An ABB solar inverter: How the company charges through the alternative energy market

ABB solar inverter

ABB solar inverters – the main lines

If a solar plant works without a solar inverter, its job will not be beneficial for you. A photovoltaic plant makes direct current from sunlight, whereas our home appliances work on alternating current. In a nutshell, an ABB solar inverter will serve as a medium that will make it work correctly. So, this time around we are learning the current transformers made by the Switzerland manufacturer.

Before, we reviewed the other solar inverter manufacturer, namely SMA Solar Technology AG. More information on this manufacturer can be found in the next article:

ABB string solar inverters

ABB solar inverter - the PVI5000

ABB makes this line of solar inverters for small-to-medium PV plants. In other words, if you build a petite station for a small house, or if your company requires a medium solar inverter, then choose a device from this line. You have two standard options – buy a single- or three-phase unit.

Single-phase string inverters from ABB join four devices. More specifically, you can get:

  • The PVI-3.0/3.6/4.2 inverter;
  • The PVI 5000/6000 inverter;
  • The UNO 2.0/2.5 inverter;
  • The UNO 2.0/3.0/3.6/4.2 TL inverter.

ABB has designed these PV inverters for the residential installation. In return, the three-phase inverters are generally much more powerful, and they suit better the commercial use. Pay attention to the numbers–they tell the actual output. For example, the PVI 5000 inverter provides up to 5kW, while the UNO 2.0 will not produce more than 2kW. Let’s learn more about the PVI 5000. It is the second-biggest single-phase unit featured with a standard RS485 interface to ensure fast and reliable communication between you and the unit. The PVI 5000 doesn’t have any integrated cooling system, but it sports a natural cooling solution. The device is not heavy–it weighs only 26kg. What impressed us most is the fact that you can install it at 2000m altitude, just like any other string inverter for commercial use. The hermetically sealed housing has the IP65 badge, which is good.

Three-phase PV inverters from ABB consist of four devices too. Here they are:

  • The PRO 33.0 inverter;
  • The PVI 10.0 and 12.5;
  • The Trio 20.0 and 27.6;
  • The Trio 5.8, 7.5, and 8.5.

The most powerful three-phase string inverter from ABB is the PRO-33.0-TL-OUTD. It can handle up to 1100V of input DC. The PRO-33.0 has an enhanced sealed housing with the IP65 marking. This also means the device can work at 2000m above sea level. This inverter is very compact (740 x 520 x 300mm), although it is a bit chunky: The standard version weighs 66kg. The effective output is 98.3%.

ABB central inverters

ABB central inverter - PVI-400.0-TL

ABB central inverters is the next step in performance. Consequently, such devices are not meant to be used on a small solar plant. Otherwise, an industrial medium-scale company will greatly benefit from using an ABB central inverter. The company presents a set of four models, which are:

  • The PVS800-57 utility-scale inverter;
  • The Plus series;
  • The Ultra series;
  • The PVS980 central inverter.

The utility-scale inverters count seven devices with 100 up to 1000W. The Plus series includes 11 models, namely the PVI-134.0, 200.0, 267.0, etc. Again, you need to pay attention to the number to know the output in kW. The Ultra line counts only three models with 700, 1050 and 1400kW output. Let’s get some details about the Plus PVI central inverters. They support up to 1000V of input voltage. ABB provides these inverters with 98% of peak performance, and that is without a transformer. For communication, ABB has added a couple of RS485 ports. Each device in the series use a Class II varistor for protection against overvoltage. The IP protection is rather low–IP20 means “no protection against water ingress”. At the same time, the Plus inverters will work fine with humidity levels 0…95% and temperatures from -10 up to +60°C. The devices will emit around 60dB of noise. Another interesting device is the PVS980 inverter. One of the main characteristics of it is an efficient cooling system that is based on the ABB ACS800-38. The air from outside will not enter into any important compartment of the inverter. If compared with the PVI inverter, this one will be ahead thanks to the IP65 and capability to work in any environment with up to 100% humidity level.

ABB complete systems

ABB turnkey station - Ultra-MVC-S

An ABB full-stack solar inverter, or, in other words, turnkey stations, is the most advanced device provided by the company. These are very efficient and very powerful inverters that will suit only a huge plant with megawatts of output power. The company makes another set of four turnkey stations, which are:

  • The PVS800-IS inverter;
  • The PVS800-MWS inverter;
  • The Ultra-MVC-S inverter;
  • The PVS800-MVH inverter.

The lowest output you can get with a station from this series is 770kW, while the max value is 3.1MW. The Ultra-MVC-S is the top turnkey station from ABB. We hardly need mention that this device is the most productive and environment-tolerant. You can install the device in a desert with high temperatures, or at the beach with a saline environment, and get the best output in any case. The device is supplied with IP43 as standard, but ABB can offer even higher protection–IP54 upon request.

Bottom line

Any ABB solar inverter for photovoltaic stations will be the top device. Even a cursory observation of ABB inverters’ characteristics proves this point. We must tell that we are impressed with the devices. There are however some issues. For instance, a higher protection level of some models would be even better. Another issue is that getting a certain inverter model may be difficult in your country. At last, some SMA solar inverters are a bit cheaper than their ABB challengers. In any case, you have a great choice, which is always good.


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