SMA is a German-based company that makes power inverters for both residential and commercial purposes. The company was established in 1981 and has taken a firm hold of the solar inverters market since then. SMA employs more than 5000 people worldwide and operates in 20 countries, including the USA. Historically, SMA manufactured its inverters solely within Germany, ensuring buyers receive high German quality products. However, in 2013 SMA decided to change its policy and open manufacturing in China, due to price pressure from cheaper Huawei and Sungrow products. Moving production abroad led to financial losses, as customers started to question the quality of SMA products. After a couple of years of low sales, the company decided to go back to roots and closed its manufacturing in China. Today SMA keeps its high-quality benchmark and dominates the market for power inverters.
SMA produces different product lines that can meet all needs and purposes. All products can be characterized by following features:
- High quality
- High efficiency
- Low warranty claims
- System monitoring capabilities
- Good after sale support
- Suitability for all climate conditions
SMA offers 5 different product lines for string inverters:
Sunny Boy 1.5 – 7.7kW – a single phase inverter that is well-suited for home and small commercial systems. The inverter’s input voltage varies from 80V to 600V, and it operates at temperatures from -13 to 140 °F while continuing to show a high efficiency level of 93%. Sunny Boy is compact, lightweight, and monitored through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth instead of display. Purchasing Sunny Boy, you also receive a DC isolator which automatically shuts down the inverter in case of high or low voltage, grid failure or other dangerous situations. Also, you can place Sunny Boy as close to solar panels as you want; eliminating the need for long DC wires, or you can make it a part of bigger PV system. For many years, Sunny Boy has been one of the most reliable inverters available on the market.
Sunny Tripower 8.0 – 30kW - a three-phase version of the Sunny Boy and a good suit for medium-sized plants. DC input voltage goes up to 1000V and has a maximum efficiency of 98.4%. Sunny Tripower has IP65 level of protection, and its cover keeps it safe from hazardous inverter materials. Also, latest versions include a graphic display that helps with checking the performance daily. Moreover, the inverter includes a preinstalled cooling system SMA OptiCool, and SMA Smart Connected system that analyses performance and offers recommendations. Sunny Tripower for many years has proven its reliability in large-commercial use.
Sunny Highpower Peak 1/3 – is an inverter created for large scale power plants operating at 1500V input and 75000 output power with 98.8% efficiency level. Highpower is SMA’s model, released in 2019. This inverter is also equipped with the automatic SMA Smart Connected and SMA OptiCool systems.
Sunny Island 4.4M / 6.0H / 8.0H – is an off-grid inverter manufactured for both residential and commercial purposes with maximum 11500W of AC input and 95% efficiency. Compare to other off-grid inverters, Sunny Island has a low energy consumption, long battery lifespan, and can be used anywhere with its IP54 level and temperature range of -13 to 140 °F. This product has proven its credibility over many years, but due to severe competition mainly with the USA Outbreak Power, Sunny Island lost its ground on the market. Although Sunny Island has had some updates during the past few years, it is yet to reach the top of the market for hybrid off-grid inverters.
Sunny Central – is SMA’s most powerful inverter with output power of 4500kW. Sunny Central is made for large-scale plants and can be installed in all climate zones. The biggest advantages of Sunny Central are long service life, a highly efficient cooling system, and low cost of transportation and installation.
Quality of SMA
SMA products have received multiple awards from the independent testing institute PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) for being the best inverters available on the market. Inverters were evaluated in 3 categories: power thermal cycling, passive chamber testing and 30-day runtime. Also, recently SMA has conducted its own research analyzing the performance of their products and comparing them with cheaper inverters available on the market. The findings showed the following:
- SMA inverters have longer lifespans due to their advanced cooling systems. The study has shown that cheaper products use passive cooling systems which halve the inverters’ lifespans.
- SMA inverters do not lose power output when the temperature rises. SMA products continue to have 100% output even when the temperature rises to 140 °F, while cheaper brands lose 25% in output on average when the temperature increases from 70°F to 95°F.
- SMA inverters produce EMI within norms. Permitted range of electromagnetic interference is no higher than 65dBμV/m, however cheaper products usually go far above limits trying to save production costs. In many countries, producing EMI above limits is outlawed and can be strictly punished.
Average Price of SMA Inverters
The SMA inverters are cheaper compared to other high-quality inverters. Their prices depend on the product line and output of the inverter. If you are interested in buying an SMA inverter, check out the prices below. Note, all presented prices were retrieved from reliable online shops as of January 2020. Shipment costs are not included.
- Sunny Boy 3.0-7.7kW – prices vary from $1,261 to $1,920
- Sunny Tripower 8.0 – 30kW – prices vary from $1,519 to $2,549
- Sunny Highpower Peak 1/3 - prices vary from $4,454 to $7,199
- Sunny Island 4.4M / 6.0H / 8.0H - prices vary from $2,029 to $12,309
- Sunny Central – average price is $149,985
Warranty on SMA Inverters
All SMA products have a standard warranty of 5 years with the possibility of extension up to 10, 15 or 25 years depending on the product. Warranty covers all expenditures when it comes to performance issues, system failure or shipping problems. However, unauthorized modifications or deliberate damage to the product will lead to immediate cancellation of warranty. Keep in mind, extension is possible only for currently valid warranties. To extend your warranty, follow this link.