In late 2019, the solar industry’s major pain points included a lack of integration for solar energy storage and utility companies converting to Time-of-Use (TOU) rates. Solar inverter manufacturers have felt these pain points and responded. In June 2020, SolarEdge released the newest edition of their product line, Energy Hub Inverter with Prism Technology. The Energy Hub, as we’ll call it, is an energy-backup inverter that functions similar to a conventional string inverter but is battery-compatible. This means that the user can save unused solar energy during the day for later (i.e., the nighttime). Without energy storage, solar energy goes to waste if it’s unused at the time of production - the energy either gets sent back to the grid where the user may get little to no credits.
What is the Energy Hub with Prism Technology capable of?
~The Energy Hub is available in 3, 3.8, 6, and 7.6 kW AC units.
~ The SolarEdge Energy Hub is a grid-tied single-phase inverter, which means that it’s intended for residential homes and is not meant for going completely off-grid.
~ It’s DC-Coupled, so the panels tie directly into the inverter. You won’t be able to convert your existing (non-battery) setup into an energy-backup system using the Energy Hub, which would be considered an AC-coupled solution.
~ This inverter is capable of full or partial home backup. With each inverter capable of handling up to 19.6 kWh of battery storage, these inverters can backup major energy-consuming home appliances.
~ These inverters are stackable, meaning that you have multiplied Energy Hubs working and communicating together in a single system, increasing your power output
~ 90.8% efficiency with battery
~ Capable of connecting directly to a SolarEdge Smart EV Charger
Ease of Installation
This inverter is relatively easy to install. For most solar PV systems with battery storage, a charge controller, battery inverter, and a load center (to bring all of the wiring into) are typically required for a cohesive system. Due to the number of components, installing a PV system with battery backup can be cumbersome depending on the equipment used.
However, with the Energy Hub, the charge controller and load center are integrated into the inverter, making fewer components and a much easier install. Also, the wire box comes with punch-out slots for conduit. The ability to consolidate the wiring to a single location at the inverter adds a significant convenience to installation compared to most conventional energy storage systems of the past. See below for a depiction of where the wire box -in the energy hub.
The backup-side of the installation is also a simple setup and eliminates the need to purchase a manual or automatic transfer switch and deal with its system integration. The Energy Hub is sold in conjunction with their Backup Interface, which centralizes the Energy Hub’s backup function simply. The Backup Interface connects directly to the grid and backup-up loads and automatically switches to only supplying the backup loads in a grid outage. The backup interface also connects directly to a generator if necessary. See below for a depiction of how the Backup Interface interacts with other parts of the system.
The Backup Interface is conveniently pre-configured to automatically start communicating with the inverter once connected with no complicated programming or wiring required. Once connected, the user must enable the backup feature via the SetApp application, SolarEdge’s application for monitoring and programming settings for their inverters.
The Bad Side
There aren’t many things that one would consider “bad” about this inverter. However, the limitations caused by a lack of versatility might cause a buyer to choose an alternative hybrid inverter. As we see it, the major fallbacks of this inverter include that it:
It is not battery-agnostic. This inverter is only compatible with the high voltage LG Chem RESU10H battery. SolarEdge claims that a SolarEdge battery will be released within the near future.
Requires SolarEdge optimizers to work in conjunction with the inverter.
While it is easy to appreciate the high level of integration of this inverter and components, the proprietary standard of SolarEdge, and this product in particular, greatly limits the level of customizability to the system using 3rd-party products. Being restricted to a single battery type can be expensive and unreasonable when there are so many comparable batteries to the LG Chem RESU10, but are 48V, in various kWh sizes that have a far wider range than that of LG’s offerings, and are less expensive. With this system, if the battery goes bad, you’ll be limited to getting service from LG only, and the only option for replacement is with the same battery type from LG.
Arguably, a “trademark” limitation of SolarEdge inverters is that they all require SolarEdge optimizers to work in conjunction with them. Without them, the inverter won’t work correctly. This is nothing new, but it’s essential to be reminded that optimizers are not always necessary. Even if you need optimizers, many optimizers in the market perform the same function as SolarEdge optimizers at a comparable or lesser price, except they won’t work SolarEdge’s inverters, or at least they are not supposed to.
Lastly, the fact that the Energy Hub is not AC-couplable is not a huge fallback, but it limits individuals’ demographic to only those who don’t have an existing PV system. The Energy Hub cannot be integrated with an existing system to make it storage-capable. In this case, the owner of an existing system must replace their current inverter with the Energy Hub along with any associated equipment (i.e., AC disconnect, wiring, combiner boxes, etc.) to make it storage-capable.
To Wrap it Up
The SolarEdge Energy Energy Hub with Prism Technology fills the void of highly-integrated energy storage applications for SolarEdge products. Its simple DC-coupled grid-tied setup makes it a highly competitive hybrid inverter in today’s market. This inverter meets the needs of households of all different types and is available in a wide range of kW sizes. Unfortunately, SolarEdge products are proprietary and only work with each other, which is a costly consequence of its wide product integration. This inverter is an excellent choice if you’re new to solar PV and want to start with a simple yet high-performance system.