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SMA America - Profile & Reviews

As a leading global specialist in photovoltaic system technology, SMA is setting the standards today for the decentralized and renewable energy supply of tomorrow. SMA’s multi-award-winning technology is protected by more than 1,500 patents worldwide and supported by 15 GW production capacity. SMA is diversified across all market segments: residential, commercial, utility, and hybrid energy (off-grid/storage).

3 reviews

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  • "Design flaws and poor customer service"

    Reviewed
    Updated
    "Design flaws and poor customer service"

    Reviewed May 01, 2021
    Updated Jun 16, 2021

    I am a DIY installer, but I have a Master's degree in Chemical Engineering and my focus was solar cell fabrication and testing. One of my SMA inverters failed within the first sixth months and was replaced under warranty, but it would not feed in when it arrived. The root cause was a design flaw in the DC-operated rooftop communication kit that runs the power optimizers. If, at any point and for any reason, the inverter goes into rapid shutdown mode, it waits after a reset to sense voltage from the panels before it feeds in. However, the V2 TS4 Optimizer from SMA reduces the voltage from each panel to exactly 0, so no voltage can ever be sensed. Since the rooftop communication kit is DC-operated, when the inverter goes into rapid shutdown, the panels wait to receive a signal from the inverter, but the inverter waits to sense voltage from the panels. The only way to power the inverter on after a rapid shutdown is to supply 125V DC power, which means dismantling a whole string of your array, removing the optimizers, reconnecting everything, powering on, then reversing that process to get back to operational status. It took a full year to troubleshoot my system, mainly because their technical support is exceptionally poor. Worse than Comcast, and worse than any industrial partner I've ever worked with. Hold times are routinely more than an hour, and it can be an hour each time you are escalated from a Tier 1 to 2, or 2 to 3 technician. And if you don't solve your problem that day, you have to start over the next day with a Tier 1 technician. Do not, under any circumstances, purchase an SMA inverter. This is the abbreviated version of this story.

    I'm not sure how to respond to the comment from Alexandra from SMA, so I've edited my original posting with a response. The Rooftop Comms Kit comes with a GIB board that plugs directly into the communication board of the inverter, which is DC powered. You're thinking of the Cloud Connect Advanced, which is wired to the AC side. Both kits provide rapid shutdown, but only one of them prevents the described scenario. My system is code compliant.

    I would really like to reach out to your Service Manager to help resolve this issue, it's my nature as an engineer to want to help, but I'm too afraid to do so. Your company appears to be more interested in proving that my system is not code compliant than it is to do troubleshooting or engineering work together. I simply cannot afford a legal battle over my solar system, no matter how much of an outside chance that may be.

    You are welcome to reach out to your reliability folks and have them try to replicate the above scenario, though. I have SB3.8-1SP-US-40 inverters, SMA TS4-R-O V2 optimizers, and I used to have SMA Rooftop Communications Kit P2s. Have them hook up a system with this hardware and some panels, then trigger a rapid shutdown and you'll see that you can't get it to come back online. That's how I discovered the problem. The inverters I got had an older version of the firmware that would detect many spurious arc faults, which of course result in rapid shutdown.

    So, to be clear, if I turned the system off and then back on again, it would usually come back, but if I triggered a rapid shutdown, it could get stuck. I never could pinpoint an exact series of actions that would result in it getting stuck - there were several ways that it would happen - otherwise I would write it here. The new inverter that I got on warranty was stuck from day one. It wouldn't feed in until I switched from the Rooftop Comms Kit to the CCA. Let me know how it goes!

    Alexandra Alejandro
    Supplier
    Response from SMA America
    Responded May 24, 2021
    Response from SMA America
    Responded May 24, 2021

    Hello @pinkard_manaus!

    We’d like to better understand the specifics of your issue. It appears your system may be installed incorrectly. The Rooftop Comms Kit should be AC powered. This enables the home’s main panel or the AC disconnect to work as the rapid shutdown initiator and prevents the described scenario. The installation manual prohibits powering the Comms Kit from the DC side. In addition to the performance issues you noted, it will render the system non-compliant with electrical code.

    As you noted, our Contact Center operates on a tiered system. You may have experienced longer wait times because our service personnel are required to handle calls with electrically licensed and qualified installers before consumer requests. Please reach to our Service Manager at Jenna.Denzin@sma-america.com and we can assist further.

  • "The best inverter"

    Reviewed Jun 24, 2020

    SMA offers the best inverter on the market. I decided to go with their inverter due to their german facility and long-term exprience since 1980s.

  • "A veteran solar installer's take on SMA"

    Reviewed May 08, 2017

    SMA is the Mercedes of solar inverters, however its prices are very competitive. I have been installing solar for more than 15 years, and SMA has been around ever longer than I have. For systems that are supposed to work for 20 years, their many years of product engineering gives me confidence in their long term operations. While the technical support for SMA could be better, anytime we have had an inverter fail, they sent us the replacement inverter immediately. These inverters are well design, easy to work with and very robust. Of the Tier 1 manufacturers, they are also the most economic.

    4 people found this helpful

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With more than 40 years of experience and over 100 gigawatts installed worldwide, SMA represents the industry’s safest, most stable PV inverter and related technology supplier. Since 1981, SMA has been developing innovative solar technology that makes the installation, operation, and maintenance of photovoltaic power plants simpler, more reliable, safer and more cost effective. SMA is the only inverter company with proven performance history longer than its warranty. Our award-winning technology includes several Intersolar Awards and the IHS Markit #1 Inverter Ranking for 10 years in a row.

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SMA America Headquarters

6020 West Oaks Blvd, Ste 300
Rocklin, CA
95765 United States

Workmanship Warranty

10 year standard warranty with optional extensions to 15 and 20 years

Affiliations

California Solar Energy Industries Association
Smart Electric Power Alliance
Sunspec Alliance
South Carolina Clean Energy Business Alliance

Certifications

SMA is one of only a handful of manufacturers allowed to perform the inverter approval tests ourselves for the strict American-based Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

States served by SMA America

  • Alabama AL ,
  • Alaska AK ,
  • Arizona AZ ,
  • Arkansas AR ,
  • California CA ,
  • Colorado CO ,
  • Connecticut CT ,
  • Delaware DE ,
  • District of Columbia DC ,
  • Florida FL ,
  • Georgia GA ,
  • Hawaii HI ,
  • Idaho ID ,
  • Illinois IL ,
  • Indiana IN ,
  • Iowa IA ,
  • Kansas KS ,
  • Kentucky KY ,
  • Louisiana LA ,
  • Maine ME ,
  • Maryland MD ,
  • Massachusetts MA ,
  • Michigan MI ,
  • Minnesota MN ,
  • Mississippi MS ,
  • Missouri MO ,
  • Montana MT ,
  • Nebraska NE ,
  • Nevada NV ,
  • New Hampshire NH ,
  • New Jersey NJ ,
  • New Mexico NM ,
  • New York NY ,
  • North Carolina NC ,
  • North Dakota ND ,
  • Ohio OH ,
  • Oklahoma OK ,
  • Oregon OR ,
  • Pennsylvania PA ,
  • Rhode Island RI ,
  • South Carolina SC ,
  • South Dakota SD ,
  • Tennessee TN ,
  • Texas TX ,
  • Utah UT ,
  • Vermont VT ,
  • Virginia VA ,
  • Washington WA ,
  • West Virginia WV ,
  • Wisconsin WI ,
  • Wyoming WY ,
  • Puerto Rico PR