SMA Solar AG is a publicly listed German solar company that conducts research & markets solar products, worldwide. SMA stands for System, Mess and Anlagentechnik which means “System, Measurement and (Power) Plant Engineering .” The AG part just means Aktiengesellschaft, which is the equivalent of an Ltd. in Australia.
If you are just looking for a good review on SMA solar inverters, then this SMA solar review is the one to read. We start of with a brief history into SMA, why they rose to power, and how we think they are going to go as we move into the future of renewable energy.
UPDATE: SMA has begun the move of production of the Sunny Boy Inverter from China BACK to Germany after SMA has since severed connection with China. Real responses from SMA have been added to this article in RED.
SMA is a 40 year old company limited by shares: they are a good choice when it comes to solar inverters because they are an aged company and they have stood the test of time. They also have many shareholders and are a profitable company.
The best part of a public company is that you can see all their historical earnings (and losses) and make your own very informed decision about whether or not you’ll put an SMA inverter on your roof. If you have a lot of spare time, here is the SMA Investor Relations website.
SMA are the KINGS of Off-Grid Solar!
SMA pretty much invented reliable off-grid systems in the 21st Century. They are the solar company that are world famous for consumer off-grid solar.
Meet the Sunny Island off-grid inverter. This is a yellow inverter that is a German Made off-grid inverter that can replicate an on-grid setup. A Sunny Island can draw power from a grid, solar panels, wind turbines, diesel generators, AC batteries, DC batteries, hydro… anything really. You could even hook an alternator to an exercise bike and plug it into the Sunny Island if you really wanted!
So Are SMA Good for On-Grid? Should I buy Sunny Boy 5kW Solar Inverter?
Yes. SMA have long been able to perform in power grids with varying voltages, extreme weather events, extreme heat, extreme cold, intolerable conditions, etc. I believe SMA will be there for solar installations on the moon. We wouldn’t be surprised if people use the Sunny Island to grow their hydroponic farms!
Sunny Boy Review 5kW – The SMA Inverter Review
The Sunny Boy was the original go-to inverter of residential solar. Why though? Every solar installer and his dog was selling and installing Sunny Boys because they were so easy to sell because they were made in Germany.
The Sunny Boy 5kW was the “go-to inverter” of the early pre-2015 solar rush in Queensland, and Australia. Then production of the Sunny Boy somewhat moved to China.
Once the Sunny Boy name moved to China, Fronius gained massive market share being the only true residual Euro-inverter. When SMA moved the Sunny Boy to China, they also removed the LCD screen from the Sunny Boy. The new Sunny Boy 5kW inverter does not have a screen and must be connected via Wi-Fi.
UPDATE: SMA as of early 2019 began to move production of the Sunny Boy Inverter and all other inverters that were being assembled in China BACK to Germany after SMA has cancelled their go at the Chinese production line.
Is Wi-Fi the future of Solar?
It is worth noting that most of the few negative experiences with SMA involved the screen.
Hence why it may have been removed from the current range of SMA Sunny Boy inverters that don’t have screens.
The big problem was that the LCD display got cooked from being installed on Northern or Western walls of the house. This LCD problem is common with many displays that sit in the sun.
UPDATE Response from SMA: A big reason for the removal of the screen was to reduce electromagnetic interference and to better shield from external interference. Screenless inverters are the future. Other brands are catching on to the idea of screen-less inverters and following in SMA’s trend.
Would you expect a (glorified) calculator display to work 10 years in the Sun?
First Generation SMA Sunny Boy Solar Inverter Screen
Second Generation SMA Sunny Boy Solar Inverter Screen
Third Generation SMA Sunny Boy Solar Inverter “Screen” and App
Next Generation SMA Sunny Boy Solar Inverter “Screen” and App
Who needs a screen when you have data on an App?
You can view the public version of the Sunny Portal here. There are many thousands of publicly available PV systems that you can monitor live! You can even sort by Power, Country, etc. and it’s LIVE data!
Check this 24MW Bulgarian monster of a system commissioned in 2012
What do we think of the display-less Sunny Boy? Fine, as long as the app works and the Wi-Fi (NBN) is cooking.
SMA Company and Tigo Optimisers – SMA ate up the TS4-R!
What better way to compete with Solar Edge inverter reviews than by directly competing and offering a very comparable DC optimiser solution.
SMA decided to compete with SolarEdge by owning the TS4-R made by Tigo. This is a very popular optimiser made by Tigo and allows module level power optimisation. The TS4-R Optimiser, which is a simple DC clip on, allows panel level monitoring, shutdown, and optimisation. Depending on which one you get.
Watch SMA’s first ever official training session in Nigeria: