3 Phase Solar : What you need to know about connecting solar to your 3 phase supply

A solar panel and a 3 phase breaker

Solar is compatible with 3 phase

There is an awful lot of confusion (and misinformation) out there about the practicalities of installing solar on a house that has a 3 phase supply. So I’ve written this post to clear up the confusion. [Read more…]

SunGrow Inverter beats SMA in Latest Inverter Reviews

sungrow and sma inverter

Chinese Sungrow Vs German SMA Inverters: Which ones are best?

Note: This post is just one opinion on Sungrow Inverters. Click here for lots of Customer Reviews of Sungrow Inverters to see how they have performed in Australian homes over the last few years.

If you are considering buying a Sungrow Inverter over an SMA inverter – then you should also check out customers’ SMA reviews. You’ll see that, in practice, SMA inverters are more reliable. This is to be expected, since SMA are double the price of a Sungrow!

Now back to the post…

Yesterday I received my latest issue of the solar industry bible, Photon International  via airmail all the way from Germany. Whilst many people may get excited by the latest issue of Top Gear Australia magazine or Better Homes & Gardens, I’m one of those odd people that gets my kicks looking through the latest solar panel and inverter specs.

[Read more…]

Samil Inverter Review: German magazine gives top marks

Samil Power Solar River Inverter

The Samil Inverter got a great review in the German Photon Magazine in August 2011

Samil Inverters are very popular in Australia. They are great value, and have great specifications on paper. However I get a lot of emails asking me if this Chinese made solar inverter is any good.

It is a fair question. The inverters are a lot cheaper than their German made competition (like SMA), and are a relatively new player in the market. Plus there are a lot of solar salespeople out there that are peddling the (somewhat xenophobic) line that all Chinese made solar components are crap.

So what’s the truth? Are Samil Inverters any good? [Read more…]

How Does Temperature Affect Your Solar Inverter Power?

Inverter positioned badly

Don’t mount your inverter where the sun can cook it!

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you are probably already aware of how high ambient temperatures negatively affect solar panel performance.

But did you know that when it gets hot outside, those scorching Aussie temperatures can also cause the efficiency of your solar inverter to drop? [Read more…]

Two Reasons You Must Look At Efficiency Curves When Choosing Your Solar Inverter

inverter with a trippy arrow

In my last blog post I explained how to find an inverter’s real-world efficiency instead of relying on the inverter manufacturer’s  numbers.

The CEC or European Efficiency numbers that I talked about are a much better number to use when comparing solar inverters. And for most people they will be all you need. However if you really want to understand how your solar system is going to perform then you should also look at the inverter’s “efficiency curve”.

Your inverter does not simply have one efficiency that it always operates at. The efficiency of your inverter will depend on two minor factors and one major factor.

[Read more…]

Solar Inverter Efficiency: What you need to know before buying.

Everything goes through the inverter so its efficiency is critical.Solar inverter efficiency is a critical specification that directly affects the efficiency of your entire solar system. It is almost always a much more important consideration than solar panel efficiency.

All the power generated by your solar panels has to go through your inverter before you can either use the power in your home or export it to the grid (and get paid) so every percent of extra efficiency that you can squeeze out of your inverter will directly improve the performance and payback of your solar system.

So do you just need to pick the inverter with the highest “efficiency” number on the specification sheet? Well I’m afraid it isn’t quite that simple. (You guessed I was gonna say that didn’t you?!) [Read more…]

Your Solar Panel & Inverter Warranty And The Law: What You Need To Know

Person signing a solar system warranty

Your Solar Panel Warranty and Solar Inverter Warranty have tough new minimum standards by law. Changes to the Australian Consumer Law came into effect on 1 January 2012. These are good changes which help protect you as a solar consumer from toothless warranties when buying a solar system. [Read more…]

How long will SMA Inverters stay top dog in solar?

Solar Edge, Samil Power and SMA inverters

If, like me, you get turned on by Solar Inverters, then here are three companies doing very cool stuff that I think you should look out for in 2012:

[Read more…]

AC Solar Panels (microinverters) : The #1 Solar Trend to watch for in 2012?

Will 2012 be the year of the AC Solar Panel?

Before answering that question I should probably explain exactly what an AC Solar Panel is…

An AC Solar Panel converts sunlight to AC electricity at the solar panel.


What is an AC Solar Panel?

The short answer is: An AC Solar Panel is a solar panel that takes sunlight in and spits AC (Alternating Current) electricity out. This compares to a “conventional” DC Solar Panel which takes sunlight in and spits DC (Direct Current) electricity out.

AC Electricity is the type of electricity you need to power the appliances in your home. DC panels need a Solar Inverter to convert the DC electricity to AC. The big advantage of AC panels is that there is no need for an inverter to do that conversion, so you have a really simple design, a simpler installation, and adding extra panels becomes almost plug and play.

[Read more…]

Everything You Need To Know About Solar (Grid Connect) Inverters

Please note: As you can see from the date of this post – it was written in 2010 – it was accurate then, but now it is out of date – most inverters in Australia are now ‘transformer-less’.

In my “Dummies Guide” to Solar Power I provide a very brief (some may say shallow!) overview of what a grid connected solar inverter does and why.

For those of you who want to know more details about how inverters really work, including the nerdgasm inducing concept of “Maximum Power Point Tracking” (which is all about maximising the power from your panels), then this blog post is for you!

[Read more…]