Fronius International is an Austrian company that specialise in inverters. You’ve probably come to this website for Fronius solar inverter reviews, which is great, but Fronius is much more than that. Before we ask ourselves if Fronius are any good, we need to know who is Mr. Fronius and where did Fronius come from?
The wizard who created Fronius International is a gentleman named Günter Fronius. He died in 2015 as a very old man age 107 but his brand and inverters will live on.
He was born in a Romanian city called Sibiu, but back then it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The city of Sibiu is also know in German as Hermannstadt. Both names are still used for this city.
His heritage can be described as Transylvanian Saxon and they are, in fact, ethnic Germans who lived in Romania
The current president of Romania, Klaus Werner Iohannis, is a Transylvanian Saxon. Transylvanian Saxons settled in Romania 800 years ago and speak Såksesch, a dialect of German spoken with a distinct dialogue. A long Thesis by Lucia Diana Paul on the relationship between Transylvanian Saxons and returning to Germany can be found here.
Mr. Fronius attended Joseph-Haltrich-Lyzeum technical high school in Sighișoara, Romania followed by an electrical apprenticeship. Clearly fascinated by technology, he then went to Wrocław university in Poland where he studied Engineering. At the time it was called Technische Hochschule Breslau and it was a German University.
1941-1945 Was a Big Time For Gunter Fronius
Fronius was already aged 34 at the start of World War 2 and with the Romanian Army, he was sent to work on a borderline Ukrainian hydroelectric dam for technical deployment. Instead of being drafted for the Romanian Military he would work on fixing a 650MW power plant in Zaporizhia, Ukraine, which was built by the Soviets, and bombed by the Soviets, causing a tsunami and many casualties.
Zaporizhia was an industrial city with a steel plant and a hydro dam and was under German control for most of the war. Many Transylvanian Saxons were staunch supporters of the Third Reich. Mr. Fronius most likely tried to repair the hydroelectric dam and the steelworks, although the dam and the steelworks were never fully repaired until after the war.
The Red army bombed the dam when the Germans arrived, and the dam was bombed again when the Germans retreated.
By May 1945 Gunter had bailed to Pettenbach, Austria where he was worked on a different, but also broken, hydroelectric power plant on the Alm river. His employer loved his work and he was allowed to tinker in a garage on the premises of the electricity supplier in Gasthof Ranklleiten. Had he instead stayed to defend Romania or stayed in Zaporizhia, we would most likely not have Fronius SnapINverters today!
Like most other German minorities, Transylvanian Saxons were allowed to “return to Germany” and many made a bee-line to Germany, and Mr. Fronius, and his family chose an, “old army hut,” in Pettenbach. At the end of World War 2, Joseph Stalin signed Soviet Order #7161 which ordered all German civilians to either go back to Germany or be sent to USSR for forced labour. Fronius would clearly not be going back to Transylvania, even though Transylvania was his peoples’ home for 800+ years.
By June 10 of 1945 he had started a new life in Austria and registered his company Fronius Elektrobau. He was working on Electric Radios and repairs with his acquired trade license.
His niche then shifted to rechargeable batteries because some car batteries at the time did not charge themselves.
From German Engineer to Global Innovator
In 1950, Gunter expanded his company into welding transformers and Fronius launched its first welding transformer with magnetic yoke-type regulation. This allowed continuous adjustment of the welding current with a small knob.
Austria loved Gunter for coming as a refugee post-WW2 and starting an enterprise so much that they awarded him the title Kommerzialrat which is an honorary title for businessmen in Austria.
Since 2011, the Company has been run by granddaughter Elisabeth Engelbrechtsmüller-Strauß. She has been taking the company to new heights as the Chief Executive Officer of Fronius International GmbH.
She is a proud Mother of 3 Children and apparently she brought Fronius KinderLand to the company so staff can have families and still make inverters while the kids get looked after at work.
Originally started-up post war selling batteries, Fronius are now the global market leader in robotic welding. They design, research and manufacture the robots that science-fiction movies warned us about!
world technology leader in arc and resistance spot welding.
Fronius International GmbH
Do Fronius make their welding inverters the same as their solar inverters?
If we take a look at a Fronius “cordless inverter” such as the AccuPocket welding system, we can draw parallels with their solar inverters. In the same way that a solar battery or solar panel supplies DC power, the AccuPocket draws from the battery pack. It is a portable welder, kind of like a mini powerwall.
Electricians have had to have been on-site and standing in front of the inverter while doing call-ups to the support at Fronius.
Imagine trying to install this after hauling 24 panels 3 storeys high, then having to wait on hold all afternoon in front of the inverter… then waiting for call backs and again having to wait at the customer’s house for all of this. I’m not the installer but, boy, do we cop it from our guys.
Fronius Primo 5kW Inverter Review
The bread and butter of household PV inverters is the Fronius Primo 5kW. This is the workhorse of the Australian Fronius PV brand name. We have installed hundreds of Fronius inverters and VERY RARELY have had issues with Fronius inverters.
Our annoyance rate is around less than 3%. I can count the number of issues on one hand.
Fronius German Inverter
The boss has been to Pettenbach, Austria. He’s seen the big Fronius factory which is now making the one and only European inverter option.
Fronius began in Reichsgau Oberdonau, or Upper Austria. This was a part of Germany at the time, or at least a few months before 1945, so you could say Fronius started in Upper Austria 74 years ago and is now Austrian.
The inverters today are made in the same town that Gunter lived in when he emigrated to Germany.
So if you are seeking an alternative to German solar inverters, the Fronius is the answer. Rest assured, you’ll be paying around $500-1000 more for it.
We absolutely love Fronius and the work that they do.
Elisabeth has been the CEO of Fronius since 2011 and since then she has driven the popular European inverter’s market share to a household PV name. Most customers ask us for a Fronius and if they don’t they usually go get 9 kitchen-table quotes from cheap solar companies and waste everyone’s time.
Is Fronius Battery Ready?
Yes, all inverters are battery ready. Fronius 5kW Primo is instantly ready to connect AC Batteries. However, AC batteries are pretty pointless with very low power output.
If you want to connect DC batteries, you’ll need an external DC charge controller. This is the exact case with all inverters on the current market. And if you want backup power during a blackout you’ll need an EPS box for Emergency Power Supply.
Any PV string inverter with AC batteries will be eclipsed in power output by a hybrid inverter coupled with a proper high voltage DC supply battery like LG Chem RESU10H 10kWh battery that can put out 5kW and 400V.
Since then, he mentions Fronius is now compatible with both LG Chem and BYD Box. These two batteries are High Voltage (serious) batteries and have real world applications unlike some AC batteries on the market. Don’t ask us about batteries unless you’ve done the numbers.
I think Fronius made a good decision allowing use of their inverters with the LG Solar Battery and the BYD Solar Battery too.
Within 5 years, batteries will need to drop from $1,000 per kWh to at least half that for us to be doing 5 a week. Tesla is gonna need the Lithium anyway!