Seven trends from our 2019 Solar Inverter Buyer’s Guide

CPS remote fleet commissioning

Commercial inverter manufacturers like CPS America are easing installation and O&M with remote fleet commissioning.

We asked every inverter manufacturer to tell us about their latest and greatest products for our 2019 Solar Inverter Buyer’s Guide. What came back was a range of innovations from the most powerful microinverter on the market to the latest utility-scale string technology. At this point, solar inverter spec sheets all seem fairly comparable. The real differentiators come in monitoring and service options, storage capabilities and grid functionality.

Future proofing

The move to incorporate storage is being driven more and more by a combo of improved battery economics and utility rate changes. The symbiotic pairing with solar is just too hard to ignore.

“Residential PV installations are including batteries more and more often, especially in places like Hawaii where exporting PV power is often not allowed and in California where time-of-use rates shift the value of electricity more into the evening,” says Paul Dailey, director of product management for OutBack Power. “Additionally, existing PV customers in areas with frequent power outages are asking for retrofit backup systems.”

“Utility companies around the country are killing net metering and thus grid-tie-only inverters,” says Tom Brennan, engineering manager at Sol-Ark. “They want to charge three times what they will pay out for the solar power produced. The only solution is solar + storage to keep what is produced, consume it at night and use the grid as backup to solar. ”

Today most off-grid systems are still installed using lead-acid batteries. They are proven and cost effective, but less efficient, and over the long-term lithium has economic advantages. A growing number of off-grid systems are installing LiFePO4 lithium batteries as an alternative to both wet and advanced (gel, AGM) lead-acid. Although this type of battery initially is more expensive than lead-acid, over the long run they can be more economical due to high cycle life and superior storage capabilities.

“Perhaps most importantly, lithium batteries can operate without being fully charged and can actually do better when they are not held at a very high state of charge for long periods, unlike lead-acid batteries,” says Mark Cerasuolo, director of marketing at Morningstar, which just debuted a new off-grid-focused solar + storage inverter for the lithium battery age. “Therefore, residential off-grid customers never need to worry about running their generator to top off the batteries like they have in the past, further reducing the run time of their generators — and drastically lowering fuel and maintenance costs, as well as noise and emissions. System operators that use lithium batteries report fuel savings of 75 percent and more compared to running a generator for prime power.”

CPS separable wireboxes

Commercial inverter manufacturers like CPS America are easing installation and O&M with separable wireboxes.

EV and smart home upgrades

Less talked about, but possibly more relevant countrywide, is an inverter’s flexibility to incorporate electric vehicle charging.

“This is particularly relevant to the PV market as we see a significant overlap between the EV and PV target market,” says Lior Handelsman, co-founder, VP of marketing and product strategy with SolarEdge. “With many homes expected to have an EV in the coming years, it makes sense for anyone installing a PV system to install an EV charging inverter or at least an EV-ready inverter.”

SolarEdge is taking another strategic step by transitioning its inverters into comprehensive smart energy managers.

“Consumers do not just want to place solar energy on their roof and then forget about it; they want to control how they use their energy,” he says. “Since the inverter already manages solar production, energy storage, grid interaction and consumption, it is well positioned to evolve into the home’s smart energy manager. By integrating smart energy verticals into the inverter hardware and firmware, such as our EV charging solar inverter, installers and homeowners alike receive more value.”

SolarEdge EV charger/solar inverter

SolarEdge offers the only EV charger/solar inverter on the market.

You are buying service, support

More than ever, commercial inverter manufacturers are focusing on improving the user experience with installer friendly designs, improved user interfaces and more effective customer service.

“Installer friendly features like lifting handles and a spacious wiring box allow electricians to install the product safely and in a time-efficient manner,” says Michael Nieman, senior applications engineer for Yaskawa Solectria Solar.

Integrated fused combiner and AC/DC disconnects also streamline the installation process.

String inverters keep scaling up

As the industry has matured, the drawbacks of central inverters — a larger footprint, expensive maintenance contracts, higher O&M expenses, large sections of arrays suffering from downtimes, etc. — have become more apparent. For these reasons, decentralized architecture with string inverters and module-level optimization has been gaining market share in the commercial PV sector in recent years.

But even if actual central inverters are less popular, deploying string inverters on a skid for a more centralized design architecture still makes sense for some sites.

“The design architecture of a site can make a big difference in EBOS cost,” says Ed Heacox, GM at CPS America. “Sometimes a distributed approach is better, other times centralized makes better financial sense. Evaluate the different designs using your actual costs to determine which method is best for the project and site. Beyond the initial financial implications of these two architectures is the O&M aspect. For very large sites, a centralized design can streamline O&M by clustering the inverters in one or more groups.”

More connectivity needs more security

The increased quantity of smaller inverters has made inverter communications even more integral to effective plant commissioning and control. This means simplicity, but also an increased focus on cyber security.

“We engineered our new XGI 1000 and XGI 1500 inverter lines with security baked in, not layered on,” says Emily Hwang, applications engineering manager at Yaskawa Solectria Solar. “While on-site, users can view inverter information from their smart device via WPA2 encryption. The user interface is password protected and can limit the accessibility of control parameters to only qualified individuals. In addition, each inverter comes equipped with a firewall and uses SSL encryption to ensure that the connection between web server and browser remain secure.”

The YSS team is also promoting the idea of hardware security, believing it is important to have inverter lines engineered and manufactured in the U.S.

OutBack is taking a standards-based approach to communications and data security, working with the SunSpec Alliance, IEEE and other standards bodies to ensure that our platforms are secure while remaining interoperable with the devices and parties they legitimately need to share data with.

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Approaches to Phase 3 vary

Rule 21 Phase 3 is all about allowing utilities and grid operators to leverage many of the grid supporting and communication requirements developed in previous phases. While the exact requirements and date for Rule 21 Phase 3 are still TBD, eight functions have been recommended by the Smart Inverter Working Group to be included in Rule 21 as mandatory or optional capabilities for all inverter-based DER systems.

“Installers should become familiar with the implementation schedule and ensure that they are specifying products that can meet the requirements. Otherwise, they may be denied interconnection,” Dailey says.

Similar to Phase 1, testing and certification requirements will be needed before Phase 3 functions can have mandatory implementation requirements. Mandatory implementation requirements typically begin 12 months after approval of testing and certification requirements.

“Manufacturers will ship inverters with functions left in a default state. Installers should be prepared for the need to implement specific settings and/or functions on a site or project specific basis. The local utilities and grid operators may request modification to the settings that would require the installer to adjust during commissioning,” Nieman notes.

For Rule 21 Phase 3, SolarEdge is providing an expanded feature set for smart inverters like data monitoring, remote connection/disconnection and max power controls.

“These will start to become the new industry standard,” Handelsman says. All SolarEdge inverters sold in California will be certified for IEEE 2030.5, while already shipped SolarEdge inverters can be updated for compliance.

While this is a necessary step for onboarding an abundance of distributed PV onto our grid, at least one inverter manufacturer fundamentally disagrees with Phase 3 because of the economic implications for individual solar + storage systems.

“Utilities want to reprogram your inverter and use your batteries at any time to support power surges,” Brennan says. “Not sure what they will pay you for it, if anything. And there is also the potential for cyber hacking of the system. Sol-Ark is just not a fan.”

The U.S. veteran team of engineers at Sol-Ark may have considered security more than any other manufacturer in the building of its inverter hardware from the standpoint that it can survive solar flares or an EMP attack. What is Sol-Ark doing for cyber security? “We unplug the Wi-Fi connection,” Brennan says. “That is the ultimate security.”

Partnerships add value

Being the connective hub of a system puts inverter companies in position to come up with cool partnerships that streamline costs, improve performance and introduce new user-facing functionality. Here’s some examples.

CPS is the first inverter company that also has a bankable, large scale PV module offering. CPS’ sister company is Astronergy, a Bloomberg Tier 1 rated PV panel provider. CPS is able to bundle PV panels and inverters — orders, delivery, support, warranty — all from one $8 billion company.

Fronius is one of many inverter companies partnering with the SunSpec Alliance, which defined an open industry standard for communication between modules, inverters and string combiners to support module level rapid shutdown requirements. “We not only believe that industry standards have economic advantages for distributors and installers, but that they also ensure better safety,” says Richard Baldinger, director of marketing with Fronius.

Morningstar’s Energy Storage Partner program (ESP) is an ongoing collaboration with selected premium battery manufacturers with advanced technologies/chemistries. The ESP verifies, confirms and thoroughly documents recommended charge settings along with best practices, to provide system designers and installers with as close to a plug-and-play solution as possible when configuring energy storage systems to best use specific batteries.

SolarEdge recently announced that it was one of the first companies to collaborate with Google to integrate EV charging with the Google Assistant in order to make EV charging simpler for consumers. The integration allows consumers to tell the Google Assistant to start and stop EV charging. SolarEdge plans to add more functionality to its Google Assistant commands, including inquiring about charging status, checking average miles charged in the charging session and pre-schedule charging.

Yaskawa Solectria Solar has partnered with Alencon to provide a repowering solution for legacy 600 V PV arrays. Customers can replace legacy and underperforming 600 V inverters with the latest inverter and power electronic technology to return these systems to operation.

Sungrow has partnered with several third-party monitoring and controls companies (NorCal controls, Locus and AlsoEnergy are all well known, trusted brands in the industry) to produce off-the shelf solutions that can be used in combination with its products. This gives customers the ease of doing business and designing projects around its products.

Chris Crowell is the managing editor of Solar Builder.

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar PV Inverter Buyer’s Guide 2019: Faster installs, better serviceability and a focus on storage

2019 inverter buyer's guide web banner

The 2019 solar inverter market is more robust and reliable than ever. From streamlined residential operations to beefed up large-scale string inverters to a cadre of solar+storage options for both on- and off-grid applications, there are products to match any solar PV design need. We reached out to every inverter manufacturer to hear about their latest innovations and to share some advice for installing their systems efficiently. All of those are below, starting with residential on through storage, commercial and finally utility-scale.

Residential solar inverters

Fronius | SnapINverter: Primo

Flexible system design, easy installation, integrated Wi-fi

Fronius Primo

The Fronius SnapINverter line offers integrated Wi-Fi and SunSpec Modbus interfaces, NEMA 4X rating, wide voltage windows, multiple MPP trackers and easy installation in 15 minutes or less. Power classes range from 3.8 kW to 24 kW, but with an identical look and feel combined with unique field-serviceability, Fronius SnapINverters reduce the costs for training and servicing. All Fronius SnapINverters offer wide voltage windows for easy system design. The Fronius Primo is available up to 15 kW, making it the biggest single-phase inverter available, offering the most flexible string sizing with string length as short as two or three modules (80 V startup voltage). It also allows for inverter oversizing of up to 150 percent within warranty.

Install advice: Few tools are needed to complete a Fronius inverter installation, but the most important tool in our opinion is a torque screwdriver. Using this tool and paying attention to the provided torque specifications of the inverter will always ensure a safe and optimal installation.

Monitoring: Free lifetime monitoring comes standard with Fronius and Solar.Web. In it, you can check the performance of a system in addition to performing remote updates. The Fronius Datamanager is included in all of the Primo inverters. This piece of hardware is the communications center for Fronius inverters for all applications. Whenever it is connected to the internet via a LAN or Wi-Fi, the Fronius Datamanager sends the PV system values directly to Fronius Solar.web to provide an overview of how the system is operating at all times.


Click here for full spec document

APsystems | The QS1

Can reduce installation time by 75 percent 

The QS1 is a four-module, single phase microinverter that doesn’t cost the equivalent of four individual microinverters either. The shared components reduce the overall cost per Watt in comparison with conventional microinverters.
On the technology side, the QS1 delivers the highest output power among microinverters today at 300 W per channel, can accommodate PV modules up to 375 W and has a 22V-48V voltage range. It also features four individual MPPT so each PV module is managed and tracked separately. The QS1 employs high-speed wireless Zigbee, which is up to three times faster than conventional powerline communication (PLC), creating a local 2.4 GHz mesh network for fast and reliable data communication between the microinverters and the gateway. The QS1 utilizes a common AC trunk cabling with the APsystem’s dual-module YC600, which means both microinverters can be deployed on the same circuit for better site design capability and to maximize circuit capacity. Because the QS1 tracks better through this voltage range at dawn and dusk, it gets the most out of the available sunlight, even in those lower light conditions, maximizing the energy harvest for the homeowner.

Install advice: We recommend that installers use a direct Ethernet connection from the gateway to the homeowner’s router. Even though Wi-Fi is an available function, a direct line is more reliable in instances when the homeowner changes ISPs or passwords. This will save the installer returns to the jobsite for IT issues.

Monitoring: APsystems’ EMA monitoring is a multiple-level, cloud-based platform that provides installers with detailed access to their installed projects, including module-level monitoring and analysis. Homeowners, likewise, can see module-level detail as well as a more comprehensive overview of site performance and health, all at no cost.

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Full spec document

SMA America | Power+ Solution

A proactive service solution to decrease truck rolls and system downtime.

Power+ solution-sma

SMA’s improved Power+ Solution builds on the company’s MLPE solution to provide even more speed and simplicity. The UL-listed Power+ Solution is one of the fastest residential PV systems to install. One of the most significant improvements to the Power+ Solution is a major reduction in system components within a new Rooftop Communication Kit, meaning fewer potential points of failure throughout the system and less equipment to service. Additionally, a single plug-and-play communication connection speeds installation and reduces labor. The new Power+ Solution offers 50 percent faster commissioning within Sunny Portal.

Install advice: SMA offers a useful YouTube library of Tech Tip videos for time saving instructions on the installation and commissioning of the Power+ system, including registration on Sunny Portal.

Monitoring: Power+ systems can be registered for free on SMA’s Sunny Portal, allowing module level monitoring of the whole system. Registration with Sunny Portal, the PV industry’s largest monitoring site (according to GTM Research, Oct 2017), allows installers to opt into the free Smart Connected service. Sunny Portal can be accessed via computer or smartphone app.


Full spec document

Ginlong Solis | MLRSD

One rapid shutdown device for every two modules


The R&D Team at Solis HQ has created a new module-level rapid shutdown device (MLRSD) for the North American PV market. This new device meets all requirements of NEC 2017 Article 690.12 and is listed to the UL1741 (SA) and UL 991 Test Standards. Installers need only carry one Solis MLRSD for every two PV modules on the roof. Each Solis MLRSD device has dual inputs (for two 370 W max PV modules) and two PV Wire interconnection whips (MC4) for connecting the MLRSD’s together on the roof. The enclosure is rated NEMA 4X with an IP68 ingress rating. The enclosure is non-metallic and does not require grounding. An integrated mounting plate can be used to secure the unit to the PV modules or support rack. The MLRSD features a self-test, fault detection LED indicator. Solis residential PV inverters include an integrated, multi-channel PLC signal generator that can control as many as four (4) separate PV strings equipped with Solis MLRSDs.

Install advice: The Solis MLRSD utilizes MC4 connectors. An installer must make sure the connectors are fully inserted. Full, complete connection will ensure that the inverter does not detect a partial connection and post an Arc Fault Alarm message (series fault).

Monitoring: Solis Inverters can be connected to the Ginlong Solis web-based monitoring solution called Ginlong Monitoring. Solis inverters can be connected to a local router using the Solis Wi-Fi stick or connected to a local mobile phone tower using the Solis Cellular Stick. The owner/operator can get most information off the LCD screen at the inverter but data from each MPPT and all AC and DC production data is available on a friendly dashboard where owners can check current conditions and maintenance techs can review history performance and alarm code histories.


Full spec document

SolarEdge | EV Charging Inverter

Six times faster than a Level 1 EV charger, using grid and PV simultaneously

solaredge ev charger

SolarEdge’s EV charging single-phase inverter is the world’s first EV charger with an integrated PV inverter. It enables homeowners to charge electric vehicles up to six times faster than a standard Level 1 charger through its innovative solar boost mode that utilizes grid and PV charging simultaneously. Reducing the hassle of separately installing a standalone EV charger and a PV inverter also means eliminating the need for additional wiring and conduit. By installing an EV charger that is integrated with an inverter, no additional dedicated circuit breaker is needed, saving space and ruling out a potential upgrade to the main distribution panel.

Install advice: When installing a PV system that will serve as a source of EV charging either immediately or in the future, be sure to factor in the additional power that will be required. In order to offset the increased electricity consumption by the EV, recommend a system size that is 3-4 kWp larger than a PV system that will not be used to charge an EV. By installing a larger system in advance, the homeowner saves on future installation costs, while the installer improves its ASP.

Monitoring: SolarEdge’s monitoring platform is free for 25 years. From a computer or a phone, homeowners are able to can smart-schedule for use with Time of Use (TOU) rates; track PV, EV, and grid consumption; control household energy usage; remotely control charging; view charging duration, charge energy, and percent charge from PV.


Full spec document

Enphase | Panasonic N330E HIT with Enphase IQ 7X

All-in-one smart panel for easier installations

panasonic enphase

Enphase seems to be in every AC module you find. Its most recent partnership with Panasonic on the HIT AC Series Module combines the efficiency of HIT solar panels with the intelligence of Enphase microinverters. An Enphase IQ 7X microinverter with Individual MPPT tracking (Module-level Power Point Tracker) is integrated with HIT high efficiency solar technology to deliver maximum power production. The AC Series alternative energy source offers extreme efficiency and high power output for residential solar systems. Panasonic solar panels are backed by a performance warranty that guarantees minimum power output of 90.76% after 25 years.

Install advice: The Enphase IQ 7X recesses into the frame of the AC Series Module, saving storage space, reducing trips up the ladder, and simplifying the purchasing process.

Monitoring: With the Enphase Enlighten mobile app, you can check your system’s status at-a-glance without scrolling and still dive into the details of your system’s health and performance, all while on-the-go. One tap takes you to energy production graphs and overviews of your energy consumption and storage (if applicable).

Full spec document

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Solar+Storage inverters

CPS America | 60-KW ESS storage solution

 Full ESS solution with full warranty and bankable performance guarantee

CPS turnkey energy storage


The Energy Storage Systems (ESS) for the North American market is designed for demand charge reduction, peak shaving and time of use shifting applications. These turn-key grid connected systems are a perfect fit for smaller commercial storage needs. ESS SW solution from its partner Pason Power, including upfront cash flow analysis from the Storage Architect platform and ongoing performance management, forecasting and control via the Intelligent Energy Management System (iEMS). It is UL 9540 listed for plug and play operation and Rule 21 certified for use in California with SGIP applications. Outdoor rated with complete climate control.

Monitoring: All CPS inverters, 3 phase or 1 phase, ship standard with Modbus RS485 communications. Our communication equipment uses industry standard Modbus protocol. The CPS Flex Gateway is a data communications and controls solution for the CPS inverter line. The gateway acts as a Modbus master data logger and gateway solution for communications and controlling commercial and utility scale inverter applications. This enables three parallel outbound communications options:

(1) Local pass-through Modbus data to 3rd party solutions,
(2) Ethernet based communications to CPS Service for remote diagnostics and updates,
(3) and a programmable Ethernet XML SunSpec Data Exchange connection for customers who want to manage their data directly.


Full spec document

Morningstar | Multiwave

The benefits of both low- and high-frequency topology

Morningstar Multiwave

With no transformer or cooling fans and fewer magnetics, the Multiwave is less cramped on the inside, making O&M simple.

Morningstar’s new MultiWave 4-kW inverter/chargers combine high-frequency (HF) power conversion with advanced, two-step voltage transformation circuitry, reducing circuit complexity while maintaining high surge capacity. It surpasses low-frequency (LF) performance with the advantage of being a HF inverter design. Precise cycle-by-cycle software controls for a pure sine wave AC, maximizing load starting capability and minimizing component stresses. It is truly bi-directional topology — its rated continuous inverter power equals its rated charger power and equivalent charging efficiency. LF designs often have different power paths for inverting and charging with much lower efficiency for charging. Morningstar over-spec’d components to achieve a hardware failure rate of less than 0.4%. And like all Morningstar products, it has superior thermal design. Morningstar has never used fans to cool high-power electronics.

Install advice: For the North American market, the pre-wired BOS models can cost less than comparable pre-wired inverter/charger electric panel systems that are often offered by dealers. The pre-wiring is designed to make an NEC code compliant installation quick and easy for up to two MultiWave Inverters combining the BOS model with a standard model.

Monitoring: Morningstar’s new Envision Cloud Service allows you to remotely collect data from all the sites you need to manage. Set up with Morningstar’s Ethernet MeterBus Converter (EMC-1), it is completely scalable for large mesh networks or site clusters.


Full spec document

Outback Power | SkyBox True Hybrid Energy System

Can manage non-export, demand charge and TOU functions, regardless of which loads need backed up

Outback Skybox

The SkyBox True Hybrid Energy System provides the latest battery backup and energy management features in an easy-to-install, fully automated package that makes homes more resilient in the face of an unpredictable grid. SkyBox works with virtually any 48 VDC battery from traditional lead acid to lithium-ion and other advanced chemistries. Since the PV input is rated for 600 VDC, string sizing is similar to common grid-tie inverters – making retrofits easy. Designed for high-volume grid-tied solar PV installers who are new to energy storage, SkyBox provides simple integration with easy-to-identify terminals for Grid, Protected Loads, Battery, PV and Generator. The full-color touch screen walks users through set up for backup, non-export, time-of-use, demand-charge mitigation or all of the above.

Install advice: Popular batteries can be selected from a drop-down to streamline setup or custom settings can be used to accommodate others. SkyBox can even be installed without a battery and additional inverters and batteries can be added later.

Monitoring: SkyBox is integrated with OutBack’s OPTICS RE telemetry system for remote monitoring and full control. OPTICS allows installers and owners to keep an eye on system performance across their fleet and adjust settings remotely via the Internet.


Full spec document

Pika Energy | X7602  and X11402 Islanding Inverters

Easily integrates storage in light commercial settings with 208 V three-phase service

Pika’s Islanding Inverters use a patented DC bus technology called REbus to seamlessly control solar and storage on the same inverter. With REbus, bus voltage and powerline communications synchronize the activities of connected PV Link substring optimizers and DC-coupled smart batteries with the inverter for resilience, self supply and arbitrage applications. The Pika Energy Island is a platform designed from the ground up. Hardware and software work together to deliver more power throughput, more energy capacity and more application flexibility than any other system on the market. Pika Islanding Inverters are able to deliver up to 50A of backup power to protected loads during power outages and control up to 68.4 kWh of Li-ion smart battery storage capacity.

Install advice: We expect to see our relationship to energy and the grid go through unprecedented change over the next decade. Anybody buying solar today will likely want a battery before too long, so plan in advance. With a Pika system that just means that you should leave some wall space clear near the inverter.

Monitoring: Every system ships with REview, a free system monitoring platform.


Full spec document

SMA | DC coupled storage solution

Can offer significant operating cost and efficiency advantages over AC coupled systems


SMA’s DC coupled storage solution is built for new PV plants, and can be used to retrofit existing plants for operators who want the benefits of solar-plus-storage. The solution consists of SMA’s Sunny Central EV-US inverters with a DC coupling ready option and up to six 500 kW DC-DC Converters.

Install advice: SMA’s Application Engineering team can help determine the appropriate battery size and number of DC-DC converters for a particular array in a specific location.

Monitoring: SMA’s Sunny Centrals have many options for connecting to a PV plant SCADA system via copper or fiber connections through an embedded communications device or additional managed switch.


Full spec document

Sol-Ark | 8K Hybrid Inverter

Built to survive EMP, solar flares, and cyber-attacks

sol ark hybrid

The DC Transformerless Sol-Ark 8K Hybrid Inverter is the most efficient battery inverter in the market, requiring 5-15% fewer solar panels, 5-20% less battery capacity and 25% lower cost electronics. Customers can expand as budgets allow. Built in 500 V MPPTs support five to 36 Solar panels (11 kW) DC coupled and also supports 7 KW AC coupling. Any type and size 48 V batteries can be used, even added later. Because it has 8 KW On Grid and 20 KW Off Grid peak power, home owners need only one. Install costs are reduced with a user wiring area and intuitive color touchscreen display. Sol-Ark 8K has many automatic modes: On Grid, Off Grid, Grid Tie/Sell, Home zero export, Battery Time of Use, Smart Load Time of Use, Peak Shaving, and auto gen start.

Install advice: Batteries can be an expensive investment. We are battery agnostic, but ask us for recommendations or use our online tools for sizing to a client’s needs. In 5+ years of business, we have never had a customer return because affordability and satisfaction are top priority to us.

Monitoring: In addition to the systems GUI graphical screens, free monitoring is offered on Android, Apple, and via web browser to understand and track solar generation, consumption, battery state of charge, and grid usage in 5-minute increments.


Full spec document

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Commercial & Industrial solar inverters

CPS America | 50- and 60-kW 1,000 Vdc string inverters

Remote service diagnostics and remote firmware updates

CPS 50 60 kw

The 50- and 60-kW (55 and 66k VA) medium power CPS three phase string inverters are designed for ground mount, large rooftop and carport applications, specifically for the North American environment and grid. High efficiency at 98.8% peak and 98.5% CEC, wide operating voltages, broad temperature ranges and a NEMA Type 4X enclosure enable this inverter platform to operate at high performance across many applications. The CPS 50/60-kW products ship with either the standard wire-box or the H4 style wire-box, each fully integrated and separable with touch safe fusing, monitoring and AC and DC disconnect switches. Smart-Grid Rule 21 & UL1741SA Certified, plus capable of 0-90° mounting orientation (vertical, angled, or lay flat).

Install advice: Integrate the Flex Gateway in the DAS enclosure to simplify commissioning and streamline service operations for the life of the system (one card per 70 inverters).

Monitoring: All CPS inverters, 3 phase or 1 phase, ship standard with Modbus RS485 communications. Our communication equipment uses industry standard Modbus protocol. The CPS Flex Gateway is a data communications and controls solution for the CPS inverter line. The gateway acts as a Modbus master data logger and gateway solution for communications and controlling commercial and utility scale inverter applications. This enables three parallel outbound communications options:

(1) Local pass-through Modbus data to 3rd party solutions,
(2) Ethernet based communications to CPS Service for remote diagnostics and updates,
(3) and a programmable Ethernet XML SunSpec Data Exchange connection for customers who want to manage their data directly.


Full spec document

Fronius | SnapINverter: Symo

Integrated SunSpec PLC transmitter for module level shutdown and field-serviceability

Fronius symo

The three-phase inverter line Fronius Symo features 10 models ranging from 10 kW to 24 kW, with the 208 V rated versions going up to 15 kW. The new Advanced versions combine the benefits of the Fronius Symo with additional value for states with Module Level Shutdown requirements, including integrated PLC transmitter for SunSpec Rapid Shutdown communication standard, compliance with NEC pre-2014, 2014 and 2017, zero tilt mounting, light weight and field serviceability. The Fronius SnapINverter line offers integrated Wi-Fi and SunSpec Modbus interfaces, NEMA 4X rating, wide voltage windows, multiple MPP trackers and easy installation in 15 minutes or less.

Install advice: Few tools are needed to complete a Fronius inverter installation, but the most important tool in our opinion is a torque screwdriver. Using this tool and paying attention to the provided torque specifications of the inverter will always ensure a safe and optimal installation.

Monitoring: Free lifetime monitoring comes standard with Fronius and Solar.Web. In it, you can check the performance of a system in addition to performing remote updates.


Full spec document

Outback Power | ProHarvest XL 480 VAC

A compact form factor ideal for rooftop and carport installations because it can be mounted out of sight

The ProHarvest XL might be the most power dense inverter available today. This new 10 kW version is Rule-21 compliant and weighs just over 30 pounds. The waterproof NEMA6 enclosure and fanless convection cooling at up to 65 °C ambient temperatures allow it to be mounted in any orientation under the array, on the wall, or attached to a carport purlin. The compact size and integrated connectors eliminate the need for DC combiners and associated hardware, which reduces labor and BOS costs. With dual MPPT inputs and a 200 to 850 VDC range, the PHXL480-10k can be used in 600 VDC or 1,000 VDC nominal installations, reducing SKUs and simplifying design as well as installation. AC output is configured in a 480 VAC wye configuration, uniquely suitable for many commercial projects.

Install advice: The ProHarvest series inverters allow for modular and flexible building blocks that can be deployed in almost any size of project.

Monitoring: The ProHarvest Communications Gateway adds monitoring and control communication with local inverters over the power line. Once connected, it will log data and store it on an internal memory card. Information may be accessed through the touch screen, or over an Ethernet network. Power line communications (PLC) means there is no need to run separate wires.


Full spec document

SMA | Commercial: Sunny Tripower CORE1

Enhanced safety features and 2017 NEC compliance via the new SunSpec PLC signal


The Sunny Tripower CORE1 inverter has been upgraded to new power classes. In addition to the 50 kW CORE1 model, a new higher power 62.5 kW model is available for large projects utilizing higher efficiency modules, and a 33-kW model is now available for projects with smaller or highly segmented arrays as well as 600 V repowering projects. The new CORE1 series will include advanced smart inverter capabilities to fulfill utility grid support interconnection requirements, as well as SMA’s next-generation DC AFCI technology for compliance to the new UL 1699B standard for arc-fault protection.

Install advice: String monitoring is a CORE1 feature that allows similarly strung inputs of the inverter to be benchmarked against each other, allowing for automated warnings if production of an input drops significantly. It’s a built-in O&M watchdog for the six inputs.

Monitoring: The SMA Data Manager M unlocks the updated Sunny Portal, powered by ennexOS. This updated portal allows for easy historical graphing of all data in the Analysis Pro section and provides improved fleet management. The classic Sunny Portal is available for internet connected CORE1 inverters, and either portal allows for signing up for SMA’s free Smart Connected.


Full spec document

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Utility-scale solar inverters

CPS America | 100- and 125-kW, 1500 Vdc String Inverters

No DC combiner box needed. A full featured 20 string input wirebox is integrated (and separable)

CPS 100 and 120

The 100- and 125-kW (111 and 132 kVA) medium power CPS three phase string inverters are designed for ground mount and carport applications at 1,500 Vdc, specifically for the North American environment and grid. High efficiency at 99.1% peak and 98.5% CEC, wide operating voltages, broad temperature ranges and a NEMA Type 4X enclosure enable this inverter platform to operate at high performance across many applications. The CPS 100/125 kW inverters ship with either the standard or “centralized” wire-box. The standard wire-box includes touch safe fusing, surge protection, AC and DC disconnect switches. The new centralized wire-box is designed for sites benefitting from DC combining near the array and locating the inverters closer to the point of interconnection. Both wire-box versions employ the CPS separable, “quick connect” wire-box design saving time installing and servicing the product.

Install advice: Install the Flex Gateway in the DAS box before commissioning the inverters in order to save time by commissioning the site at once, rather than each individual inverter.

Monitoring: The CPS Flex Gateway – normally one communications card per site – for remote service and product updates (to save service cost, increase diagnosis speed and uptime).


Full spec document

KACO | blueplanet 125 TL3

Silicon carbide semiconductors for a higher switching frequency, less conduction losses and a lightweight device

The blueplanet 125 TL3 is a string inverter for decentralized, large-scale solar power plants. It is KACO new energy’s first inverter designed for 1,500 volt modules. It is also the first inverter to consistently incorporate silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductors, which means the blueplanet 125 TL3 weighs less than 80 kilograms at a rated output of 125 kVA. This allows for a high power density, especially since the inverter allows for an oversizing of its AC power by 1.5 times while providing a reactive power reserve. The efficiency of 99.2 percent and the wide MPP range of 875 to 1,300 volts underline this high performance. There are a host of optional features available to adapt the inverter to one’s requirements: PID set, surge protection for AC connections and the communication interfaces, XL version with DC switch, WiFi. A standard feature is the protection against corrosion by salty air near the sea, which makes it possible to reduce the minimum distance to the coast from 2,000 meters to 500 meters.

Install advice: Use Ethernet communication for safety reasons. With the blueplanet 125 TL3, you’ll still be able to commission up to 100 inverters simultaneously. An Installation Wizard guides you through the configuration process. Later on, monitoring and maintenance can also be achieved remotely.

Monitoring: Monitoring data can be accessed via the integrated webserver, preferably using Ethernet or WiFi, or your chosen monitoring portal.


Full spec document

Sungrow | SG3150U-MV

Containerized design and pre-defined lifting points make it easy and quick to set

sungrow 2500U_SG3150UThis allows installers to use bigger block sizes and eventually reduce costs. The MPPT window for this product is 915 Vdc-1300 Vdc, which allows it to be used on almost all the PV modules manufacturers and technologies available in the market today. It is NEC 2017 compliant with insulation monitoring and ground fault monitoring functions. It can also be used to produce reactive power at night to support the grid. This inverter is coupled with a medium voltage transformer on the LV side which then steps up the voltage from low voltage to medium voltage. All the monitoring sensors/gauges of the transformer are accessible from outside which allows ease operation. The transformer also comes standard with FR3 oil, which is environmentally friendly. Like Sungrow’s previous central inverter, this inverter also has the modular feature to provides higher availability. The inverter has grid support features likes LVRT, HVRT, FRT, etc., and is compliant with UL and other regional standards. It has a peak efficiency of 98.8% and CEC efficiency of 98.5%.

Install advice: Every inverter comes with a maintenance schedule, and SG3150U has the minimum required maintenance schedule. It is advised to follow the specific installation and maintenance schedules as outlined in the product’s user manual.

Monitoring: The inverter has a Smart Control Unit (SCU), which collects data from the internal power electronic components and it also collects data from the transformer sensors. These transformer sensors are pre-wired from factory which eliminates the need of running more wires from transformer to customer Data Acquisition System (DAS).


Full spec document

Ginlong Solis | Solis 1,500 V 125 kW string inverter

All DC array connectors integrated into the enclosure for fast wiring and commissioning

Ginlong Solar inverters

The first thing an installer notices is how compact and lightweight the NEMA 4X 125 kW Solis 3-phase 1500V inverter is. The inverter is enclosed in a new, thin rectangular case that can be rack-stacked to MW levels. The new 3-phase product features intelligent redundant cooling for maximum performance in hot climates. A two-way communicating inverter (MODBUS / SunSpec), the Solis 125 kW can be remote controlled using SunSpec complaint hardware. This new inverter encourages installers to avoid installing combiner boxes and instead bring all strings back to the inverter and connect directly to the pre-installed MC4 bulkhead connectors. Inside the wiring box of the Solis 125KW, the installer will find 20 integrated fuse holders, load-rated AC/DC disconnect switches and integrated Class II overvoltage protection.

Install advice: Take your time during commissioning. The Solis inverters are particularly easy to commission so there is extra time for the installer to check all electrical connections and make sure that all the settings are correct in the internal menus. This extra few minutes at commissioning time will save time, money and headaches in the future.


Full spec document

SMA | Sunny Highpower PEAK3

Maximizes the benefits of distributed PV plant design


SMA’s PEAK3 inverter fulfills the need for flexibility, simplicity and performance in large-scale ground mount solar projects. The 1,500 VDC solution offers developers a cost-effective, modular building block that provides scalability while reducing balance-of-system and installation costs. Array combiners send one long pair of high-voltage DC conductors to each PEAK3 in the inverter station, with short AC runs to a collection panel and transformer, minimizing energy losses. Centralizing the inverters reduces communications cabling and inverter O&M time and effort. It is available in two models: 125 kW/480 VAC and 150 kW/600 VAC.

Install advice: Both AC and DC terminals are approved for copper or aluminum conductors, and no neutral is run to the PEAK3.

Monitoring: Sunny Highpower PEAK3 inverters are eligible for the SMA Smart Connected service, which offers proactive monitoring and O&M support that reduces plant servicing time and costs while maximizing system uptime, energy yield and ROI. Plant communications with the inverter are supported by the SMA Data Manager powered by ennexOS, SMA’s cross-sector energy management platform, providing an optimized interface for plant commissioning as well as intelligent monitoring and controls required in large-scale PV systems.


Full spec document

Yaskawa Solectria Solar |  SOLECTRIA XGI 1500

Access every inverter at once from a single location


yaskawa solectria xgi

Yaskawa Solectria Solar’s SOLECTRIA XGI 1500 inverters are powerful 1500V string inverters, with models rated at 125, 150 and 166 kW that boast a 99% peak efficiency rating. The SOLECTRIA XGI 1500 inverters use standardized communication protocols to ease connection to any network. This allows system owners to access all inverters on site from a single location using a secured WiFi and provides convenience for remote diagnostics and firmware upgrades. This new level of capability will lower system costs and improve the efficiency of operations.

Install Advice: Yaskawa Solectria Solar provides two lines of 1500V string combiners to accompany the XGI 1500 inverter. The 1500V Attachable Combiner is designed to mate with the XGI 1500 inverter, for distributed PV systems where the combiner and inverter are located together. For a centralized system configuration, we provide the 1500V Remote Combiner, for use when multiple XGI 1500 inverters are located in a central area and the combiners are spread throughout the PV array.


Full spec document

roof top reportDownload the new Residential Rooftop Report to heat up your solar sales

The Residential Rooftop Report for the first quarter of 2019 is now available for download. The theme is “Heating Up Sales,” and we’ve teamed up with report sponsor Aurora Solar to examine ways for residential solar installation companies to lower customer acquisition costs, close more leads and overall run a more streamlined, efficient local solar business. Just fill out the form below to access your free report.

— Solar Builder magazine

Adding Energy Storage for Grid-Tied Inverters

Thu, Apr 4, 2019 2:00 PM EDT

In many parts of North America, the utility rate structure for renewables has moved from incentive based to effectively punitive by eliminating feed in tariffs, restricting or eliminating net metering, and employing time of use (TOU) rates outside of the solar production window. Therefore, adding storage to the huge base of installed grid tied solar generation systems has never been more relevant or cost effective than now.


— Solar Builder magazine

Outback eliminates need for charge controllers with latest solar+storage product

Outback skybox

SkyBox True Hybrid Energy System

OutBack Power Technologies, Inc., launched the latest addition to its line of solar plus storage solutions at this year’s Solar Power International (SPI) convention in Anaheim, California. The SkyBox True Hybrid Energy System combines the benefits of grid-tied with the independence of off-grid, allowing system installers and owners to take charge of their energy.

The fully integrated design of the SkyBox system eliminates external charge controllers and communication accessories, significantly cutting installation complexity, time and cost. This offers an ideal solution for solar professionals who want to get involved in the backup and energy management sector, a market that has grown by over 800% in the last year. SkyBox is flexible and intelligent enough to work with current and future energy storage technologies and can be deployed with or without batteries.


For end users, SkyBox delivers a higher level of energy intelligence and flexibility than what is found in traditional solar inverters. By measuring and monitoring power to and from any connection point – utility, solar, battery, generator and load – SkyBox optimizes energy production, distribution and consumption based on the end-user’s energy objectives.

Concurrent with the SkyBox launch at Solar Power International, OutBack is launching its new Energy Storage for Solar Professional (ESSP) training program. The all-new, 4-day training replaces the original Certificate Training Program and is designed for experienced grid-tied solar installers who want to expand into energy storage-based systems. ESSP also includes a full day of SkyBox training.

— Solar Builder magazine

OutBack Power, HiQ Solar expand deal to sell three-phase commercial string inverter

HiQ Outback Power

OutBack Power expanded its partnership with HiQ Solar to better serve current HiQ and ProHarvest customers, establish new markets and develop next generation products. Moving forward, all installer sales, EPC sales, and technical support activities will be managed by OutBack under the ProHarvest brand. HiQ Solar will focus on engineering and R&D efforts.

“The ProHarvest brand has been well received in the markets that OutBack serves which is why we are excited with the new structure of the expanded partnership,” said Brandon Provalenko, OutBack’s vice president of commercial operations. “This move allows us to leverage our sales and technical support expertise and introduce ProHarvest to a new set of customers while expanding the OutBack product line in a way that aligns with our strategy of providing a world-class customer experience.”

Since 2016 the companies have partnered to bring HiQ‘s plug and play TrueString 3-phase commercial solar inverters to the market, with OutBack selling the HiQ technology under the ProHarvest by OutBack Power brand.

“Over the past nine years HiQ has grown past the start-up stage and now has found a great partner to take us to the next level. Our goal is to get our technology into the hands of as many customers as possible, both in solar and solar plus storage,” said Rob Howard, HiQ Solar’s CEO.

Once dominated by large, but inflexible, central inverters, the trend today is to use many string inverters which are easier to install and provide system redundancy that protects against full system failure caused by failure of a single component. ProHarvest inverters combine the best of all worlds; economics of a large string inverter, with the array-mounting and form-factor of a microinverter. With this technology, installers have a “plug and play” system architecture to work with.

The ProHarvest line includes a 480 volt and 208 volt string inverters, AC splice box and communications gateway.

— Solar Builder magazine