Your solar inverter is the heart of your solar system. It takes the energy produced by your panels and converts it into electricity which can then be used in your home or sold back to the grid.
Solar panels generate DC electricity which cannot be directly used until the inverter converts it to AC electricity.
It is a vital component, yet rarely given the same consideration as the panels in the buying process. Picking a bad one, however, can mean major headaches down the road.
The inverter generally represents about 20% of the cost of your solar system. If you get sold a dud that dies within 1-5 years and has no warranty cover left, you could be out of pocket a further £1,000 and blow out the return on investment (ROI) of your system.
Getting it right first time will go a long way to maximising your investment return.
So how do I know I’m getting a good inverter?
Having dealt with over 1,500 solar installers and helping over 100,000 solar shoppers find installers and arrange quotes, we have a heap of experience when it comes to sniffing out the duds and finding the best deal.
When talking with your installer, cover these four criteria and you won’t go wrong.
Not all the power that your panels produce will be converted in to usable electricity. There is a loss, regardless of the inverter, when this conversion takes place. In saying that, as a guideline, you want to go with an inverter with an efficiency of over 90%. When you receive a quote make sure to ask your installer the efficiency of the inverter they’ve quoted you.
- Match to panels/roof
Every inverter has a voltage window that it can operate a string of panels in and a maximum input current. If you have already chosen what panels you want to have you have to make sure that the inverters you’re looking at will operate well with those panels.
The solar company you are dealing with should be able to tell you what configurations of panels you can have on that inverter.
If you want to get a 4 kW array but the inverter you’re looking at can only handle 3.8 kW of that particular panel then you may want to consider looking at a different inverter.
If you buy a good product, you should expect your inverter to last 10 to 20 years. 10 years being the bare minimum.
Unfortunately, in the last 5 years or so there has been a flood of cheap inverters onto the market from China. These inverters often have a very short warranty of 1 to 2 years (if they have one at all) and are made by companies which you wouldn’t trust to be in business for a further 6 months.
When you get your quote, make sure you ask for warranty information on the inverter in addition to doing your own research on the brand.
- Presence in the UK
Remember, if the installation company isn’t around in 10 years, you won’t be able to chase them up for warranty claims. You’ll be dealing with the product manufacturer instead. And if the manufacturer has no office in the UK, good luck trying to chase up your claim from their office in China or Germany.
When shopping for solar, you need to be aware that prices can vary as much as a £1.000 for the exact same product. This is because installers all buy their products from different places, have different margins and offer varying levels of service.
This is the reason why we created our quote service, it locates 3 installers who service your area to then quote you. The installers in our system have all been pre-screened and are Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accredited. This is an internationally recognised quality assurance scheme, supported by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, indicating that a company installs to the highest quality every time.
If you want to be sure you’re getting a good price, we highly recommend giving our service a go. It’s free, and only takes 30 seconds.