The Schneider Conext Inverter has grabbed my attention lately, so I put some time into reviewing it to see if it was worth adding to our range.
Schneider Electric is a huge multinational company. Their Queensland state office is down the road from my office on… Schneider road. Yep, they dominate. I’m most familiar Schneider circuit breakers both domestic and commercial, and their substation switch gear from my Energex days. They are also known for energy management solutions.
A few years ago, Schneider acquired Xantrex inverters, discontinued the Xantrex model and introduced the Context range to replace it. To the customers delight, when a Xantrex inverter fails under warranty, it is replaced with the new Schneider. This is where my experience of installing the Conext comes from, and it’s what intrigued me to dig a little deeper.
The good points
- Schneider will be around to honour their warranty.
- Its MPPT range is fairly flexible, giving the installer a decent range of options
- It has high current capacity giving greater design flexibility.
- It has a full 5000w nominal output so you can install 6.5kW of panel on it.
- It has wifi – important for monitoring.
- It’s cheaper than most European inverters
The Bad points
- Its upper voltage limit is a bit limiting for design.
- It’s Chinese built. While Chinese have mastered panel production, they are certainly not renowned for inverters.
- It’s only a 5-year warranty, others have ten (eg Fronius)
- It has heaps of neagative feedback. Because I’ve only installed a few Schnieder inverters (as Xantrax warranty replacements), I asked other installers their experience. Typical replies were: “It’s just another Chinese inverter” and “Reasonable, not impressive though”. One installer, who had installed many Schneider inverters over a 12 month period, said they are the worst inverter he had ever used. He elaborated with specifics and cleverly said: “they last 12 Months or until Summer – whichever comes first”.
While the a review of the specifications of the Schnieder Conext look good from an installer’s point of view, the street wisdom that tells installers to be wary of Chinese inverters has once again been proven correct. Schnieder inverters are not impressing the blokes who install them, and are not lasting test of time.