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If you are really looking to capitalize on the financial benefits of solar energy, investing in a high-quality solar grid-tie inverter can be one of the most important decisions you make.
What is a Solar Grid-Tie Inverter?
When sunlight hits the surface of your solar panels, their photovoltaic cells absorb the energy and convert it into direct current (DC) electricity. More often than not, this electricity is stored in a battery bank for later use. While this can be useful for certain purposes, most of the appliances in a typical home run on alternating current (AC).
This is where a solar inverter comes in handy. In simple terms, an inverter acts like the brain of your solar system. They not only manage the flow of power through your system, they convert the DC electricity your solar panels capture into usable AC power.
A grid-tie inverter takes things one step further. Grid-tie inverters convert DC power into AC power and ensure the voltage is suitable for integration into the power grid. They accurately match the electrical grid’s requirements so the electricity your solar system generates can be safely tied to a traditional electrical meter.
As your solar system generates power, your system will feed the electricity into the local grid. The amount of electricity you contribute to the grid will then be detracted from the amount of electricity you are charged for on your monthly utility bills, or the local power company will offer you an equivalent cash rebate. In other words, a grid-tie inverter allows you to power your home with eco-friendly solar energy, which will save you money and reduce your overall carbon footprint.
Which Grid-Tie Inverter Should You Choose?
Given the rising popularity of green-energy, more people are recognizing the benefits of connecting their solar system to their local electrical grid. This increased demand for grid-tie inverters means there are now more options available than ever before. To help you make the right decision and get the most out of your solar array, we have highlighted and reviewed four of the best solar grid-tie inverters on the market today!
The 4 Best Solar Grid-Tie Inverters:
The Best Overall Solar Grid-Tie Inverter: Sol-Ark - 12k Pre-Wired Hybrid Inverter
- The Runner Up: SolarEdge - SE3000H HD Wave Grid-Tie Inverter
- The Best Mid-Range Option: SMA - Sunny Boy 7700W Grid-Tie Inverter
The Best Option for Small-Scale Solar Power Systems: Eco-Worthy - 2000W LCD Solar Grid-Tie Inverter
1. The Best Overall Solar Grid-Tie Inverter: Sol-Ark - 12k Pre-Wired Hybrid Inverter
We selected the Sol-Ark 12k as our top pick because it offers everything you need in one convenient package. Not only is it flexible and efficient, it offers an all-in-one product at a reasonable price point.
As a hybrid inverter, the Sol-Ark 12k is the perfect grid-tie, off-grid, and battery backup inverter for solar power systems. It supports an impressive 8,000 watts of continuous power for off-grid power production and up to 9,600 watts of continuous power for those that prefer to tie their solar energy to the grid.
Hybrid functionality means you can build your system the exact way you want and because the unit is both stackable and expandable, you have the flexibility to adapt your system as your power needs grow. In fact, you can stack up to 6 units for a 72 kW system, which makes it a practical solution for those looking to go completely off-grid, or those looking to profit from their solar power system.
The Sol Ark 12KW offers the following user-friendly settings:
- Grid-Tied Mode – gives users the ability to directly sell power to local utility companies
- Meter Zero Mode - offers the ability to zero electricity bills, without the need for a smart meter
- Time-of-Use Mode – automatically draws solar power from a connected battery bank to minimize electrical grid reliance during the most expensive times of the day
- Smart Load Mode – users program the system to run to their exact preferences
A Complete System:
Not only does the Sol-Ark 12k features two built-in MPPT controllers, it comes equipped with AC breakers, an auto generator starter, a PV rapid shutdown signal, battery temperature sensors, and numerous current sensors.
Users will also appreciate the unit’s Wi-Fi connectivity, color touch screen display, and its ability to power 120V, 240V, and 208V appliances.
- 10-year standard warranty
- Pre-wired design for easy installation
The SolarEdge HD Wave just missed out on our top spot. While it less versatile than the Sol-Ark 12k, this grid-tied inverter offers industry-leading efficiency in a sleek package.
Efficiency and Reliability:
Despite its compact appearance, the HD Wave is an incredibly efficient grid-tie inverter. It offers an industry leading 99.2% efficiency rating, which means more of the solar energy your system produces will be fed into the grid. Given that this translates to an average of 33% less energy loss than the industry average, the HD Wave can save you money and help you get more out of your solar power setup than you would get with a lower-quality inverter.
Plenty of Features in a Small Package:
The HD Wave weighs in at only 25lbs, which is much lighter than other grid-tie inverters in its class. Despite its compact and lightweight design, the unit offers some very useful features.
With wireless connectivity and full compatibility with SolarEdge’s mobile app, users can control and monitor the performance of their solar power system remotely. The unit also features a built-in DC safety switch, a fully integrated rapid shutdown safety feature, and heat dissipation mechanisms. Given that it can safely operate within the 3kW to 11.4kW range, this is a reasonably versatile grid-tie inverter for those looking to take their solar power setup to the next level.
- Full internet communication and optional smart app
- Compact and lightweight design allows for easy installation
- 12-year manufacturer’s warranty
3. The Best Mid-Range Option: SMA - Sunny Boy 7700W Grid-Tie Inverter
The SMA Sunny Boy is a reliable grid-tie inverter. While it offers fewer features than some of the higher-end grid tie inverters out there, it is available at a lower price.
Quick and Easy Installation:
SMA’s Sunny Boy solar inverter features a built-in wall mounting system, which makes it much easier to install and mount the unit. The included wall mounting brackets are sturdy and reliable, so you can confidently position the unit off the ground. The unit itself weighs very little, so a single person can install in without any trouble.
When it comes to connecting it to your existing solar power system, SMA’s unique installation assistance software makes it easy for users to integrate the inverter using any smart device.
The SMA Sunny Boy also includes a 2,000 watt Secure Power System (SPS). This feature is unique to the SMA brand and acts as a small, emergency backup power source in the event of power outages. While it is nowhere near enough to power a full home, the SPS powers a dedicate 120V outlet, which can be used in emergency situations.
- Wireless connectivity and integration with SMA’s smartphone app
- Three MPPT controllers and a dedicated secure backup power supply
For those that are looking for a low cost solar grid-tie inverter for their small-scale solar system, the Eco-Worthy 2000W Grid-Tie Inverter is an affordable and efficient option.
This is a budget-friendly unit that offers users the ability to expand their solar array over time by stacking multiple Eco-Worthy inverters. On its own, this unit can handle up to 1,000 watts of electricity, which is often enough for a small-scale solar power system.
Not only is this inverter a practical option for those that are only running a few solar panels, it is incredibly easy to install, which is really helpful for those that are just starting out.
Useful Features for Beginners:
The large, full-color LCD display screen makes it easy to monitor your solar power system and make setting adjustments. Due to its integrated MPPT controllers, the unit is surprisingly efficient, which means users will get the most out of their small solar panel array.
It also features useful safety mechanisms, such as over-current protection, over-temperature protection, and reverse polarity prevention. If you are just starting out, but still want the option to expand your solar array in the future, investing in an Eco-Worthy 2000W Grid-Tie Inverter is a sensible decision.
- Intuitive control monitor with full-color LCD display screen
- Ability to stack units and expand the scale of the entire solar power system in the future
Investing in a solar grid-tie inverter is the quickest way to turn your solar array into a profitable energy source. While solar power systems that are arranged to charge a battery bank are great for RV enthusiasts and those looking for an emergency power supply, a solar array that is connected to a grid-tie inverter can actually reduce your monthly utility bills and give you the option to power your home with clean solar electricity.
If you plan on investing in a solar grid-tie inverter, each of the units we examined above are a great place to start.
Did you find grid-tie inverters guide helpful? then we think you might also be interested in our next blog: How long will a deep cycle battery power an inverter.