InvertersEngineer's picks

Best solar inverters in 2023

A solar inverter in a 5 kW system processes more than 3,000 kWh of energy annually. This is enough to melt 6 tons of steel. Solar inverters are under a lot of stress all day long. If you need a reliable PV system, build it around one of the best solar inverters. We’ve done the research, find the top 5 below.

Solar inverter: a solar system's central star

Solar inverter is a crucial piece of equipment that performs a number of functions in a home PV system. The majority of home appliances can’t run on direct current and it’s up to an inverter to convert it into alternating current. An inverter also monitors the production and adjusts current and voltage to maximize it. It’s like the heart of a system: if the inverter shuts down, the whole system stops working.

String inverters are the most popular ones. They are the cheapest, but shading is a big problem for them. If one panel in a string of modules is shaded, the string inverter brings the performance of all panels to the level of the weakest link.

Microinverters, on the other hand, are more expensive but they last longer and are more efficient. Each microinverter goes on top of a single panel and shading of one module doesn’t affect the others. Their monitoring capabilities are also more precise and informative.

There are many types of inverters under the sun, and the terminology often gets confusing. If you want to get a clear picture, join us here.

Fronius Primo – Perfect grid-tie inverter

User-friendliness meets reliability in Fronius Primo inverters, making them a perfect fit for residential PV systems. The available power ratings range from 3.8 to 15 kW to make sizing easier. All Fronius Primo models are transformerless, which makes them lighter, smaller and more efficient. The maximum efficiency of this solar inverter reaches 97.8%. Primo inverters offer unique approaches to system design, mounting, maintenance and communication. Let’s take a look at these and other features of Fronius devices.

• Snapinverter technology separates the inverter in two parts to make installation and servicing much easier. First, you mount one part to the wall and perform the cabling. • • Then you add another part and finish the installation by properly securing it
• The inverter supports a wide range of communication interfaces, including WLAN, Ethernet, Modbus TCP/RTU and others. These tools give you a clear overview of the state of your system, enable energy management and allow you to connect third-party components
• SuperFlex design incorporates not one but two maximum power point trackers. In a system with two strings this allows tracking voltage and current for each of them individually. This increases safety and efficiency, especially if the strings are located on different sides of the roof or at different angles

Enphase IQ8 – The ultimate microinverter

Enphase IQ8 can function with or without the grid connection, unlike all the older microinverters. The IQ8 series of inverters supports a wide range of grid profiles and gets automatic remote updates. Its versatility doesn’t end here. You can pair it with Enphase IQ Batteries without any sizing restrictions, but all features will work even without a storage system. Read more about this breakthrough device in our article

• The Enphase App supports module-level monitoring and offers the best energy-management strategies
• The device has been extensively tested and has a leading 25-year warranty. The cumulative test hours surpass 1,000,000
• Adapters with MC4 connectors come with every device for a hassle-free microinverter installation
• The IQ8 meets all safety standards, including rapid shutdown

Schneider Conext – Best for off-grid and backup

When it comes to off-grid settings, flexibility becomes especially important. Conext SW4024 and SW4048 fit all kinds of systems. These are pure sine inverters that can switch between 50 and 60 Hz and provide 120/240 VAC output, even given only a 120 VAC input. The model does not need an external transformer. As an extra layer of safety, Conext SW is optimized for use with external generators. If need be, the device can even work with the grid. Both models support zero export modes, allowing users to stop pumping excess energy into the grid when it is needed at home. They can also help you avoid peak utility prices by activating batteries in set intervals.

• Impressive 5-second and 30-minute surge power for load start functionality allows you to start a refrigerator, a well pump or A/C compressor without any problems
• Conext solar inverters offer peak shaving functionality, charging the batteries when the utility’s electric rate is lowest and discharging them when it is highest
• The models can be used to assist external generators

OutBack Power Skybox – The smartest hybrid

Hybrid solar inverters are the best of both worlds: they grant all the benefits the grid has to offer, including net metering, but keep your home powered when the grid is down. The Skybox from Outback Power constantly takes measurements at all connection points, optimizing your generation, consumption and export of energy. One of the model’s key advantages is a fully-integrated design. Just install it as any other grid-tie inverter and don’t worry about charge controllers or communication boxes. The Skybox already has all it needs under the hood!

• Skybox supports virtually all battery types, including lithium-based batteries
• The inverter’s software can be updated automatically, enabling new features and capabilities. For example, an update can allow you to set a battery discharge limit
• The device doesn’t require a battery bank, allowing users with limited budget to build a hybrid PV system step by step
• Outback offers 5 to 10 years of warranty for their Skybox inverters

Magnum Energy MM1524-AE – Best for solar on the go

Solar inverters for boats and RVs must be small enough to fit well and reliable at the same time. Not just sturdy but ready for a trip into the wild. That’s why Magnum developed an inverter that is watertight, corrosion-resistant and also offers seamless transition to shore power. MM1524-AE provides 1.5 kW of power output, which is plenty for mobile applications. However, it can also be used in a stationary off-grid scenario.

• MM1524-AE is a modified sine wave inverter: it is cheap, though it might not be an optimal choice for sensitive electronics
• This Magnum inverter uses 25–30% less power for charging batteries, compared to conventional chargers
• It offers great installation flexibility: you can mount it on the wall, put it on a shelf or under a set or even hang it upside down
• Die-cast aluminum framework protects the internals and helps dissipate the heat

This is not a ranking — each model can be optimal depending on your particular circumstances. Check out other inverters to find the best device for your specific needs. After you do, it’s important to install it right and learn to take good care of the inverter to prolong its lifespan. That’s why we have a clear installation guide and effective maintenance tips — come check them out.

Writing for electronics manufacturers like Bitmain taught Maxim to extract the important details from lengthy equipment documentation. At the same time, it made him aware of the environmental effects, and he put his talents to work for a renewable future.

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