A global survey conducted by IMS Research has found that an increasing number of PV inverter customers consider Chinese inverters to be of acceptable quality.
Of the more than 400 customers contacted during the survey last December, nearly 30% said that they trusted Chinese brands. Western suppliers still remain more popular however, with SMA Solar Technology's products being considered the most popular, according to IMS Research's report.
The survey also found that the respondents – who included installers, distributors and wholesalers – wanted inverters with improved reliability, functionality and yields.
Despite this demand for better quality products, most customers also expected inverter prices to drop by 20-30% over the next three years.
“Nearly half of all customers said that they determined their inverter price based on their overall system budget,” commented report co-author and market analyst Cormac Gilligan. “With module and system prices falling rapidly, this inherently puts more pressure on inverter prices to fall too”.
In contrast to this however, more than half of the respondents said that they were prepared to pay more for an increase in yield of 1%.
Buyers of string inverters said that increases in the number of MPPT channels and the width of the MPP range were of most importance to them, while those that bought central inverters called for improved system monitoring and fault detection.
The survey also identified several interesting trends in PV technologies. Over 10% of customers said that they were planning to use microinverters in projects over the next one to two years, while a similar proportion indicated that they wanted to begin using DC-DC power optimizers.
String inverters also remain popular, with more than 30% of customers planning to use them for megawatt-scale projects, and over 70% considering them for smaller installations.
The full report on the survey, “PV Inverter Customer Opinions & Requirements”, can be accessed here.