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Solar experts warn that not all inverters and batteries are made equally

The inverter is the “brain” of the solar system and the battery the “heart”. A low-quality inverter and batteries can lead to several issues in a home solar system setup, even when coupled with quality solar panels. Understanding the key differences between inverter and battery brands and what sets them apart is the difference between a dependable, efficient solar system or installing a lemon.


“Higher quality inverters and batteries generally meet or exceed home solar system requirements, from optimally regulating voltage output from the panels and distributing power evenly, to more efficiently storing energy and protecting against voltage surges which may harm your electronics. Superior inverters and batteries may also be more compatible with your panel capacity or configuration, which can significantly lower system degradation risks,” explains Rein Snoeck Henkemans, Managing Director of Alumo Energy.


To determine the best inverter and battery brands available in South Africa, experts at Alumo Energy performed a careful analysis of nine popular inverters and eleven battery brands to determine the best two options using a variety of technical specifications.


Snoeck Henkemans notes that one important factor to consider when investing in any inverter solution is what batteries it can be paired with. The inverter you select will either be compatible with a range of battery brands, providing you with more options, or will be limited to a very specific battery. Alumo recommends pairing an inverter with its accompanying battery under the same brand for optimal efficiency.


Next is the inverter and battery’s efficiency rating. A reputable brand is more likely to provide you with the greatest return on investment in terms of life expectancy, maintenance costs, overall efficiency, and product quality.


“Product efficiency is especially important when it comes to selecting a solar provider and installer. There’s a significant difference between the quality of work and efficiency of a solar system provided by a reputable installer and a system installed by the so-called bakkie-brigade, who often have less technical knowledge and tend to recommend cheaper, lower quality products to win clients,” he warns.


Finally, he says, it’s important to check whether the inverter and battery brands provide local support for ongoing maintenance and troubleshooting purposes, as well as what the warranty does and does not include. A longer, more inclusive warranty usually indicates the manufacturer’s confidence in their product.


Considering these and other key technical specifications, Alumo supports two specific industry-leading brands for meeting homeowners’ solar needs, namely Alpha and Sunsynk inverters and batteries.


1.    The Alpha G3-S5 inverter and G3-S5 10.1kWh battery


The first of the two inverters preferred by Alumo, is the Alpha G3-S5 and is listed among the best inverters available in South Africa. 


Alpha beats or matches its competition in most categories. Of note, it has a 93% efficiency rating, a 10kW output, which is considerably higher than the closest competitor in this category, which has an 8kW max output. Plus, in terms of battery voltage range, none of the other options can beat Alpha’s 91.5-106.5V capability, as most other inverters sit between 40-60V, which is a significant difference.


Of the 11 batteries that Alumo analysed, the Alpha G3-S5 10kWh is a clear winner. It boasts an impressive 9.09kWh useable capacity – nearly double that of its closest competitor. It is also the only option with high-voltage capabilities and provides a 10-year [ND1] warranty.


2.    Sunsynk 5kW inverter and SUN-BATT 5.32 battery


The Sunsynk 5kW is one of the top two inverters preferred by Alumo for home solar installations.


It has an outstanding 97.6% efficiency ranking, offers generator integration, and has a fairly high 125-425V MPPT voltage range. It also offers a significant 16 max parallel capacity, which indicates how many inverters can be connected in parallel to one another.


Additionally, the Sunsynk SUN-BATT 5.32 battery scores 4.29 stars out of 5 with a respectable max VA charge and discharge of 5,000, a useable capacity of 4.79kWh and eight max parallel unit capacity. The Sunsynk inverter also has an extended 10-year warranty when paired with its official batteries.


“Ultimately, a superior inverter maximises the usable electricity and minimises power loss during the conversion process. They also generally require less maintenance, further reducing costs over time. A lower-quality inverter might seem less expensive upfront, but it’s bound to cost homeowners significantly more in the long run, especially if it requires replacement in a few short years,” concludes Snoeck Henkemans.


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