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LAST UPDATED: January 24th, 2023

SMA has been instrumental in identifying new energy solutions in an effort to create more sustainable electricity on a global scale. Since its founding in 1981, SMA has worked to provide new innovations to advance the renewable energy supply efforts. Today, SMA products are developed and used in conjunction with PV systems on an international scale. 

The SMA invert manufacturing efforts produce the only inverter that is compatible with every module type and system size. That means that SMA inverters can be used in all solar projects including: residential, commercial, large-scale plants, grid-connected, off-grid, and even hybrid photovoltaic systems. No other inverter manufacturer can make that same claim. 

The inverter products produced by SMA have garnered attention and received recognition from independent sources as its performance has surpassed the competition in a number of areas. SMA inverters are widely considered to be one of the best, if not the best, inverters on the market today. 

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The Good

  • String Inverters
  • Optional Optimizers
  • Secure Power Supply
  • Tech Team

String Inverters

While many solar inverter manufacturers will produce one inverter product, SMA has developed a full line of inverters to choose from. Depending on the capacity and performance needs of a client, SMA has a compatible inverter to meet the desired standard. SMA inverter products include the following: 

  • Sunny Boy
  • Sunny Tripower CORE1
  • Sunny Highpower PEAK 3
  • Sunny Tripower X
  • Sunny Boy Smart Energy

Depending on the performance needs and budget restrictions of the client, SMA likely has a solution to fit all criteria. That is something most inverter manufacturers simply cannot provide to residential clients. 

Optional Optimizers

The flexibility of SMA inverters does not stop at the compatibility with a variety of solar panels and operating systems. SMA inverters are also flexible when working with DC optimizers. Optimizers are installed to help maximize inverter and system efficiency. This allows for an increased return on investment and additional electricity savings. However, installing optimizers does come at an additional cost.

This is why it is so beneficial that SMA offers optimizer flexibility. If clients want to place additional emphasis on efficiency, they can pay for optimizers to be installed. Those that do not want to make that additional investment can forego it. Other inverters will require the installation of optimizers, driving up the overall cost but SMA inverters can work either way. 

Secure Power Supply

One of the more unique features associated with SMA inverters not replicated by its competition is the SPS feature. The SPS feature, or the Secure Power Supply, provides an alternative and clean source of backup power in the event of an emergency.

When the power goes out for any reason, homeowners can simply plug into the SPS which will pull power from the backup supply produced by the panels even when the utility grid is experiencing an outage. This is an excellent failsafe providing power to appliances in emergency situations. 

Tech Team

Customer support is oftentimes lacking in the solar industry, especially on the manufacturer level. With headquarters and offices in different countries, finding the right person to help through an issue can be daunting. SMA has eliminated this issue and has an in-house customer-facing tech team that can be easily reached.

It should also be noted that the tech team is well-versed in the SMA products and technology allowing them to help customers quickly identify and troubleshoot issues. This help can be done over the phone, through email, or through video. Not many other providers offer this level of assistance. 

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The Bad

  • Design and Shutdown Limitations
  • Short Warranty

Design and Shutdown Limitations

There are some design limitations associated with the SMA Sunny Boy inverter. For instance, the inverters work best only if all panel strings face the same direction. If this is not possible, production metrics drop drastically. The cost-effective aspect of the SMA Sunny Boy is a big draw, so this design flaw impacts its leading feature.

Additionally, there are rapid shutdown requirements that are applicable in certain areas. In order to comply with these requirements, optimizers are needed. This takes away the flexibility of the SMA Sunny Boy inverter and drives up the cost. 

Short Warranty

Warranties are standard within the solar industry, and manufacturers are oftentimes responsible for providing the equipment or production warranty. The same goes for inverter manufacturers, which is why a vast majority of solar inverter manufacturers offer at least a 10-year full protection warranty.

That being said, SMA comes up a bit short in this category as it only offers a standard five-year warranty with the option of purchasing an additional five years of protection. That will be an additional cost the client will have to cover prior to installation. 

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The Bottom Line

SMA provides global solutions that bolster renewable energy efforts. There are a number of string inverters mass produced and sold through SMA that residential clients can choose from when designing their solar system. The inverters created by SMA offer flexibility in terms of optimizer usage, meaning these inverters can be installed with or without DC optimizers depending on client preference.

With SMA inverters, there is access to the secure power supply which is a source of backup power in the event of an emergency. Lastly, the tech team provides top of the line customer support with video capabilities. 

Even though SMA is considered to be a top manufacturer of solar inverters, there are drawbacks to the products that should be noted. There are both system design and rapid shutdown limitations that prospective clients should take into consideration prior to having SMA inverters installed. Additionally, the warranty is rather limited especially compared to what competitors offer to residential clients.

Homeowners looking for inverters that can work with any photovoltaic system and offer the flexibility in conjunction with DC optimizers will likely benefit from what SMA offers to its clients. Those looking for extended warranty coverage should consider alternatives. 

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