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f you're in the market for an inverter, you've likely come across the name Fronius. Renowned for their innovative technology and high-quality products, it is a company that has made a name for itself in the industry. But as with any investment, it's essential to do your research and determine whether a Fronius solar inverter is the right fit for your needs. In this comprehensive article, we'll delve into everything you need to know about these inverters, from their features and benefits to their potential drawbacks.

Overview of the company

The company was established in a small village in Austria in 1945 by Günter Fronius, who initially opened a repair shop for radios and electrical equipment. He then expanded the business to include the production of battery chargers and welding transformers. Over time, the company grew from being a battery chargers manufacturer to becoming one of the major players in the European solar hardware market.

Fronius entered the PV technology field in 1992 and was one of the first companies to venture into modern-day solar technology. The company introduced its initial grid-connected solar inverter in 1995, but it wasn't until the snap-in inverter (snapINverter) range was released in 2012 that it made a significant impact and gained an extensive global following. The company’s solar products are engineered, designed, and manufactured exclusively in Austria, which enables them to maintain complete control over the entire process and guarantee top-notch quality.

The manufacturer boasts a global network of subsidiaries with a presence in more than 28 countries. Additionally, the company is represented by sales partners in over 60 countries. Fronius is widely recognized for its innovative and technology-driven approach and is dedicated to promoting sustainability by delivering top-notch service and quality products.

Solar product lineup

The manufacturer’s offerings stand out from the rest with their SnapINverter technology. It utilizes a standardized wall-mounted bracket that houses the device on a hinge system, allowing easy and hassle-free access during servicing without needing to take it off the wall.

The SnapINverter range has become a top choice for both residential and commercial solar installations, featuring models like the Galvo, Primo, and Symo. Although the popular Primo models for residential use have encountered occasional supply shortages and minor problems, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with any issues quickly resolved by the company’s service network. Let's examine each of these products now.

Fronius Galvo

Galvo solar string inverter is ideal for smaller households, with power categories available in the range of 1.5 to 3.1kW. It has advanced features such as automatic high-frequency (HF) transformer switchover and data communication with integrated data logging. The model is equipped with Smart-Grid Ready technology, enabling direct communication with the grid operator.

This Fronius solar inverter is ideal for upgrading older systems as they utilize the classic transformer-based topology. Additionally, it is commonly used as a substitute for old, low-capacity solar inverters.

Fronius Primo

The company’s flagship product, Primo, is a single-phase string inverter that comes in power categories ranging from 3.0 to 8.2kW. Not only does this model offer all the basic features of the Galvo option, but it also boasts a Dynamic Peak Manager that guarantees the optimal performance of a solar system. It works thanks to the MPP tracking algorithm coupled with the technology's enhanced shading tolerance, which enables an unparalleled level of efficiency. The larger 5kW and above variations are particularly noteworthy due to their high input current rating of 18A per MPPT and Isc of 27A, which facilitates the parallel connection of two strings of panels. The model’s standard communication package includes various features such as WLAN, energy management, and multiple interfaces.

This Fronius string inverter is widely used in off-grid solar or stand-alone power systems. While it is designed as a solar inverter, not a battery inverter, it can be combined with a compatible multi-mode off-grid charger to create an advanced AC-coupled energy storage system.

Fronius Symo

Symo, a transformerless three-phase inverter with power categories ranging from 3.0 to 20.0kW, is the best fit for larger homes. These households typically use three active wires and one earth wire. On the other hand, single-phase models with one active wire and one earth wire, such as Galvo and Primo, are more suitable for smaller and newer homes.

Efficiency

Galvo, Primo, and Symo are well within the efficiency standards for residential string inverters, which usually range from 95 to 98%. The Galvo series boasts an efficiency range of 95.8 to 96%, while the Primo model can achieve a maximum efficiency of 97.8%, and the Symo converter delivers a peak efficiency of 98%.

Warranty coverage

When you purchase a Fronius solar inverter, it typically comes with a 5-year warranty. However, if you register the product on their website within 30 months of buying it, you may be eligible for a free warranty extension of up to 10 years. Alternatively, your solar installer may offer a warranty extension of up to 10, 20, or 30 years, depending on their specific terms, if you purchase it within 30 months of the device being dispatched from the producer’s factory.

Noise levels

Fronius stands out from most manufacturers as they exclusively design inverters with active or fan-forced cooling. This enhances the performance and service life of their products. However, the use of fans for cooling does generate some noise. In most cases, the noise level is not a concern as it typically reaches a maximum of 65 dB(A). Nevertheless, in some outdoor installations, such as near a bedroom window, the noise may be an issue as the fan can begin operating early in the morning, shortly after sunrise.

Pricing

Since these products are made in Europe, they come with a heftier price tag compared to alternatives manufactured in China. However, it's important to note that the cost of an inverter usually only makes up 10-20% of your overall system expenses. As such, investing in a top-notch Fronius string inverter may be worthwhile, as it can significantly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your entire system.

Pros and cons summary

With a basic understanding of the key characteristics, let's take a moment to weigh the pros and cons of employing a Fronius solar inverter.

Advantages:

  • A reputable solar market brand with a proven track record of producing high-quality products.
  • A top-of-the-line inverter with exceptional performance and features.
  • Installation and repairs are easy to perform.
  • The integrated LAN/WLAN allows for convenient internet connectivity and monitoring from anywhere.
  • The active cooling system ensures that the device remains cool and yields high output.

Disadvantages:

  • These inverters are generally more expensive than other string models on the market.
  • The inverter can be noisy during peak times and when starting or shutting down, making it less ideal for living areas.
  • The warranty is 5 years full + 5 years parts only, which is not as beneficial as the 10-year warranty offered by some competitors.

Conclusion: Are Fronius solar products a good investment?

Fronius solar inverter is a high-end product that offers exceptional performance and impressive features. The company has a strong presence in the solar industry and produces top-notch photovoltaic solutions worldwide.

However, there are some drawbacks to consider. This inverter is quite expensive, so it may not be the best choice if affordability is a top concern. Additionally, the product warranty could be longer, considering the premium price tag. Some customers have also reported noise issues, especially if the inverter is installed near living spaces or bedrooms. To avoid this, it's recommended that customers install it away from these areas.

Despite the high cost, Fronius is a reputable company known for their reliability. Their inverter boasts excellent performance and features, making it a wise investment for those who value quality.

Posted 
Apr 1, 2023
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