An Installer’s Take On Sungrow Inverters & Batteries

Sungrow inverters and home batteries

Sungrow inverters and batteries are a popular choice for Australian solar systems thanks to their proven performance and accessible pricing. I thought I’d take a closer look at what makes Sungrow inverters such great value, along with some of their limitations.

Sungrow Inverters – Overview

So, why are Sungrow inverters so highly regarded despite their low price point? What makes them better than other budget inverters? In short, it’s about having a solid foundation; i.e., 10 years of reliable grid connect inverters in Australia with a good technical support service to match.

However, there have been a few issues with Sungrow hybrid inverters and batteries recently that have made some installers a bit gun-shy.

I know firsthand of a battery hybrid that is performing inconsistently, and I’m aware of another that needed three visits and several warranty components to eventually find the source of the problem. Of course, installers with problems will always squeal pretty loudly, so I expect the disquiet I’ve heard is probably not happening on a massive scale.

sungrow inverter and battery installation

12.8 kWh of Sungrow battery (4 modules) and a single-phase Sungrow hybrid inverter. This one’s owned by Finn.

Sungrowing Pains – The Price Of Success

From what I can gather, Sungrow has enjoyed enormous success recently, but this success has come with some growing pains. With multiple new and inherently more complex battery hybrid systems being rolled out, there will always be glitches and failures. Success also means Sungrow will need more people to answer phones, troubleshoot and deal with new installers doing their first job with unfamiliar equipment. But these relatively small issues are to be expected and should be temporary.

When I recently asked around about what installers want from batteries, my informal poll resulted in Sungrow ticking all the boxes with 27% of installers – almost double that of perennial favourite, Tesla. This was far and away the greatest single block of votes (42), with another 9% going to the option entitled “it just has to work and not cause callbacks”. So, it’s not hard to draw the conclusion Sungrow already has a solid reputation for reliability.

I’ve certainly had a good run with the earlier generation of low-voltage hybrid machines that still had a basic screen to program them. I expect they’ll soon have the more advanced units up to the same high standard, once we’ve done the umpteenth firmware update and got it back online. Again.

Hybrid and AC coupled Sungrow solar inverters

Hybrid and AC coupled solar inverter, with a mess of plugs to terminate them.

Other Features Of Sungrow Inverters

Sungrow offers a good monitoring platform, and it’s readily commissioned provided you remember to set them up on the Australian server; because that’s a trap for young players. The warranty is also good, which we’ve already looked at in detail in our deep dive into Sungrow inverter warranties.

Sungrow batteries also deserve a special mention as really well-resolved, easy-to-handle, modular packages. There’s a robust alloy casing with fast, foolproof connections, meaning you’ll have the ability to grow your capacity incrementally.

The WiFi access isn’t terrible, insomuch as they have a standard dongle that’s not hard to set up, as well as an optional 4G unit that accepts a SIM card for mobile access – meaning you don’t need local internet service. However, the dongles only have a two-year warranty, which I consider a rort, having had to drive a four-hour roundtrip to replace one.

Sungrow inverter wiring cover

Now with much-needed cover to neaten up the wiring.

Another good thing about Sungrow’s inverter lineup is the option to choose from several capable hybrids – including 3-phase hybrids – so there’s a Sungrow inverter for (almost) everyone.

Finally, the ability to have 20kW of solar on a single-phase property is worth mentioning.

How to install 20 kW of solar on a single-phase property

With AC coupling available for more solar on backup circuits, it’s now possible to install a 5kW hybrid and 5kW standard inverter and then add 20kW of solar panels on the roof of a single-phase property in most of Australia – something unheard of just a few years ago.

The standard single-phase smart meter is also a single pole device with a CT coil. That’s a nice compact unit to put into ever more crowded switchboards, unlike the CHiNT whole current unit for 3-phase applications. Perhaps the best option to be announced recently is a smart meter with external coils that will measure other legacy solar on the premises. This helps the Sungrow monitoring platform display data correctly instead of confusing itself and the end user.

So, What’s The Catch?

All this extra capacity on the backup circuit masks a small problem. Hybrid backup circuits are limited to the throughput rating of the inverter, regardless of if there is grid power available or not. The inverter doesn’t have a higher “pass through” rating when grid-connected, so whatever is on the emergency circuit is effectively throttled by the inverter.

It’s not a problem for the average single fridge and lights scenario, but this limited capacity means the backup circuit can struggle with high inrush loads such as induction motors. The motor in an extra fridge, freezers, air conditioners or especially household water pressure pumps will draw up to seven times their running current when starting.

There are workarounds, and savvy installers will alleviate this with a changeover switch or contactor, which can serve a few functions:

  • When the power fails, a manual changeover means you have to physically acknowledge you’re running on battery to turn things over to the backup circuit, so you can curb consumption and save the battery.
manual changeover switch

A manual changeover switch bypasses the inverter entirely.

  • A contactor can carry large loads as a bypass, which drops out when the power fails and leaves you with essential items segregated at a different sub board.
  • A bypass of either kind can offer easily diagnosable troubleshooting over the phone. So, if the inverter fails altogether, power can be restored to ordinary grid supply without tools or expertise.

Hybrid Inverters Need BIG cables

Installers need to be aware of a hybrid’s demands on the wiring. With a combined load of 27A for the backup and a further 30A to force charge the battery from the grid, a nominal 5kW inverter can impose a 13kW load on the AC supply. This means your default rule-of-thumb solar inverter wiring at 6mm² and 32 amps is about half of what’s legally required.

Circuit breaker requirements

If your breaker keeps tripping since you had a DC coupled battery installed, this might be why. A 57 amp load needs a 63 amp breaker and a 16mm² cable, the same size as many house supplies from the street.

Plugged Connections Are Fiddly

The only other bugbear is plugged connections can be fiddly to terminate, especially when hybrids require very large supply cables that must be broken down into small cables. It’s a trap for some, but really forces you to have just the right flexible cable, the correct bootlace terminations and the right amount of patience to get it all together. In other words, it’s time-consuming but doable.

sungrow inverter connectors

Sungrow Inverters and Batteries: Great value for money.

Considering you can install a 6.6 kW solar system, a Sungrow hybrid inverter, and 10 kWh of Sungrow battery capacity for about the same price as a single Tesla Powerwall, Sungrow is a compelling proposition for many Australian homeowners. They are (mostly) well-designed and well-supported bits of kit that installers enjoy installing.

Sungrow recently won gold for ‘Best Value Inverters in Australia in 2023‘ and ‘Best Value Batteries in Australia in 2023‘ in this year’s SolarQuotes Installers’ Choice Awards.

About Anthony Bennett

Anthony joined the SolarQuotes team in 2022. He’s a licensed electrician, builder, roofer and solar installer who for 14 years did jobs all over SA - residential, commercial, on-grid and off-grid. A true enthusiast with a skillset the typical solar installer might not have, his blogs are typically deep dives that draw on his decades of experience in the industry to educate and entertain. Read Anthony's full bio.

Comments

  1. Anthony, I have been trying to get this answered but having no luck.

    Maybe you can help ?

    If i have a manual (or even automatic) changeover switch as you have documented to move my whole switchboard across to the backup circuits in the event of failure – can i run other Inverters (such as a 3 Phase Solis) that i currently have (i.e. will the Sungrow create a microgrid and then managed the power flow from the other inverter whilst still using the 2nd inverters power to charge its batteries ?)

    Craig

  2. Anthony Bennett says

    Hi Craig,

    The answer is a qualified yes, but I’m not sure about your Solis.

    Sungrow and GoodWe are both offering hybrids which will cope with AC coupled solar on the backup side. They’re effectively becoming a grid forming machine where the additional solar capacity will augment the somewhat limited backup circuit.

    However I don’t know if they’ll manage a “generic” inverter with frequency shift like an SMA Sunny Island does. I’m sure you can have a Sungrow Hybrid with and equal or smaller size AC coupled Sungrow in parallel, and I would expect using the same brand equipment with an active communication link for closed loop control is the better way in any case.

    Might be worth engaging an installer for a site visit to check the cable sizes in your existing install, establish where things can go and make sure you can get a comms cable installed.

    • Gareth Duggan says

      They can be grid forming for any 3rd party inverter of the same or lesser capacity, they don’t need to be configured in master/slave configuration. Excellent inverters and great value.

  3. dean woodyatt says

    Gotta say, so far I’m liking my two Sungrow SG5.0RS 5kW inverters.
    the iSolarcloud app is great to see at a glance just how much power you’re producing in real time – i’ve produced 1.23MWh in just under 4 weeks that they’ve been installed, and right now, my 13.3kW of panels are producing just under 7kW..(autumn day, central coast, slight cloud and near 3PM)

    The inverters also pull into ‘home assistant’ via 3rd party plugin quite well

    • Howdy.
      Re “The inverters also pull into ‘home assistant’ via 3rd party plugin quite well”
      Have just read a little about HA, and Solar Edge.
      Didn’t see Sungrow mentioned as part of the suite of products it could interface with.
      Could you explain please, what the 3rd party plug in is, how it works, and anything else you are kind enough to share.
      Cheers

  4. Wilson Solar says

    Ive stopped installing Huawei and now exclusively install sungrow or Solar Edge. Stuff being asked to rip them out in 3 years.

  5. Paul Steffen says

    While we’re on the subject of Sungrow, can somebody please advise me if their batteries will work satisfactorily with my Fronius Primo inverter?

    • Gareth Duggan says

      Yes, you can install a Sungrow hybrid inverter and battery with your Fronius Primo but will need an installer that knows what they are doing to make sure it is set up in a way that is compliant with your local distributor and sets the monitoring up so that you can see the production of both inverters and the discharge of the battery on the one app.

    • Geoff langridge says

      yes, but it will be AC-coupled.

  6. Geoff langridge says

    “I know this one anecdotal inverter-battery that is working inconsistently. ”

    The structuring of this article is so ridiculous.

    No rational person that works in this industry would even mention” oh I know of 1 inverter battery. Total hit piece.

    Like who the hell at fronius/solaredge or emphase told you to write this article like this.

  7. Michael ackrell says

    So can you tell me how the battery is, I have s systems. 1 is 5.2 and the other is 6.6 both with 5kw sungrow inverters. How much is the battery thanks

  8. Brian Dear says

    I have had the latest Sungrow 5kw inverter installed and a major problem not widely mentioned is how noisy they can be. Mine is installed in the garage and when it’s converting 3.5 to 4.9 kw on a warm day it can become very noisy. Sungrow says it should only be about 35db or similar to a fridge but mine records a loud buzzing noise of 44 to 55db. They won’t replace it saying some noise is normal. My advice is don’t install it where the noise might bother you or your neighbours or chose a different make of inverter.

    • Tim Clucas says

      Brian,
      I’m glad I’m not the only one having this outrageous noise problem with a Sungrow inverter. I have just had a Sungrow SH10RT installed at my place. It’s in my garage workshop where temperatures are low and and not exposed to the weather. Perfect location according to installer. Once the output gets over 3 kw it starts a high-pitched whining that exceeds 60 db. That’s equivalent to having a small vacuum cleaner running next to your ear non-stop. If I want to be in my workshop during the day I have to wear ear protection! Ridiculous. Sungrow’s specs on this inverter says 30db level is “typical”. The installer’s first response was “You should have gone with a Fronius!”. Great hearing that now i have Sungrow installed. Is this worth a warranty claim?

      • Did you ever get this resolved? We’ve just had one installed and it’s doing the same thing. It’s on our balcony which means we would never be able to sit out there on a sunny day, the noise is horrible.

        • Hi Kat, neither the installer or Sungrow could ever resolve this but a few weeks ago it just suddenly stopped making the whining noise. Don’t know if it was an automatic firmware upgrade or just the inverter “wearing in”, but it’s all fine now.
          Tim

      • Did you ever get this resolved? We’ve just had one installed and it’s making an awful high pitched whine at about 55db.

  9. Mark Burgher says

    Hi. Please can you tell me if/where I can get the cover to hide the wiring for the 5Kw inverter. Thanks Mark

  10. Can a Sungrow SH10RT with a Sungrow battery (say 12.8kWh) be able to do a whole house backup or is it only for the backup circuits?

    Trying to understand what happens in the scenario when the grid is down during the day where the sun is shining and solar is producing – will the system be able to power the whole house or only the specified backup circuits?

    • A qualified yes. The manual says SH10RT backup circuit should not exceed 3.33kW per phase. This means some significant thought needs to go into the wiring of the backup circuits. I have two SH10RT’s in master slave and have taken a great deal of time and expense in getting the wiring set up to handle nearly all the house complete with manual cut-over to mains or off for each inverter backjup circuit just is case of inverter failure. I could have made it whole house but decided to leave out my 3-phase AC due to possible inrush current. I initially had the AC on the backup circuit but later removed it just in case. To do all this I monitored pretty much every device in my house for load, checked the loads back at every RCD/Breaker and came up with wiring a plan for my installer. It all works well.

  11. Hi, I have a 8kw sungrow inverter with 9.6kwh battery, I’ve had the rcbo and backup circuits trip twice as well as inverter breaker since installed 3 months ago, both at cloudy times, so wouldn’t think it was overloading, should the installer have used a mcb instead of an rcd for the battery backup and eps?

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