Which is the best 5kW home solar inverter?

 

We've been pleased to see reviews from our customers over the years saying things about us like..."Brand agnostic", "not-pushy" and words to that effect. It's true. We always try and fit the inverter to the needs of the client, not try and force everyone into the same inverter.

That said, there is very little doubt in our minds these past couple of years where at least 50% of people should go, and they are No.1 on our list below.

1. Huawei
2. SolarEdge
3. Growatt
4. Goodwe
5. Fronius
6= SMA, Q.Cells, Delta, Sungrow, ABB, Enphase and others

 

1.
The best all-rounder would have to be the 5kW Huawei L1 single phase battery inverter.

At $1,700 with a full 10-year warranty, or $2,075 with a full 15-year warranty, backed by one of the largest corporations in the World, and comfortably the largest solar inverter manufacturer, this is great tech and bang for buck.

Huawei's own 5-30kWh battery plugs directly into the inverter, plug and play with backup during grid outages available. If you have any shade, or need panels on multiple roof orientations, or simply want to see the output of individual panels, then you can connect Huawei's own DC 450W optimisers ($90) to any panels you choose.

The Huawei smart meter really adds to the already excellent free Fusionsolar reporting, providing self-consumption, import and export data 24 hours a day
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Huawei's M0 3 phase inverter ($1,900) is also very good, but if you need optimisers and battery backup during grid outages, then the M1 due December 2020 may be worth waiting for, as the M0 doesn't support either.


Long term, what's reassuring about Huawei is that the inverters, the batteries, the optimisers are all made by Huawei and therefore not only integrated in a single reporting platform, but also supported for their life, with future upgrades, by Huawei.

2.
Coming in second is SolarEdge with their single phase HD Wave inverter ($1590).

SolarEdge are an Israeli company with their products made in China.

Like Huawei, they have their own DC optimisers ($90 each), an external battery input ($850), a generous twelve year warranty, strong WIFI, and excellent reporting software.

If you want to charge your electric vehicle then SolarEdge have an EV charger option too that plugs right into the inverter ($2,200).

If you have three phase power then waiting until 2021 when they release their own new battery and new 3 phase battery inverter seems wise. Price unknown.

SolarEdge and Huawei really are a step above everything else. With SolarEdge, the only issue is price.

SolarEdge require an optimiser on every panel which adds $1620 to the typical 18 x 370W panel installation. Huawei let you put their optimisers where you want, all panels, some or none at all.

Unlike Huawei, SolarEdge don't have the battery interface built-in but by adding their Storedge ($800) external interface, SolarEdge can connect to LG and BYD batteries, not their own (but it's coming in 2021).

If you fully optimised a Huawei system though, the price difference between SolarEdge and Huawei would come down to about $750.



3.
Growatt, one of the cheapest in all categories, are third. There will be solar sales reps reading this and no doubt choking on their corn flakes. Growatt...3rd???

If your budget is tight, and a ten-year solar plan is all you realistically need before moving to a new house (which is about 70% of people), then the single-phase X ($1,100) and battery inverter XH ($1,300) are perfectly good enough and will save you several hundred dollars over Huawei. The XH is also an unusual battery inverter in that it can connect to both high voltage (LG Chem) and low voltage (Growatt's own) batteries.

It's not that Growatt are any better than Goodwe, Sungrow, Delta etc, it's simply that they get the job done, with a proven track record with us (Growatt were our very first inverter brand) going back ten years, at a great price. Growatt have a new three phase battery inverter coming out before the end of 2020.



4.
Goodwe have a huge array of solar inverters. Their basic 5kW single ($1,200) and three phase ($1,760) inverters are fine, but Growatt do it just as well and a bit cheaper, but their 3-phase battery ET inverter ($3,300) and their single phase EH ($2,200) and ES model ($2,500) are really excellent, especially if having UPS backup during mains failure is very important to you. All of the Goodwe battery inverters are compatible with BYD batteries with the EH and ET working with the 2.76kWh BYD high voltage battery modules, and the ES working with the 4kWh BYD low voltage stackable batteries.

Goodwe uniquely have their MS model, a 3 x MPPT inverter ($1,450). That means you can have panels on three roof orientations without compromising by using optimisers or parallel strings They also have some 'after-market' inverters to allow connection of batteries to homes that don't have a battery solar inverter. There are some Goodwe inverters that have full integration built-in with Tigo optimisers so they can provide panel level reporting in the Goodwe SEMS portal reporting. What a great range.



5.
Fronius come in fifth. Reliability, not latest technology, is the reason people go for Fronius. With such a long and distinguished track record in inverter manufacturing, Austrian Fronius are the bench-mark for reliability, but the penalty for that is their technology upgrades move incredibly slowly. The current models have been around since 2013 whereas Huawei, perhaps because of their history in smartphones, update their models every couple of years; which of course can also be just as annoying as not updating at all, because you buy the current model and then the next one comes out with even more great stuff.

No battery support, no optimisers on the existing Primo ($1,980) and Symo ($2,350) models. Fronius have just released the Symo GEN24 Plus battery inverter ($4,500) that works with BYD batteries. It's three phase, smallest size 6kW largest 10kW, so no 5kW model which hurts a bit in WA because you lose the feed in tariff. The single phase version of Primo GEN 24 Plus is due by first quarter 2021. At $4,500 for the 6kW GEN24+ it's pretty expensive and its 'backup' features are being pushed very hard. If you suffer regular grid outages then this might be what you want but I'd look at Goodwe as well.

6.
6th equal is to recognise that there are many more inverters out there that have some merits.

Delta have their standard single phase H5A 222 inverter ($1,490) which has the smart meter built-in, so no switchboard space required. The CT cable runs directly from the inverter to wrap around the main input cable. Delta also have a battery inverter, the E5 which can run the critical load back-up circuit during grid failure from the panels and the battery, or just the panels if there is no battery connected. Q.Cells Q.Volt does this too.

Q.Cells, long known for their German design and top quality panels, made in South Korea, have recently released not only their own inverter, the Q.Volt ($3,135) but also a battery made by Samsung. All South Korean made which is great for anyone looking for a 100% non Chinese solar solution.
The 5kW single phase inverter can, apparently, also be connected to three phase in WA. If so, that's the first Western Power have allowed to do this since about 2011.

You can stack 3 x 4kWh Q.Home batteries ($3,795 each) or 3 x 6.3kWh (5,990 each). The critical load circuit, in the event of power failure, can be supplied by the panels, the battery, or both.

SMA, a long established German company deserve a mention. They now make their 5kW single Sunny Boy ($2,035) and three phase Tripower models ($2,350) in China, which has brought the cost down a little, and they have been slow to release a battery inverter for DC coupling. They do however have the Sunny Boy Storage inverter which provides a second inverter battery solution for those who already have solar connecting to high voltage batteries including LG Chem and BYD.

ABB, the Swiss giant, recently sold off their solar inverter business to Italian company Fimer and whilst not exceptional products in terms of functionality, the UNO standard and React 2 battery inverters are well made and a good choice for those who don't want Chinese made, but can't justify the premium for Q.Cells or Fronius.

Sungrow are World No.2 inverter manufacturer after Huawei. Their single phase ($1,425) and three phase ($1,995) standard inverters are solid and their three phase battery inverter model SH5.0RT ($3,950) which connects to the Samsung PowCube 4.5kWh battery is a bit pricey for what it offers.

Enphase micro inverters are installed on every panel ($225 each) with no central inverter, just a communications 'Gateway' ($500) to report on your solar production. The micros work like optimisers in limiting losses from shade, providing installations across multiple roof orientations and they convert the DC panel power to AC right there on the roof. The downside for that rooftop AC conversion is that you can't plug in a battery, so you have to get a second inverter and battery as you would with a standard string inverter.

There are other inverters out there... Solis, KStar, SAJ, SolaX. No experience with any of these. Seen their wholesale prices and all seem to be aimed at the price sensitive buyer, but we have never installed any, so can't comment.

This link takes you to the latest PV Magazine report on solar inverter global market share.

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