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?

One of the best measures of the quality of any inverter is to look for third party reviews based on very methodical and rigorous testing. And one of the best places to find tests like this are in the German “Photon Magazine”. This industry bible regularly tests inverters and panels and published the results for all to see (as long as you pay the 3oo Euro per year subscription!).

In August 2011 they tested the Samil Solar River 4kW transformerless inverter, the SR4k4TLA1.

So how did it do?

Short answer: Awesome.

Longer answer: It scored top marks in every category. They declared it the best Asian inverter they had tested. And they ranked it the 16th best inverter they had ever tested. Bear in mind that they mostly test expensive German made inverters.

Here’s a summary of their test results:

Construction: Quality appeared good with top quality connectors. They did a thermal imaging test to look for “hot spots” which can cause premature failure. Some resitors reached 89°C at an ambient temperature of 23°C. Whilst that may sound hot, this is considered to be good thermal behaviour for power electronics and should make for a reliable inverter. The one part that could be better is that it uses a fan for cooling. I prefer no moving parts personally, (think big heatsink) but this should only be a problem if the inverter is mounted in a dusty location as the fan will blow that dust across the electronics!

Efficiency: The Samil Power Inverter got 96.8% efficiency at high irradiation and 96.5% at medium irradiation. That’s excellent. The MPPT (maxim power point tracker) which constantly hunts for the best way to operate your solar panels, came in at 99% efficiency for all irradiations. That’s about as good as it gets for that part of an inverter.

Temperature Derating: Ambient temperature had to get above 56°C before the power output started dropping. So if you keep it in the shade it should never derate, even in Australia!

So Photon Magazine reckon the 4kW Solar River Samil Power inverter is a good ‘un. Which should mean that all the Solar River series are pretty safe bets. The standard warranty on the Samil Inverters in Australia is currently 5 years, but Samil Power will extend the warranty for a small fee. This is worth doing as the inverter is the component most likely to fail in a solar system, even if it is a good one.

So there you have it: Chinese made Samil Power Inverters seem to satisfy even the German testers. As long as your solar system is not in a dirty or dusty environment the Samil is a good choice.

About Finn Peacock

I'm a Chartered Electrical Engineer, Solar and Energy Efficiency nut, dad, and founder of SolarQuotes.com.au. My last "real job" was working for the CSIRO in their renewable energy division.

Comments

  1. What about Conergy solar panels? I’ve read that the company was going bankrupt and in the hands of creditors last year. But I was told that they’ve since re-capitalised and are back on track again. I know it’s a reliable company, but am worried about bankruptcy issue affecting warranties etc. Thanks

  2. Wondering if UM ulica 60 250 watt panels are any good. I cant find alot about them… Having them installed.

  3. Hi Joshua do you or could you shed some light on the Amerisolar Panels, not sure if they are good enough with the Delta inverter? thanks

  4. Hi Finn do you or could you shed some light on the Amerisolar Panels, not sure if they are good enough with the Delta inverter? thanks

    • I had a quick look for info on these and came up blank. They do not appear to be approved for use in California. Seems odd for a “American” panel. I can’t find any reference to them in the Photon magazine archives either.

      They may be great panels, but without ant 3rd party evidence of that I personally would not go near them when there are so many great installers offering top brand panels at great prices right now. Were they particularly cheap?

  5. Hi Finn
    I am having a system fitted and hope I have made the rite choice any info would be great.
    Its a 3kw system with a Samil inverter and 12x CSI CS6P-250M panels. The outcome of my research is that it should go ok.
    Cheers

  6. G’day Finn, I;m having a 3kw system fitted, SMA inverter with SP solar(spsm-195D) or EC solar(ecs-205D) Panels, any info on the panels you can help me with?

  7. Hi, I’m upgrading from a SMB 1kw system with (6*175)1050 panels to a 5kw Samil inverter and adding 20*190(3800) panels. The Installer wants to have 2 lot of 6 panels and 2 lots of 7 is this the best way to go? Having 2190w (294v) in one lot and 2660w (343v) in the other, would having mixed lots be better? eg: 6 and 7 panels in string?

    • A clean energy accredited designer should be able to show you a formal design document and talk you through why he wants to use that configuration. If he’s qualified, then you should be able to trust him. I can;t comment without knowing your site and the inverter/panel specs etc.

  8. Warning to all, had my system upgraded on the 11/12/12 the installer finished at around 8 pm and left with the final payment. This morning I went out to see how it was going and nothing, no lights zip. Turned it off then back on zip, got strait on the phone and no reply phone out of range or off, call the local electrician to have a look, tells me that they is way too much PV voltage and has overloaded the inverter. I checked out the installer with all the right people, the information he gave me checked out. Today I found out that he had stolen the identity of an installer, phoned the police gave them all the details and have pretty much done my money. Trying to get a local mob to fix the problem, though I’d done everything right checking him out.

  9. Im considering a 4kw system with conergy black solar panels and a samill inverter, the company seems fine but has anyone have a view on the equipment i am considering

  10. ^^ Ok, so If it were a car what would a fronius inverter be? And while we’re talking how does it compare to a solarmax and an aurora? Had quotes for all three and been told this component is the most important. Any advice as to which one i should go for? Please and thanks 🙂

    • Fronius would be a VW in my opinion – Aurora a Ford.I’m not familiar with the ‘solar max’.

      Yes – the inverter is the most important component!

  11. Hi Finn,

    1. I have signed up for a 5 kW system comprising Ulica 200w mono panels and Samil Solar River invertor, but currently in the cooling off period. Is this system any good?

    2. Supplier has told me that 28 x 200w panels are more efficient than 21 x 250w panels?? Is this true? From my research, is it something to do with panel voltage and string length?

    3. When I asked about SMA invertor, they said they could offer it but they have found that, in Australia, warranties are easier to manage with Samil than SMA. (From my research, it seems that the most reasons that people don’t have confidence in Samil is that they just haven’t been around long enough to have a track record yet. Technically, they seem to stack up OK.)

    4. They also suggested mounting to 10 degree pitch shed roof rather than 25 degree house roof. Both face north. I think this is purely to make the installation easier as the house would be a less orderly configuration. They will fit on either. I would have thought the 25 degree to be better.

    5. Finally, do you have any comments on REC and LG panels?

    I would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks and regards.

    • Hi Glenn, I know this was a year ago, but am really curious about point 4???
      Did they install on a North facing roof? And 25 degree is better than 10!

  12. Adel Sainsbury says

    Bought a Samil Inverter may 2011 Has 5 year Warranty and died in October so had it 5 years and 4 months out of it. The one thing you didn’t talk about was it’s life span.

    • Reply to Adel Sainsbury:
      Ditto. Blank display on Samil 3 kW inverter after 5 years & 2 months (NSW). What did you do after it died? Replaced? Repaired?

    • Gordon Burrows says

      I had a 16panel 4KWh system with a Samil Power SR 3K3TLA1 installed in 2012. It also stopped working after 5years 2 months. Installer no longer trading and Samil Power closed may outlets in Europe. Took inverter apart and repladed the two output relays. Cost £22. Now working fine again. Seems well built inside.

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