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Written by Caitlin Ritchie
Edited by Hannah Hillson
Last updated 05/12/2022
Antonio Garcia Recena/Moment/Getty Images
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A solar inverter is one of the most important pieces of a home solar system because it converts direct current (DC) electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity. Solar panels capture and generate DC electricity, however, most homes are powered by AC electricity.
Solar panels and solar batteries require an inverter to work. This even applies to the Tesla Powerwall, which has a built-in solar inverter, but still needs an additional inverter to be compatible with a solar system. Without a solar inverter, your solar system will not be able to power your home.
If you are interested in purchasing a residential solar system, you’ll also want to consider which solar inverter is best for you. SaveOnEnergy can guide you in your search for the best solar inverters of 2022. Keep reading to learn more.
As solar energy has increased in popularity across the country, solar manufacturers have also ramped up the amount of solar inverters available on the market. We factored in cost, size options, warranty, and efficiency levels of available solar inverters to compile the best inverter options on the market.
The most popular solar inverters are grid-tied and work well for the majority of solar consumers tied to the power grid. Below are the best solar inverters in 2022.
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Best Solar Inverter by Save On Energy
The Fronius Primo Solar Inverter was initially released in 2012, but has remained one of the most popular solar inverters on the market. The different size options (measured in kilowatts) mean Fronius inverters can work for a variety of different homes and are offered in a wide price range. This inverter’s peak efficiency is 97.9%, which aligns with the industry standard. The Fronius Primo Solar Inverter comes with a free 10-year warranty and customers can pay to extend it to 15-20 years. This inverter also offers an active cooling system, which increases its reliability and efficiency over time.
The SMA Sunny Boy Inverter only includes a 5-year warranty, which is on the lower side of the industry standard. However, SMA offers an optional 10-20 year extended warranty that you can purchase. Aside from the warranty period, the SMA Sunny Boy Inverter is on par with many of its competitors and has a lower average price range than some of the other options on this list. It’s size options are more limited than other inverters on the market, although the units pair well with the average solar system size for many homeowners. Like many other inverters, this solar inverter offers system monitoring through a Wifi connection.
The SolarEdge HD-Wave Inverter is another solar inverter that offers a lower price point but a wide range of sizes. The warranty for the SolarEdge Inverter is 12 years, which is slightly above the industry average. One of the most appealing features of this inverter is its 99.2% peak efficiency level, which is well above its competitors. One thing to note — all SolarEdge inverters require an additional DC optimiser fitted to each panel, which drives up the total cost. This allows each panel to work at the maximum capacity level.
The Sungrow SG Premium Inverter is one of the cheapest solar inverters on the market currently. Consumers can choose a size ranging from 2-kW up to 8-kW, which will impact the total cost of the solar inverter. The Sungrow SG Premium includes a 5-year warranty, although Sungrow offers optional warranties at an added cost that can extend the coverage. With a peak efficiency of 98.4%, the Sungrow SG Premium Inverter is a good choice for consumers looking for an affordable yet reliable solar inverter.
The Enphase IQ7+ Microinverter differs from the other options on this list because it is a microinverter instead of a string inverter. The difference here is that microinverters are much smaller in size and only monitor individual solar panels, which allows for easier expansion in the future. This means that if one of your solar panels fails, the others will not be affected. While the price point on the Enphase IQ7+ Microinverter can appear attractive, keep in mind you will need to purchase several units to pair with each solar panel in your system. Enphase offers a 25-year warranty on its microinverters, which is well above the industry average. These microinverters are also very competitive in terms of peak efficiency and are more lightweight than string inverters.
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There are several factors to consider when shopping for an inverter for your solar system.
Deciding whether you need a grid-tied or off-grid solar inverter will narrow down the rest of your choices. When you purchase solar panels, you’ll need to decide whether you want to connect your solar system to the grid (a grid-tied system) or remain off the grid entirely (an off-grid system). While energy independence is an enticing perk of a solar system, most consumers choose to stay connected to the grid for increased reliability and to take advantage of net metering programs. Some states require consumers remain tied to the power grid even if they have a solar system installed.
Grid-tied systems and off-grid systems require different inverters. With an off-grid system, a charge controller will send the DC electricity to a solar battery bank. Afterwards, the inverters convert the DC power to AC power. Grid-tied systems don’t require a battery. Instead, the DC electricity goes straight into the inverter, is converted to AC electricity, and from there can immediately power your home.
There are also hybrid solar systems, which use a battery bank and remain connected to the power grid. If your solar system is a hybrid, be sure to search for a compatible inverter that can link correctly with both a battery bank and the grid.
Once you’ve decided between grid-tied or off-grid inverters, there are a few different types of solar inverters that could pair with your solar system. The three most common types are string inverters, string inverters with optimizers, and microinverters. String inverters are usually the most cost-effective option. String inverters with optimizers and microinverters often cost more, but offer more flexibility. Visit our guide about how solar inverters work for a detailed look at the different types of inverters.
The size of your solar inverter should be similar to the size of your solar system. So, if you install a 5-kilowatt (kW) system, you should invest in a solar inverter that is around the same size and can handle that capacity. You can consult with your solar installation company to get advice on the size of your solar system and ask for their input on what size solar inverter you’ll need.
Like most other solar products, the majority of solar inverters include a product warranty. The industry standard for solar inverter warranties is between 5-10 years. Most manufacturers also offer extended warranties, although these can come at an additional cost. Read the fine print on an inverter warranty to make sure it covers product defects, mechanical issues, and unusual wear and tear.
Before purchasing a solar inverter, be sure to read reviews about the manufacturer. Customer testimonials, product reviews, and the level of expertise that a manufacturer has can help you narrow down your search and eliminate any brands that do not hold up well.
Solar panels generate direct current (DC) electricity, but most homes are powered by alternating current (AC) electricity. Solar inverters convert DC electricity into AC electricity.
Solar inverters switch the direction of DC input back and forth at a quick pace, which is how DC input becomes AC output. This is how a solar inverter takes the energy your solar panels capture from the sun and converts it into electricity that powers you
Alternating current (AC) electricity is the type of power that comes out of the outlets in your home and that your appliances and devices use. The current from AC power shifts between positive and negative because of its electrons. Direct current (DC) electricity, on the other hand, produces a current that moves in a straight line. This is the type of electricity that solar panels produce when they capture energy from the sun. Solar inverters are in charge of converting DC electricity into AC electricity, so the power your solar panels generate can be used in your home.
Yes, you will need a solar inverter for your home solar system to function properly. Without an inverter, your solar panels will only generate DC electricity, which won’t power your home. This is why choosing the right solar inverter is so important for an efficient solar system.
On average, solar inverters usually cost between $1,000 – $2,000. There are several factors that influence the cost of solar inverters, including their size and the type of inverter you are purchasing. Microinverters, for example, tend to have a lower price tag, but the overall cost can be greater than a string inverter because you have to buy a unit for each of your solar panels.
Most solar inverters come with a 5-10 year warranty and there is often the option to extend this warranty to closer to 20 years for an additional cost. The details of a warranty will depend on the manufacturer and the type of inverter you choose. Most solar inverter warranties will cover any product defects, mechanical issues, or unexpected wear and tear that can shorten the inverter’s lifespan.