Not All Solar Systems Are Made Equal


Inverters are by far the most important component of any PV system. Your inverters are responsible for:

  • Monitoring
  • Performance verification
  • System maintenance and support
  • Overall longevity of your solar system

Inverter Comparison and Buyer's Guide

As one of the top providers of high quality solar equipment in Nova Scotia, we think it is important for solar buyers to know what they're getting for their money.

The inverters and accompanying monitoring systems are crucial elements of a PV solar system. Our Enphase inverter components constitute approximately 33% of our total turn-key system cost, including installation.

Below is a table of the most common inverters proposed by PV installation companies in Nova Scotia, their specifications, and their Manufacturer Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP). We have also included a chart showing the MSRP of each inverter for a 20-panel system (7kW AC and 9kW DC) and a chart showing the standard warranty length for each inverter.

Enphase Logo APsystems Logo Hoymiles Logo Solaredge Logo Solis Logo
Inverter Type Microinverter Microinverter Microinverter String Inverter String Inverter
Inverter Model IQ8A APS-DS3-L HM-1500NT SE7600H-APP Ginlong Solis-1P7.6k-4G-US
Output W 369 W 768 W 1500 W 7,600 W 7,600 W
Panels Serviced 1 2 4 21 - 25 21 - 25
AC W Per Panel 369 W 384 W 375 W 300 W - 360 W 300 W- 360 W
Requires Optimizers No No No Yes Yes
MSRP $407 $388 $313 $3,149 $1,497.10
Cost Per Panel $407 $194 $78.25 $125.96 - $149.95 $59.88 - $71.29
AC Cost for 20 Panels $8,140 $3,880 $1,565 $3,149 $1,497.10
Standard Warranty 12 Years 12 Years 12 Years 10 Years

Prices are averages taken from December 2023 pricing sheets from Canadian solar distributors. Prices are in CAD.

What does this mean?

The next best microinverters (AP Systems) are valued at less than half the price of Enphase, and the cheapest microinverters available (Hoymiles) are valued at less than one quarter the price of Enphase. The best string inverter among them (Solaredge) is valued at a little more than 1/3 the price of Enphase and the cheapest string inverter ever manufactured (congratulations Ginlong Solis) is valued 82% lower than enphase. Enphase's standard 25 year warranty is more than double every other inverter brand.

Inverter MSRP for a 20 panel system

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Standard Warranty Length

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Key Takeaways

The Solis inverter, a string inverter, has the lowest value among the inverters shown in the table above. It has an MSRP value that is 82% lower than a system using Enphase microinverters.

You can't be sure you're getting your money's worth by simply electing a microinverter system instead of a string inverter because the next most commonly installed microinverter (Hoymiles) is valued 81% lower than enphase

Our pricing for a 20-panel system (7kW AC and 9kW DC) equipped with an Enphase IQ8A microinverter is $24,000, before tax and incentives, and includes installation. This translates to $2.66/W DC or $3.43/W AC.

Quote yourself with our cost and savings calculator

Consequently, a 20-panel system with a Solis string inverter, where the AC components are 82% less expensive for the installer to purchase, should cost $17,440 before tax and incentives, and including installation. This is $6,560 less than our Enphase system, or $1.93/W DC or $2.49/W AC. A system using Hoymiles microinverters should be $6,453.40 cheaper to buy.

If the Solis string inverter didn't have the shortest warranty in the solar inverter industry, it would actually be a bargain at $1.93/W DC installed. However, that's probably not the price you've been quoted. We have been monitoring the Nova Scotia solar industry for the last 5 years and, unfortunately, we are only seeing systems sold at approximately $2.50/W DC or higher, even when the cheapest available inverter hardware is used.

  • There is a place in the market for cheaper (and often less reliable) equipment, but in order to maintain an honest market, we need to be transparent about the actual costs of the equipment. Less expensive equipment should be reflected in the price of the system.
  • At the end of the day, solar installers are product retailers with a service fee (installation cost). System buyers should understand the value of the components they are purchasing and the cost of the installation service. When an installation company opts to provide cheaper components but is still charging $2.50/W DC or higher, the installer values their service (installation) much higher than is reasonable.
  • These cheaper components can be installed at a healthy margin for under $2.00/W DC before tax and incentives.
  • Tragically, many Nova Scotian's are being sold the cheapest components available on the market at $2.50/W DC or higher, with the installer pocketing the difference between the actual cost of the equipment and the price they are charging the customer. This is a practice that we are not willing to engage in.

  • Even if the cheapest inverter available (Solis) was somehow the best technology (it isn't) despite having the shortest warranty in the industry (doubled from 5 years to 10 years in 2023 🎉) the cost installed should still reflect the value of equpment being purchased. In other words, even if an installer, hand over heart, pinky swears their components are the best, that still doesn't make them worth 3X what they cost to purchase off the shelf.

Summary

We know our value proposition is good, that's why our pricing is online and availale to the public. Although we are notably elitist about our equipment preferences, we think it's fine to install or purchase other brands of solar equipment. However, it pains us deeply to see Nova Scotians paying top dollar for bottom tier equipment to installation companies willing to capitalize on consumer ignorance. We think it's important to be transparent about the actual costs of the equipment and the value of the installation service.

Finally, we implore you to do your research when buying a solar system the same way you would if you were buying any other high ticket item. There is a wide disparity in quality and value across equipment brands particularly in the inverter market, and plenty of companies willing to exploit what you do not know. We hope this data helps you make an informed decision.

Proud Winner Of The 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024 Consumer Choice Awards For Halifax Nova Scotia

Through the gathering of unbiased consumer opinions, calculated and vetted by some of North America's leading market research firms, Consumer Choice Award has Awarded Watts Up Solar LTD as Halifax & Greater Region's BEST Solar Energy Systems company five years in a row.

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