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THE INVERTER

POCKET GUIDE
A handy reference guide for solar installers
Enphase
Microinverters
What’s underneath the panels makes all the difference.

Enphase’s seventh-generation microinverters are powered by our

7
unique software-defined architecture, offering the most efficient
design with a single hardware SKU worldwide. With 96.5% EU
efficiency, the IQ 7 series produces up to 23% more power at nearly
half the weight of the S-Series.
INTRODUCTION | INVERTERS

WHAT IS AN INVERTER?
W elcome to the Inverter Pocket Guide: a
handy reference guide for solar installers.
The pocket guide contains essential information
WHAT IS A GRID CONNECTED
INVERTER?
A grid connected inverter is an inverter which is
that every solar system designer and installer connected to the grid with the capability to
needs to have on hand when working with export power into the grid or supply loads in
different types of inverters. parallel to the grid. A GC inverter must
An inverter or PCE (power conversion synchronise to the grid (or other AC source) to
equipment) simply converts dc current from the operate and when the grid is interrupted, or
solar array, batteries or other dc source into ac goes outside the pre-set frequency or voltage
current which is suitable to export into the grid limits then the GC inverter must shutdown (anti-
or run appliances. Its output must be pure sine islanding function).
wave. All inverters must comply with AS/ STRING-INVERTERS
ANZ4777.2:2015 and be listed on the CEC
The most popular type of inverter used in small
approved inverter list (https://www.
scale solar systems. PV modules connected in
solaraccreditation.com.au/products/inverters.
series are connected to a string-inverter with a
html ) if you want to create STCs (small
dc cable. In residential, there is typically only
technology certificates). If it isn’t on the list
one required, usually mounted close to the
then its simple - don’t install it.
electrical switchboard.
All inverters must be installed in accordance The number and configuration of the solar
with Australian Standards and under Clean modules connected to a string-inverter must not
Energy Council guidelines exceed the input voltage and current
specifications of the inverter.
INVERTER CATEGORIES AND String-inverters may have one or more MPPT
SUB CATEGORIES… (multiple power point trackers) connection.

Grid Connected (GC) Inverters CENTRAL INVERTERS


• String A central inverter is usually only used on solar
COVER IMAGE: PETRMALINAK/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

• Central installations over 1MW. All the solar strings are


• Micro wired back to a central point, which may make
• DC Optimisers monitoring and maintenance easier however it
presents a single point of failure.
Hybrid (with battery storage) MICROINVERTERS
A microinverter is simply a very small inverter
Multi-mode Inverters
sized for each individual PV module. Micros are
• Back up mode
mounted under the panel and converts the dc
• UPS mode
current from the PV module into ac current and is
connected from the PV module to the switchboard
Stand-alone Inverters
with a ac cable. Each microinverter acts as an
individual MPPT for the connected PV module.

www.ecogeneration.com.au ecogeneration | Inverter Pocket Guide 3


INVERTERS

DC OPTIMISERS WHAT IS A STAND-ALONE


Technically not an inverter as dc optimisers INVERTER?
needs to be connected to a special string- A stand-alone inverter does not need the grid to
inverter near the switchboard. DC optimisers act be connected to supply AC power to the loads.
the same as, but different to, microinverters. A stand-alone inverter is connected to battery
The main difference is the dc from the PV storage that is recharged by PV or other
module is connected to the inverter with dc renewable source. A genset may also be
cable. connected.
HYBRID The stand-alone inverter can be the same as a
multimode inverter but cannot have a
The PV array is directly connected to the hybrid
connection to the grid.
inverter as well as the grid The hybrid inverter
will charge the battery storage and converts the
dc current from the battery storage into ac
current for the attached loads. Hybrid inverters
do not supply ac current when the grid is
disconnected.

WHAT IS A MULTI-MODE
INVERTER?
A multi-mode inverter is an inverter which
DC
operates in more than one mode, that is it
operates from the grid when available and off-
grid mode when the grid is disconnected. A AC

multimode inverter requires battery storage to MICROINVERTERS


be connected to operate in the off-grid mode.

BACK-UP MODE
Multimode inverters with backup or off-grid
functionality operates from the grid when
available. When the grid is interrupted, the
DC
multimode inverter will shut down, then restart
in the backup or off-grid mode. There is a time
N AC
lapse of about five seconds between the grid DC

and off-grid mode which will shut down all the OPTIMISERS
appliances connected.

UPS MODE
A multimode inverter with UPS functionality
operates from the grid when available however
when the grid is interrupted, the changeover
DC
from grid to off-grid is instantaneous (less than
30ms) and will not shut down the connected
STRING-INVERTERS N AC
appliances.

4 ecogeneration | Inverter Pocket Guide www.ecogeneration.com.au


NEW
ET Series

5kW 8kW 10kW


PROS & CONS

Microinverter
Image courtesy of
Enphase Energy.

PROS &
CONS OF
INVERTERS

INVERTERS PROS CONS


GC String-Inverter Low cost per watt, usually the PV arrays must be same orientation
cheapest of all options otherwise a GC inverter must have
Location of inverter (near the multiple MPPT (different to string
switchboard - easier for servicing connections)

Easy to install Single point of failure

More efficient when no shading PV Modules in shade will affect the


issues output of the whole string
One faulty PV module will lower the
output from all the PV modules in the
string
Standard string-inverter not “battery
ready”
GC Central Inverter More expensive than individual Big and bulky, needs plenty of room
string-inverters Expensive
Ideal for 1MW plus systems
Engineered for reliability not price
point
Less points of failure on large
installations

6 ecogeneration | Inverter Pocket Guide www.ecogeneration.com.au


PROS & CONS

INVERTERS PROS CONS


Microinverters Ideal for PV modules facing More expensive than a string-inverter
different orientations One micro for each PV module
System monitoring, provides required.
individual PV module data Servicing is harder as each micro is
Ideal for PV arrays with shading under the PV module
issues Mounted with the PV module makes
Easy to expand the PV array, all micros more susceptible to extreme
PV modules don’t need to be the weather conditions
same
DC Optimisers Ideal for PV modules facing Still requires an inverter, mounted
different orientations near the switchboard
Ideal for PV arrays with shading
issues
System monitoring, provides
individual PV module data
Safe dc voltages when not
connected to inverter
Hybrid Inverter charges battery storage Generally less efficient than
Cheaper and easier to install than dedicated solar-only or battery-only
separate inverters inverters

Multi-mode with Battery storage can be attached Changeover between grid and backup
backup mode at a later date takes five seconds so appliances
shutdown
Must have battery storage installed to
work in backup mode
Multi-mode with Battery storage can be attached
UPS mode at a later date Must have battery storage installed to
Instantaneous changeover work in backup mode
between grid and UPS mode so
shuts down appliances.
Stand-Alone Does not need a grid connection. Cost
Inverters May be a cheaper solution than Complexity of system
extending the grid Must have ongoing maintenance
Uses battery storage for 24/7 AC May need a genset to cover when
energy renewable sources are low
Uses renewable sources (PV, wind,
hydro) to charge the battery
storage

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SHADING & ORIENTATION

SHADING & ORIENTATION


ISSUES
ORIENTATION…. be close to zero and affect the whole string
On many residential jobs, the hardest part of the output.
installation is finding enough roof area, free of String connected PV modules are only as good
shading and all facing the same direction to as its least performing module (remember your
install the PV modules. series/parallel circuit theory from the first year
AS/NZS 5033 Clause 2.1.6 states “PV modules of your apprenticeship?).
that are electrically in the same string shall be Microinverters are effective when connected in
all in the same orientation within +–5 (azimuth & parallel so one does not affect the performance
tilt angle). of another, making microinverter arrays resilient
This is where microinverters or dc optimisers to shading.
come into their own. Each PV module
STRING
STRING -INVERTER
INVERTER SYSTEM
SYSTEM MICROINVERTER
MICROINVERTER
SYSTEM
SYSTEM
has its own micro or optimiser
meaning different performing modules Performance
Performance Performance
Performance

do not affect the other modules.

SHADING…
PV modules have bypass diodes to
help solve the problem of faulty cells
50%50% 50%50% 50%50% 50%50% 50%50% 100%
100%100%
100%100%
100%
or partial shading. However, when
• Entire
• Entire
system
system
affected
affected
by one
by module
one module • All •modules
All modules
controlled
controlled
independently
independently
shading occurs across the whole PV • Susceptible
• Susceptible
to soiling,
to soiling,
shading
shading
and and • Resilient
• Resilient
to environmental
to environmental
factors
factors
module the output of that module can module module
defects
defects

8 ecogeneration | Inverter Pocket Guide www.ecogeneration.com.au



New solar inverter series
UNO-DM-PLUS
Efficient. Connected. Smart.

With the new line of residential inverters, UNO-DM-PLUS,


the energy of the sun becomes everything you need at
home, every day and without losses. Easy to install, simple
to maintain and always connected, the UNO-DM-PLUS
inverters, available in power ratings from 1.2 to 6.0 kW,
are a new energy that becomes true.
www.abb.com/solarinverters
COMMON MISTAKES | REPLACING

COMMON
MISTAKES
WHEN
INSTALLING REPLACING
INVERTERS A FAULTY
• VOLTAGE RISE: Too small cable between
INVERTER
inverter and switchboard
In a rapid developing industry like grid-
• PV module voltages and current not connected PV, many manufacturers have come
matched to attached inverter and gone. This makes it nearly impossible to get
a warranty or replace some brands of inverters.
• Inverter clipping caused by connecting
If you find yourself in this situation, you need to
too many modules in a string
make some decisions.
• Too many micro on a branch
• Replace like for like if the inverter is still
• Not following manufacturer’s available
instructions, especially in relation to
• If no longer available, replace with the
clearances and ventilation
equivalent inverter as recommended by the
• Location – not installing in direct original manufacturer
sunlight/weather, Check the IP rating
• Select an equivalent inverter, matching the
• When mounting an inverter, think power, voltage, current and whether it is
switchboard and apply the same transformer/transformerless technology.
mounting conditions (AS/NZS 3000) You may be required to upgrade the whole
system to current Standards & CEC
guidelines so check with your local electricity
regulator. It may be better and cheaper to
scrap the old system and install a whole new
system

Take advice from the suppliers but ultimately


the person signing the replacement off will be
legally responsible if something goes wrong

REMEMBER to isolate, test and lock off before


removing and replacing the inverter or working
on the system

10 ecogeneration | Inverter Pocket Guide www.ecogeneration.com.au


The smartest multi-mode
inverter. Made locally,
delivered globally.

Selectronic is a family-owned company that has


been delivering energy solutions to Australia
and the world for over 50 years. Its flagship
inverter, the SP PRO, is designed and made at
the Selectronic production facility in Victoria.

The SP PRO contains more features as standard


‘inside the box’ than any other multi-mode
inverter, setting new standards for reliability and
peak capacity. It is suitable for both Off-Grid
and Solar Hybrid (Grid Connect), for residential,
commercial and industrial applications.

Grid Independence | Outstanding Reliability | Ultimate Flexibility


+61 3 9727 6600 | www.selectronic.com.au | facebook.com/SelectronicAustralia
PRODUCTS

PRODUCT
GUIDE
T he following table shows
some of the main Clean
Energy Council (CEC) approved
microinverter manufacturers in
Australia, their key products and
where to find them.
Note that some manufacturers
sell modules and microinverters
as a single integrated unit. Above: Image courtesy of Goodwe Above: Image courtesy of Seletronic

MANUFACTURER PRODUCTS AUSTRALIAN


DISTRIBUTORS
ABB UNO-DM PLUS 1.2-6kW Contact ABB on
1800 769 663
Enphase Energy IQ7, IQ7+, IQ7X AC Solar
Product name communication gateway: Warehouse
Envoy-S Metered Flex
One Stop
Warehouse
RF Industries
Solar+Solutions
Goodwe Residential: Solar Plus
ES Series 3.7/5kW Hybrid Inverter Solutions
ET Series 5/8/10kW Three Phase Energy Storage Inverter One Stop
EM Series 3/3.7/5kW Hybrid Inverter Warehouse
NS Series 1-3kW Single-MPPT Single Phase
DSN Series 3-5kW Dual MPPT Single Phase
DSS Series 4.2/5kW Dual MPPT Single Phase
Small to medium sized commercial rooftop
applications
Smart DT Series 4-20kW Dual-MPPT Three Phase
SMT Series 25/30/36kW Three-MPPT Three Phase
Large Commercial ground mounted
MT Series 50/60/70kW Four MPPT Three Phase
On grid retrofitting storage solutions utilizing
SBP Series AC-Coupled Retrofit Solution

12 ecogeneration | Inverter Pocket Guide www.ecogeneration.com.au


PRODUCTS

MANUFACTURER PRODUCTS AUSTRALIAN


DISTRIBUTORS
Seletronic SP Pro – Multi-Mode Inverters MPower
24V, 48V and 120V, 3.0kW – 60kW Supply Partners
Fronius Primo – Seletronic Certified Single Phase Inverter Krannich
3.0 – 8.2kW
ABB Uno – Seletronic Certified Single Phase Inverter
3.3kW – 6.0kW
SelectSun – Selectronic Certified Three Phase Inverter
20.0kW – 40.0kW
Select.live – Remote Monitoring System
SMA Manufacturer name: SMA Solar Technology AG BayWa r.e.
Product names MLPE: TS4-R-Monitoring, TS4-R-Safety, Flextronics
TS4-R-Optimisation Krannich Solar
Product names MLPE Communications: Gateway, Cloud Solar + Solutions;
Connect Advanced RFI Technology
Products solar inverters: Solutions
Sunny Boy 1.5, 2.5 VL-40 Sol Distribution
Sunny Boy 3.0, 4.0, 5.0 AV-40 Solar Juice
Sunny Tripower 5000, 6000, 7000, 8000, 9000, 10000,
12000 TL-20
Sunny Tripower 3.0, 4.0, 5.0, 6.0, 8.0, 10.0 AV-40
Sunny Tripower 15000, 20000, 25000 TL-30
Sunny Tripower 50-40
Sunny Tripower 60, 75-10
Product names battery inverters:
Sunny Boy Storage 2.5 VL-10
Sunny Boy Storage 5.0-10
Product name communication: SMA Energy Meter-20,
Sunny Home Manager 2.0, Data Manager M, Inverter
Manager
Sungrow Sungrow Crystal Inverter Series Blue Sun Group
Australia Single MPPT Range: 2kW Inverter (SG2K-S), 2.5kW One Stop
Inverter (SG2K5-S), 3kW Inverter (SG3K-S) Warehouse
Dual MPPT Range: 3kW Inverter (SG3K-D), 5kW Inverter Powerark Solar
(SG5K-D Supply Partners
Sungrow PowCube Residential Energy Storage System
Sungrow Residential Energy Storage Battery (SBP4K8)
Sungrow Residential Hybrid Inverter (SH5K-20)

www.ecogeneration.com.au ecogeneration | Inverter Pocket Guide 13


INDUSTRY STANDARDS

ACCREDITATION GUIDELINES
To ensure the high quality of solar installations • Battery Installation Guidelines for Accredited
by accredited installers, the Clean Energy Installers (PDF) - Mandatory from 1
Council produces both design guidelines and November 2017
install and supervise guidelines for grid- • Grid-Connected Solar PV Systems: Install and
connect systems. Supervise Guidelines for Accredited Installers
(PDF) - Mandatory from 1 July 2017
While the guidelines set requirements that must
• Grid-Connected Solar PV Systems: No
be followed, they do not constitute a fully
Battery Storage, Design Guidelines for
definitive set of rules and are to be read in
Accredited Installers – February 2013 (PDF)
conjunction with all relevant Australian
Standards. • 30 - 100 kW Grid-Connected Solar PV
Systems: No Battery Storage, Design
Where these guidelines have additional Guidelines for Accredited Installers (PDF) -
requirements above that stated in the Australian Mandatory from 1 July 2016
Standards, then these guidelines should be
followed: Data tables are provided by the CEC in addition
to the grid-connect design guidelines. They
contain information on the annual daily
irradiation on an inclined plane expressed as
percentage of the horizontal value. For further
information go the CEC’s website www.
cleanenergycouncil.org.au.

Microinverters must adhere to


standards to ensure safety,
compliance and ultimately
peace of mind for those who
purchase and install them.

Left: Image courtesy of ABB

Ecogeneration would like to thank David Tolliday from Holmesglen for his generous contribution to
the Inverter Pocket Guide book.

DISCLAIMER PARAGON MEDIA


The publisher has made every effort to ensure that the information in this guide was SSN: 1447-2309 (A.B.N. 49 097 087 860)
correct at the time of publication. The publisher does not assume, and hereby disclaims, PO BOX 81 St Leonards NSW 1590
any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, T: +61 2 9126 9703
whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident or any other cause. W: ecogeneration.com.au

14 ecogeneration | Inverter Pocket Guide www.ecogeneration.com.au


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