature of the Renogy 1000W. It comes out as the most affordable yet most feature-rich solar inverter of its kind.
An undeniable drawback to the Renogy 1000W is its capacity. Because it’s specifically designed for 12V systems, it obviously won’t be suitable for standard-sized and larger homes.
In summary, if you’re after the best solar inverter for mobile homes or tiny cabins, the Renogy 1000W tops the list.
- Optimized for 12V DC systems.
- Efficient and reliable output – pure sine waveform.
- Packed with safety features.
- User-friendly LED indicators.
- Relatively affordable.
- Not suitable for standard-sized and larger homes.
2. Fronius Primo 6000W Solar Inverter
Fronius is an Austrian manufacturer of welding, photovoltaics, and battery charging technologies. Fronius is known for its reliability and has been a mainstay as a top solar inverter choice worldwide.
The Fronius Primo range is a pure sine waveform available in various power categories from 3.0 to 8.2 kW. This versatility in power options allows you to pick the solar inverter capacity compatible with your solar panel array.
A standout feature of the Fronius Primo is its SnapINverter technology. Thanks to this unique design, installation, and servicing the inverter are quick and easy.
User-friendliness is also a great feature of the Fronius Primo. It comes with a large clear LED display and four multifunctional buttons that allow your inverter’s straightforward monitoring and operation. Speaking of monitoring, you can also do this while inside your home via the Android and iOS-compatible Solar. Start App by Fronius.
Efficiency-wise, the Fronius Primo range also stands out with an impressive maximum efficiency volume of 98.1%.
The Primo has an IP65 protection rating, making it resistant to dust, damp environments, and water jets from any direction.
Safety is another great feature of the Fronius Primo. It has an integrated arc fault circuit interruption (AFCI)/DI isolator and fan-forced cooling system.
Additionally, the Fronius Primo range is smart grid ready. This means that the inverter already comes with features that meet smart solar panels’ technical requirements in the future. Finally, speaking of long use, the Fronius Primo comes with an initial 5-year warranty. This can be extended another five years for a 10-year total warranty once you register your inverter.
The only disappointment that we have with the Fronius Primo is with its Solar. Start app. Even with great WiFi speeds and connections, the app seems to get temperamental when connecting with the inverter.
Overall, all things considered, the Fronius Primo is a top pick when it comes to the best solar inverters.
- Versatile capacity – available models range from 3.0 to 8.2 kW power.
- SnapINverter makes installation quick and easy.
- User-friendly – LED screen and mobile app for monitoring.
- Excellent maximum efficiency volume of 98.1%.
- IP65 rating – dust and water jet resistant.
- Safety features – AFCI/DC isolator and fan-forced cooling system.
- Smart grid ready.
- Extensive warranty up to 10 years.
- Fronius Solar. Start app can be difficult to connect with the inverter.
3. SolarEdge HD-Wave Single-Phase 7600W Inverter
SolarEdge Technologies is an Israeli company also specializing in photovoltaic technologies. Their products included solar inverters, solar panels, and PV monitoring platforms.
The SolarEdge HD-Wave is an award-winning string inverter specifically designed to work with SolarEdge’s power optimizers.
Efficiency is the winning feature of the SolarEdge HD-Wave. At 98.8% efficiency, the HD-Wave is unmatched and holds the highest efficiency rating in the current solar inverter market. This high efficiency tends to result in more energy produced and more bang for the buck.
A practical and smart design is also a key feature of the SolarEdge HD-Wave. This single-phase inverter was designed with a clean sine wave output, which allowed reduced magnetics and less heavy cooling elements. This element resulted in a lighter, smaller inverter, making shipping, storing, and installation easy.
The SolarEdge also comes with reassuring safety features. It has an integrated rapid shutdown and a built-in DC safety switch. It’s also an IP65 rated inverter, which is good enough to withstand the common outdoor elements. Another reassuring feature is SolarEdge’s 12-year warranty that covers both service and parts.
Finally, SolarEdge’s HD-wave has a monitoring portal, which is among the most feature-rich energy management platforms in the current market. This feature is through an iOS or Android app and monitors energy consumption, battery charge, and discharge. The app provides a user-friendly experience and is also capable of providing various alerts and fault diagnoses.
A glaring setback of the SolarEdge HD-wave is its expensive price. Another thing is that it lacks a bit when it comes to diversity in subzero temperature performance. The HD-waves peak operating temperature does not go beyond -20°C. However, there is a balance to this as the positive peak reaches as high as +60°C.
In short, if the price is a non-issue and you’re after the most efficient solar inverter, nothing beats the SolarEdge HD wave.
- Most efficient solar inverter in the market – 98.8% efficiency.
- Practical and smart design – smaller, lighter, easier to install.
- Packed with safety features – integrated DC safety switch, rapid shutdown, IP65 rating.
- 12-year product and service warranty.
- Feature-rich monitoring portal.
- Limited subzero temperature performance.
4. SMA Sunny Boy 3000W Solar Inverter
SMA Solar Technology is a German manufacturer of award-winning solar energy equipment. Their most popular products are inverters, off-grid power supplies, and backup generators.
The Sunny Boy is SMA’s most popular solar inverter. Efficiency is Sunny Boy’s key selling point, thanks to its peak efficiency value of 97%.
Capacity-wise, the Sunny Boy is quite versatile in that its available models range from 3.0-7.7kW of power.
An excellent feature of the Sunny Boy is one that is unique to SMA inverters, the secure power supply (SPS). It is a 3000W power source that draws backup power from your panels even if the entire grid is down. It’s a great backup power source in case of unexpected power interruptions such as blackouts. It’s definitely a feature to consider if you use solar for powering home-medical devices and other critical appliances.
The SMA Sunny Boy is up-to-date with today’s digital age. It is equipped with smart monitoring features, which can all be done via WiFi communication and web-based software packages. This monitoring software includes the Sunny Portal, Sunny View, SMA energy meter, and the Sunny Home Manager.
In terms of quality and longevity, the SMA Sunny Boy comes with a standard 10-year warranty. There is also the available option of extending this warranty period to 15 or 20 years. Although not the longest warranty period in solar inverters, it’s a good enough timeframe for added reassurance when purchasing.
The Sunny Boy’s not-so-attractive feature is that it does not have an integrated DC isolator. This means that you would have to purchase and install a third-party DC isolator, which results in added costs.
Overall, the SMA Sunny Boy is the best solar inverter to consider if you use critical appliances or devices at home.
- The peak efficiency value of 97%.
- Relatively wide capacity range.
- Unique secure power supply.
- WiFi and web-based monitoring.
- 10-year warranty extendable to 15 or 20 years.
- No integrated DC isolator.
5. Enphase Solar Inverter
Enphase is an American technology company dedicated to the design and manufacture of solar home energy solutions.
The Enphase IQ7+ is a microinverter-type solar inverter and is part of the larger Enphase IQ system. It is extremely efficient at 97% weighted efficiency and super lightweight at only 2.2 lbs per unit.
An outstanding feature of the IQ7 is its fan-less design yet able to still maintain internal temperatures. The absence of fans makes the operation extremely quiet, and the microinverter slim and space-efficient.
Another great feature of the IQ7 is its extremely high weather rating. It has an IP67 rating, which means it’s protected against dust and water immersion from 15cm-1m. This rating is probably one of the highest in the current market, if not the highest.
The Enphase microinverters also come with efficient monitoring features. It has an LED local interface and WiFi and ethernet connectivity that enables you to monitor the inverter from afar.
Safety-wise, it has an integrated rapid shutdown technology, which is easily activated when required. It also comes backed with a 10-year warranty with an option to expand to up to 25 years.
One setback to the Enphase microinverter is that the LED local interface requires a reliable internet connection.
Another is that they don’t really come cheap, with one unit costing just under a couple of hundred bucks.
All in all, if you’re after a top-caliber microinverter, the Enphase IQ7+ is worth the top spot on your list.
- Fanless design.
- IP67 certification.
- Efficient remote monitoring features.
- Integrated rapid shutdown technology.
- 10-25 years warranty.
- The LED interface requires a reliable internet connection.
- Relatively expensive.
6. Mophorn 1200W MPPT Waterproof Solar Grid Tie Inverter
Mophorn is a Chinese designer and manufacturer of an extensive range of products, including inverters, welding machines, and more.
The Morphorn 1200W is a microinverter and is probably the best for this type of solar inverter.
An outstanding feature of the Morphorn 1200W is its intelligent monitoring system. This system allows real-time gathering and monitoring of data as well as controlling the system’s startup or shutdown.
The Mophorn also has efficient reverse power transmission technology with a power transmission rate reaching a maximum of 99%. It’s also equipped with a robust MPPT algorithm. This feature allows automatic power point tracking to increase power generation by up to 25%.
Durability is also an attractive Mophorn feature. It’s made of sturdy aluminum alloy material, and the entire unit is backed with an IP65 certification. This rating means your solar inverter is protected from dust and water.
The Mophorn is also extremely lightweight with an ingenious stack-up design, enabling multiple inverters stacked parallel to each other. This feature is a great plus when it comes to microinverters as it allows efficient space management.
Speaking of design, we do have one major niggle with the Morphorn. This issue is regarding its indicator lights, which are located at the back panel of the unit. We can’t understand why this wasn’t placed in front for visibility.
Another design flaw that we discovered is that it can be time-consuming to set up the unit’s electrical outlet plug. It does work fine once set up but does take a significant amount of time to do so.
Overall, if you’re in the market for a solar microinverter, the Mophorn is perhaps one of your top options.
- Intelligent monitoring system.
- Efficient reverse power transmission technology.
- Durable and waterproof – IP65 certified.
- Lightweight and easily stacked up parallel to each other.
- Impractical location of indicator lights at the back of the unit.
- The electrical outlet plug takes time to set up.
7. Giandel 1200W Inverter for Solar Panel
Giandel is an Amazon retailer of a diverse range of power inverters. The Giandel Power Inverter 1000W is a pure sine wave inverter made for 12V systems.
What we like most about the Giandel is its compact and lightweight design. Weighing at only 5.6 lbs, it’s easy to set up and transport, making it ideal for your mobile solar needs.
Speaking of design, the Giandel is also built to be durable. It is covered with an extremely sturdy aluminum case, protecting the internal system from accidental drops or impacts.
Another great feature of the Giandel is the ability to control it remotely. The unit comes with a remote control that works even for up to 4.5 meters away from its inverter. The remote is also equipped with an indicator light, which indicates if your inverter is faulty and requires attention.
Additionally, the Giandel also has a user-friendly LED display, allowing easy monitoring of the inverter’s status. It lets you know of the protection system’s status. These four systems protect the unit from low input voltage, input overvoltage, overheating, or overloading. An internal temperature of 104℉ or a load equal to or over 40% of the rated power automatically triggers the fans.
There are just a couple of things that we do not quite like about the Giandel. First is its efficiency, which only reaches a maximum of 90%. Next is the short warranty that comes with it at only 18 months. We feel that both efficiency and warranty could be improved to reach higher values.
Overall, however, the Giandel is another great choice for a solar inverter for your mobile off-the-grid use.
- Compact and lightweight, weighing only 5.6 lbs.
- It can be remotely controlled for up to 4.5 meters far.
- User-friendly LED display.
- Durable – sturdy aluminum case.
- Efficiency can be improved – currently at 90%.
- The relatively short warranty period of 18 months.
8. WZRELB DC to AC Converter Off Grid Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter
WZRELB is another Amazon store offering a range of solar inverters. The specific WZRELB product we will be talking about next is their pure sine wave power inverter.
A wide capacity or size range is a key feature of this WZRELB inverter. It is available in various sizes and compatibilities. The smallest in this range would be their 2000W, while their largest is the 5000W.
The WZRELB’s standout feature, however, is its safety features. It is packed with all-sided multiprotection technology. This feature provides your unit with seven different systems of protection. It has high voltage input and cut-off protection, overload protection, and low voltage alarm protection. It also protects against over-currents, surge power, reverse connection, and short circuits.
The WZRELB is also a user-friendly solar inverter. It comes with an easy-to-read digital LED display screen indicating how much power is currently being utilized by the inverter.
Lastly, the WZRELB inverter is lightweight and comes with quick-connect cables. These features make it a great solar inverter for on-the-road use as it is easy to move around and setup.
There are just a couple of things that bug us when it comes to the WZRELB inverter.
First are the fans. They are extremely loud. In fact, it’s so loud that you can hear them going even while you have headsets on. If you are easily distracted or irritated by noise, this may not be the inverter for you.
Another thing is the awkward position of the ground terminal connection. This is located at the bottom front of the unit. This positioning makes it tricky trying to run the ground in front of the unit.
All in all, the WZRELB is a great lightweight and safe solar inverter choice for use when you’re on the road.
- Good range of capacity/size options available.
- All-sided multiprotection technology.
- User-friendly with an easy-to-read digital display.
- Lightweight, portable, and easy to set up.
- Inverter’s fans are extremely loud.
- Awkward location of the ground terminal location.
9. Samlex America 300W Pure Sine Inverter
Samlex is a Canada-based company offering an extensive range of inverters, battery chargers, and other related solar energy systems.
The Samlex PST-300-12 is a pure sine wave inverter with a 300W capacity suitable for 12-volt systems.
If you were turned off with the previous inverter’s loud fans, the Samlex might draw you back in. The Samlex’s key feature is its super smooth and quiet operation. It’s super quiet; you won’t know it’s even on.
To supplement the silent operation, the Samlex has LED lights to indicate that both the power and protection systems are working.
Speaking of protection, this pure sine inverter is equipped with safety-certified features. It is compliant with UL, CSA, and FCC standards and has a universal protection circuit. This feature protects against low or over voltage, extreme temperature, overload, and short circuits. It also has a temperature-activated cooling fan not only for protection but also for reducing energy consumption and effectively increasing efficiency.
Another great feature of the Samlex is its useful and practical alarm systems. It is equipped with a shutdown alarm and a low battery alarm. This ensures you get to resolve any inverter issues before they actually occur.
A drawback to the Samlex inverter is the quality of its connectors and cables. They are extremely delicate in that a minor bump results in them either bending or nearly breaking. Don’t get us wrong, however, as the inverter itself is made of sturdy material. The only issue is the connectors and cables. Fortunately, Samlex has a two-year warranty, so you probably can get them to replace any flimsy-quality cables and connectors.
Another possible design oversight is the lack of USB ports in the Samlex inverter. This is not really a big issue. However, it can potentially setback the Samlex especially considering that its competitors have USB ports on them.
In short, if you want a super quiet 12-volt solar inverter, the Samlex is your top contender.
- Extremely quiet and smooth operation.
- LED lights for power and protection monitoring.
- Certified safety features – universal protection circuit.
- Practical alarm systems.
- Delicate connectors and cables.
- Lacks USB ports.
10. Micro Solar 2000W (PEAK 6000W) Pure Sine Wave Inverter
MicroSolar is a US-based brand offering solar inverters. The MicroSolar 12V 2000W Heavy Duty Inverter is another pure sine wave inverter suitable for 12-volt systems.
True to its name, the best feature of the MicroSolar comes in its tough exterior. It may be heavy compared to most inverters of its kind, but this weight is attributed to its heavy-duty exterior to protect the internal structure. If this wasn’t enough, the units are backed with a year-long warranty with a six-month replacement on parts.
Power is also a key feature of this MicroSolar inverter. It comes as a 2000W inverter; however, the peak power goes up to as high as 6000W. This power capacity means it can support appliances such as microwaves, air conditioners, and so much more.
Efficiency-wise, the MicroSolar is has a conversion efficiency rating of 92%. This value may not be the best, but it certainly is good enough compared to similar products on the market.
Lastly, the MicroSolar is also equipped with essential safety features, such as input under and over-voltage protection.
A possible setback to the MicroSolar is its one-year warranty period, which is relatively short compared to its competitors.
One really disappointing factor is the fact that it’s super hard to get a hold of MicroSolar’s text support. Most numbers listed are either hard to reach or invalid, and reaching them via email seems futile.
Overall, if you want a super heavy-duty solar inverter, the MicroSolar is a top option to consider.
- Heavy-duty design with a tough exterior.
- Peak power of 6000W.
- Conversion efficiency rating of 92%.
- Backed with essential safety features.
- Relatively short warranty period.
- Tech support extremely hard to contact.
Having a good solar inverter is a must when you’re running a solar-powered system, whether at home or on the go. Our top pick for the best solar inverters is none other than the Renogy 1000W Solar Inverter. It’s outstanding in terms of the essential features to watch out for, such as efficiency, IP rating, and output waveform.
You also can’t beat its excellent capacity range, safety features, and most of all, the relatively affordable price. It’s no doubt the top choice for a solar inverter that balances price and features.