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Huawei Solar Inverter Review Australia - Updated February 2019

 

Huawei residential solar inverters are all hybrids which means they are plug and play ready to connect a battery. In the picture above the little white box is the Huawei inverter, the big silver grey one, the LG Chem battery.

 

The single phase Huawei hybrids range in size from 2kW to 5kW and the three phase range due in July 2019 will be a 5kW and 6kW model.

 

In order for the inverter to know when to store surplus power in the battery, or release it to power a load in the house, there needs to be a meter continuously monitoring the household loads. Huawei have a single phase AND a 3 phase smart meter allowing you to install the single phase inverters on a 3 phase supply and by the magic of net metering, provide solar and battery power to the other two phases (see note at bottom of this page). The single phase meter takes up 2 poles in the switchboard, the 3 phase meter, 4 poles, and you can install them without a battery if you want detailed reporting of your home power consumption and imports and exports.

The single phase Huawei smart sensor is $350, the three phase $400 with an LCD screen so you can see what's going on at both the switchboard and in the software.

 

In the screen capture from the Huawei reporting software below, the Huawei smart sensor is reporting the house load being 0.662kW. The available solar power is 4.569kW, so 3.907kW (shown as Active Power in the Smart Meter) of the 4.569kW production is being exported back to the grid, and later, into a battery instead.

Single phase Huawei meter on left, three phase on right.

 

 

Like SolarEdge, Huawei have their own optimisers that can be attached to any solar panel giving it an independent MPPT. The good news is that with Huawei you don't HAVE to buy them (SolarEdge require one on every panel), you only buy them for any panels that will get some shade. You can also use them to split strings of panels across different roof orientations...e.g. 8 panels on North, and 4 panels on East. The optimisers cost $90 each and have a 25 year warranty. Pictured below Optimiser left, Smart Energy Box right.

 

 

If you buy the optional Smart Energy Box ($390) you can then see the output of the optimised panels in Huawei's excellent and free smartphone/web browser software.

Pictured below, 16 panels with Huawei optimisers showing their individual outputs.

 

Another function of the Huawei Smart Safety Box is to safely and instantly de-energise the optimised panels. (Same function as SolarEdge's SafeDC). This means that if someone has to go into or onto the roof you can shut the panels down (max 1 Volt) so that people can work in absolute safety.

 

It a well-known fact that as inverters get hotter they produce less power. It's called de-rating.

That's why it is not a good idea to install an inverter in direct sunlight. When we heard that Huawei had their own patented internal cooling system, and no fan, we were a bit sceptical, but the evidence is undeniable. It works amazingly well. Case in point, 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. It hadn't de-rated at all. Screen capture from software below.

 

Having no fan and being made to a very high standard, these inverters are silent. Nothing to hear at all and whilst they get quite warm to the touch when they are working hard, they aren't hot. You can comfortably touch it.

 

The Huawei inverters weigh 10kg and are very small. Pictured below, Huawei 5kW hybrid and Fronius Primo 5kW (non hybrid). Half the size !!

 

 

There are quite a few solar companies that are still selling regular non hybrid inverters as 'battery ready', which is bending the truth and leading people down a path that will cost them an extra $2,500 later when they want batteries (read all about it here). A genuine battery ready inverter, a hybrid, is easy to spot. It has the negative and positive input terminals for the battery as pictured below on the Huawei.

Left, Fronius Primo, no battery terminals so not a hybrid, right Huawei.

 

One of the criticisms levelled at Huawei  hybrids is that they don't have any sort of emergency power supply in the event the mains fails. By July 2019, Huawei willl have their EPS box. It's external to the inverter meaning it can be retro-fitted to any existing Huawei hybrid and will provide the back-up battery power people have been asking for. At the same time, we have been told that there may be support for other batteries than LG, and even rumours of their own battery. Most solar batteries have a maximum input limit of 500V, LG included, so to address this, the EPS unit will also reduce any solar voltages down to just below 500V before it reaches the battery. This allows for designers to connect up to 14 panels on a string without worrying about overvoltage tripping the battery on a freezing cold but sunny morning voltages will be at their peak.

 

All of the Huawei inverters are dual MPPT and require 120V to start up. That's 4 panels minimum. Once started they only need 90V to carry on running which means they will be working that little bit longer into the twilight than some others.

 

Huawei are comfortably the largest solar inverter manufacturer in the World
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.

 

 

 

Warranty for all the Huawei inverters is 10 years for parts and 5 years for labour. We haven't had a single fault on any Huawei inverters, and judging by the praise from users around Australia on internet forums, no-one else has had any issues either. Huawei have their main solar support team in Romania, but fortunately an excellent small team are here in Australia too. Based in Sydney, hotline 1800 046 639

 

WIFI setup

There is a helpful installation and user guide included with each inverter but if you want more detailed step by step help, we have produced our own guide. Click here

 

Having been used to driving out to customer sites armed with a USB stick to apply inverter software changes or to adjust settings to counter high Western Power voltages, it has been a very pleasant change to be able to remotely connect to the Huawei inverters to do all that.

 

The software is very well-written and provides comprehensive reporting at both a customer and installer level. We were therefore very surprised to hear that there is new and improved reporting software coming. We  have no idea what they could possibly be adding. The current version even provides I-V Curve analysis, something that no-one else, to our knowledge, offers. The free and included WIFI strength is very strong too.

 

Price

Most people have no clue what a solar inverter costs because the price is hidden in a total installed cost after deducting STCs (rebate).

 

A regular non hybrid 5kW single phase Chinese made inverter of perfectly good quality and reliability from Goodwe, Sungrow and a small number of others, costs about $1,200 with usually, WIFI included and a 5 year warranty that can be upgraded to 10 years for $100.

To add a battery to one of these inverers down the track requires either chucking out the inverter and replacing it with a hybrid, which is probably the cheapest option, or else buying a second battery inverter that connects to the switchboard (AC coupled as it is commonly called) at a cost including installation, smart meter and the inverter, of currently no less than $2,500. So 'battery ready" as advertised by some, ends up costing at least $3,700.

 

By contrast, the 5kW Huawei hybrid costs $1,700 and an extra $350 for the smart meter and then the battery simply plugs into the underneath of the inverter. Neat, elegant, and ultimately much cheaper, with one 10 year warranty covering everything and one software program reporting on everything

 

One of the most popular inverter brands in Australia is Austrian made Fronius. The Fronius Primo is currently not a hybrid, although a single phase hybrid version is due to be released some time this year (pictured below). The current non hybrid Fronius costs $2,000.

Fronius Review here

Fronius Primo Hybrid due sometime in 2019.

 

Another popular inverter is SolarEdge. Their 5kW single phase HD Wave inverter costs $1,550 and to make it into a hybrid an extra box is added costing $700, WIFI an extra $90, and smart meter $390. So all up $2,730...but then you also have to buy an optimiser for every panel at $70 (cheaper than Huawei's and in our opinion not as good quality). If you have 22 panels that's 22 x $70 ($1540) more or $4,270 in total. Mind you, to match that feature for feature with Huawei it would cost only about $300 less. SolarEdge review here

 

Batteries

The ONLY batteries that are currently compatible with Huawei are the market leading and reportedly safest, Higher Voltage (400V), LG Chem 7kW and 10kW models. To avoid the risk of over-heating, Lithium batteries, have a battery management system (BMS) built-in and in turn the inverter needs to be able to communicate with this BMS which is why it often takes a lot of time and testing before both battery manufacturer and inverter manufacturer are ready to  shake hands. Other batteries will in time become available to work with Huawei, but time and testing goes on. For now it's LG Chem.

 

At the moment these batteries are costing about $800 per kW of storage, so $8,000 for a 10kW battery. The value of that stored power at current electricty prices in Perth is $775 a year if 10kWh of battery storage is used every single day. Not very good economics, BUT there is the Labor promise of a $2,000 rebate if elected, and even whispers that the REBS scheme (payment for surplus power) be withdrawn and replaced with a battery subsidy at state level. It's already happening over in some of the Eastern States. If all of that brings an $8,000 battery down to $4,000 and a 5 year return on investment, then very clearly, it would be game on for batteries in WA.

 

 

Datasheet and brochure - Huawei inverter

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

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

 

Datasheet LG Chem HV RESU batteries

Click here

 

Our opinion on Huawei FusionHome hybrid inverters

Simple to install, great reporting software, 100% reliable so far, great local support from Huawei, hybrid right out of the box even on the 2kW and 3kW models, optional optimisers, 10 year warranty from one of the largest companies in the World, and the World's largest solar inverter manufacturer, silent and priced exactly right. A conveyor belt of new enhancements coming like the 3 phase models, the EPS backup power box, more battery support, and even electric car chargers and home and solar appliance integration (Smart Home). What's not to like?

 

 

Photo gallery

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

10 kg and 350mm high and wide.

 

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 may be releasing their own batteries soon.

 

 

 

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

2kW, 3kW, 4kW, 4.6kW and 5kW single phase

Battery interface built in
Dual tracking
WIFI and smartphone/browser reporting built-in
Optional DC optimisers
Optional single and 3 phase smart meters.

 

Huawei Australia Support Team

Based in Sydney, hotline 1800 046 639

 

 

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 $350

Huawei 3 phase smart meter $400

Huawei Smart Energy Box $390

 

Should you wait for the 3 phase Huawei hybrid?

If you live anywhere in Australia where you are permitted to install a 5kW single phase inverter on a 3 phase supply, then no, just get the existing 5kW inverter and add the Huawei 3 phase smart sensor and you are fine to connect batteries that will be able to power your home on any phase (thanks to how Net Metering works).

 

However, if you live in WA, as do we, then the answer is a bit different. You can't connect a 5kW single phase inverter here on three phase, the best you can do is a 3kW and a 2kW and whilst we can hook these up in a 'master/slave' setup, and we can connect the 3 phase smart meter the drawback is that the battery can only connect to the 'master' inverter, which means in most cases a max of 4kW of panel power can be used to charge up your battery (3kW inverter oversized with 4kW of panels). That's probably going to be fine, but it would be better to have the 3 phase hybrid here in WA so you get the full potential panel power of perhaps 6.6kW charging the battery. So, our advice is, if you can, wait until July 2019 for the 5kW hybrid, and if you can't wait, and if your daytime use is fairly low, then its unlikely to matter and 4kW of panels should comfortably be able to provide the 11kWh to fully recharge a 10kWh battery. each day. (4kW of panels on North produces 19kWh per day on average).