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Sunny Boy vs. SolarEdge

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  • Sunny Boy vs. SolarEdge

    In thinking about my soon-to-be rooftop setup, I initially did a fair amount of research to decide whether to go with a SolarEdge inverter or Enphase microinverters. I decided on SolarEdge for various reasons I won't go into here. At the time, however, I hadn't really considered SMA Sunny Boy vs. SolarEdge and that's what I'm doing now. They both seem to be well-respected brands and to have similar features. I know Sunny Boy has the Secure Power Supply (SPS), which is somewhat interesting to me, and SolarEdge has no equivalent (though it can be hooked up to a Tesla Powerwall but that's a more complicated and expensive undertaking). My main questions are:

    1) Are they similar with regard to optimizing output with input from panels facing different directions? I initially thought Sunny Boy did not deal well with this, but now I'm not so sure.
    2) Are they similar with regards to shade management? I know SolarEdge has the optimizers at the panel level and Sunny Boy claims to have "Shade management with OptiTrac Global Peak MPP tracking" whatever that means.
    3) What are the main considerations I'm missing, if any, in deciding between these two inverters?

    Some facts about my situation which may be helpful:
    - 9.6 kW system in the SF Bay Area
    - Two different roof faces with panels, SE and SW.
    - No major shading issues
    - Steep roof (one of the reasons I don't want microinverters, because getting up there to fix even one microinverter would be a pain and $$)

    Thanks in advance for any help.

  • #2
    Howdy Brainplanet, I am a well known SMA cheer leader around these parts. So I like SMA but have never had any experience with SolarEdge, but SolarEdge certainly have some cheer leaders around these parts too.

    Re 1) SMA does panels facing different directions
    2) if shade is not an issue who cares
    3) I dont think your missing much both inverters will do the job
    My basic rule of thumb is if there is no shade issues there is no need for any thing other than SMA, I know many others will not agree with my simple philosophy

    Comment


    • #3
      With only two different roof faces, the SMA inverter won't lose much power relative to SolarEdge. Each face could be put on its own MPPT, although if you need more than two strings to handle all 9.6 KW, there will probably be some very small loss associated with the strings in parallel. With shade, there are limits to what Optitrac can do, but the penalty between SMA and SolarEdge is really dependent on the array design and how the shade interacts with it... it might not be much, it might be a lot.

      Without shade, the difference in power between them is not much. It more comes down to a choice in other areas...

      Do you like SolarEdge's monitoring (not just panel level data, also API access that can be polled by PVOutput.org automatically)?

      Do you like SMA's SPS?

      Do you feel ok with SolarEdge's proprietary tech (once you put optimizers on each panel, you'll be committing to SolarEdge inverters unless you take the optimizers back off - SMA is much more interchangeable with other brands like Fronius, etc)?

      Are you OK with the fact that if an optimizer fails, you (or an installer) would need to get back on the roof and under the panel to fix it (SMA just has the readily accessible inverter that could be more easily replaced)? Yeah, it is probably less likely to fail than a microinverter (in my opinion), but if it *can* fail, it eventually will.

      Do you need to comply with NEC 2014 Rapid Shutdown?
      CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by sensij View Post
        With only two different roof faces, the SMA inverter won't lose much power relative to SolarEdge. Each face could be put on its own MPPT, although if you need more than two strings to handle all 9.6 KW, there will probably be some very small loss associated with the strings in parallel. With shade, there are limits to what Optitrac can do, but the penalty between SMA and SolarEdge is really dependent on the array design and how the shade interacts with it... it might not be much, it might be a lot.

        Without shade, the difference in power between them is not much. It more comes down to a choice in other areas...

        Do you like SolarEdge's monitoring (not just panel level data, also API access that can be polled by PVOutput.org automatically)?

        Do you like SMA's SPS?

        Do you feel ok with SolarEdge's proprietary tech (once you put optimizers on each panel, you'll be committing to SolarEdge inverters unless you take the optimizers back off - SMA is much more interchangeable with other brands like Fronius, etc)?

        Are you OK with the fact that if an optimizer fails, you (or an installer) would need to get back on the roof and under the panel to fix it (SMA just has the readily accessible inverter that could be more easily replaced)? Yeah, it is probably less likely to fail than a microinverter (in my opinion), but if it *can* fail, it eventually will.

        Do you need to comply with NEC 2014 Rapid Shutdown?


        Well put, that sums it up quite well. The cost of both systems is about the same including rapid shutdown on SMAs part. I've been toiling between the two for a few months now. I'm going with SMA only because I think the novelty of per panel monitoring will wear off (for me); I don't care so much about PVouput; the thought of replacing optimizers bothers me, and last but not least I'm rolling the dice that SMA may be around longer than SolarEdge. Maybe not though, I think a prudent investor would only bet on either for 10 years or so.

        Comment


        • #5
          I picked fronius primo because it was 20% cheaper than sma and has built in WiFi. Have been happy with performance so far.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by brainplanet View Post

            1) Are they similar with regard to optimizing output with input from panels facing different directions? I initially thought Sunny Boy did not deal well with this, but now I'm not so sure.
            A group of X on one string facing one direction and a group of Y on a different plane on a different string it should do well I believe.

            But if you have 2 facing south, 4 facing east and 5 west, I think it'll have a fair amount less production than Solaredge.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks, everyone - very helpful as always.

              This makes me think that I should seriously consider Sunny Boy. The point about the simplicity (and interchangeability) of SMA vs. the potential failure of the SolarEdge optimizers, and the fact that those optimizers are proprietary, particularly resonates with me. The simpler, the better, in my opinion.

              As far as monitoring, I'm like Dave in that I think per-panel monitoring and PVoutput won't hold my interest for long. As long as I get accurate total output numbers and I can reasonably identify malfunctions, I'll be happy.

              From what you all have said, it seems I should check on the string situation. I'll have 32 panels on 2 roof faces facing different directions. One face is larger, let's say it will have 20 of the panels. If that were the case, I could have two parallel strings of 10 panels each on that face, then one string of 12 panels on the other roof face. Let me know if something sounds off there.

              And, to sunnyguy's point, I should perhaps check out Fronius too.

              Comment


              • #8
                I've installed hundreds of inverters. SMA is the only brand I haven't had reliability problems with. Unless you have shading problems, its a no brainer for me.
                BSEE, R11, NABCEP, >1200kW installed

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by solarix View Post
                  I've installed hundreds of inverters. SMA is the only brand I haven't had reliability problems with. Unless you have shading problems, its a no brainer for me.
                  Four years in my Sunpower SPR-7000m (rebadged SMA) inverter has had no issues - knock on wood. Really built like a tank it seems.

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                  • #10
                    The solar installer came today to take some measurements and talk over some things. I discussed the inverter question with him and he thought Sunny Boy would work just fine here, and would save me money probably. So I'm leaning towards it. By my calculations, with my 9.6kW system I could get a 7700TL and barely squeak by, with a 125% loading ratio.

                    Is SMA Webconnect what people buy to monitor these things? It seems like there's no monitoring included with the inverter purchase.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yeah, SMA monitoring is really lame, the webconnect is the way to do it. For just a little bit more, you can forget that and get 3rd party production monitoring, including consumption as well, that will probably be more accurate to boot.

                      SMA is trying to get better with their next generation of inverters. You might also consider the Fronius Primo inverters... better monitoring built in, and typically less expensive than SMA.
                      CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks, sensij. Who does good 3rd party monitoring? I would pay a bit more for that.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Smappee and The Energy Detective have been used by several forum members. eGauge and EKM Metering are other options that aren't quite as polished.

                          https://www.google.com/search?q=smap...utf-8&oe=utf-8

                          These are all intended for monitoring the AC side... there are DC options, but you might just be better off looking at the data on the inverter itself, if you suspect a problem.
                          CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by sensij View Post
                            Smappee and The Energy Detective have been used by several forum members. eGauge and EKM Metering are other options that aren't quite as polished.

                            https://www.google.com/search?q=smap...utf-8&oe=utf-8

                            These are all intended for monitoring the AC side... there are DC options, but you might just be better off looking at the data on the inverter itself, if you suspect a problem.
                            I would think that measuring the AC side would give you a better understanding of how much kWh you are generating.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Is there a topic thread here which discusses the pros/cons of the different AC meters? I've seen Rainforest Eagle mentioned recently.

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