Despite the crucial role inverters play for solar systems, they are often overlooked and misunderstood.
In this post, we'll delve into the intricacies of two distinct types of solar inverters: microinverters and string inverters.
You’ll understand what an inverter is, what the difference between a microinverter and string inverter is, and learn how to pick the best one for you.
So, what is a solar inverter, and why is it a crucial part of a solar energy system?
Simply put, a solar inverter is an electrical device that transforms the variable direct current (DC) output of a photovoltaic solar panel into an alternating current (AC) that can be fed into a commercial electrical grid or used by a local, off-grid electrical network.
In other words, it converts the solar energy harvested by your panels into usable electricity for your home or business.
A microinverter is a small inverter installed at the site of each solar panel in a photovoltaic array. Each microinverter operates independently to convert the DC electricity produced by a single solar panel into AC power. This independent operation has several key benefits.
Firstly, it improves system efficiency. As each panel operates independently, partial shading or malfunction of one panel does not affect the performance of the others. This characteristic can be particularly beneficial in installations where panels may be exposed to different levels of sunlight or for panels that are oriented in different directions.
Secondly, microinverters provide granular monitoring of each solar panel. This feature enables you to detect any issues or drops in efficiency at the individual panel level, allowing for quick and efficient troubleshooting.
On the other hand, a string inverter is a type of solar inverter that groups, or "strings," multiple solar panels together, converting their combined DC power into AC power. As a result, the entire string of solar panels functions as a unified system.
One advantage of string inverters is that they tend to be less expensive up-front compared to microinverters. They also require less installation effort as you only need one string inverter for a group of panels, unlike microinverters that need to be individually attached to each panel.
However, one key downside to consider is that string inverters operate at the level of the lowest-performing panel in the string. If one panel is shaded or underperforming, the output of the entire string is affected. This characteristic might limit their efficiency in situations where panels are unevenly exposed to sunlight.
The decision between microinverters and string inverters boils down to your specific needs and conditions. If your solar panels will be installed in a location with uneven sunlight exposure, or if you prioritize panel-level monitoring and maximizing power output, a microinverter system may be your best bet.
On the other hand, if your installation area has consistent sun exposure across all panels and you're looking for a more cost-effective solution, a string inverter could be an excellent choice. Just remember that while the upfront costs might be lower, potential efficiency losses could impact the long-term return on investment.
Ultimately, understanding the role of solar inverters and the differences between microinverters and string inverters can help you make the best decision for your solar energy needs. Whether you're aiming for the highest possible efficiency or a more budget-friendly solution, there's an inverter solution out there that will help your solar panels shine.
At DIY Solar, we provide you with custom solar panel kits that you can purchase and install yourself, saving 40% compared to the national average.
Our kits come with Enphase microinverters as those are the highest quality inverters on the market and provide the most consistent power output, especially for homes that might be shaded by trees.
If you want to learn more, start by getting a quote with us!