Unlike other inverter companies which evolved from well-established power electronics manufacturers, Sungrow was founded back in 1997 by Cao Renxian, a Professor at Hefei University of Technology who wanted to improve the electricity supply in rural western China using renewable energy.
This motivation to help supply renewable energy was the foundation for one of the most successful inverter manufacturers not only in China but around the world. The Sungrow Power Supply Co Ltd is now the worlds second largest inverter manufacturer behind Huawei, with a net worth of $1.5 billion and specialises in R&D, manufacturing and services of power supply systems for wind energy, energy storage, and all varieties of solar PV power systems. To be more precise, the company specialises in power conversion technologies, energy route switching, energy conversion for electric vehicles, and renewable energy generators and inverters.
Another rather commendable characteristic of Sungrow is the company actively participates in many social welfare activities, including poverty alleviation, donations to schools, disaster relief, and seeks to enhance the sustainability of public welfare practices. This level of social corporate responsibility possibly evolved from the generous nature of the founder and became ingrained in the company culture.
The Sungrow range of solar and Hybrid inverters
Sungrow is one of the few companies offering solar inverters designed for residential, commercial and utility-scale grid-tie systems, as well as both small and large scale energy storage inverters. Here we review some of the well known solar inverters supplied by Sungrow:
SG Premium - Residential solar Inverters - Single phase
CX range - Commercial Inverters - 3 Phase
SH5K-30 - Residential hybrid Inverter - Single phase
SH-RT - Residential hybrid Inverters - 3 Phase
SBP4K8 battery - 48V Lithium-ion battery
Residential Solar Inverters
The residential SG series of solar inverters from Sungrow have become very popular due to the competitive price and great reliability. The strong sales figures show they are now the second biggest selling solar inverter in Australia by volume, coming second only to Fronius (according to Formbay data). Also, Sungrow has a great reputation for quality compared to many other manufacturers, along with good service from the Sydney based support office which has further helped improve their status.
The SG series are lightweight, transformerless, string inverters with a wide MPPT voltage range and Wi-Fi communications included. Like most modern string inverters, the Sungrow residential inverters are cooled via passive cooling using a large rear heatsink. Due to the efficient design, no power de-rating is specified to occur below 45 degC ambient temperature, which is impressive for a passively cooled inverter. The SG inverters are available in 3 main varieties, the S series, D series, and TL series listed below.
S series – Single MPPT with LCD display*
D series – Dual MPPT with LCD display*
TL-D series – Dual MPPT - parallel strings option & no display*
* The SG Premium series is replacing the current range from the end of May 2020 and feature built-in DC isolator and Quick Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (QAFCI) as standard.
See the full Sungrow Inverter series details and specifications
CX Commercial Solar Inverters
As the worlds second largest manufacturer of industrial and utility inverters, Sungrow offer a wide range of string inverters and central inverters designed for larger MW scale installations. However, here we’ll focus on the smaller 3-phase string solar inverters for commercial installations.
The new look CX series commercial string inverters, for the global market, are available in a range of sizes including 33kW, 40kW, 50kW, plus the extra-large 110kW model. These next generation inverters have an impressive list of features (see below) making them some of the most advanced inverters on the market.
Built-in DC isolator
Active cooling system
PID recovery function
PV over-sizing up to 150%
Inbuilt IV curve scan
IP66 with C5 anti-corrosion
Installation angle from 90° to 170°
The Australian CX model range is slightly different and includes a 30kW (29.9kVA) model with 3 x MPPT’s, 50kW model with 5 x MPPT’s, and the larger 110kW model with 9 x MPPT’s. (The 40kW unit is not available in Australia).
See the Sungrow SG30CX specification data sheet
Sungrow Battery storage solutions
Sungrow is widely known for its residential solar and hybrid inverters but many don’t realise the company is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of medium and large energy storage systems for commercial and industrial applications.
With the addition of the new 3-phase residential hybrid inverters (described in detail below), Sungrow now has one of the largest range of advanced hybrid inverters for residential, commercial and utility-scale solar energy storage systems, including modular containerised solutions for MW scale power plants.
Sungrow Residential Hybrid Solar Inverters
The first residential hybrid inverter from Sungrow, the SH5K+ was released back in 2015 and became widely known as one of a few affordable and reliable hybrid inverters which could also provide backup with the optional EPS backup box. The second-generation SH5K-20 hybrid inverter appeared far more modern with a sleek, silver, curved design and simple, central, LCD display. Like the previous model, it was compatible with 48V batteries and required the additional EPS (emergency power supply) box for backup and enabled the inverter to operate in off-grid mode. The Sungrow Hybrid inverters are compatible with a wide variety of lithium batteries including the popular LG Chem, BYD LV, and of course the Sungrow SBP4K8 battery built on the Samsung lithium-ion module - See full Sungrow battery details below.
SH5K-30 hybrid Inverter
The third-generation residential hybrid inverter from Sungrow, the SH5K-30, looks very similar to the previous model but now has EPS built-in and won’t require the additional EPS box to enable back-up or off-grid mode. Having to install the separate EPS box was complex and time-consuming, not to mention many systems ended up looking a bit like an obscure work of art with cables and conduit everywhere. Another important upgrade is the in-built DC isolator, which is certified so it will help reduce installation time, cost, and improve the look of the whole installation further with fewer add-ons required.
Integrated EPS backup power
Instantaneous backup (20ms)
Inbuilt DC isolator *certified
10 year warranty
Backup power in off-grid mode is still 3kW, which is reasonable but only powerful enough for basic essential loads. However, the changeover time is now only 20ms, as opposed to the previous model which took 3 to 5 seconds to switch into off-grid or backup mode during an outage. This is virtually instantaneous, so the system now works like a UPS which is a nice upgrade. And to top it all off, the warranty has been extended from 5 to 10 years making this one of the best-value and feature packed hybrid inverters on the market.
Backup power limited to 3kW
If blackouts are a big problem, the system is limited to 3kW (3000W) in off-grid mode which is suitable for backing up basic essential loads like lighting circuits, and basic appliances like fridges, computers and TV’s. The inverter is not designed for permanent off-grid use.
Sungrow LV battery
The Sungrow SBP4K8 battery, also known as the PowCube 4.8, is ranked as the number one home battery in our 5kWh category – see review here. This is one of the most reliable batteries on the market due to being built around the high-performance Samsung SDI battery module. Samsung is one of the world’s leading battery producers with a solid history in lithium battery manufacturing. Sungrow has had a Joint Venture (JV) partnership with Samsung SDI since 2015 and the batteries shown very good performance and low degradation in the independent testing conducted by ITP renewables.
Sungrow SBP4K8 Battery specifications
Type: DC battery system - Samsung lithium NMC cells
Size: 4.8kWh with 95% usable capacity
Power output - 2.5kW continuous, 4kW max peak
Cycle life: up to 6000 cycles (claimed)
Price: approx $4000
Warranty: 10 years
Compatibility: Sungrow Hybrid inverter SK5H-20 & SK5H-30
The SBP4K8 battery is affordable and compact with convenient grab handles molded into the sturdy cast aluminium lid. There are cable entry points on either side of the battery making it much easier and neater to install and enabling multiple batteries to be easily connected in parallel for greater storage capacity if required (up to 14.4kWh).
See the full Sungrow SBP4K8 data sheet.
Sungrow SBR HV battery System
*New for 2021
Like many other leading battery manufacturers, Sungrow has just released a modular high-voltage (HV) battery system to complement its new range of SH-RT 3-phase hybrid energy storage inverters described below. The new modular system is easily scalable and offers increased efficiency from 98% to 98.4% thanks to the lower conversion losses which are achievable at higher voltages.
The higher voltage batteries use Lithium Ferro Phosphate (LFP) cells which are considered the safest and longest-lasting battery chemistry and contain no Cobolt making them more sustainable. They also have impressive power ratings with a peak output of 6.57kW from 3 modules and 17.5kW peak from 8 modules stacked in series. See the full Sungrow battery specifications.
Residential 3-phase hybrid inverters
This is one inverter series that I’m sure will be very well received by the solar industry. Unlike the wide variety of single-phase hybrid inverter options, there are very limited 3-phase hybrid inverters available for households. Thankfully, Sungrow have developed what appear to be some of the most advanced 3-phase hybrid inverters to date. The new SH-RT range, will eventually be available in 5.0kW, 6.0kW, 8.0kW and 10kW power ratings, but initial release will only feature the 5kW and 10kW models, with the 8kW model coming at a later stage. (6kW model not available in Australia).
The new inverters feature a wide HV battery voltage range from 150V to 600V, and extra high charge/discharge ratings up to 10,600W. Also dual MPPTs with a very wide operating voltage range from 200V to 950V, which is suitable for Australia being that we have a 600V limit on all residential systems.
See the full Sungrow SH5.0/6.0/8.0/10/RT specification data sheet
New 10 year warranty
Previously all Sungrow inverters came with a standard 5 year warranty and optional 10 year warranty on some models. In a bid to supply better service to customers, Sungrow now offers a 10 years’ warranty on most new generation inverters sold in Australia from the 1st of April 2020. This includes the following models:
SG2K-S (Premium) , SG2K5-S (Premium), SG3K-S(Premium), SG3K-D (Premium) , SG5K-D (Premium), SG8K-D (Premium), SH5.0RT, SH10RT, SH5K-30, SG5KTL-MT, SG10KTL,MT, SG15KTLM, SG20KTLM, SG30CX (Premium), SG50CX (Premium), SG110CX (Premium). At present the warranty extension is applied to inverters purchased and installed in Australia only.
Monitoring - iSolarCloud
Sungrow inverters include Wifi monitoring as standard (using the included dongle) on all models and use the new, modern, cloud based monitoring portal iSolarCloud, which is a huge improvement over the previous outdated monitoring platform. The new free smart phone App is also very simple and works quite well.
There were issues with consumption monitoring on the older SG models, but the premium SG inverters now all support consumption monitoring and its simple to setup with a smart energy meter plus the logger1000 or WIFI dongle.
Sungrow offer a variety of meters, dongles and data loggers (logger1000 controller) for single and three-phase installations. Note, energy meters are required for export limiting and for energy storage systems to function. The Sungrow SH5K hybrid inverters come with a S100 meter & dongle included.
With a long history in manufacturing power conversion systems, Sungrow is great choice for those wanting a reliable, cost-effective inverter for solar or energy storage system. This is further reinforced by the longer 10 year warranty now standard on most next-generation Sungrow inverters.
In regards to energy storage the current SHK5-20 inverter is one of the most popular hybrid inverters on the market, although if blackouts are a big problem it is only suitable for backup of basic essential loads and not designed for permanent off-grid use. The third generation SH5K-30 hybrid now includes instantaneous backup making it a great all-in-one option for smaller households requiring basic backup. While the new 3-phase hybrid inverter options and larger utility scale energy storage systems may well have placed Sungrow as one of the industry leaders in this space.
On the commercial side, the new range of CX string inverters not only look impressive, but have a long list of standard features including smart active cooling systems, inbuilt IV curve scan, PV over-sizing up to 150%, PID recovery, and 9 MPPT’s on the new SG110CX model, making them some of the most advanced inverters on the market.