Solar Choice is committed to expanding our knowledge base, and sharing that culture of knowledge with you. While we work with a wide range of installers who use a wide variety of inverters, we also strive to learn as much as we can about the products they install.
Recently, Jason Keller of SMA Australia visited our office to tell us all about Sunny Boy inverters and the Sunny Design software program that enables installers to customize any SMA-based solar energy system.
Sunny Boy Inverters
SMA Solar Technology is based out of Germany and is the world’s largest producer of solar inverters, with 40% of the global market share. Their Sunny Boy line is ideal for home rooftop systems, but can also be used with midrange installations up to 20 kW.
SMA has been manufacturing inverters for nearly thirty years ”one of the longest track records in the industry” and the Sunny Boys have a reputation for high quality and reliability.
Jason acknowledged that the Sunny Boy may be more expensive than some newer models coming out of China. However, he noted that it’s worth the difference. Quality, testing, comprehensive customer service ”that’s what you’re paying for. Sunny Boys come with a five-year factory warranty, and are designed to last 20-25 years.
While the nominal capacity of the inverter is often listed on tech sheets, the maximum capacity will often be a couple hundred Watts more. Installation companies will often pair the most appropriate inverter for the panels being used.
Jason went on to explain that it is very difficult to blow an appropriately sized inverter in Australia. This is because solar panels prefer cold weather and direct sunlight to achieve maximum power. The danger of over-voltage reaching the inverter generally only occurs during sustained temperatures of -10ºC and lower. When in doubt have your Solar Choice broker or installer recommend the correct size inverter and utilize SMA’s Sunny Design software to design an appropriate grid array and inverter.
Some people may choose to purchase a larger capacity inverter with the intention of adding more solar panels some time in the future. This may be practical if the extra panels are added within a year or two.
Sunnyboy inverters have a well established reputation for quality, and are constantly developing. Jason reports that the new SMA generation of inverters are equipped with innovative technologies such as OpticTrac and H5-topology, both of which create greater efficiencies even with smaller systems less than 3kW.
For the sake of simplicity, many of the installers in our network issue quotes based on a set configuration using their preferred components. However, solar installations can be customized and tailor-made to meet more complex requirements.
Sunny Design is a software program that assists installation engineers in creating optimal configurations using any brand of solar panel in conjunction with SMA inverters. This allows installers”and our senior brokers”to design custom-built solar energy systems.
The Road Ahead
Jason was also pretty excited about some of the new technological innovations being brought to the Australian market by SMA, such as high-frequency inverters.
But high demand may mean that it will be a few months before you can get your hands on a Sunny Boy. SMA inverters are built to order, and due to a worldwide shortage in electronic components such as transistors and semi-conductors, it may be 3-6 months before SMA can resolve their backlog of orders.
For more information, visit the SMA website at http://www.sma-australia.com.au/en_AU.html.
Written by John Yurasek
Solar Energy Consultant
© 2010 Solar Choice Pty Ltd