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iStore Solar Inverter Review May 2024

iStore are an established Australian-owned and operated company headquartered in Perth. They work closely with manufacturing giants, to supply advanced solar inverters, batteries & heat pumps to the Aussie market.

With iStore’s Head-Office & Support team based here in Perth, Positive Energy has a strong relationship with the team. We rate iStore products as one of the leaders in the solar industry as well as their reliability & support.

In this 3-part Series, we’ll take a close look at each iStore product and explain what exactly sets these products apart from others.

iStore Solar Battery review coming soon.

First, the iStore Hybrid inverter…

Introducing the iStore Hybrid inverter

To those who say, “It’s just a rebadged Huawei”, we say GREAT!

Of course, Huawei has a reputation as a leader in communication & mobile technology. Less well known is that the company is also a global powerhouse when it comes to solar technology. In fact, Huawei has ranked #1 in solar inverter shipments for 8 consecutive years. They currently boast a whopping 29% global market share!

Benefiting from Huawei’s decades of experience and $billions invested in R&D, the new iStore inverters come with:

  • Proven reliability
  • An impressive range of features
  • Competitive price
  • Local warranty & tech support based right here in Perth. 

For Positive Energy, the iStore Hybrid inverter ticks all the boxes.

Battery-Ready Hybrid

Installing battery storage? Or plan to install a battery in the not-too-distant future? If yes, we recommend choosing a ‘Hybrid’ inverter model allowing a ‘DC-Coupled’ battery.

A non-hybrid solar inverter will still allow you to add a battery in the future. However, a non-hybrid inverter will limit your battery storage choice to an ‘AC-coupled’ battery only.

See below infographic to understand the Pros & Cons of AC-coupled vs DC-coupled batteries. This demonstrates why we recommend choosing a Hybrid inverter.

AC-DC-Coupled-Batteries-Desktop
AC-DC-Coupled-Batteries

Up to 250% ‘Supersizing’

Without a battery, solar installation standards do not allow more than 133% oversizing. Hence why 6.6kW and 13.3kW systems are often sold with 5kW and 10kW inverters.

This rule is in place to prevent too much ‘clipping’ at the inverters max AC output. 

Supersizing-Solar
Supersizing-Solar-Desktop

However, as the above graphic shows, the iStore Hybrid inverter can minimise energy lost to clipping, thanks to its ability to output AC + DC power simultaneously. This allows up to 250% oversizing!

For example, the 5kW iStore Hybrid inverter can allow 5kW max AC output + simultaneous 5kW max DC output. The inverter can then be ‘Supersized’ with up to 12.5kW of solar panels.

‘Supersizing’ is particularly useful here in WA for single-phase homes with Western Power’s 5kW inverter capacity limit. Just ask West Coast Eagles legend, Dom Sheed who recently installed this exact solar and battery system.

Dom-Sheed

With shockingly high electricity bills, Dom needed a large system to power his single-phase home in Kensington. But with high day-time usage, and AC power output limited to 5kW, how was he going to have enough excess solar power to charge a large solar battery…?

The iStore Hybrid inverter + iStore Solar Battery was the perfect solution. With 10kW of Sunpower solar panels on the 5kW iStore Hybrid inverter, here is Dom’s system sending max DC power to charge the 15kWh iStore Solar Battery, while still covering his home AC loads.

iStore Home app (real-time)

AI-Powered Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI)

With regards to safety, iStore solar systems integrate industry-leading safety features. One of those features being AI-powered Arc Fault detection & prevention.

The danger of DC arcing looms where solar panel junction boxes are poorly welded. Also, if cables are damaged or worn, or if connectors are loose or of poor quality. This can result in sustained electrical arcing with temperatures reaching over 3,000 degrees Celsius!

Arcing

Rest assured, iStore Hybrid inverters offer unparalleled safety with AI-powered Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) technology. This solution swiftly shuts down the system in less than 0.5 seconds upon detecting an arc threat.

Not all AFCI technology is equal.

Detecting DC arcing poses a challenge because of arc noise being typically faint. It can often represent as little as 0.1% of the normal current signal. Consequently, many competitors AFCI algorithms have detection accuracy of only 50 – 60%.

In comparison, the iStore AI-powered AFCI technology has leveraged vast amounts of data and machine-learning from Huawei’s global network of inverters. The result: Arc fault detection accuracy of 99.9% within milliseconds.

Optional Panel Optimisation

With optional iStore Power Optimisers, a number of added benefits can be achieved.

Panel-Level Optimisation – Paired with iStore Power Optimisers, each solar panel works independently, unaffected by lower-performing panels within the system. The Optimisers can be fully deployed across the entire system, or selectively-deployed on just the shaded panels; thus minimising extra costs & components.

Flexible Design / Increased Installation Capacity – Power Optimisers connected enable the installation of solar panels across multiple orientations and inclinations, increasing installation capacity and design flexibility. This enables the installation of more solar panels, resulting in higher yields and savings.

Panel-Level Monitoring – When fully deployed, view the power generation status of each solar panel in real-time. Precisely identify the location of any faulty panels or arc detections; reducing onsite troubleshooting time by an impressive 80%

Rapid Shutdown – In any emergency, the inverter can be shut down, triggering the Power Optimisers to also shut down each solar panel. This clears the risk of high-voltage DC between the solar panels & inverter. This will keep firefighters and maintenance workers safe when working on the roof.

Not all Power Optimisers are equal

Some other brands of Power Optimisers work by continuously decreasing & increasing (“bucking & boosting”) the panel voltage. This causes long-term stress on the componentry, increasing the risk of optimiser failure.

In comparison, the iStore Power Optimisers only buck the voltage of poorer performing panels to increase the current of the higher performing panels. The iStore Hybrid inverter then boosts the string voltage as appropriate.

Basically, this means simplicity, less long-term stress on componentry, and higher reliability.

Multi-Peak MPPT Scanning

Of course, in an ideal world, rooftop solar PV systems should be as unshaded as possible all year round. However, in the real-world, shade happens. 

Fortunately, solar panels can still be installed on partially shaded roofs with losses minimised thanks to intelligent shade management MPPT algorithms integrated into some inverters.

These shade management algorithms go by different names depending on the manufacturer.

Fronius – “Dynamic Peak Manager”
SMA – “Shade Fix”
Sungrow – “Global MPPT Scanning”

iStore call their solution, “Multi-Peak MPPT Scanning”.

By enabling this feature, the iStore Hybrid inverter will scan the entire Power-Voltage curve to find the true Maximum Power Point, rather than stopping the scan at the first false peak it comes across.

MPPT Tracking

Recent tests & studies have shown that with intelligent shade management enabled, losses from partial shading can be minimised almost as effectively as using Power Optimisers or Microinverters (but without the extra costs & components)

10 + 2 Year iStore Warranty

At the Global Compliance & Testing Centre, the iStore Solar Hybrid inverters have undergone some of the most rigorous testing you can imagine. Check out this video showing just how extreme those tests are.

Here in Australia, the product is tried & tested with over 35,000 units installed across the country and a demonstrated failure rate of less than 0.4%.

With such impressive reliability, iStore solar are backing their inverters with a 10-year warranty, plus FREE 2-year warranty extension!

iStore Home App

Like most inverters, the iStore Hybrid inverter has built-in WiFi and an online monitoring platform & mobile app. Combined with the iStore Smart Meter, this provides real-time monitoring of:

  • Solar production 
  • Home power consumption
  • Battery charging, discharging & state-of-charge (SOC)
  • Grid import & exports
iStore-Home-App

Coming soon…

With iStore’s product range including the popular iStore Heat Pump, and soon-to-be-released Smart EV Charger. We are excited to hear that iStore is working on integrating these products into the iStore Home monitoring platform. This integration will allow users to easily monitor and control these new products through the iStore Home platform.

iStore Cyber Security

The iStore monitoring platform & mobile app has been built from the ground up by iStore’s independent software partner, Univers. They have an impressive portfolio of clients including Microsoft, Starbucks and HSBC.

Security by design rules are applied at every stage of the ongoing iStore Home software development to ensure code vulnerabilities are fixed. Supply chain risks are visible through the use of industry-leading software tools, and engaging with third-party Penetration Testing providers to ensure the security robustness of the iStore Home platform.

Additionally, servers are external to China, and instead in jurisdictions subject to EU Penetration Testing Standards which are the strictest in the world.

What is Penetration Testing?

Penetration Testing is a security exercise where independent ‘ethical hackers’ attempt to find and exploit vulnerabilities in a company’s infrastructure. The purpose of this simulated attack is to identify weak spots so that security measures can be tightened even further.

Certifications held by Univers

iStore-Cyber-Security

Data security was one of the biggest criticisms of Huawei products. It’s great to see that iStore have turned it into one of their strengths 💪

Conclusion

The iStore Hybrid inverter: We like it. We like it a lot.

Watch this space for our upcoming review on the iStore Solar Battery.

If you would like to get a quote on the iStore range simply “Request Your Quote” below. 

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Give us a call today and one of our friendly and knowledgeable energy consultants will be able to assist you with your enquiry.

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