SolarMax has entered the U.S. market, hoping a reputation for ‘Swiss quality’ will open doors and hinting at possible U.S.-based manufacturing down the road.
The company says its MT A string inverter and 75TS A central inverter have successfully passed UL 1741 Standard and IEEE 1547 certification testing and are available for sale in the U.S. The announcement comes on the heels of the company opening its first U.S. office in Atlanta in May.
Alan Beale, general manager of SolarMax USA Inc., told Solar Industry the two units represent the company's strategy of addressing the high-end residential and low- to mid-size commercial solar power markets in the U.S. first and that other SolarMax products from the Switzerland-based parent, Sputnik Engineering AG, will be forthcoming.
‘There's lots of competition at the low-end residential market,’ Beale says, adding that more upscale installations seem a better bet. ‘We see lots of movement on the commercial rooftop in particular. Installations are easier to permit and easier to build. It's a sweet spot in the marketplace.’
Product-wise, SolarMax is offering inverters that it has successfully sold elsewhere. The SolarMax MT A string inverters have output power ranges from 12 kW to 18 kW and input voltages of up to 1,000 V. Beale says that even larger plants – up to 20 MW – have successfully employed string inverters. The 75TS A central inverter has an output power of 75 kW that feeds into a 480 V low-voltage grid.
Beale says SolarMax's decision to enter the U.S. market at this time and with the currently available products reflects a strategic decision by the company.
‘This is the time to enter the U.S. market,’ he says, adding that issues of local versus ‘big grid’ distribution increase demand for products able to straddle both worlds.
In terms of marketing, Beale says SolarMax intends to work directly with installers through a direct sales team, indicating limited distribution partnerships could be considered for the future. Intriguingly, Beale says if SolarMax builds a base of loyal customers, then making inverters locally becomes a possibility.
‘As for manufacturing [in the U.S.], I'd love to do it,’ he says. ‘Our options are open.’