The best solar inverter combines clean sine waves, appropriately sized voltage output, and remote functionality to meet your needs.
A solar inverter that’s too small and connected to too many solar panels is a recipe for disaster. A solar inverter that’s too big and connected to insufficient solar panels isn’t ideal. The objective is to find a solar inverter that’s just the right size for your current needs, plus a little room for an additional solar panel or two down the road.
Solar inverters typically fall into categories of home use, recreational vehicle (RV), off-grid, backup power supply, or boating use. There’s a gigantic overlap in inverter sizes for each use case, so we’ll look at small, medium, and large-sized solar inverters.
After looking at many different solar inverter configurations (and installing one!), here’s our ranking for the best solar inverters today.
- Best Overall: Victron Energy Inverter Phoenix 12V 1200VA 120V Pure Sine Wave Inverter
- Best for Small Appliances: Victron Energy Phoenix 12V 250VA 120V Pure Sine Wave Inverter
- Best for Medium-Sized Appliances: Reliable 2000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter
- Best for Large Electronics: Renogy 3000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter
- Best for 24V Battery Banks: 3000W Solar Inverter Charger 24V to 120V
#1 Best Overall: Victron Energy Inverter Phoenix 12V 1200VA 120V Pure Sine Wave Inverter
The Victron Energy Inverter Phoenix 12V 1200VA 120V Pure Sine Wave Inverter powers your domestic equipment with ease and few performance issues, if any.
The inverter falls into the “mid-sized” category for the inverter power output. This inverter is used to power your household items like laptops, Wi-Fi hotspots, USB fans, and various rechargeable devices. We can (but don’t) use the inverter to power our Keurig coffee pot. However, the inverter isn’t large enough, or wired, to run slightly larger appliances like our microwave (1300W) or air conditioning.
The only real downside is the single 120V output. You’ll need to plug the 120V output into a transfer switch and then hard wire separate electrical plugs, or you’ll need to run a power strip from the inverter to a convenient location. If this is an issue for you, you may have to hardwire the inverter and add new receptacles.
We recommend performing an energy audit to calculate your needed power and select an inverter based on that value.
|The inverter is easy to activate with the cell phone application via Bluetooth.||The single 120V output requires an additional transfer switch, an electrical outlet, or a power strip.|
|The mounting brackets are solid and the inverter is easily secured.||It’s easy to forget that the inverter is active unless you pay close attention to the cell phone application or look at the power indicator.|
|A five-year warranty is included with the purchase.||The Bluetooth option requires a dongle purchase.|
|The positive and negative terminals are very close to each other and require a bit of wire wiggling to force the wire in.|
Check out the Victron Energy Inverter Phoenix 12V 1200VA 120V Pure Sine Wave Inverter on Amazon.
Best for Small Appliances: Victron Energy Phoenix 12V 250VA 120V Pure Sine Wave Inverter
- Battery powered
- 12 volts
- Dimensions: 10.2 x 6.5 x 3.4 inches
- Short-circuit proof and protected from overheating
The Victron Energy Phoenix 12V 250VA 120V Pure Sine Wave Inverter is our selection for the best inverter for small electronics.
An inverter with a smaller capacity is a good option for users with smaller solar battery banks (like a single battery) and a single solar panel. Think about powering a bank of LEDs strung along a house, recharging a laptop, or powering small electronics in a boat or RV. The smaller size equates to less simultaneous charging.
A plug-in power meter is your best friend when calculating your power consumption.
You must determine your energy needs before purchasing. You’ll have much less “wiggle room,” and the inverter will error out if you overload the circuit with too many devices. A smaller inverter gives you zero room to upgrade if your electrical consumption needs (new TV, another laptop, a fan, a coffee pot, etc.) increase. A smaller inverter is connected to smaller battery banks, solar charge controllers, fuses, and smaller (voltage) solar panels.
|The small output is perfect for small electronics.||The single 120V output requires an additional transfer switch, an electrical outlet, or a power strip.|
|The inverters’ small size (stature) is perfect for tucking behind or beneath appliances.||You will need to upgrade the inverter to a bigger model if you decide you need more electricity.|
|A five-year warranty is included with the purchase.||Too many devices will overload the inverter and it will shut down.|
Check out the Victron Energy Phoenix 12V 250VA 120V Pure Sine Wave Inverter on Amazon.
Best for Medium-Sized Appliances: Reliable 2000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter
- 4,000 watts
- Battery powered
- Dimensions: 15.35 x 9.06 x 3.54 inches
- 12V 120V 60Hz
The Reliable 2000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter is our choice for medium-sized electronics as it provides 2000W of continuous power combined with 4000W surge capability.
If you have a coffee pot that requires 1,300W, it generally uses the 1,300W only at startup and then the power requirements decrease to a few hundred Watts. The same is true with appliances more significant than a coffee pot.
A medium-sized inverter (coupled with a much larger battery bank and solar hardware) can run both smaller and medium-sized electronics like a refrigerator, freezer, television, Starlink, etc. Keep in mind that as your energy consumption increases, so too does the size of the overall solar system. (
Note: Somewhere buried in your energy consumption calculations is an answer about whether using a gas or diesel power generator or a solar-powered configuration is more cost-effective in your use case scenario.
A 2000W inverter is approaching the ability level needed for off-grid living (if you want to power more than a cell phone) or as a backup for power outages when connected to the grid.
|The inverter is very cost-effective, considering its 2000W rating.||The inverter includes 5AWG cables for wiring into the batteries.|
|Multiple power outlets allow two power strips, extension cords, or direct power to two devices.||You’ll need to purchase the heat shrink, heat gun, and a lug nut crimper.|
|A larger inverter allows you to use electronics that require more power, such as an Instapot, blender, refrigerator, or AC.||Two power outlets require twice the wires, transfer switches, and outlet boxes than a one-outlet inverter. If you’re planning to wire the inverter into a breaker box, you’ll need two open positions in the breaker box.|
Check out the Reliable 2000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter on Amazon.
Best for Large Electronics: Renogy 3000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter
- 12V to 120V AC converter
- For home, RV, truck, off-grid
- Built-in 5V/2.1A USB
- AC hardwire port
- Remote controller included
The Renogy 3000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter is our selection for the best inverter for larger electronics that require a large burst of power at startup.
The Renogy 3000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter can provide 3,000W continuous power and 9,000W peak output power. The higher peak output power is ideal for larger electronics with a high initial power draw, such as a washing machine, air conditioner, drill, water pump, compressor, or motor.
Is this inverter big enough for you? We recommend an honest appraisal of your energy consumption. The Renogy 3000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter is best suited to an off-grid, cabin, or home installation. You can’t wire the inverter in parallel with another inverter. If you’re thinking of daisy-chaining a string of inverters together, this is the wrong inverter for you.
As the inverter’s size increases, so does the need for larger gauge wires, lugs, breakers, MPPT, and additional batteries. We see little point in having a 3,000W inverter capable of powering a jackhammer if you only have enough battery to power the jackhammer for fifteen seconds. It’s widespread to have battery banks of ten to twenty batteries once you have a larger (3,000W+) inverter.
Uninterrupted power supply (UPS) is an excellent feature for off-grid applications requiring an inverter that automatically switches to the battery bank if the “shore” power is disconnected.
|An inverter with 3,000W continuous and 9,000W peak power opens the door to operating larger appliances.||The inverter doesn’t allow multiple inverter parallel connections.|
|The UPS is an excellent feature for remote cabins, boats, or RVs with refrigerators or freezers with perishable goods.||One power outlet equates to doing a little bit of electrical wiring if you have the skillset and knowledge.|
|The inverter has no Bluetooth connection. You’ll need to purchase a separate display panel or visually look at the inverter display.|
Check out the Renogy 3000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter on Amazon.
Best for 24V Battery Banks: 3000W Solar Inverter Charger 24V to 120V
- 24V to 120V
- 3,000W max
- PV input 4KW 450V
- Built-in 80A MPPT controller
- Fit for lead, acid, and lithium batteries
The 3000W Solar Inverter Charger 24V to 120V is a good choice for applications requiring higher energy levels, between 3,000W and 5,000W, and small off-grid sites.
A 24V inverter allows you to install more solar panels with higher ratings than a 12V inverter. The 24V inverter operates more efficiently than 12V but requires 24V batteries. 24V batteries are more expensive than 12V batteries. Since the 24V can carry higher voltages, the amps will be lower. Lower amps mean you can save a few bucks on lighter gauge wires and lugs.
|The inverter has a built-in MPPT. The MPPTs inclusion saves you a separate purchase.||The inverter cooling fans are loud, so consider placement before installation.|
|The maximum input power from solar panels is 4000W. This is enough power for a small house.||Functions as a back up power supply if shore power is disconnected. Automatically charges the batteries through shore power or solar.|
|Functions as a backup power supply if shore power is disconnected. Automatically charges the batteries through shore power or solar.||The built-in MPPT is a cost-saving feature, but you’ll need to install a different MPPT if you require higher capacity.|
Check out the 3000W Solar Inverter Charger 24V to 120V on Amazon.
How to Pick the Best Solar Inverter: Step-by-Step
- The entire solar package
- Use case scenario
- Power requirements
- Installation skill level
- Keeping it in the family
Let’s break down each one in detail below.
The Inverter is Part of a Bigger Solar Package
A solar inverter is one component of an entire “solar package.” You’ll need to consider the solar panels, solar charge controller (SCC), combiner box, wires, breakers, fuses, battery type, and solar inverter. Each piece of the solar hardware must be compatible with the other components.
The best time to select the best solar inverter is after you’ve built out (on paper) the rest of the solar package. If you consider the solar inverter a solo component, you may be quite unhappy with its performance.
Use Case Scenario
Selecting a solar inverter is based on how you’ll use the inverter. Smaller inverters (500W) require fewer batteries and solar panels and are less expensive. A smaller inverter might be great for charging cell phones, tablets, and small electronics.
Medium-sized inverters (around 1000W-2000W) require more batteries, solar panels, and costly hardware. A medium-sized inverter is a good choice for powering laptops, televisions, blenders, or coffee pots.
Large inverters (about 3000W) require even more batteries, solar panels, and hardware. A more extensive inverter system is typically geared towards home or off-grid power consumption. Many larger inverters operate at 24V or 48V instead of 12V. The increase in voltage allows the inverter to convert energy more efficiently, but the inverter will cost more than a 12V inverter.
Power Use Requirements
Determining your power use is a necessary step. If you underdesign your system, you will most likely find out, at an inopportune moment, that you need more power.
Use a plug-in power meter and create a list of how much energy you use from each device. Use the list to create a summary table of your electrical use. The summary table is your key to selecting the correct solar inverter. Select an inverter that has more capability than your power requirements.
- Plug-in socket meter
- Auto cost calculator
- Backlit large display
- Overload protection
- Kilowatt wattage voltage AMP tester
- Electricity usage electric energy monitor
Installation Skill Level
Only you can answer the question concerning your electrical installation skill level. If you plan to install the solar inverter yourself, you need a basic understanding of electronics — how to use a voltmeter, strip cables, crimp cable lugs, read a schematic, run electrical wires, and add electrical outlets.
When we drill down on the comments section of many online e-commerce sites, it’s hard to miss the customers frustrated by the lack of support. Many of the issues are related to “how to” topics. Can someone on the other end of the line (with the proper knowledge) help you when you get stuck?
Not all components are compatible with each other. Compatibility is key with battery banks, solar panels, and solar inverters.
All batteries in a battery bank need to be the same type. You can’t mix AGM, lead acid, lithium-ion, or nickel-cadmium batteries. Not all battery types are compatible with all kinds of solar inverters.
A solar array can contain panels of different wattage ratings, but we don’t recommend it. The overall power output of all the solar panels is based on the panel’s performance with the smallest voltage. You want to match the panel voltages within a few percentage points.
It’s nice to have easy access to the solar inverter. Even in the best-case scenario, you may need to power the inverter off or recycle power. Depending on how you wire the inverter, you may need to attach a power strip each time you use it. If you’ve buried the solar inverter in a closet or under the stairs, you may not be so happy with your site selection.
Some solar inverters include Bluetooth-compatible applications to allow configuration from your cell phone. Other solar inverters don’t have software applications, so you’ll handle software configuration on the device. It’s not a big deal if your solar inverter is mounted in an easily accessible location, but it’s not so easy if it’s mounted in a hard-to-reach place.
Keeping it in the Family
One of the things that we like about the Victron product line is the ability to connect the solar inverter, MPPT, and smart shunt through VictronConnect. The VictronConnect application connects to each device through Bluetooth.
Using a single source for all hardware allows for a single cell phone application to exchange data seamlessly. Clicking on any of the data points, like the VED, will open a separate window that only contains that particular device configuration and data set.
What to Know Before Buying a Solar Inverter
Before buying a solar inverter, you should have analyzed energy consumption. Seriously, don’t guess at what you might need. Do the math and determine precisely how much power you need.
Most solar companies say that they don’t have customers returning because the solar system was too big; they return because they want more capability. We like the idea of a 1.5x factor. Determine how much power you will consume, then multiply it by 1.5 to design your system.
Using a Solar Inverter: What It’s Like
Solar inverters allow you to convert energy stored in a bank of batteries from 12V, 24V, or 48V to 120V. Consumer electronics and appliances use 120V. Using a solar inverter is a quiet experience!
We grew accustomed to turning on our generator in our truck camper to have 120V. It’s deafening, and loose items inside the camper rattle all around. Using a solar inverter instead of the generator is blissfully silent. When the generator is turned off, the pots and pans aren’t rattling in the oven or vibrating on the kitchen table.
Activating the solar inverter through the cell phone application is as easy as toggling a switch from “off” to “on.” Instant power at each receptacle that’s wired into the inverter. (Choose your outlets with care!)
We installed our solar inverter underneath the oven. The site selection was heavily influenced by the available space rather than where we would prefer to place it. The choice has been relatively painless except for the occasional hardware reset that requires moving the stove to reach the inverter. In hindsight, given the space constraints, we’d do the same thing again.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©MDV Edwards/Shutterstock.com.