Suntech has confirmed it will exclusively market Sunways residential and C&I inverters in Australia with the single-phase STS residential series having already secured Clean Energy Council (CEC) approval.
It will be the first appearance in Australia of Sunways inverters but Suntech Australia commercial sales manager Will Hall told pv magazine the company has a good pedigree.
“They’ve had strong international sales for many, many years,” Hall said.
Founded in Germany in 1993, Sunways was purchased by Suntech’s parent company Shunfung International Clean Energy Group (SFCE) in 2014. Production has since been moved to China but the German technical standards have been maintained, including the software control algorithm, R&D processing procedures, testing standards, and production management system processes.
A major player in the solar PV module market since 2001 with more than 24 GW of installed capacity in more than 100 countries, Suntech plans to begin the Australian rollout of Sunways inverters with the single-phase STS residential series with three-phase and hybrid inverters to be introduced later in 2021.
“Initially we’re looking at the single-phase inverters and we’ve got CEC accreditation and approval for them,” Hall said.
“The three-phase inverters are getting accredited and will be launched around June and then we’re looking to do the hybrid inverters towards the fourth quarter of this year.”
Hall said the first shipment of single-phase inverters was already Australia-bound and would be available for distribution in the coming weeks.
“We’re expecting the first container to land in mid to late March,” he said. “We were hoping to get it here a bit sooner but because of the Chinese New Year, production has slowed.”
New range revealed
The STS single-phase inverter line-up includes five variants – the 3KTL, 3.6KTL, 4.2KTL, 4.6KTL and the 5KTL. The series also includes a 6 kW version which is expected to be listed soon on the CEC’s approval sheet.
Efficiency rates for the STS inverters is reasonable with a rate of 97.40% and a maximum of 98.10% across all five variants. The inverters’ input current is 12.5 A with a 15 A short circuit current while the start-up (120 v) and MPPT voltage range (100 v – 550 v) match up against their competitors.
All of the Sunways inverters have been designed to offer high redundancy which allows for a continuous 10% AC output boost.
“It’s across all the single-phase inverters but for example, with the 5 kW inverter, you can boost to 5.5 kW if the NSP allows that,” Hall said. “Essentially, if you’ve got more panels you can get more power out of the inverter.”
The STS range, which measure a compact 410mm wide, 360mm high and 120mm deep and weigh just 13kgs, comes with a comprehensive series of protection mechanisms including built-in ARC device, real-time monitoring, in-built DC Type II surge protection and AC surge protection. A DC switch is listed as optional.
Also worth noting is the design of the STS inverters which have a horizontal circuit, allowing for all of the heat-generating components to be evenly distributed towards the top of the unit. The manufacturer claims the design allows for heat to dissipate more effectively, delivering internal temperatures about 10°C lower than the inverters it has been measured against.
“This is obviously going to lead to longer life span of the components and better reliability,” Hall said, adding that the entire range of single and three-phase inverters will come with a full 12-year warranty as standard.
Hall said the Sunways inverters would cater for an identified segment of the Australian market with the quality of componentry and price making them attractive to many end users.
“They’re using best-in-class components which gives it high conversion efficiency and price wise, it’s going to be up against the more popular Chinese brands, your GoodWe, your Solis,” he said.
“It’s going to be sitting around that price point but we’ve done a lot of analysis and can see that the components and the quality of the Sunways inverter is going to be far superior. The Sunways inverters will be for those customers who are looking for a European, German inverter that is at quite a lower price point.”
While Hall would not reveal the price, he did say the price of a “5 kW single-phase inverter is less than half the price of a SMA inverter.”
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