Huawei Solar inverter review




Huawei Solar Inverter Review Australia - Updated April 2021

The image above shows the inputs for the Huawei L1 inverter. Note the BAT+ and BAT- which is where the Huawei battery plugs into.

Both the L1 (single phase) and M1 (three phase) Huawei hybrid inverters are plug and play ready for the Huawei battery


Summary
The Huawei is exactly what most people want from their new inverter but seldom get.
Very reliable, genuinely plug and play battery ready with back-up, quiet, cool in both looks and internal temperature, excellent reporting via WiFi, Ethernet or 4G, optimisers to combat shade losses. The 5kW and 6kW inverters allow 9.6kW of panels to be installed when you plug in the battery (e.g. 26 x 370W) and the Government subsidy (STCs) is payable on all of those panels. Huawei's warranty is new for old replacement, ten years, labour included, and if you want more warranty, it's available up to 20 years. Our installers love it, self-detects the consumption (smart) meter, optimisers and battery. All they do is enter the country code and customer WiFi details. Back in our office we can configure the reporting access level provided to each client to meet their needs. Simple if they want simple, or access to everything. There are APIs so you can monitor the Huawei data on other sites, something that doesn't happen often as Huawei's Fusionsolar reporting delivers far more than any other inverter.

Not a fair fight
Huawei's annual sales in AUD are $175 billion, Fronius, another superb inverter manufacturer, $750 million. Growatt has 175 employees worldwide, Huawei 175,000 employees. It isn't a fair fight. Huawei are the world leader in many industries, and solar inverter manufacturing is one of them. They started making solar inverters in 2011 and by 2015 were World number 1. Such is the power of almost unlimited R&D resources.

Huawei DC optimisers
These shade busting little black boxes are a regular low cost addition to many solar installs we carry out. Whilst many installers will run panels where they can fit them and if a few panels get shaded and bring down the output for the rest of time, who cares?
You care, we care, and by deploying these optimisers, the output of your system is indeed optimised. The optimisers come with a 25 year warranty too, and even if you install just one or two of them onto shaded panels (or panels on a third or fourth roof orientation which is another nifty feature of theirs) you can then check on the individual output of those optimised panels in the Huawei Fusionsolar reporting.

Oversize the inverter with 9.6kW of panels
Like any other 5kW inverter, you can oversize the Huawei L1 or M1 with 6.66kW of panels and get paid the subsidy (STCs) that make the panels free, or close to it. However, when you plug in the battery, Huawei allow you first to expand that up to 9.6kW of panels , and if you have optimisers on the panels you can take it even further...and you get the Government subsidy on all those extra panels.

Excellent reporting
Huawei's free reporting app Fusionsolar is excellent. Whilst many people spend hundreds of $$$ buying 3rd party products such as Solar Analytics to get the reporting they desire for other inverters, the Huawei Fusionsolar reporting has it all already, although if you want anything more than solar production you will need the Huawei consumption meter.

When I first starting setting up Huawei inverters I spent a lot of time configuring the reporting, creating different profiles so that I could give each of our clients the reporting level they preferred. Some want to keep it simple, others want everything, some in-between. This review gets read by people either getting, or have already got, Huawei inverters all over Australia (and elsewhere) and I am happy to remotely set you up correctly if your installer is as slack as the many I've witnessed who just walk away and leave it in 'default', which as far as I can tell seems to be almost every solar company except us. I assure you the Huawei reporting is capable of a lot more detail than you get in 'default'. A review here or there would be a nice 'thank you' for the service.

Click here to download the Huawei Fusionsolar app

Reliability
We had one fail in March 2021. That's it. Just one, and we are into our 4th year with Huawei. Better reliability than any other inverter, including Fronius and SMA. It was replaced with a brand new inverter within a couple of days. The process was a first for me, and I've been swapping faulty inverters over for ten years, so if you don't mind, I'll share. An alarm came up on my Fusionsolar reporting for the client. I downloaded the log file remotely, emailed it to Huawei, who confirmed a major fault, and after 30 seconds of form filling sent out a brand new inverter for one that had been installed in 2018. We drove out, replaced it, logged in and swapped serial numbers and the customers data from the old inverter was retained. If you say 'big deal, so what?' then I have to tell you, absolutely no other manufacturer does this. Not even close.

Warranty
10 years, labour included, new for old with the option to increase to 15 years ($360 or 20 years $720). To put that into perspective, your cost for a 5kW single phase Huawei L1 is $1,650 and $1,980 for the 5kW three phase M1. For further perspective, the price of a Fronius 5kW Primo, single phase is $2,180. The Fronius Primo can't do any of the above. No batteries, no backup, no optimisers and comes with a 10 year warranty. You could buy the Huawei, pay the 20 year warranty upgrade and the cost is $2,370. Just $190 more than Fronius and now you have the latest tech, and a 20 year warranty, new for old, back by the 47th largest company in the world.

Cool runnings
Never once seen the Huawei internal temperature rise beyond 75°C on any customer site on the hottest Perth summer days. For a box of electronics working very hard that's cool and it is why the inverter will last so long. Heat is the biggest reason electronics fail and why all the cheaper inverters keep me so busy. The only inverter that comes close is Fronius. They operate at almost exactly the same temperatures as Huawei, and have some often noisy fans to achieve it. Huawei run cool and quiet. Again, that's where massive R&D budgets help. Design the inverter to make less heat in the first place. It's got to run 24 hours a day with a battery.

Have I got one myself
Yes, changed over recently and am waiting for my battery. Most of us have swapped to Huawei here.

Is it made in China?
Yes. The only inverters not made in China are Fronius, Fimer, and the three phase SMA inverters (single phase SMA 41s are made in China too).

Is it a security risk running through my home WiFi
Potentially yes, exactly the same as your printer, mobile phone, TV, tablets and computers that run through your home WiFi are. If you don't want that risk, Huawei have a $100 4G dongle into which you put a mobile phone SIM card, and then your solar data is transmitted to the Huawei server over the mobile phone network instead of through your home WiFi. Also very handy if your inverter location is a long way from the router and signal weak. For those who prefer hard-wired to wireless, there's an Ethernet dongle too. Huawei are one of the largest IT companies in the world, so it's hardly surprising they have these options that others don't.

The Huawei battery
I can't tell you if this is any good yet because they aren't available for sale until May 2021, but if the inverter quality is anything to go by, the battery will be superb. We know the chemistry is the safest type, LFP or LiFePO4 depending on how you like your acronyms. As others have done, you can smash it, set a blow torch to it, this battery chemistry will not burn, and that's exactly what you want in your garage next to your EV car that doesn't have anywhere near as safe chemistry in their batteries, but that's another story. Cars are all about weight, but nobody cares, apart from our installers, how heavy a solar battery is and using this chemistry makes the batteries heavier. The Huawei battery dimensions are pretty skinny and it looks very stylish. The BMS sits on top (battery management system) and then under it you have up to 3 x 5kWh battery modules. If that's not enough you can connect a second 15kWh battery in parallel.

Everybody wants to know 'How much?' and finally we can tell. Pricing just released.
The battery management module is $1,620, and each 5kWh battery $3,250.

So assuming you have the consumption meter already, that's $4,870 for 5kWh installed, $8,120 for 10kWh installed or $11,370 for 15kWh of usuable storage.

If that sounds like quite a lot, well, it is, but not compared to other quality batteries.
Tesla Powerwall is $15,000 installed with 13.5kWh usuable, and the BYD batteries that connect to the new Fronius hybrid (GEN24+) are $11,500 for 11kWh installed and $15,500 for 16.5kWh.

Backup during blackouts
When the power goes out you might get some help from your solar inverter and battery, and there again, you might not. It very much depends on when the blackout occurs. If the battery is charged, you'll get power from that and if the sun is shining there is power coming from the panels as well, but if it's evening, and the battery is empty, or close to it, then you are in the dark. Huawei chose not to increase the weight, size and cost of the inverters by building backup in. They have an optional external box for those to buy who want it. Other manufacturers have gone the other way and built it in, although in some cases, like the new Fronius GEN24 Plus range, the backup is installed in the switchboard. I'm not sure whether solar inverter designers every really think about the real world. Imagine a typical three phase switchboard. It's pretty full of breakers and RCDs already. Now add a three phase solar breaker, a three phase solar consumption meter and in Fronius's case a three phase EPS backup unit. Impossible.

Do I need a hybrid to connect a battery?
No...but, a hybrid inverter like the Huawei does two jobs. It runs the solar panels AND it can run the battery, all at once, day and night, from the one inverter. If you buy a regular inverter that only handles the solar panels then you need to either replace it with a hybrid, or purchase an additional 'battery only' inverter to run the battery like the Tesla Powerwall. The Powerwall has the additional inverter inside the battery box. You are paying about $2,000 to $3,000 extra for that second inverter which is why it is always the more expensive way to go. It's less efficient as well. Hybrids store the DC power from the panels directly into the battery, no conversion. When the power is needed by the house, the hybrid converts it just once to AC. By contrast a Powerwall or any other 'AC coupled' battery solution is less efficient. The solar power is first converted to AC by the 'solar only' inverter. Any surplus solar that would normally run out to the street as export, is intercepted by the Powerwall, converted back to DC to store in the battery, and then later converted again to AC when the house needs it. Three conversions not one, and each time, some power is lost.

What's the Huawei support like?
Nothing like it. They operate a support centre 24 hours a day, because Huawei sell these inverters all over the World. I can ring Fronius and all the other inverter companies during office hours, or I can ring Huawei and speak to an engineer on a Sunday at 9pm, if I so chose not to have a life. So can you. Email support is almost as fast and has the advantage of them being able to send you their various PDF guides.
Huawei Australia are based in Sydney and can be reached on

1800046639

or email support
Their website is https://solar.huawei.com/au
Locally, in Australia, we deal with a great bunch of people. There are 200 Australians employed by Huawei, and there would have been over 1,000 if they hadn't been banned from delivering the 5G network. The fact Huawei gear has been in our 3G, 4G, fixed line phone and data networks for years already, seems to me that the horse, if it wanted to, has already well and truly bolted, but what do I know of politics and national security?

Fronius or Huawei?
Well obviously this isn't an easy one. I'd say forget the ancient Fronius Primo and Symo models, they have had their day many years ago and their only remaining attribute is reliability. However, the NEW Fronius GEN24Plus inverters are another matter altogether.
For a start, the three phase models go up to 10kW where you would need 2 x 5kW Huawei as the 10kW Huawei hybrid doesn't meet our unique 600VDC Australian regs, so can't be sold here. Secondly the GEN24 has backup sort of built-in. Built into the price, but installed into the switchboard (space permitting). It also has a power point. Neat. Even without a battery you can get power from your panels during a blackout to a power outlet installed by the inverter. Run an extension lead to your WiFi router and TV and Netflix stays on while the sun shines. (I've asked Huawei for that feature in the next release !). I'm the service manager at Solar4Ever so I know all about buck-passing between inverter support and battery support. That's why I much prefer them to be one and the same. Huawei inverter & Huawei battery. Fronius inverter and BYD battery. Don't forget that you don't have to connect either. If you have your heart set on a Tesla Powerwall then go for it. Ac coupled batteries like the Powerwall have a second inverter inside and operate entirely independently of your solar inverter. By the by, that's how the slightly less than truthful sales reps get away with selling cheap inverters and claim that their system is 'battery ready'. Of course it is, you can connect a Powerwall to any house, solar or not, it's got nothing to do with solar.

Growatt, Solis, Sofar, SolaX, Delta or Huawei?
Huawei without the slightest hesitation although I do like the in-built consumption meter idea that Delta came up with.

Goodwe or Sungrow or Huawei?
Slightly better quality competition than the last lot, but still Huawei. I really like the backup in the Goodwe hybrids. Almost UPS speed, milliseconds compared to over a minute switch-over with Fronius GEN24 and a few seconds with the rest.

SolarEdge or Huawei?
Much trickier. This is in many ways a very similar product to Huawei. In fact they spent much of 2018-2019 in court fighting patent infringement cases against each other which all ended in a draw. Nobody cheated apparently.
I like the EV charger for the SolarEdge. I know I can get an EV charger anywhere, but it appeals to my love of integration to have one as part of the solar installation. SolarEdge are wisely moving away from third party batteries and releasing their own by the end of 2021. I bought Huawei so I guess it means I prefer Huawei, but there's not much in it. Our installers much prefer Huawei. Fully optimised installations takes just three minutes to deploy. You wouldn't care about that but any SolarEdge installer reading this is going to be interested. Reporting is equally good apart from the strange decision by SolarEdge to pull the plug on panel level reporting on their Genesis range. Yes, panic attacks are common with certain customers when they see what they think are abnormal outputs in their panel level reporting, but its generally not that hard to explain that everything is normal (usually).



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Huawei L1 (single phase) brochure

Huawei M1 (three phase) brochure

Huawei LUNA solar battery brochure


This review was written by Andrew MacKeith, Solar4Ever service manager since 2011.