Below we describe the best residential solar ‘string’ inverters for 2022 based on quality, features, monitoring, warranty and service, together with feedback from solar installers and industry professionals. In addition, there are a number of popular inverter brands which are highly regarded by many solar installers listed in the runners up section below.
Growatt entered the solar inverter market back in 2010 and has grown rapidly to become one of the worlds largest inverters manufacturers. Based in Shenzhen China, Growatt’s first-generation entry-level solar inverters were known to have some quality and reliability issues, but to their credit, the company pushed through and backed its product by servicing many of the warranty claims. Growatt has since released a vast array of updated inverters which have had very good feedback so far and now offers a wide range of solar and energy storage inverter solutions for residential and commercial applications. Still focused on the entry-level market segment, many of the new models have been available for less than 2 years so are yet to prove themselves in the long term. Growatt seems very keen to improve their position and have established local support centres in many countries offering good service in the event of a failure or warranty claim.
The new generation TL-X inverter range is modern looking and available in a range of sizes from 2.5kW to 6.0kW, with dual MPP trackers and a standard 5 year warranty, 10 year warranty options are also available. The monitoring platform, known as ShineServer and ShinePhone (app), is also greatly improved and now offers a good user interface, remote parameter settings, and remote firmware upgrades.
Fronius Inverters have maintained the top spot for much of the last eight years, ever since the release of the innovative snap-in design in 2012. These Austrian manufactured inverters have become the inverter of choice for many domestic and commercial solar installations due to their proven performance and reliability, plus the great service from the Fronius support team. However, the high demand for the popular single-phase Fronius Primo inverters used for residential installations has resulted in some supply issues, and there have been some minor faults. Still, overall feedback is very positive, and any issues have been promptly corrected. An additional free five years extended warranty is available when the inverter is registered online, which gives a total 10-year warranty.
Active cooling system
One of the reasons for Fronius’s reliability and performance is due to the ‘active cooling’ system incorporated into all Fronius snap-in inverters. Active cooling is also a key design feature in the new generation Fronius GEN24 hybrid inverters due for release early in 2021. The fan-forced cooling system extracts heat at a higher rate which reduces thermal stress and can increase power output in high ambient temperatures. All power electronics have a maximum operating temperature after which the power needs to be reduced to prevent overheating and potential damage. This is where active cooling can help improve both reliability and performance. Other features include the integrated DC isolator and the unique snap-in design makes servicing and installation very simple.
The larger capacity Fronius 3-phase Symo and ECO inverters are regarded as some of the best small commercial inverters (up to 30kW) and have dominated the market due to their high quality and proven reliability.
Wifi monitoring comes standard with all inverters via the Fronius Solarweb. The addition of the Fronius Smart meter enables monitoring of energy generation and consumption and can be used as a complete home energy monitoring system. The Fronius Solarweb app is an easy to use app which displays solar generation, consumption and estimated savings. The analysis section offers detailed operating statistics like string current and grid voltage. However, only 3 days of consumption monitoring data can be accessed without a premium subscription to the Fronius Solarweb. The premium upgrade offers some great features but considering most competing platforms offer free usage and generation history, this is a little disappointing.
SolarEdge inverters have become increasingly popular in Australia, the USA and around the world over the last few years due to the unique design using DC optimisers which enables individual solar panel level power optimisation and control.
The compact SolarEdge HD wave (SE-H series) inverters are available in a wide range of sizes from 2.5kW to 10kW. All Solaredge inverters must be installed with an additional DC optimiser fitted to each panel. The optimisers perform part of the job of a typical string inverter but have several benefits including panel-level monitoring and power optimisation.
Solaredge DC Optimisers are small electronic modules attached to the rear side of each solar panel which enable each panel to operate at its maximum power level. Panel level optimisation can also be obtained through the use of micro-inverters, plus some add-on power optimisers such as those from Tigo Energy.
Solaredge Optimisers also enable longer strings of panels (up to 22 modules), offer rapid shutdown for increased safety, help reduce the detrimental effects of shading, and can provide early detection of potential issues. However, optimisers also add more complexity to the system and any electronic device mounted on the roof also has the potential to cause issues in the longer term. SolarEdge also has an extended 12 year warranty period.
SolarEdge inverters have ‘optional’ wifi which together with the optimisers can provide power output data for each panel individually. This is great for both system monitoring and a very good tool for fault detection, especially for installers. Also SolarEdge definitely have one of the best smart phone apps for remote system monitoring. See the full SolarEdge monitoring system and features here.
Chinese communications giant Huawei stormed into the residential solar market in 2018 with a compact, lightweight solar inverter packed with features. Due to the huge volume of commercial & utility-scale inverters sold globally, Huawei is one of the world’s largest solar inverter manufacturers and have invested billions into research and development over the last decade.
The first generation residential inverter from Huawei was the SUN2000L, available in a range of sizes from 2kW to 5kW while the updated version was released in 2020. Like the first version, the new SUN2000L1 inverter also functions as a hybrid inverter but works with the more powerful SUN2000-450W-P optimizers and the new Huawei LUNA2000 battery system. The inverter is in some ways similar to the SolarEdge HD wave inverter which use optimisers for individual panel optimisation much like micro inverters. However, unlike the HD wave, the Huawei inverters can function with or without optimisers. As a hybrid system, the Huawei inverter uses a built-in ‘high voltage’ DC coupling battery interface which is compatible with the LG RESU-H battery and the new LUNA2000 battery.
The new optional backup box works with either the LG RESU HV or the new Huawei battery and features a 5kW backup power rating which is more than enough for essential loads.
The new FusionSolar app and online monitoring portal is much better than the previous FusionHome app and offers an easy to read interface and many more advanced monitoring and data logging features. The updated FusionSolar app is also used for inverter setup and direct connection via a local wifi network.
See full specifications of the new Huawei SUN2000-L1 inverter
German manufacturer SMA Solar Technologies was widely regarded as the best string inverter manufacture before the Fronius snap-in series took the top spot in 2016. However, the new Sunny boy AV series regained a lot of market share after SMA relocated all manufacturing back to Germany in 2019. SMA inverters have a proven track record for reliability and are generally considered one of the highest quality inverters available. Local service and support is excellent and SMA provide an optional 10 to 20 year extended warranty.
The 3-phase inverters from SMA are all manufactured in Germany, and the new Sunny Tripower series are regarded as some the best commercial inverters on the market. SMA has also cemented its place as one of the industry leaders in the utility-scale solar inverter market with the impressive Tripower Core 1, Sunny Highpower and Sunny island central inverters.
Like many other new inverters, the latest AV inverter series from SMA does not have a display and relies solely on Wifi communication for setup and monitoring. Display-less inverters have become more common as a digital display in an outdoor environment can fail over time. The display-less design may reduce faults and warranty issues in the long term, but only if wifi communication is very reliable and stable.
SMA have a free online monitoring package called the Sunny portal and most SMA inverters now come with Wifi webconnect capability as standard. Full consumption and solar monitoring is achieved using the rather expensive additional Sunny home manager 2.0 energy meter. The only major downfall is the SMA mobile app which looks very dated and has received poor feedback, particularly the Android App version. However, the new SMA 360° App should make life much easier for installers when commissioning new systems.
Founded back in 1997 by a university professor, Sungrow is one of the largest suppliers of solar inverters globally and a leading Chinese inverter manufacturer. The residential SG range of inverters have become very popular among installers due to the competitive price and great reliability record. Sungrow is a very large player internationally and has a good reputation for service and quality. The very good support from the Sydney based office in Australia has further helped improve their reputation.
See the detailed Sungrow solar Inverters review article.
In addition to the well-regarded range of solar inverters, Sungrow also manufactures some of the best value hybrid solar inverters on the market. The SHK5-30 is a very affordable hybrid inverter for home energy storage systems along with the new range of SH-RS hybrid inverters shown opposite which is designed to be paired with the next-generation high-voltage battery storage system from Sungrow.
The premium SG series solar inverters and SH5K-30 hybrid inverters have received very good feedback, are great value for money, and are backed by an extended 10-year warranty.
Sungrow inverters include Wifi monitoring as standard on all models and use the new cloud-based monitoring portal iSolarCloud which is very good and now features remote firmware upgrades. The free smartphone App is also very simple and works well. One small issue is the consumption monitoring has been noted to be problematic but we believe this has now been corrected.
FIMER is a well established Italian based inverter manufacturer that took over ABB’s solar division in early 2020. The company is in the process of revamping many of the ABB style inverters and is expanding its range of high-quality string solar inverters for residential, commercial and utility-scale applications.
With the FIMER takeover and positive feedback on the new range of UNO-TL and UNO-TL-DM-PLUS inverters, it’s likely FIMER will maintain and built a strong market position going forward. One of the highlights of the UNO series is the ability to accept parallel strings of panels with a very high 32A MPPT input current rating on of the two MPPTs, meaning it can handle a total of three individual strings of panels at different orientations.
The UNO range of inverters have a common plug & play interface and wifi included in all models. To compete in the growing energy storage market, the second generation REACT 2 hybrid inverters from FIMER are a unique modular battery energy storage system (BESS) that can be either AC or DC coupled.
The new FIMER Spa App and Energy Viewer monitoring platform is a big improvement and offers more detailed information when used with an energy meter. However, it is still limited and doesn’t provide a lot of technical data such as individual string generation or voltages, which helps with panel monitoring and troubleshooting. A Wifi logger card (VSN300) can also be installed on all older UNO and TRIO (3-phase) inverters to enable monitoring.
Delta is generally regarded by solar installers as one of the best quality entry-level inverters. This is not surprising as Delta Group is a global electronics giant which has been manufacturing power control systems around the world since 1971. Despite the older RPI range not being a huge hit with installers, the advanced new Delta Home Series inverters are becoming much more popular.
The new H5A-222 inverter is a standout product with a built-in (certified) DC isolator, inbuilt energy meter, and incredibly low PV startup voltage of 35V. This means the inverter has a very wide operating voltage window and will start generating very early in the morning before most other inverters have even woken up. Plus the inverter can operate with only 1 panel (per MPPT); however, in practice, 2 panels would be required taking into account temperature variances. In contrast, most of the competition require 3 or more panels to start generating power. Delta has a 5-year product warranty as standard and an Australian office located in Melbourne.
Monitoring is via the cloud-based mydeltasolar app. The app was reported as being a little unreliable, but it now appears Delta has made some significant improvements to both the user experience and the commissioning process for installers setting up inverters.
GoodWe, established in 2010, is a large, well known Chinese inverter manufacturer that offers a vast range of cost-effective solar and hyhrid inverters. The DNS series is a simple solar inverter with a wide MPPT voltage range and LCD display and has had great feedback from installers. It’s worth mentioning, Global electronics Giant GE has partnered with Goodwe to produce a range of high-performance solar inverters based on the 5 to 10kW Goodwe MS series inverter platform with up to four independent MPPTs.
In regards to energy storage, Goodwe offer numerous AC and DC coupled hybrid inverters and recently launched a range of battery systems. The ES series hybrid inverter is a standout product from Goodwe and well regarded in the industry with many manufacturers incorporating this simple yet powerful hybrid platform into various battery energy storage systems (ESS). All Goodwe inverters include Wifi monitoring as standard. Warranty on the DNS series is 10 years with options to extend up to 25 years. The Goodwe SEMS system monitoring portal is a great, detailed platform for monitoring both PV and energy storage systems.
Besides the most popular inverters currently on the market, many other well-known manufacturers are producing reliable solar inverters for the residential and commercial solar markets. Many of these brands are now trusted thanks to advanced new models released over the last few years which have proven to perform well so far. However, a few have been let down by poor service and support when an issue occurs or if a warranty claim is required.
Solax Power is a relatively new inverter manufacturer which was largely unkown in the industry until they launched the economical battery X-hybrid inverter. Solax is a subsiduary of the the much larger Suntellite Group in China which manufactures solar cells, panels and inverters with a strong emphasis on research and development. Solax Power also has a strong global presence and an Australian support office located in Melbourne. The current X1 range of solar inverters may not have the sleek designs of the European rivals but at close to half the price you wouldn’t expect them to compete on this level, their slogan sums them up nicely ‘simple, reliable, efficient’.
One of the more advanced inverter options from SolaX is the affordable X-hybrid unit which is one of the most economical ‘battery ready’ solar inverters available. Solax is also one of the few inverter manufacturers to produce large 3-phase hybrid battery inverters for larger residential and commercial applications.
The Solax online monitoring portal V2 is quite impressive and offers access via smart phone apps or web interface with battery management features for hybrid systems and email reporting, although the wifi dongle is an optional extra.
See the full Solax Inverter specification here
Sunways, formerly known as Sunways AG, was initially founded in Germany in 1993 but was acquired by Suntech’s parent company, Shunfeng International Clean Energy Group, in China in 2014. While the company is not widely known outside Europe, Sunways has nearly 30 years of research and development experience and innovation in manufacturing PV inverters and solar energy storage systems.
The latest generation of Sunway inverters, the STS series from 3 to 6kW, is packed with features, including an inbuilt DC isolator, integrated meter for export limiting (external CT), clear OLED display, and dual MPPTs with a wide operating voltage range. While Sunways inverters are said to be German engineered, they are very affordable due to being manufactured in China and backed by an industry-leading 12 year product warranty. The sunways monitoring platform is ok and offers all the typical generation data but is quite dark and can be difficult to read some of the charts.
Ingeteam is a large, premium European inverter manufacturer which is trying to enter the very competitive Australian solar market. The large multinational company of Spanish origin has a long history in manufacturing power conversion equipment, advanced R&D capabilities and currently produce a wide range of quality solar and hybrid inverters for the residential and commercial markets, plus powerful utility MW scale central solar inverters.
The residential (2.5 – 6kW) 1Play TL-M series dual MPPT solar inverters appear well engineered with many advanced features and monitoring. However, as yet our Australian specialists have had limited direct experience. The Ingeteam IS Storage 1Play hybrid inverter is a stand out product in that it’s the only hybrid inverter which can operate with both low voltage (48V) and high voltage (up to 300V) battery systems. Looking forward to seeing more Ingeteam inverters in the future.
Solis, meaning sun in Spanish, is the common name of well-established Chinese solar inverter manufacturer Ginlong Solis Technologies. Founded in 2005, the company has been servicing the Australian solar market for over a decade offering a range of string solar inverters designed for on-grid, off-grid and commercial applications. Solis inverters are considered entry-level due to the low price point, however, the popular Residential 5G series inverters offer some notable features including a wide operating (MPPT) voltage range, Certified DC isolator, and integrated export power control using an external CT.
Solis inverters come standard with a 5-year warranty, with an extended 10-year warranty option available. The company boasts a global service network in the US, Australia, China, India, Mexico, and Europe, although based on our feedback, obtaining prompt tech support can be problematic. The older Ginlong monitoring platform was known to have some issues although fortunately, the new SolisCloud app platform appears far more intuitive and easy to use, plus it features some clever enhancements to assist in fault finding.