Sungrow Wins ‘Best Budget Battery’: An Installer’s Reaction

Sungrow solar battery - installer's opinion

The words ‘budget battery’ strike fear into many installers’ hearts. The thought of a too-cheap battery going wrong is the stuff of nightmares.

That’s why we asked installers in our annual Installers’ Choice Awards which battery they’d install on their own home if money was tight and “every dollar counts”. We wanted to know which batteries offered great value without sacrificing quality.

This year, Sungrow won the ‘Best Budget Battery’ award, came second in ‘Best Battery Support’ and came third in the ‘Best Home Battery in 2023‘ category; behind more expensive offerings from Tesla and BYD. Here’s why installers like me – with years of experience installing batteries – rate the Sungrow home battery (with accompanying Sungrow hybrid inverter) as a great value option for Australian homes.

Sungrow Has Come Of Age

Sungrow has supplied inverters in the Australian market for 10 years. They now offer solid solutions for hybrid solar and battery systems.

I used the first generation of low-voltage (48v) hybrid inverters and they always met expectations; provided expectations were as modest as the inverter specifications. We installed them for early adopters who monitored the performance of their GCL batteries closely.

The New High Voltage Hybrid Battery System

We can’t really separate the inverter from the battery in a hybrid, since it’s the inverter that does the bulk of the work and has a vast array of features and limitations.

Sungrow battery and inverter in an Australian garage

A Sungrow hybrid inverter and battery in its natural environment: an Australian garage.

The battery, in comparison, is simpler. Unlike the low-voltage 48v units, the new solutions from Sungrow now use high-voltage batteries of their own manufacture, (as well as LG Chem and BYD).

Starting with a minimum three 192v 3.2kWh nominal bricks, they can accept stacks of eight bricks, (up to 25.6kWh per stack) with further expansion of up to four parallel stacks. That’s over 100kWh of storage.

One advantage of higher voltage comes is lighter cables and lower current, so the batteries can be placed further away from the rest of the electrical installation if needed. This helps to meet the strict battery location rules of Australian Battery Installation Standard AS/NZS 5139.

Sungrow Battery Warranty Is Better Than Most

While QCells offer two more years than almost anyone else, Sungrow’s warranty is the industry standard 10 years. After 10 years you should have at least 60% capacity left.

The warranty is for 10 years or a maximum throughput of kWhs stored and discharged- whichever comes first. The throughput warranty on the Sungrow battery is high enough that – if you cycle it once per day – it won’t exceed its throughput limit before the 10 years is up; unlike many other batteries.

Battery Stackability Is Well Executed

Something Sungrow has got right: the simple modularity of the battery. It’s not a monolith that weighs more than a member of the install team. The individual blocks come in individual boxes that can be handled by individual workers. You just level up the base and start stacking them together, with the connections being made seamlessly and quickly, without any potential mistakes from the hungover apprentice. The circuit breaker slides in, the terminations are simple, the lid goes on, and the whole package is weatherproof.

We’ll have a Sungrow battery installation video (from Finn’s recent install) on the SolarQuotes YouTube channel soon that shows the easy battery stacking in all its glory.

I think BYD is the only other brand that approaches this ease of upgrade. GoodWe batteries, for example, do not; so you may be stuck with the upgrade problems of a monolith battery despite the modular appearance.

Sungrow Batteries: Bang For Buck

Most good installers I know offer a two or three-tier product range. It might be Fronius, Enphase or Solar Edge for the top shelf, but increasingly they are offering Sungrow as the less expensive option in deference to anything else.

I mention a third tier because often you need a properly cheap and cheerful unit for a basic replacement; on a basic pensioner’s house for instance.

Sungrow has progressed out of that suspiciously good value bracket to become just plain good in my opinion.

Sungrow Problems

It’s not all roses. I know from first-hand experience there are problems with some Sungrow battery installations. I’ve replaced WiFi dongles that carked it without warranty. I have rung up and asked for advice on failed battery management units that had to be diagnosed and replaced. I have also seen the disquiet from other installers when they are fielding calls from curious or furious customers.

Solar hybrid technology, no matter the maker, is highly dependent on connectivity. If there is a firmware update pushed out by Sungrow that proves to have some glitches, there can be chaos – with units needing to be switched off, reset, or just showing errors.

It’s something that will be better sorted I’m sure, but it’s not been bulletproof so far. The thing is it creates unnecessary angst with customers who have lost their monitoring; creating support calls that are more IT support than electrical troubleshooting.

I’d Have One On My House

At the end of the day, I wouldn’t be ashamed to own a Sungrow. And that’s high praise coming from a rusted-on Selectronic battery-inverter fanboy.

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. Lee McCurtayne says

    I’m shocked, Aussie installers only really wanting the maximum profit margin. Who cares about “Value”?

  2. Shane Dufty says

    We installed a sungrow 10kw hybrid and battery 2 years ago. Started with 12.8kwh battery pack but had 2 more modules/bricks added about 8 months ago when power prices skyrocketed to bring it up to 19.2kwh. Now we rarely buy more than 1kwh per day and that is only during those times when the inverter is changing/reconfiguring eg, high loads running and a dark cloud comes over. We’ve even configured our hot water to be triggered by the DO output so we can control it and even on a rainy day the battery copes easily. The inverter also comes with the back-up function built in and you can set your own reserve. More control from the web based app would be nice but overall couldn’t be happier with the sungrow system, (inverter and battery) . BTW these are matched to 13.2 kw of REC-N panels.

    • I hope the Sungrow batteries are better than the inverters. You cannot connect the inverter to the iSolarcloud app…the technology they have is just junk.

      • Hi Craig, I think your comment might be a gross generalisation. My inverter connects to isolarcloud as do two other installs of some system with friends all performed by same installer at around same time. Perhaps your installer is more to blame in this instance as ours configured ours before leaving the site.
        Having said that I changed my wifi setup and had to reconnect it to new SSID and again worked as expected. The only caveat is if you have “blended/same SSID” for 2.4 and 5ghz wifi networks then that won’t work – you will need to set up a 2.4Ghz ONLY network – which is commonly needed for most “smart home” stuff anyway and generally good practice as well. Also means home stuff less visible to most on normal home wifi.
        HTH

        • Finn Peacock says

          Yep – we had to temporarily force our dual-band router to 2.4GHZ only to connect to the inverter initially. Works just fine now.

          But Sungrow should make it easier to connect to dual-band wifi. Installers are not IT technicians – although they increasingly need to be…

      • Chris Thaler says

        Maybe, just maybe, keep your head out of the clouds and rely on simpler technology which is generally more robust thence more reliable.

    • Shane your post really helped ease a little anxiety I had about our contracted installation hardware choice. I looked at our consumption (through bills only) and used this site among others in my research.
      House had a 3.8kW SMA system when we purchased it 4.5 years ago, OK when feed-in was good, but gas hot water and two teenagers have seen our bills heading upward.

      Seemed a no-brainer to go modular battery, I’m looking forward to installation of a heat pump HWS and electric cooktop to fully electrify our home.
      We’ve ordered 13.2kW of Jinko (JKM440N-54HL4) panels.
      5.0 Hybrid single phase + a 5.0 Double-MPPT string inverters.
      Coupled with SBR 16 kWh (which allows up to three more modules to 25.6).
      DQ Solar and Electrical were recommended by colleagues and their reputation on this site was prominent in my decision.

  3. I would like to know if there is excess power from the panels after the house use, does that excess go into the battery first or is it sent to the grid, or does the inverter equal the excess power to both.

    • Finn Peacock says

      Solar will go:

      First to satisfy house loads
      Next to fill up battery
      When battery is full excess will go to grid

  4. gary lange says

    Why does no one offer an approximate price on the solar batteries? I have a 12X750w panel Hanover setup with an SMA (3000tl) inverter & have received a state rebate on this. I would consider a solar storage battery if it can payback my $ outlay within 6 years. Currently I am not elgible for a second
    rebate. What do you think? Thanks, Gary
    PS:Please respond by email

  5. Garry Smith says

    I have a 6.6kw system, Sungrow inverter & 17 Trina panels – what size Sungrow battery will I require? The bricks are 3.2kWh, so is 2 enough? Will the inverter handle more? Where can I get a costing on this? Regards & thanks for the info… Garry

    • Jonathon Wedge says

      For the typical home that uses 16-20 kWh per day, around 10kWh of storage is the sweet spot.

      • Hi Shane, I’m setting up similar to you but scratching my head what to do with instaneous gas hot water. Go old fashioned electric tank or heat pump. What do you mean by hot water triggered by DO output? Sounds like you are happy with the hot water setup?

  6. Dr Kelvin Wellington says

    When you set about getting Solar Panels you need to think carefully whether you are likely to want to add a battery. I failed this test and installed solar panels with a STRING inverter of 8kW.
    If you have a string inverter the only battery you can install is one AFTER the inverter, like a Tesla Powerwall. However most energy providers set a total inverter limit of 10kW. This left me with 2kW for the battery inverter, no where near enuf.
    So the other sensible option is to add the battery on the same side of the inverter as the panels. BUT this requires a HYBRID inverter capable of accepting input from panels and battery but costing about 80% more than the string inverter. And you have to chuck the string inverter.
    A good thing about this option is the battery is cheaper.
    I went for a Sungrow inverter coupled with a Sungrow battery. The combination is nicely setup for autoswitch in blackouts and the battery can be enlarged in steps of 3.2kWh up to 25.6kWh

  7. Phil Lawrence (Adelaide) says

    I have 10kW of solar and 20KW of alpha ESS battery (2×10) This runs the house, ducted air con and 20KW pool heater. Have installed a zappi car charger which chooses its source of power according to my settings. A good day if sun is shining will mean everything will run, if cloudy the car charger will change to grid or lower charge rate during bad times. We have never paid for grid power since installation over a year ago. I chose. LiFePo4 battery because of safety (i’m ex fire fighter) and Lithium Ion batteries are not as safe as the LiFePo4 hence car is also same (BYD)
    I note your cost comparison for Alpha ESS batteries, put together in SA don’t even feature as good value. Why is this?

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