SolarEdge inverters. Are they any good? Or, are they as good as you think they are? Let’s take a quick look at one of the most advanced solar inverter companies in the world.
SolarEdge is a solar inverter company headquartered in Israel. They have offices all around the world including the US, Australia, China and India. So what kind of a company are they? Well for a start they have a pretty good reputation in the solar industry. They have been in business since 2010 (from what I can tell at their website) which is a decent amount of time, though not as long as some of the mega-inverter companies such as SMA and Fronius. Where SolarEdge are different to the other players though is in their product focus. They started as a DC Optimizer company and have evolved into a “sort-of” micro-inverter and “smart panel” company. Their major competitor from a product perspective is of course Enphase.
What Are SolarEdge Inverters?
SolarEdge inverters are a bit like micro-inverters made by SolarEdge. This means they convert energy from DC to AC at each solar panel. Traditional “string” inverters only do this once the DC power is combined and sent to 1 big inverter. Naturally, a SolarEdge inverter system has more components (1 optimizer per panel, plus the inverter). This can be both a good and a bad thing. The good side is that each panel operates as it’s own independant power station – where traditionally the weakest panel in a string sets the maximum output for each panel. So you will end up with more power overall – albeit maybe not that much more. The bad thing is naturally that more components = more things that can go wrong, but there is an upside to this also (sort of). Because of their setup, SolarEdge inverters allow you to monitor each panel individually, so you will know if something goes wrong – and where it went wrong.
Do I Need SolarEdge Inverters?
The best cases for SolarEdge inverters are the same as for any micro-inverter product. This is:
- If maximum production is a must
- If there is sporadic shading
- If there is a lot of shade
- If panel-level monitoring is useful
In many cases, all of the above are unnecessary luxuries, but they can also be extremely useful. In most cases, a string inverter is all you need. Some string inverters such as SMA even have in-built programs to mitigate the effects of shading. SMA have a feature called Opti-trac Global peak which is very good at this. It does however need to be activated!
Are SolarEdge Inverters Good?
The short answer is yes. If you could get SolarEdge inverters for the same price as a premium string inverter, this would likely be money well spent. Even if they were marginally dearer, I’d be tempted to go with them.
The truth is though, they won’t deliver a truck-load more energy than stock-standard inverters. So any dreams of additional savings might be a bit far fetched. Another thing to note – the SolarEdge inverter itself is designed to work with the SolarEdge Optimizers. To be honest, it makes a lot more sense to just do micro-inverters if you were going to all that trouble anyway.
SolarEdge Inverters Review Summary
SolarEdge inverters are a great product. The company is fantastic and the product is pretty reliable from what we can tell. Trouble is, it’s not really a “cutting-edge” product. Optimizing each panel and then using a string inverter is a pretty modular way to do things. You could just put micro-inverters in (much of the cost is in the added labour) and get the real-deal. Also, the so-called “smart modules” are just panels with an optimizer pre-attached. So it’s less labour, but more painful if something goes wrong.