Huawei Solar Inverter Review Australia - Updated January 2019

When we saw this tiny and cool looking little white box that claimed to be not just a 5kW inverter, but a full-on battery ready, plug and play hybrid at a trade show for the first time in 2017, we didn't really believe it. "Oh and you can fit optional optimisers on any shaded panels too" cooed the German sounding (turned out to be Romanian) rep on the stand.

"And we will soon have electric car chargers, relays for hot water storage, remotely turn on your AC with solar power and more as we move to a fully integrated home and solar platform."

 

So, suitably impressed, we bought ten Huawei hybrids as soon as they were released and after a week on the test bench getting familiar with the software, we went ahead and installed the first batch. It all went very well indeed and continues to be excellent to this day without the slightest fault. The software is very good both from a user and installer perspective and it's great just to be able to connect remotely with a customer's Huawei inverter and change settings..e.g. to counter high AC voltages from Western Power. Most other inverters we have to travel out to site just to make a simple software change.

 

Huawei support staff are here in Australia (although the Worldwide Huawei inverter support team are based in Romania) and have been very responsive to all our questions, and are happy to correspond with customers too, a service that seems to be getting rarer and rarer with other manufacturers.

 

We haven't stopped selling and installing Fronius, Goodwe etc but it is fair to say that we have not only become a bit of an authority on Huawei, and get a lot of calls and emails from other solar companies here and abroad, but we now install more Huawei than anything else, and with the new 3 phase hybrids due in July, its likely to increase.

 

What has been very interesting to us is the slow but steady change of mind from wholesalers and solar retailers, especially the big ones, who initially took a 'wait and see' approach to Huawei, but now are quite excitedly talking about stocking Huawei now, or soon.

 

So, yes, Huawei residential inverters, released here in Jan 2018 are all hybrids. You can buy a 2kW, 3kW, 4kW, 4.6kW and 5kW single phase hybrid and if you ask me, they are all exactly the same inside (e.g. 5kW) but for sales and marketing reasons they adjust the software to make one a 2kW and another a 5kW. They all are currently compatible with LG Chem LiFePO4 higher voltage batteries...which means that (a) LG best brand (b) Li = Lithium, Fe= Iron, and PO4 = Phosphate, and for those who paid more attention in Science class than me, mean they are the safest chemistry you can currently get for solar battery storage.

 

If you have three phase supply to your home you can install the single phase Huawei inverters but make sure you also get the THREE phase Huawei smart meter so that you can supply power to the other two phases solar and battery. July 2019 will see the release of the Huawei 3 phase hybrids...5kW and 6kW.

 

Huawei have their own optimisers. Most people have no clue what these are, but what they DO is minimise the power losses from shading on solar panels. Some brands, SolarEdge and Enphase are 100% optimisers on every panel, but Huawei have designed their system so you only need put optimisers on the panels that get shaded. At $80 an optimiser that's a big deal. You can also use them to add a few panels on a different roof orientation if space is limited, and of course, if you buy a bit more 'add-ons', you can then view the output of each individual optimised panels in the software.

 

So we, being a small and flexible and oldish and sometimes wise family solar business, and not a huge and job fearing exec-riddled one, got behind Huawei's residential hybrids from the outset, and its been very rewarding to see how every single one of our customers has had no problem at all,and often feels inclined to let everyone else know on internet forums and on blogs of their positive Solar4Ever/Huawei experience. And the fact that every major Australian wholesaler is now clamouring to get on board with Huawei and sending us emails saying "We'll be able to offer you Huawei next quarter at the best price" after spending a year telling their sales reps to knock it down as hard as possible, is, well, frankly, smugly gratifying.

 

New stuff coming in early 2019 ...

 

Huawei may be releasing their own batteries soon which we expect will be substantially cheaper than LG. (Previously said WILL be, but Huawei seem to be taking a 'wait till we formally announce it' attitude on this now to hose down over-enthusiastic wholesalers, and also whether they are going to be supporting other batteries like BYD, etc is going to be announced when they are good and ready. Nothing wrong with that, but ...damn.).

 

There are also two 3 phase hybrid Huawei 'FusionHome' inverters coming, now due July 2019 (previously expected Feb 2019...a 5kW and a 6kW model. While Huawei already have a huge range of three phase inverters from 8kW to 55kW, they are not hybrids and are designed primarily for commercial not residential applications.

 

In July 2019 you can get their EPS unit. This is an external box, in the same classy white box style (nice !!) as the Huawei inverter, that can be retro-fitted to any FusionHome Huawei inverter and does two jobs....

 

Job 1 is to allow people to install longer strings of panels and still connect to the LG Chem battery. The LG Chem has a 500V input voltage limit so even though Huawei allow 600V strings of panels normally, when the battery is connected, it must be just under 500V. This would typically mean that a long 14 panel string needs to be no more than 12 panels when the LG battery is connected. The new EPS unit will fix that by reducing the voltage of a long string down to 495V when required (a freezing cold but very sunny morning), before it reaches the battery. Fronius have a similar product called "Checkbox 500V" to do the exact same job when connecting to LG batteries with their Symo Hybrid product.

 

Job 2 is to provide Emergency Power from the battery to the house in the event of a mains failure. Obviously  you can't run your whole house with oven and pumps and A/C etc off any solar battery, or at least not for very long. Normally an electrician would wire up an emergency circuit including some essential lights and outlets powering your fridge, garage door and TV (life must go on eh?) so that when the power fails the battery will power the circuit for a while.

 

We expect both three phase hybrids by February 2019 and the EPS by April 2019. The other product on the horizon for the FusionHome is the 'Smart Energy Hub' which is by all accounts being trialled in the USA at the moment. Details are very thin on the ground as to how it will actually work with the Huawei inverter but apparently it will allow you to to heat your hot water, turn on your pool pump, your A/C, or even individual appliances plugged into power outlets. Wait and see on that one.

 

The Huawei inverters are small, light, stylish and have no fan. A patented internal cooling system works remarkably well. As an example, on 22nd December 2018 at 2.15pm, it hit 41.2°C in Perth (Source BOM). Logging into one of our installations via NetEco, the passively cooled (fanless) Huawei inverter we can see that the Huawei internal temperature (installed inside a garage) was 68.9 °C and yet, the inverter still worked at 98.29% efficiency.

 

The Huawei Smart meter (Smart Sensor as they call it) was originally made by a third party, but now Huawei make their own and as a result the price has dropped. The purpose of the meter is to monitor your home power use and all the imports and exports of power through your Synergy meter. You can see this in real time or historically in the NetEco reporting software. The Huawei smart meter adds $300 to the cost of a single phase install and $360 to a three phase install but it is well worth it...although just like the Fronius smart meter, you do need quite a lot of spare space in your switchboard for the meter.

 

For those with shade problems Huawei have their own optimisers. Unlike Enphase or SolarEdge, you don't need to put Huawei optimisers on every panel; just the ones that get some shade. You also don't need to be as careful with panel string lengths as you do with SolarEdge. You can have as few as four panels on a string or as many as fourteen, and with the new EPS box, you don't have to worry about having too much voltage from those 14 panels tripping the LG battery on a very cold but sunny morning when the panels are producing more voltage than normal for a short while.

 

The Huawei optimisers can also be used to split a string of panels over two or more roof sections, something that can't be done with a regular unoptimised inverter. You could, for example have nine panels on your North roof and a further three or four panels on your East roof, and as long as the East roof panels are fitted with optimisers, it all works great. We've done quite a few installs like this over the past year, and split strings really do work very well.

 

If you are really into monitoring every aspect of your solar install then you can purchase the Huawei Smart Energy Box which then allows you to see the output for each individual solar panel fitted with a Huawei optimiser. It costs $390. It can also be used to completely de-energise the optimised panels at ground level before you or others go up on the roof to work.

The NetEco software also has a string level I-V Curve diagnotic feature for those who want to really drill down on what their installation of panels is doing.

 

The NetEco reporting software is totally free and exceptionally good. Really well written code and easy to use. An even better software product (or so Huawei support staff say) to be called 'FusionSolar' is being introduced in 2019 although it is very hard to imagine what else they could possibly be including that NetEco doesn't already have.

 

The WIFI signal from the inverter is also very strong..much stronger that most other inverters we have worked with, so even tucked a long way away in your garage, it should have no trouble transmitting to your WIFI router. As installers it really is a joy, and a time and cost saver, to be able to adjust parameters to counter high network AC voltages (an increasingly common problem) as we have done with Fronius for years, but to do it remotely from our office in NetEco, and not by having to go out to site and push buttons on the inverter itself.

 

The Huawei warranty is 10 years for the product and 5 years for the labour. If you want to add 5 years to the labour to make it 10 years, then we will add that to your contract for $100.

 

It's a top quality product. You can see and feel it from the moment you take it out of the box. In fact we are slightly offended by just HOW MUCH wrapping of every single plug and component there is. Solar is meant to be about saving money AND helping the environment but no-one seems to have told the packaging department at Huawei. Whilst all that wrapping yells 'quality', it really is a bit over the top.

 

Pricing:

5kW single phase, 2 x MPPT, hybrid - $1,540.
3kW single phase, 2 x MPPT, hybrid - $1,505.

2kW single phase, 2 x MPPT, hybrid - $1,253.

 

5kW three phase, 2 x MPPT, hybrid - $2,300 *

6kW three phase, 2 x MPPT, hybrid - $2,400 *

* Prices not 100% confirmed yet, stock expected February 2019

 

If we compare the price for the 5kW Huawei against other inverters then it comes out looking very good indeed. The popular European made 5kW Fronius Primo, currently not a hybrid is $2,020 and any good 5kW non hybrid Chinese inverter like Goodwe, Sungrow, Zever etc are all around $1,100 to $1,200. It makes sense to many people to get so much more included in the Huawei than Fronius or the cheaper non hybrids, especially with battery subsidies ($2,000) and lower battery prices (Huawei own brand battery coming soon) AND rising power prices (Synergy recently added another 2 cents per kWh) making likely battery payback times 5-6 years, instead of 10 years or more as has been the case for the last couple of years.

 

Huawei are best known to Australians for their smart phones and are now world No.2 behind Samsung having recently overtaken Apple IPhone. I noticed recently that my home internet router was Huawei and now I'm aware of it, I see Huawei gear all of the place. They are the 83rd largest corporation in the World according to Fortune 500 magazine. They are battling it out with SMA and Sungrow for bragging rights as the largest solar inverter manufacturer, but as one telecom engineer told me at a trade show, "Huawei don't mess about. When they decide to enter a new market, they go in boots and all and don't relax until they are No.1".

 

 

We are asked pretty much every day about whether it is better to buy a hybrid inverter or buy a regular inverter and then buy an AC coupled battery inverter later. In our opinion there is absolutely no doubt. Buy the hybrid and here's why.

 

Huawei hybrid ($1,540) + Smart Meter ($300) + LG Battery ($7500) = $9,340

against

Fronius Primo ($2,020) + Smart Meter ($300) + AC Coupled inverter ($2,500) + AC Coupled inverter smart meter ($300) + LG Battery ($7500) = $12,620

 

Plus with Huawei it's one small inverter on the wall, not two large ones, one 10 year warranty, not one inverter with 10 years and the other with 5 years warranty and one fully integrated software management and reporting system, against two completely separate reporting systems.

 

And if that was not compelling argument enough, the hybrid system is significantly more efficient (lower conversion losses) than the AC coupled option. With the hybrid the surplus DC panel power is stored in the battery and when it is required by the house it is converted just one time to AC.

 

The two inverter solution requires the first inverter (Fronius) to convert all the panel power to AC, then the second inverter intercepts the surplus AC power heading out to the street and stores it in the battery until needed by the house, whereupon it is converted from the DC battery storage (all battery storage is DC) to AC again.

 

Photo gallery

Small, light, stylish and totally silent. Huawei Fusion Home pictured below


 

But is this amount of packaging with the inverter really necessary?

 

Huawei are genuinely battery ready

Left Fronius. No battery connection there. Right Huawei with + and - connectors for batteries

Fronius is twice the size and weight of Huawei, and has a noisy fan. Most inverter models have about a 4-5 year life before new models come out. Fronius are there now, whilst Huawei have been out for just a year. Long enough to prove the new technology works.

The 3 phase Huawei (Feb 2019) is a bit wider

 

Pictured below, single phase and three phase Huawei smart meters

 

 

Pictured below Huawei optimiser (cost approx $90)

 

Pictured below Huawei Smart Energy Box for panel level reporting

 

Two examples of real time panel level reporting from Huawei optimised panels in NetEco.

Example 1. Very late afternoon snapshot of 21 x 285W panels

Example 2. Mid day snapshot of 16 x 300W panels

 

LG Chem high voltage batteries pictured below plug directly into the underside of Huawei FusionHome inverters. Huawei will be releasing their own batteries in 2019.

 

Huawei NetEco software for web browser and smartphone
It's fantastic. All the reports YOU, our customer wants, and all the programming options, WE need to keep your system performing at its peak. Emailed reports, and alarm alerts, cabinet temperatures and so much more. I've said already how well designed the software is.

Pictured below is the real time view of current production that updates every couple of seconds. You can see the voltage and current of the solar panels, and the grid voltage and current above the line, and below the line the AC power output to the left, the consumption (loads) of power in the house and the amount of power that is being exported and imported through the Western Power meter to the right.

 

There are of course far more reports both real time and historical than just this.

 

We get quite a few emails and phone calls from other solar companies around Australia (and more recently from other places around the World) asking for our opinions about Huawei. It would appear that our experience with Huawei inverters has been noticed by search engines.

From an installer perspective they are more interested in reliability and programming and installation than the features. Reverse of the 'sell the sizzle not the sausage'. For those installers who love Fronius, SMA, Enphase, and SolarEdge and other quality products, we direct you to this page...it will tell you everything you want to know.

 

Latest WORLD inverter sales market share report (2017).
Huawei (20%) lead SMA (13%), SolarEdge (8%), Fronius 7th (4%) and Enphase 9th (3%)
Interesting that all the popular cheaper inverters we see in Australia like Goodwe, Sungrow, Delta, Zeversolar, SolaX, and Growatt account for no more than 2% individually and 17% collectively.

 

Models
All the models are physically the same size, with all the same features.

Battery interface built in
Dual tracking
WIFI and smartphone/browser reporting built-in
Optional DC optimisers
Optional smart meter

 

Huawei Australia Support Team

Based in Sydney, hotline 1800 046 639
We have found Jack there particularly good to work with and he is happy to speak with installers and customers alike 0424 272 882 Email jack.li1@huawei.com

 

 

Click here for brochure/datasheet for Huawei FusionHome single phase Hybrid models

SUN2000L 2kW, 3kW, 4kW, 4.6kW and 5kW.

 

WIFI setup instructions for installers and end users

Note. For larger 3 phase non hybrid installations the Huawei Fusion Solar inverters (8kW, 12kW, 17kW, 20kW and 33kW) inverters are available. They are really excellent, World leading in fact, but an entirely different technology to these FusionHome residential inverters.

Options
Hauwei DC optimisers are $90 each installed.
Huawei single phase smart meter $300

Huawei 3 phase smart meter $360

Huawei Smart Energy Box $390

 

Compatible batteries.
The Huawei inverter currently only connects to the LG Chem RESU 7H and 10H high voltage (400V) solar storage batteries. The 10H currently costs $7,500 + approx $400 install

Huawei will have their own battery range in 2019 but no specs or costs yet.

Watch this space !!