Fronius Symo image
 

 

Fronius Inverter Review Australia 2018

We have installed more Fronius inverters over the past few years than any other brand...in fact more than all the other brands put together, but now, here we are in 2018, and suddenly this wonderful, reliable Austrian made product is showing its age. More on that in a moment, first, let's look at why Fronius is SO popular in Australia.

The Fronius Primo range is for single phase installations, the Symo range for three phase.
As a string inverter, there were none better. Very reliable (hence the 10 year product warranty), built-in DC isolator (bit of cost saving on installation), excellent reporting both on the superbly easy to understand LCD screen and on their smartphone app and web browser via WIFI built-in.
For those who want to monitor their home power use, the Fronius smart meter delivers.
(Pictured further down this page)

When Fronius released the Primo and Symo, it was at a time of great change in the market. German made SMA were supreme with their famous Sunny Boy product, and the existing Fronius range was, frankly, pretty ordinary, plus there were swarms of Chinese inverters at less than half the price. Two things happened that turned the tide in favour of Fronius. SMA moved manufacturing to China and the market was crying out for a reliable product that wasn't made in China as failure rates (usually blown relays) on the cheap products had reached over 50% on some brands and inverter companies were going bust and pulling down their wholesalers and retailers with them.

The rest, as they say, is history. Fronius has, and remains at least for now, the dominant top quality solar inverter in Australia. The Chinese inverters that survived are third generation now, with proper relays and soldering. They are still half the price, massively more reliable, and some include decent WIFI, and a good choice for someone on a tight budget, but Fronius is top dog.

The problem with the Fronius product is that they haven't got ahead of the game as far as connecting batteries and that has allowed someone very dangerous (Huawei) to get in under them.

To quickly explain battery connection, before you can connect your Tesla or more likely, LG Chem battery, you need two things. You need a meter that measures your power consumption in real-time all day and night so that it can inform the battery management system that power is needed, or that it isn't, so store any surplus solar power into the batteries. The Fronius doesn't have any battery interface at all. At the moment you can connect a 3rd party DC coupled box that sits in-between the solar panels and the Fronius (a 2.5kW unit made by Goodwe seems to be the best at the moment and costs ~$2000 installed), or an AC coupled battery system that connects directly to the switchboard and doesn't have anything to do with the Fronius at all, again Goodwe have a 5kW model at ~$2,600 installed. What Fronius badly need is a hybrid inverter. One that has the battery interface and software already built in. That's what Huawei have done and selling it, with the same 10 year warranty as Fronius, WIFI etc for slightly less than Fronius, which puts them at a huge technical and cost advantage.

There is an exception. Fronius stripped out the circuitry for one of the two MPPT trackers in the three phase 5kVA Symo model, and used the space for the battery circuitry. So there is a Symo hybrid and it costs $1,400 more than the regular Symo. However, by taking out the MPPT tracker you are forced to put all your panels on one roof orientation or exactly evenly split across two. If that works for your roof, then this is an excellent choice and a cheaper solution than putting a 3kVA and 2kVA Huawei together.

We expect to see Fronius release a range of hybrids in time, but previously, they have moved very slowly to market so it might be a year or more, meanwhile, Huawei, a $75 billion company that has never failed to become No.1 in the World with any product they have released (apart from their smartphone which is sitting just behind Samsung but ahead of Apple), has got the product Fronius need, right here and now. What is so scary for Fronius about Huawei is that they recently overtook SMA as the World's largest 3 inverter phase manufacturer with their range of Fusion commercial (or large residential inverters) so they know what they are doing.

 

Fronius 3 phase smart meter (left) and single phase (right).

 

Fronius product ranges (Australia)

Click the blue links to view the brochure/datasheet for each range.

Primo Range - All are single phase, dual MPPT

Primo 3.0-1 - 3kW AC output, 3.9kW max solar panel power

Primo 4.0-1 - 4.0kW AC output, 5.3kW max solar panel power

Primo 5.0-1 AUS - 4.6kW AC output, 6.1kW max solar panel power

Primo 5.0-1 - 5kW AC output, 6.625kW max solar panel power

Note: We stock both versions of the 5kW Primo. The AUS version is limited to 4.6kW AC
The International version is the full 5kW, allowing two extra panels to be installed.
Both are supported by Fronius in Australia.

Symo Range - All are three phase, Two MPPT

SYMO 3.0-3-M - 3kW AC output, 3.9kW max solar panel power

SYMO 5.0-3-M - 5kW AC output, 6.6kW max solar panel power

SYMO 10.0-3-M - 10kW AC output, 13.3kW max solar panel power

SYMO 5.0-3-S Hybrid inverter works with DC coupled batteries, three phase, but only one MPPT

Fronius - The Company
Austrian company that started manufacturing solar inverters in 1992.

Excellent WIFI and stats.
Stylish appearance
Almost on par with SMA for reliability
Much of the time, 10 year parts warranty, 5 year labour warranty.

Negatives about Fronius inverters

Quite noisy. The fans in even the latest Fronius inverters are frequently louder than any other inverter we've worked with, especially around mid day when its working hardest. If you are a nanny napper or night shift worker, sleeping with a wall close to the inverter, then you probably would be better to go with something else.

Large. The inverters are twice the size of most others, including Huawei. Some might say that means they are better made, and others, like us would say that they don't know as much about fitting a lot of complex electronics into a very small space, and cooling it appropriately as smartphone company Huawei. Of course, installed in a garage, often size really doesn't matter.

Fronius Inverter warranties
The standard warranty for all Fronius inverters is 5 years, parts and labour
As a sales incentive, they frequently offer an extra 5 years warranty on the inverter, but not the labour (e.g. in 2018 an inverter replacement typically costs $170 in labour charges).

Setting up WIFI on Fronius inverters

Fronius WIFI Setup for Android or Apple Smartphones

Download and install the Fronius Solar.web live app for iPhone or Android

Open the app, and press the red icon in the bottom right of the screen and then click

Setup my Fronius Inverter. Then select Grid Connected Inverter.
Go to your Fronius inverter and press the Menu button (2nd button from the right)

Scroll right until you get to the Setup menu and then press Enter (furthest right button)

Scroll down to WIFI Access Point and press Enter and then Enter again to Activate WIFI

On your smartphone go to your WIFI networks list and connect to Fronius.
The temporary password is 12345678.
In the Solar Web app, click SolarWeb Wizard and enter the details
Feed in tariff (what you get paid for surplus power sent back into the grid) in 2016 is 0.07135,
and Grid supply tariff (what you pay Synergy is 0.2647. You will need to update these prices every time Synergy increase their prices. When you have entered the date time and time zone, click Forward

Give your system any name you like and then enter the PV Power in Watts (e.g. if you havea 5.3kW of solar panels then enter 5300) , and then press Forward and then Accept. Select your home WIFI from the list and then enter your home WIFI password and then click Connect. Exit the App and re-connect to your home WIFI.
Test that you can access the Internet, and then re-open the Fronius Solar Web app. I will attempt to connect to the network, and can take a while. When it has connected, click Forward, and then enter a new password for your inverter, replacing the default 12345678, and click Finish.

The app will take you to the solarweb.com website where you need to register for a new account and then fill in all the details requested. You will be emailed a confirmation link to verify your email address for alerts. Respond to this (check your junk folder if you don't see an email, and if it has gone to junk allow all future emails from solarweb.com to be accepted).

Re-open the Solarweb app and click on the red icon in the bottom right again, and click Login to SolarWeb

Enter the email address and password that you used to register your new account and click Log In

It takes about 15 minutes.