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Detailed reviews and information of the best solar panels, inverters and batteries. Plus hybrid and off-grid solar system reviews and information articles on how solar and battery systems work.

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Reviews and information of the best Solar panels and inverters from SMA, Fronius, SunPower, SolaX, Q Cells, Trina, Jinko, Selectronic, Tesla Powerwall, ABB. Plus hybrid inverters, battery sizing, Lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries, off-grid and on-grid power systems.

2. Complete hybrid systems with built-in battery storage

Jason Svarc

Battery system energy storage 2018.jpg

Complete hybrid systems with integrated energy storage are very simple to install and offer an attractive solution which eliminates the need to select and match individual components. These systems generally combine a battery inverter/charger, solar inverter, battery modules and energy managements system in one unit or 2 separate modules. All available systems at this stage use lithium-ion batteries but only the Fronius, Alpha and TrinaBESS systems are upgradable to enable future expansion.

These all-in-one systems may be very convenient but they do have some limitations, the main being the limited inverter power output during a blackout and no pass-through power capability. This mean your home may require separation of essential and non-essential loads. Also be aware that some of these systems (Samsung) have no UPS function so no power is available during a blackout, although if grid outages are very rare then this may not be an issue.

The following list explains in detail the features and specifications of the various hybrid systems available. Also see the full hybrid inverter and energy storage system summary list here for easy direct comparison.

 

Solax X-Box

Suntellite Group headquarters is located in Zhejiang University with two major manufacturing plants, 14 laboratories and five engineering research and technology centers throughout China. SolaX Power a subsidiary of the Suntellite Group manufacturers solar cells, panels, inverters, solar racking and LED lighting technology.

Solax Box hybrid battery system review

Basic specifications (2 sizes available)

  • Type: Complete hybrid system with built-in battery storage
  • Use: Self-use, Back-up (UPS)
  • Solar Array Size (Solar input): 3.3kW, 5.0kW
  • Rated power output: 2.0kW, 4.0kW
  • Peak power output: 3.0kW, 6.0kW (10 sec)
  • Pass through power:  63A in standby mode
  • Battery type and capacity: Lithium LFP, up to 14.4kWh
  • Battery System Voltage: 48V

See full specifications here - SolaxBox

Features

  • Attractive all-in-one system with simple installation
  • Large 7" touch screen display
  • Available in Single and 3-phase
  • Battery life of 4000 cycles at 80% DOD (claimed)

Note

  • Must be installed indoors (IP20 rated)
  • Peak power output 1.5 x rated output for 10sec.
  • Uses the well known Pylon Tech lithium LFP batteries.

Price bracket – Medium

 

Fronius Symo Hybrid

Fronius Symo hybrid system review.jpg

Fronius International is an Austrian company which began in 1945 designing and building welders. Fronius is now highly active in solar photovoltaics and battery charging technology.  Fronius and Tesla partnered to offer the Powerwall 1 in combination with the Fronius Symo Hybrid inverter as an integrated solution for residential PV systems. Since the Powerwall 1 is now discontinued the system is only compatible with the Fronius solar battery.

Basic specifications:  (3 sizes available)

  • Type: Complete system with built-in battery storage
  • Use (3-phase only): Self-use, Back-up (UPS)
  • Solar Array Size (Solar input): 5.0kW, 6.5kW, 8.0kW
  • Power output (continuous): 3.0kW, 4.0kW, 5.0kW
  • Peak power output: dependent on battery size used
  • Pass through power:  None
  • Battery type and capacity: Fronius Battery: Lithium (LFP), 4.5kWh – 12kWh
  • Battery System Voltage: 48V or HV 400V

See Full specifications here - Fronius Symo Hybrid

Features

  • All-in-one unit - plus batteries
  • 3-phase inverter
  • DC coupling of storage
  • Long battery life - 8000 charging cycles at 80% DOD (claimed)
  • Inverter with IP65 protection (weather rated for outdoor installation)

Note

  • 3-phase inverter only - single phase to be released late 2018?
  • back-up power enabled via "emergency power button"
  • Phase loads need to be balanced - limited applications.
  • Battery must be installed indoors (IP20 rated)

Price bracket – Medium/High

 

Sonnen Sonnenbatterie ECO

Note: AC battery system requires additional solar inverter

 

Sonnen+ECO+battery+review.jpg

Sonnen is successful German company founded in 2010. Previously known as Sonnenbatterie, Sonnen has become a leader in developing high quality, modular energy storage systems for residential and commercial applications and is planning to build a new battery manufacturing plant in South Australia.

Basic specifications: (Modular AC battery system)

  • Type: AC Battery system - Lithium LFP
  • Use: Solar self-use and emergency back-up power
  • Power output: 3.0kW (8.0kW peak)
  • Battery System Voltage: N/A (AC battery)
  • Battery type & size: Lithium LFP (LiFePO4) - 4kWh to 16kWh (2kWh modules)
  • Usable capacity: 100% (assumed capacity is 2.2kWh per module)

Features

  • Attractive, modular system
  • Expandable storage up to 16kWh
  • Sophisticated monitoring system
  • Very high cycle life (claimed 10,000 cycles)

Note

  • Not technically a complete all-in-one system - requires an additional solar inverter to be AC coupled.
  • Relatively low inverter power output 3.0kW
  • Low weather rating (IP20) must be installed indoors
  • Limited Back-up functionality
  • Warranty - 10 years

Price bracket – Approx AU$1250 per kWh

 

TrinaBESS Powercube DC

See the complete detailed TrinaBESS Review here

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TrinaBESS or 'Trina Battery Energy Storage Systems' is the battery company under the global panel manufacturing giant Trina Solar. TrinaBess supply a large range of solar hybrid and retrofit battery solutions for on-grid, off-grid, residential, commercial and micro-grid energy storage systems, from 4 kWh capacity up to a massive 2 MWh capacity.

Basic specifications

  • Type: Modular hybrid system with separate battery storage
  • Use: Self-use, Back-up (UPS)
  • Solar Array Size (Solar input): 5.0kW (max 7.0kW oversize)
  • Rated power output: 5.0kW (2.4kW in backup mode)
  • Battery System Voltage: 48V
  • Battery type and size:  Lithium NCA - 2.4kWh to 9.6kWh (2.4kWh modules)

Features

  • Can operate and charge from solar in back-up mode
  • 5.0kW solar inverter with up to 7kW max solar array size.
  • Includes energy meter
  • Includes battery support pedestal bracket
  • Good cloud monitoring software
  • Warranty - 5 years inverter, 10 years battery

Note

  • Not a UPS (1-2 sec delay)
  • Inverter not weather rated ( IP21 )
  • Max backup power 2.4kW
  • No parallel capability yet

DC version Cloud monitoring – www.cloud.trinabess.com

 

TrinaBESS Powercube AC

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See the complete detailed TrinaBESS review here

Basic specifications

  • Type: AC Battery system - Lithium NMC
  • Use: Retrofit - Solar self-use and back-up power
  • Power output: Max 5.4kVA (for 2sec) output with grid active
  • Battery System Voltage: 48V
  • Battery type & size: Lithium NCA - 2.4kWh to 9.6kWh (2.4kWh modules)
  • Usable capacity: 90% (assumed capacity is 2.2kWh per module)

Features

  • Easy retrofit to any existing solar system
  • Modular system with 2.4kWh PylonTech batteries
  • Max 4.8kVA surge in backup mode
  • Includes battery support pedestal bracket
  • IP65 inverter and IP55 battery
  • Warranty - 5 years inverter, 10 years battery

Note

  • Not technically a complete system - requires an additional solar inverter to be AC coupled.
  • Not a true UPS (up to 5 sec delay)
  • Cannot charge from solar in back-up mode
  • Outdated looking third party app monitoring

 

Alpha ESS Storion series

Alpha ESS Storion Smile review.jpg

 

AlphaESS based in Jiangsu, China, have been developing economical energy storage solutions since 2012 and have distributed products in European and Australian markets. The latest is an integrated smart energy management system including hybrid inverter and battery modules in one complete unit.

Basic specifications:

  • Type: Complete system with built-in battery storage
  • Use: self-use, (UPS) backup
  • Solar Array Size (Solar input): 4.5kW-7.5kW
  • Sizes available (power output): 3.0kW, 4.6kW, 5.0kW
  • Pass through power:  None
  • Compatible Battery types: lithium-ion modules, 5kW-19.2kWh
  • Battery System Voltage: 48V

See full specifications here: Alpha ESS Storion series

Features:

  • All-in-one unit including, inverter, batteries and system management.
  • Simple installation
  • Many different options available in the Storion series
  • App monitoring and advanced communications (cloud monitoring)
  • IP65 weather rated for outdoor use.

Note:

  • Additional battery storage also available (expandable)
  • No additional pass through power
  • Built on the well known Goodwe hybrid arcitecture.
  • Back-up EPS is optional

Price bracket – Low/Medium

 

PowerLegato

AU Optronics (AUO) is an international company with global operations spreading across Taiwan, China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, USA, and Europe. AUO's solar business has been adopting BenQ Solar as its brand name to offer high efficiency, reliable solar products that are easy to install.

Basic specifications:

  • Type: Complete system with built-in battery storage
  • Use: Self-use, Back-up (UPS)
  • Solar Array Size (Solar input): 2.7kW, 4.5kW
  • Power output: 2kW, 3kW (peak output 3kW, 4.5kW)
  • Pass through power: None
  • Compatible Battery types: Integrated lithium-ion
  • Battery System Voltage: 48V

Features:

  • All-in-one unit including solar inverter, batteries and system management.
  • Simple installation
  • Compact unit
  • Long battery life

Note:

  • Low surge power capability

Price bracket – Medium

 

 

For direct comparison of all inverters & systems see the complete Hybrid Systems and Inverters Summary page.