Best Solar Grid-Tie Inverters of 2021
Grid-tied solar inverters are a great way to lower your power bill without disconnecting from your municipality’s electric grid. With a grid-tied solar inverter, you can convert the DC electricity from your solar panels into AC electricity used in your home.
There are many grid-tied inverters available, which makes finding the best grid-tie inverter tough! That’s why we put together this grid-tie inverter review—so you can find the best solar inverter for you.
|SMA Sunny Boy 5.0 5000w||
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|Y&H Power Limiter 1000w||
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|Schneider Electric 6.8Kw||
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|POWLAND Hybrid 2000w||
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|Temank MPPT Hybrid 3000w||
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|Marsrock Power Limiter 2000w||
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Grid-Tie Inverter Reviews
The best solar inverter has plenty of watts, can connect easily to a modern home’s electric systems, and matches your solar panel set-up in terms of DC voltage. That means the best grid-tie inverter will vary from person to person.
Below we review our favorite grid-tied inverters, plus a few hybrids for good measure.
For those of you seeking out the best grid-tied inverters, though, let’s not delay any longer! Read on, for our in-depth grid-tie inverter reviews.
Our pick for the best solar inverter is the SMA Sunny Boy 5.0 5000w. SMA powers more homes than any other brand on the planet, so you know you’re purchasing from an established and well-respected company (1). You can expect this inverter to live up to its 10-year warranty, and with a powerful 5000w rating, it’ll easily supply the power you need for your home or small business.
Because it’s from the SMA brand, the Sunny Boy 5.0 comes with a 2000w Secure Power System (SPS). The SPS will power a dedicated 120v outlet up to 2000 watts in the event that no solar power is available, even though the Sunny Boy is a true grid-tied inverter, not a hybrid. To clarify this, a visual is helpful:
As a string inverter, this model does best in large, sunny areas. If your panels are partially blocked at certain points throughout the day due to trees or other obstructions, you won’t get as much as you could out of the Sunny Boy 5.0 solar inverter.
A string inverter links together a series of solar panels and converts DC electricity to AC electricity for the entire set. If even one panel in the series is in the shade, all of the other panels in the string or series will drop to the level of the shaded panel.
Of course, all the inverters on this list are string inverters, so the caveat applies to them all. It just seems extra shameful to miss out on what the Sunny Boy, specifically, can provide. Yet even in a semi-sunny space, this grid-tied inverter is the best option for power, features, and capabilities.
The Sunny Boy 5.0 is nice, but it’s pricey. For something that fits most budgets better, we love the Y&H Power Limiter 1000w.
Given the price, the features you’ll find on the Y&H Limiter 1000w are pretty great. The “Limiter” portion of the name comes from the built-in limiter, which prevents your inverter from delivering excess power.
In some locales, power companies can’t tell which way power is flowing, only that it is flowing. Some inverters push power back onto the grid when there’s an excess. If your power company can’t tell that you’re injecting excess energy rather than pulling needed energy, they could bill you for the energy your panels collected!
In other words, you end up with higher power bills, the exact opposite of what you wanted with your solar power system.
Though this inverter is on the small side, at 1000w, it allows for stackable connections. So, you could purchase a few of these inverters and stack them to increase the wattage.
On top of that, the Y&H Power Limiter has smart fan cooling to help protect the inverter’s lifespan. Of course, how long that lifespan will turn out to be is an elusive question. The company does not offer a warranty as other, higher-end options do.
A grid-tied inverter is great unless you go off-grid. For something that can handle both on-grid and off-grid applications, the Schneider Electric 6.8Kw is ideal.
From their Conext XW+ line, Schneider designed this inverter to function as a hybrid. It allows you to utilize off-grid solar but also has grid-tied functionality.
Those who install solar in hopes of having backup power in the case of power grid failure would do well to invest in an option like this.
Using its own battery storage, the Schneider Electric 6.8Kw will power your home even during a grid failure or outage. Other inverters automatically shut-off during outages for safety. You don’t want to inject energy into a grid that’s down! Because this model has its own battery to store power, though, you can use it as a back-up power source, like you would a generator.
Schneider Electric has been in business for almost two centuries (2). Since the beginning, they’ve established widespread respect due to their products’ consistency in quality. They guarantee your inverter for five years and offer extended warranties for purchase. Many of their extended warranty options include regular service and maintenance as well.
To top it off, their Conext XW+ line is entirely scalable. So, if you discover you need more to collect and store more power at any given time, you can always buy more.
There’s nothing wrong with buying a cheap grid-tied inverter, especially when you’re new to the solar game. Maybe you just want to try things out, or perhaps your finances are under a bit of strain at the moment. Regardless, there are cheap grid-tied inverters out there, and if you’re looking for one, we recommend the LiSos 500w.
There’s nothing super special or out of the ordinary when it comes to the LiSos solar inverter. At 500w, it’s small and will only handle a compact set-up in most cases. They are stackable, so you could purchase a few and increase their power that way if you wanted to.
This model comes with overcurrent protection, temperature protection, and a cooling fan, all standard for grid-tied solar inverters. However, the LiSos 500w does not work with solar panels rated for higher than 12v.
Since LiSos doesn’t offer a warranty, we assume this inexpensive inverter won’t last that long; you’ll probably have to replace it within five years. To ensure it lasts as long as possible, we suggest installing it inside a temperate area of your home; avoid placing it anywhere where it could become too hot or too cold.
Not quite as powerful as the Schneider 6.8 KW option, but still a tremendous off-grid capable pick, the POWLAND Hybrid 2000w is fantastic for those who have a little less to spend. This affordable hybrid model allows you to utilize its own battery pack in the event of grid failures or outages.
However, it doesn’t have full off-grid capabilities like the Schneider model. If an outage or grid failure lasts too long, the POWLAND Hybrid 2000w will shut off.
This inverter’s easy-to-read LCD screen makes changing settings easy. The POWLAND Hybrid also comes with monitoring software so you can access updates and technical information as needed. It can also support up to 9 connected models, should you need to increase your power conversion.
The POWLAND Hybrid 2000w comes with a one-year warranty, but if you need a new part for any reason, you’ll have to pay for shipping yourself. We don’t expect much more in terms of service at this price point, but it’s something to be aware of!
The Temank MPPT Hybrid 3000w inverter is a great way to make your solar power available even in the event of a minor power outage. With the Temank MPPT Hybrid, much like the POWLAND Hybrid and Schneider Electric models above, you have access to battery storage. So, you get back-up power even when you’re off the grid.
The Temank is slightly more expensive than the POWLAND model above, but with the price comes a few more features. Whether those features are necessary is up to you.
The major plus for this Temank model over the POWLAND Hybrid is the increase in wattage. Compared to other units on this list, 3,000w is pretty powerful, so ensure that this is suitable for your system.
Your inverter should hold the panel’s peak load or 25% more than your expected peak load (3).
Lastly, we love that the Tenmank also has multiple charging options. You can set it so that the built-in battery only charges via solar power, or you can adjust it so your battery will charge using both solar and your primary electricity source. Alternatively, you can set your Tenmank to rely on your primary electricity source exclusively.
For a simple, no-frills inverter with a power limiter, the Marsrock 2000w is a wonderful option. This small, straightforward device will convert your sun-collected DC electricity to AC electricity without issue.
There are some things to be aware of with a model like this, though. Though Marsrock advertises it as a 2000w inverter, the 2000w rating is the surge or peak rating, not the continuous rating. Continuously, this inverter can handle about 1800w.
Marsrock doesn’t offer a warranty or much in the way of technical help should you need it. At this price point, though, that’s understandable. It may not last the standard ten years, but it’s affordable enough to replace. An inverter like this will get the job done, which is all a lot of us need.
How to Choose the Best Solar Grid-Tied Inverter for You
Finding the best inverter for solar panels on your home or business can be a challenge. The best solar grid tied-inverter for your office park will be different than the best fit for your single-story house.
Below, we discuss everything you need to know before purchasing a solar grid-tied inverter that’s right for you.
You can think of wattage as a measure of size for your inverter. If collected energy were water, wattage would be the bucket that holds it. The more watts your inverter is rated for, the more power it can provide.
Your inverter’s watt rating should match your solar system’s watt rating as closely as possible. So, if your system is rated for 3000 watts, look for an inverter with a 3000-watt rating. However, if the rating is something like 4,500 watts (or 4.5 kw), it’s best to round it up (4).
Sometimes you’ll see an inverter rating for surge watts rather than continuous watts. Surge watts refer to how much power your inverter can handle in a short period, usually a few seconds or less.
Surge ratings are essential for everyone. However, they’re especially important if you’re powering large pieces of equipment that will pull large amounts of power for specific functions, like when you start them up.
For example, a solar power system’s “surge capacity” means that powering something like a well pump might require 3-5 times your inverter’s continuous watt rating (5). However, it will only need to use that much power for a second or less. So, as long as the surge rating on your inverter is high, you’ll be fine.
What Volts AC and Volts DC Means for Grid-Tie Solar Inverters
If you’re investing in a grid-tied solar inverter, you probably already understand that the point of an inverter is to change the direct current (DC) electricity you get from the sun into the alternating current (AC) electricity used by the power grid (6).
Every grid-tied solar inverter will list Volts AC and Volts DC on their product specifications.
Most residential homes in the US have two 120v wires running provided by their electrical service (7). Together, they give the home 240v service for appliances. We know it isn’t very clear, but 220v, 230v, and 240v are all considered the same system.
Other grid tie inverters might list 110-120v AC. These still work in modern homes, but are suitable for older electrical systems too, as 110-120v was once the residential standard in the U.S. (8).
If you don’t own any high-energy appliances, 120v AC inverters will work just fine. Experts at the U.S. Department of Energy state,
Most appliances in the United States use 120 volts. Larger appliances, such as clothes dryers and electric cooktops, use 240 volts.
That said, you’ll want to double-check your list of equipment and their input voltages (AC) to make sure they match with your solar inverter that you want to buy.
The “volts DC” specification on your grid tied-inverter refers to your input voltage, or, put plainly, the power you’re receiving from the sun. Most often, inverters are available at 12v, 24v, or 48v. High-powered inverters may come in larger input voltages.
Which one you purchase has to do with the rest of your solar system. You typically want your inverter to match your panels and battery bank for it to work efficiently.
Solar Inverter Types
In general, there are three types of inverters: Grid-tied, hybrid, and off-grid. For this review, we focused on grid-tied solar inverters, but we included a few hybrid options that allow for back-up power or off-grid usage.
A grid-tied solar inverter is dependent on your municipality’s electric grid, but that comes at a cost. The US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy states:
…the standard for small inverters, such as those attached to a household solar system, is to remain on during small disruptions in voltage or frequency, and if the disruption lasts for a long time or is larger than normal, they will disconnect themselves from the grid and shut down.
So, grid-tied inverters won’t supply power to your home during a grid outage.
Hybrid models have battery storage to use for back-up power in the event of a grid outage, so you don’t have to worry about them shutting off in an outage event.
Off-grid models run entirely independent of the electric grid, which makes them expensive and pretty inefficient in the event of a few cloudy days! However, clean energy-forward corporations and some homes rely on them in specific sunny locations. They’re also great for RVs.
Warranties for the Best Solar Inverters
The average lifespan for grid-tied solar inverters are about ten years (10). Some function far less than that, think two to five years, and some will make it to fifteen. Finding a ten-year warranty is usually the most you can ask for, and many manufacturers of low-priced models will only offer one year or no warranty at all.
To find out what size grid-tie inverter you need, generally, you’ll want to check the DC rating on your solar panel system, or at least come as close as possible.
So, if you’re installing a 5kw solar system, you want a 5000w inverter.
Yes, grid-tie inverters are legal in the US, though there are certain regulations you may need to follow.
Most states allow power providers to use net metering, which means excess electricity from your solar panels is fed back to the grid (11). Net metering can save homeowners significant amounts on their monthly power bills.
Others have purchase and sale agreements in which the power company pays for the excess electricity your home provided at a much lower wholesale rate.
No, a grid-tie inverter and a pure sine wave inverter are not necessarily the same thing.
Pure sine wave inverters put out voltage as a pure sine wave rather than a modified sine wave. Municipal electric grids always use pure sine waves as well. So, all grid-tied inverters are pure sine wave inverters, but not all pure sine wave inverters must be grid-tied.
If you know you need a pure sine wave inverter, but not necessarily a grid-tied solar inverter, we have you covered, click here for our best pure sine wave inverter recommendations.
- SMA is Again Voted the Most Popular Inverter Brand Worldwide in 2016. Retrieved from: https://www.sma.de/en/newsroom/current-news/news-details/news/1970-sma-is-again-voted-the-most-popular-inverter-brand-worldwide-in-2016.html
- Schneider Electric History. Retrieved from: https://www.se.com/ca/en/about-us/company-profile/history/schneider-electric-history.jsp
- Vermont Department of Public Service. Retrieved from: https://publicservice.vermont.gov/sites/dps/files/documents/sizing-solar-electric-systems.pdf
- Calculations for a grid-connected solar energy system. Retrieved from: https://extension.arizona.edu/sites/extension.arizona.edu/files/pubs/az1782-2019.pdf
- Solar energy glossary. Retrieved from: https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/solar-energy-glossary
- Solar integration: Inverters and grid services basics. Retrieved from: https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/solar-integration-inverters-and-grid-services-basics
- Household electric circuits. Retrieved from: https://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/electric/hsehld.html
- Power Controller for Hybrid AC/DC House. Retrieved from: https://aip.scitation.org/doi/epdf/10.1063/5.0000897
- Estimating appliance and home electronic energy use. Retrieved from: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/estimating-appliance-and-home-electronic-energy-use
- Extending solar energy system lifetime with power electronics. Retrieved from: https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/articles/extending-solar-energy-system-lifetime-power-electronics
- Grid-connected renewable energy systems. Retrieved from: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/grid-connected-renewable-energy-systems
Hi, Im Dara. Born and raised in Farmingdale NY and I spend my time online covering alternative energy news and local developments,in the space. My mission is to help more people realise the benefits of using alternative energy. When i’m not blogging about energy you’ll find me walking my dog, working out, or practicing meditation!