SolarEdge Inverter and Optimiser – Greenworks Inverter

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Review of the SolarEdge Inverter and Optimiser – Greenworks Inverter

 

What characteristics distinguish an excellent solar inverter?

The differences between inverters were pretty significant when we initially started supplying and installing solar 10 years ago. Some inverters could be installed outside, while others couldn’t; conversion efficiency ranged from 92 to 97 percent, and most inverters included a transformer and were rather heavy to move — how times have changed!

In terms of claimed feature sets, today’s typical string inverters are almost comparable. You’d have a hard time telling the inverters apart if you took the branding off the top of the spec sheet and set them side by side. However, under the hood, the situation is very different, and we know from experience that inverters are built differently, resulting in varying levels of reliability and performance amongst brands.

Greenworks Inverter 

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Measuring dependability is a highly subjective task, and getting reliable numbers from manufacturers is practically impossible – they all claim to have a failure rate of less than 1%! Industry professionals have widely varied opinions on what constitutes a good, dependable inverter, and it always amazes us how one installer’s wonderful experience can be matched by another’s terrible experience.

SolarEdge Inverter and Optimiser - Greenworks Inverter

Comparison

SolarEdge- Greenworks Inverter

PowerDrive Power Inverter

SolarEdge Inverter and Optimiser - Greenworks Inverter 61PRMobf9 L. AC SL1200
Brand Greenworks
Brand PowerDrive
Item Weight 1.02 Pounds
Item Weight 13 Pounds
Item Dimensions LxWxH 3.82 x 2.76 x 0.9 inches
Item Dimensions LxWxH 16.2 x 16.3 x 7.6 inches
Output Voltage 120 Volts
Output Voltage 120 Volts
Efficiency 78%
Efficiency 88%

The manufacturer’s support is crucial.

During that ten-year period, we’ve had both good and negative experiences with practically all of the main inverter brands. The most noteworthy part, though, is how efficiently the manufacturer assisted us when something went wrong. SolarEdge is without a doubt one of the best firms we’ve worked with. Their support is one of the reasons we continue to provide their products to our valued clients, and we know that no matter what the issue is, SolarEdge will work to handle it quickly and effectively. One of the reasons we give SolarEdge a positive evaluation is because of this.

While assistance is the most important consideration for us, we also examine the following factors when deciding which items to give our clients (in order of importance):

  • Technical assistance
  • Safety
  • Reliability, longevity, and quality are all terms that are sometimes used interchangeably.
  • Product flexibility, such as the option to later add a battery or connect a hot water system
  • Manufacturer’s financial stability
  • Commitment to R&D — how forward-thinking is the firm, and do they invest extensively in innovation?

The cost (note this one comes last for us)

There is no such thing as a perfect score, but the top manufacturers come close, and SolarEdge is one of them. This is especially true in the areas of flexibility, research and development, safety, and support.

40V inverter

Power Electronics at the Module Level

SolarEdge differs from the competition in that it optimizes the production of your solar PV system using Module Level Power Electronics (MLPE). This is definitely worthy of its own blog article, but we’ll try to summarize what MLPE accomplishes for you and how it varies from traditional string inverter setups.

A basic solar panel consists of a string of 60 or 120 cells connected to a junction box located on the panel’s rear. Several bypass diodes are housed in the junction box, which turn parts of the panel off if they are shaded. This reduces the overall performance of your solar system beyond the effect of the shade on one panel. Unfortunately, in standard solar setups, there is a flow-on effect to the rest of the panels in the system, reducing the overall performance of your solar system beyond the effect of the shade on one panel.

By including two Maximum Power Point Trackers (MPPTs) in the inverter, standard string inverters reduce the influence of shade. Throughout the day, these MPPTs are always attempting to create a balance between voltage and current in order to maximize the amount of power produced. If one or two panels are shaded, it will try to keep the power on that string as high as feasible. Most string inverters include two of these MPPTs, so if an east facing panel is shaded in the morning, it can be completely isolated from the panels facing north, which are in the sunlight.

Greenworks Inverter 

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 US Consumers

The power optimizer is now available.

SolarEdge takes a completely different approach to this problem by including a power optimiser in the back of each panel. Instead of being limited to two MPPTs, these power optimisers effectively add an MPPT to the rear of each panel, allowing each panel to output its maximum power and extracting more energy from your solar system.

These module level power optimizers provide a slew of other benefits in addition to having the MPPT in the back of each panel:

Higher system output – optimizer technology not only enhances system output, whether partially shaded or not, but it also mitigates panel power losses caused by heat, soiling, manufacturing variance, or panel ageing.

When the inverter is turned off, the voltage from the panels and DC wiring lowers to a safe level (1-volt times the number of panels), rather than the 400V-500V that a normal solar system generates from the roof.

Monitoring at the panel level allows you to see what each panel is doing and follow the performance over time, which is critical if you ever have a performance warranty issue.

SolarEdge’s new design capabilities enable a whopping 6.66kW of panels to be put on a single long string on its inverter up to 5kW. This not only cuts down on the amount of other components you’ll need on the roof, such as DC isolators, but it also improves your ability to offset power losses caused by shading, multiple orientations, or soiling.

Installation versatility – in actuality, you can add any sort of panel you want (with some exceptions) across multiple different orientations, and it’s simple to swap out panels for a new model if you run into problems (the panel specs don’t have to match). This also allows you to expand the system in the future, which may be important when using a battery.

In conclusion, MLPE is a superior technique in our perspective and in our SolarEdge review, and we believe it will become the standard for solar panels over time, whether utilizing power optimizers or another MPLE variant.

Image in the Row

Greenworks Inverter 

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 US Consumers

This industry was founded on incremental advances.

SolarEdge just released a new inverter with HD-Wave technology that has a conversion efficiency of 99.2 percent, which is 1.5 percent higher than its predecessor.

These small victories have shaped the industry into what it is today. Big leaps in efficiency are uncommon in any type of electronics; incremental improvements are what drives innovation and keeps this industry moving forward. Inverter efficiency has been stagnant for a long time, so seeing SolarEdge push the envelope and produce an inverter with a record-breaking 99 percent weighted conversion efficiency is about as near to perfection as you can get. Another reason for our favorable opinion of SolarEdge.

40V inverter

The combination of SolarEdge with batteries is ideal.

For batteries, DC coupling is a better solution.

Transferring electricity from your solar panels to a battery can be done in two ways. The first way is AC coupling, in which the DC electricity from your solar panels is converted to AC by a solar inverter before being sent to a second inverter that controls the battery’s charging and discharging. We should also clarify that the battery can only be charged using DC power, therefore you’ll have to convert the electricity back to AC to charge the battery. A small amount of electricity is lost every time there is a power conversion.

The second way is known as DC coupling, in which the solar panels can directly charge the battery with DC power. The major benefit of this method is that it allows all of the charging to take place without converting any of the current to AC. This method is more efficient and uses less components to connect your battery to your solar panel, reducing the number of points of failure in the system.

Most grid connection constraints relate to the AC output of your inverter, not the number of solar panels (DC) you install, therefore DC coupling is a great method to increase the size of the system you may install at your home. Take a look at the graph below for a system with a 6kW SolarEdge inverter and 9.99kW of solar panels to see how this works in more detail:

Greenworks Inverter 

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The power peaks considerably above 6kW on the green curve, which represents the entire output of the solar panels. So, given that it’s only a 6kW inverter, how is this possible? Simply said, any surplus DC electricity generated by solar panels is routed directly to the battery (the blue line), allowing the battery to charge more quickly. There is no conversion to AC (which results in electrical losses) and there is no rejection by the local network operator (who mandate an AC limit but have provided us with special dispensation to use a 6kW inverter if we ask nicely).

In early 2021, there will be two new inverter solutions.

SolarEdge has introduced two new inverters to the Australian market as of January 2021.

camping power camp battery inverter power

Genesis HD-Wave:

For installations up to 6.66kW – Australia’s most popular system size – the HD-Wave Genesis combines all of SolarEdge’s typical features with improved cost and single string construction. With this revolutionary technique, up to 6.66 kW of DC solar power can be put in a single string, and the array only requires one DC isolator. Installing this setup will need fewer components and labor hours, resulting in cheaper prices for our clients. The HD Wave Genesis is designed to fit any shape of roof, to cope well with shade (as do other SolarEdge inverters), and to be a cost-competitive option against more basic string inverters, thanks to an attractive new pricing point.

Three-phase inverter of the New Generation:

SolarEdge’s new generation three phase inverter will be released in 2021 as the company’s second product. For us and our clients, this is a long-awaited solution. Before 2021, SolarEdge featured a three-phase inverter, but it was difficult to design with and the installation would be labor costly due to the complicated string structure. So, depending on the house consumption pattern, we would install one or two single phase SolarEdge inverters instead of three phase SolarEdge inverters when designing larger systems on three phase households (whether there was big loads in the middle of the day or not).

However, with this new product, just one massive three-phase inverter is needed, which has obvious advantages. For starters, using one inverter instead of two can save a few thousand dollars on a big SolarEdge system. Second, high grid voltage has less of an impact on a three phase inverter. To elaborate, when a considerable amount of solar energy is exported (on a good and sunny day), the grid voltage in an area can rise, and the Australian Standard for Solar Inverters mandates an inverter to reduce its output (or even shut down) when the grid voltage rises too high.

This means that you may not be able to fully profit from your PV solar system on a bright and sunny day. The voltage rise is spread out on all three phases with a three phase inverter (rather than a one phase inverter), thus you’re less likely to have your inverter shut down during a high voltage time. Furthermore, because your solar exports are spread out over three phases rather than one, they place less strain on the grid voltage.

Third, whether in a suburban or rural setting, a three phase inverter is less likely to be hit by an energy distributor’s export limit. As a result of the increased solar export, you will be eligible for extra feed-in tariff credits.

Smart houses, device monitoring, and hot water control are all things that come to mind when thinking about smart homes.

One of the other nice things about obtaining a SolarEdge inverter is that you can customize it with a variety of different tiny gadgets that will help you save even more money on your energy bills while also giving you more visibility and control over power-hungry items in your home. Here are a few examples of smart energy devices that are now accessible.

Greenworks Inverter 

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 US Consumers

Hot Water with Smart Energy:

This is a wireless controller that automatically diverts excess PV energy towards hot water production. It is a very cost-effective method of storing extra solar energy. The beauty of this machine is that it adjusts the power output based on how much excess solar you have.

Relay for Smart Energy:

A wireless switch that regulates the operation of diverse loads such as air conditioners and hot water heat pumps. This allows you to make better use of your solar energy while also controlling your appliance from your phone.

SolarEdge is expected to release numerous additional Smart Home or Smart Energy solutions in the future years. It’s an area that’s attracting a lot of interest from people who want to be able to control anything from lighting to charging their electric vehicle to turning on appliances when it’s more cost-effective. The wonderful thing about SolarEdge’s approach here is that all of these components are essentially add-ons; you can install them now or later, and aside from the component itself and a small ZigBee card that fits in the inverter, there’s nothing else to do.

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