Solar Inverter: Types, Pros and Cons

What is Solar Inverter? And how does it work?

When evaluating solar system equipment, solar panels are not the only factor to consider. In a solar system, solar power inverters play an equivalent role: they transform the electricity from the panels into a form that can be used in your home for devices, lights, and other electrical devices.

What is the function of a solar inverter? In a PV system, how do solar inverters work?

When the sun shines on the solar photovoltaic (PV) system, electrons in the solar cells begin to move, producing direct current (DC) energy. The energy is collected by circuits inside the cells, which you can use in your house.
Here’s where your solar inverter comes in handy. Since most households use alternating current (AC) rather than direct current (DC), the energy produced by your solar panels is not helpful on its own. When the solar panels absorb sunlight and convert it to electricity, the DC energy is sent to the inverter, converting it to AC energy. You can either use the excess solar energy to fuel your appliances and equipment or pump it back into the grid if you produce more than you use.

String inverters vs. string inverters with power optimizers vs. microinverters: a comparison of solar inverter technologies

The primary job of all inverters is to transform DC solar energy into usable AC energy for your house. You can select from three different solar inverter technologies for your solar panel setup, each of which operates slightly differently.

String inverters: standard centralized inverter

In most small-scale solar energy systems, a string inverter, also known as a “central” inverter, is used. Each panel is wired together into a “string” in a solar PV system with a string inverter, and several strings (generally up to three) can be attached to your central inverter. When the panels generate electricity, it is sent to a single inverter, which is usually situated on the side of your house, in a shed, or your basement. The inverter converts all of the electricity produced by your solar panels into AC power that can be used on your property.

Pros

String inverters are the most affordable inverter alternative, and they are also the most durable. Since they are in a convenient location, they are therefore the easiest to manage.
String inverters are the most affordable inverter alternative, and they are also the most durable. Since they are in a convenient location, they are therefore the easiest to manage.

Cons

A decrease in the efficiency of a single solar panel (due to shading) may affect the production of any of the Solar Panels on a string. String inverters may not be suitable for more complicated device structures or roofs with regular shading, even though multiple strings can handle multiple roof planes on the same inverter.
Best for Low-cost solar PV systems and properties with “uncomplicated” roofs that receive constant sunlight during the day.

Power optimizers: a panel option to be coupled with a string inverter

String inverters and microinverters may be thought of as a compromise. Power optimizers, including microinverters, are mounted next to (or combined with) individual solar panels on the roof. Systems of power optimizers, on the other hand, continue to transmit electricity to a centralized inverter.
At the solar panel site, power optimizers do not transform DC electricity to AC electricity. Instead, they “condition” the DC electricity by lowering the voltage, after which the electricity is sent down to the string inverter. In shading scenarios, a system with power optimizers and a string inverter is more effective than one with only a string inverter.

Pros

Power optimizers, like microinverters, will increase the performance of your solar panel system whether you have a complex roof or a lot of shading; however, optimizers are less expensive than microinverters. They maximize the production of each panel to reduce the effect that any single shaded panel may have and provide the advantage of measuring individual panel results.

Cons

A system with power optimizers and a string inverter would be more expensive than a system with only a string inverter. Solar PV systems with power optimizers, including microinverters, can be more challenging to manage.

Best For

Solar panel owners with a slightly less-than-ideal roof who can spend a little bit on improving the efficiency of their device but do not want to invest in microinverters.

Microinverters: high-performance devices that come at a higher cost

Microinverters are “distributed” inverters, while string inverters are “central” inverters. Microinverters are small inverters that are installed at the place of each solar panel in microinverter-equipped solar PV systems. Rather than transferring power from each solar panel to a single inverter, microinverter systems convert DC solar energy to AC energy right on the roof.

Pros

Having microinverters on each solar panel improves efficiency, particularly in systems with a more complicated design or those that are shaded. Microinverters maximize the performance of each panel at the panel level, reducing the effect of shading and allowing for system-wide control at the panel level.

Cons

Microinverters are more expensive than string inverters, and since they are installed on the roof, they can be more challenging to manage or restore in the event of a problem.

Best For

Systems with multiple-direction solar panels, homeowners want to optimize solar efficiency in a small space, and properties with “complicated” roofs with gables, chimneys, or other shading objects.

Choosing the most suitable inverter for your home

After you have learned how solar inverters work, you will need to figure out which type is better for your solar PV system. String inverters are not suitable for every scenario, and paying extra for optimizers or microinverters is not always required. Finally, there is no uniformly right or incorrect answer; only what is best for your special situation and specifications. To get a free inquiry, please contact us.
For more information about solar panels, our team of experts is here to help! 07-3062-7614

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