Lightning Solar & Electrical

Fronius Vs SMA

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Fronius Vs SMA: Here's The Obvious Winner

We don’t want to be biassed, but in our eyes, there is a clear winner. So to make it fair and give you the chance to make your own mind up, we are going to compare Fronius Vs SMA. 

Inverters are arguably the most important component of your solar system, so making sure you get the best one for you is vital. Thankfully, Fronius and SMA are the leading manufacturers in the solar power world, so they will be very reliable. 

Fronius has got its reputation for being high quality, reliable and flexible. Reliability is probably the most vital element of an inverter because it is the most complex component. Fronius inverters very rarely have any issues, which is something a buyer looks for.

When looking at Fronius Vs SMA, reliability is something they both have on their side. On the other hand, SMA is an older inverter manufacturer with a sleek and lightweight design. Also, flexible and high quality, it is hard to compare the two.

That’s a basic overview of the positives of the two inverters, so let’s get into the full comparison so we can settle this debate.

If you are interested in getting a solar proposal, speak to one of my Fronius design engineers here. Follow along below for a full review of Fronius Vs SMA.

Table Of Contents

fronius vs sma

Both Fronius And SMA Come With 10 Years Warranty

From 2021 all home inverters will have to include a 10-year warranty. So, when looking at Fronius Vs SMA, it is not surprising that both of these inverters meet industry standards. 

Both inverters offer a base of 5 years and then topped up with the extra 5 years on top during product registration.  

The great thing about the 10-year warranty is that you have peace of mind that if something was to go wrong that you have the ability to fix it. However, inverters last so long that I doubt you will ever need to use them. 

Some people have noted from the SMA helplines that they are a little hard to navigate and get a clear answer. That being said, there are rarely any complaints, so you should never have to call them about an issue. 

We will go into further detail later about why we think Fronius just tops SMA’s because it offers better bankability and is less risky. However, they both have a 10-year warranty in common.

SMA Is Very Slightly More Efficient, But Does This Matter?

So, yes, SMA is more efficient than Fronius. But only just, and this shouldn’t be your sole buying factor when looking at buying an inverter. 

There really is not much in it. The Fronius primo efficiency comes out at 95.95%, which is pretty impressive. There really is not much more a solar inverter can do! To put it into perspective, Fronius ranges from 3.8kW to 15kW. We think this is pretty expressive given the kW range.

On the other hand, SMA efficiency comes out at 97.33%, which is super impressive. However, it only offers a kW range of 3kW to 7.7kW. This could be why its efficiency is so hard due to the lower kW range, but you can’t argue that SMA has excellent efficiency.

At the end of the day, we don’t think the tiny % difference should matter that much. A 10kW system will generate your 10kW of energy, so the efficiency of your inverter should not matter that much. Especially when comparing Fronius vs SMA, as they both have incredibly high efficiency. 

The same really applies for solar panel efficiency, here’s a blog I wrote on why you shouldn’t overworry about this.

Specifications Of Fronius vs SMA

We thought it might be helpful to have a breakdown of a few of the key specs of both the inverters to help you see it a bit clearer. As you can see, both are pretty similar.

fronius primo inverter price

Fronius Primo

What I Like About It...

I love fronius because it’s one of the best inverters in the industry. Coming with a compact size the primo ranges from 3kW to 8.2kW which is excellent compared to SMA which only comes in 6kW max. 

The overall performance of the Primo is next to none and really suits a majority of homeowners. Due to its versatility and advanced technology the Primo is very popular across Australia. If needed, you can add a smart meter for full visibility and monitoring over your solar system.

Specifications:

Size Range: 3.8kW -8.2kW
Average efficiency- 95.95%
Average Cost Per Watt: $0.32
Warranty Period: 10 years
Regulated air cooling
2x MPP trackers

SMA Sunny Boy

What I Like About It...

Coming in as a strong contestor is the Sunny Boy from SMA. This is backed by an industry leading 10 year warranty and a sleek, compact design. One thing I love about this inverter is its high performance when shading issues occur. 

Not only but SMA has mastered the user experience by making this super simple for homeowners to understand and read. This comes with some awesome monitoring features as well which are all down as plug and play.

Specifications:

Size Range: 3kW – 6kW
Average Efficiency – 97.33%
Cooling Method: Convection
Warranty Period: 10 years
Integrated SMA ShadeFix

Fronius Is European Designed And Made, But SMA Moved To China

This is where things get interesting. So far, we can see that both inverters are leaders in the industry and offer very reliable services as inverters. But we think Fronius has the edge over SMA because of SMA’s move to manufacturing in China. Let us explain.

A little history about Fronius; they have been manufactured in Austria since 1945. Fronius has more than half a century of experience creating and designing inverters, making them an industry leader. 

SMA’s big selling point was that it manufactured its inverters in Germany. However, in 2017 SMA moved from Germany to China because it was cheaper. Unfortunately, with it being cheaper comes lower quality and low reliability. 

In our eyes, this massive downfall of SMA is moving to china manufacturing to save cost. It’s not that we are dragging China manufacturing; it is more that it has moved away from focusing on high-quality products to reducing costs. 

The point we are trying to make is that German manufacturers are notorious for being strict on quality checks and produce higher quality than China. When it comes to inverters, it is so vital that it is reliable, so cutting corners to make a product cheaper doesn’t give us much confidence in the product. 

Although it is extremely unlikely that something can go wrong, we can’t ignore that this manufacturer’s move has increased the risk.

SMA Is Less Popular Than Fronius

From our point of view and based on the number of sales that come through every day for Fronius, it is clear that Fronius is more popular in Australia. 

It is the clear winner when it comes to popularity. But, unfortunately, as good as SMA are, they just don’t have the reputation that Fronius has. There are several reasons for this. 

The snapINverter design is great, and it doesn’t require the removal of the unit from the wall, which means you can get it fixed quickly if there are any issues. In addition, it has an integrated data communication package equipped with WLAN Ethernet and a web server. 

However, we can’t take any credit away from SMA. SMA also offers an integrated solar system which you can use through a free online platform. So there are benefits to both inverters.

Fronius Vs SMA is a difficult comparison because they are both great inverters. However, we just sell more Fronius than SMA. If you want to learn more about Fronius, here’s my full review.

fronius is more popular than SMA inverters in australia

Fronius Has The Better Bankability And Is More Reliable

It is hard to ignore the reliability of the name and brand Fronius. Everyone knows someone who has a Fronius inverter in their solar system or a Fronius product in their home. This comes from its blue-chip solar company being around since 1945.

Fronius has extremely low risk and has a huge amount of cash flow and revenue. As a company, this is one you put your trust in, knowing if something was to go wrong, they would cover you and replace your inverter. 

This is not to say SMA is unreliable, as it is one of the few manufacturers to compete with Froniys on reliability and quality. However, it just does not have the same bankability backing it and might be considered more of a risk because of that. 

As mentioned before, the move to China manufacturing hindered its reliability due to corners being cut on cost. It also experiences issues during the transition from an old to a new generation AV series. This lost some ground and meant Fronius was elevated in front. 

In Q1 of 2022, sold 2.8 GW of SMA inverter output, down on the Q1 in 2021. The company said this was due to a short supply of electronic chips, causing a backlog of orders not fulfilled. However, minor blips like this help Fronius push forward.

Again, this is just our opinion and what we see in relation to our sales. However, we must emphasise that you should pick the inverter best for you and what fits your home system.

You Can Get Fronius In 8.2kW Single Phase, But SMA Only Does 6kW

If you are lucky enough to own a big house, getting an 8.2kW system is future-proof as it will last a lot longer. This is something to look for as energy consumption and prices will keep rising. This is the best option for most homeowners as the extra size will help.

That being said, if you have a smaller house, then the 6kW SMA inverter might suit you better. However, we must warn you that 6kW might get phased out into the future as it just won’t be enough energy to power a home. The future will probably look at inverters 9kW and up! 

Fronius Vs SMA when it comes to single phase kW, Fronius just beats SMA. We only say this because Fronius is more efficient in the future, both for energy consumption but also for your money. You don’t want to invest in an inverter to find out you need to replace it soon after, so think ahead. 

Don’t worry, it seems to be a common theme with Fronius taking the lead with this one. As you can see in my comparison between Fronius, Sungrow and Growatt as well.

Fronius comes in 8.2kw size but SMA only comes in 6kW sizes

Their Price Is Similar, So Which One Should You Go For?

There really is not much in it, and it really depends on what kW you pick. You can’t compare a 3kW SMA for a Fronius 5kW; they are different. But when looking at them side by side, the price is pretty bang on. 

Therefore, we can’t see why for a slight difference, you wouldn’t just go for the most reliable and high-performing inverter for your solar system; the Fronius Primo. An inverter is a long-term investment, and it is the main component of your solar panels, giving you energy in your house. The money you save by not spending on the electrical grid can be used on your inverter.

The inverter that is best for you totally depends on what you are looking for and what best fits with your solar system. We just recommend Fronius if you are finding it hard to pick. Definitely speak to a solar engineer who can help you understand which one will work hardest for your budget.  

Conclusion

That’s it! We have come to an end and covered everything you need to know when it comes to Fronius Vs SMA. 

For us, there is a clear winner, Fronius comes out on top. But, only by a small margin, and I think it’s mainly down to its reputation, bankability and reliability. 

However, we do want to stress that there is no ‘best inverter’ out there that will suit everyone’s home. Every home is different, and the inverter that sounds better online might be different in person. So please pick the inverter that is best for you. 

Fronius is an excellent solar inverter and is very popular among our customers, and you can see why. However, SMA is still a great inverter, and I am sure you won’t have any issues if you were to pick it either.

Let us know if you have any questions or thoughts about the two inverters below. We’d love to hear what you think 🙂

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Written By:

Luke Cove
Managing Director
Lightning Solar & Electrical

luke cove - Founder of lightning solar

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