Afore Solar Inverter Review
Afore are cheap Chinese inverters. If you are looking for something as reliable as SMA or Fronius – you got the wrong article. However, if you are considering choosing between Afore and other Chinese brands of cheap inverters, there are several important reasons to choose the brand from Shanghai.
What is Afore?
The Afore New Energy Technology is a Chinese string inverter manufacturer based in Shanghai. The company was established in 2010. They have expanded their influence to many foreign markets, including the Philippines.
In my reviews, when I talk about reliability, I mean resistance to the passage of time and troublesome conditions. The main parameter here is the warranty period.
1. Factory warranty: The customer receives a standard 10-year warranty on operation. This warranty can be extended to 15 years for a fee. The fact that the warranty can be extended to 15 years is a plus because it proves that the manufacturer is confident that nothing serious should happen until the 15th year. Even if something did happen, the repair would not be too expensive.
There is a belief in the industry that both excellent and premium inverters will experience failures after approximately 15 years of operation, with the former not being cost-effective to repair and the latter being. That’s why, for example, SMA, Delta, and Fronius offer warranty extensions of up to 20 years. Looking at it this way, Afore is not premium but qualifies as a good mid-range inverter.
However, the standard warranty is only five years from the date of delivery and a maximum of 5 and a half years from the production date.
The IP 65 protection rating means that these inverters can be installed outdoors. However, according to the instructions, they should not be exposed to direct sunlight, snow, or rain.
To sum up, the Afore inverter should last for 14-16 years. After this time, you will probably have to buy a new one, because repairing it will no longer be profitable.
Here, I look at how efficiently inverters convert electricity from the installation into electricity in the socket. In general, performance depends primarily on efficiency, but I also consider other things, such as the tendency to reset without reason – if such data is available.
Afore offers the SmartMeter controller as an optional device to be installed between the inverter, home installation, and grid. It is supposed to measure the power delivered and received from the grid and send this data to the inverter.
Additionally, the controller is supposed to ensure that power is not sent to the utility grid unnecessarily, but I don’t fully understand how that works.
A reliable manufacturer will help your installer repair the inverter and fulfill warranty obligations, which will not require knowing Chinese or sending the inverter to the other side of the world. Does Afore meet these requirements?
In 2014, they produced inverters annually with a nominal power of 1GW. It’s a lot. They have many foreign offices in Ukraine, the Netherlands, the UK, Brazil, Mexico, India, Sri Lanka, Japan and Australia.
As you can see, the prices are meager. So if low cost is your priority, Afore is one of the better options. Generally, however, I recommend investing in something premium. On the other hand, we have no physical reasons to doubt the quality of Afore inverters, and the low price is not a sin.
A photovoltaic installation may pose a fire hazard in two ways: it may cause ignition, and if the cause of ignition is something else, it may intensify the fire and make firefighting more difficult.
Remember that the best protection against fire is proper installation.
How does Afore protect against installation ignition?
SolaX inverters have ground fault detection systems, integrated DC breakers, and similar protections. How does Afore protect against the spread of fire and facilitate firefighting? Such protection requires the purchase of additional devices.
Afore Inverter Review
Let’s discuss the individual models available.
1. Single-phase afore – HNS1000TL-1 / HNS1500TL-1 / HNS2000TL-1 / HNS2500TL-1 / HNS3000TL-1
A small single-phase inverter with one MPPT is sufficient for small installations. Made of aluminum, which makes it very light. AC power ranges from 1 to 3 kW—IP 65. Efficiency reaches 97.56%. The inductor is placed outside, which lowers the temperature inside the inverter.
2. Single-phase inverter HNS3000TL / HNS3600TL
An exciting proposition for a single-phase inverter – despite its low power, it has two independent MPPTs. This makes it an irreplaceable solution for small east-west installations and a good option in every situation. Convection-cooled and made of aluminum, it is quiet and light.
3. Afore BNT003KTL / BNT004KTL / BNT005 KTL / BNT006KTL three-phase inverter
Three-phase inverters with two MPPTs and weighted efficiency up to 98%. The inductor is placed outside, which lowers the temperature inside the device. Convection cooling is standard, making the inverter quiet, but installing an external fan to cool primarily the inductor is also possible.
4. Afore BNT008KTL / BNT010KTL three-phase inverter
Three-phase inverters with two MPPTs to which two rows of photovoltaic panels can be connected. Similarly to single-phase inverters, the inductor is placed outside, which reduces the temperature inside, but here, an external fan can also be installed. IP65 and weighted efficiency 98.10%.
5. Afore BNT025KTL / BNT030KTL three-phase inverter
BNT025KTL and BNT030KTL inverters have 3 MPPT each, and up to 6 strings of photovoltaic modules can be connected to them. IP65. Weighted efficiency 98.10%.
6. Afore BNT036KTL / BNT040KTL
Even though the lower power inverters had 3 MPPT each, here again, we only have 2, which is a pity considering this size. IP65. Weighted efficiency up to 98.25%.
7. Afore BNT050KTL / BNT060KTL
Large grid inverters for photovoltaic farms. 3 MPPT can support up to 12 ranks at most. The European efficiency is 98.50, according to the manufacturer’s data sheet—a budget option for large installations.