There are 3 main types of solar inverters installed in Australia:
The most common is a string system – where all the panels are connected in series on a string. If one panel reduces in performance because of shade, bird poo or leaf litter, all the other panels it’s connected to will produce at the lowest-performing panel’s output (a bit like the impact of one light going out in a string of Christmas lights). This obviously isn’t ideal. As more panels are added, the DC voltage on the roof goes up and up and this can lead to dangers if anything goes wrong with the cabling over time. These type of inverters tend to have shorter warranties. However, they’re the most affordable systems you can buy.
The next generation is micro-inverters. These resolve a few of those issues above but come with their own set of drawbacks.
The weakest link in a solar system is the inverter, and with these systems, you add one micro-inverter to every panel and then install them on your roof, in a very hot and harsh environment. They consequently don’t perform well in extreme heat (micro-inverters are only rated to withstand up to 60°C, which a roof can easily reach in the middle of summer. Micro-inverter solutions tend to be the most expensive systems you can buy, as every panel needs its own inverter, driving the cost up, and installation involves a lot of work, adding lots of proprietary hardware to keep the 240V AC safe across your roof.
The technology we predominantly install is an optimised string system, which is made by SolarEdge. This is the latest in solar technology. With this system, every panel has a small black box called an ‘optimiser’ mounted behind it. This maximises the power being produced by every panel, as they work together on the string like a team, so any shade on one panel is compensated for by the rest of the roof, maximising output.
This clever technology is designed to work with smart home automation, electric vehicle charging and battery storage. One of the biggest perks of SolarEdge is that it has the ability to bypass the grid operator from turning your system down or off when there’s too much surplus solar energy being exported in the middle of the day*, which is becoming increasingly feasible with an increasing number of Australian households and businesses installing solar.
With a SolarEdge system, you can see the performance of each and every panel and we have full visibility across all parts of the system and can diagnose problems remotely, like a ‘back to base security system’ for solar. If you have a consistent issue with one of your panels or optimisers, you get sent an alert and we do too. It has some impressive safety features that are built into the inverter and optimisers, keeping the installation simple and cost effective. Optimisers are rated to withstand up to 85C, making them ideal for harsh Aussie summers. Due to the robustness of the system, SolarEdge offers a 25 year warranty on optimisers and the inverters have a 12 year warranty that can be easily extended to 25 years.
We’re big fans of SolarEdge optimised string systems for all these reasons. They’re well-priced, so they’re very popular with clients wanting to install a high-quality solution.
* This is possible when you install a battery.