What Are The Different Types Of Solar Inverters?
This is a sponsored post from Power Production Management.
Many homeowners choose solar energy because it’s cost-effective, perfect for the environment, and easy to install.
Apart from the panels, solar inverters are other critical components needed during the installation process.
This article focuses on what solar inverters are and defines how they work. We will also dig deeper into the different types of inverters.
Table of Contents
what is a solar inverter? Solar inverters and how they work
Solar inverters are devices that convert the direct current (AC) generated from your solar panels into alternating current (AC) that is fed into the electrical grid.
Let’s be more specific. When the photovoltaic cells on your solar panel absorb energy from the sun, they produce an electric current referred to as direct current (DC). This energy is passed through an inverter since commercial and home appliances are AC-powered.
Inside the inverter, the DC goes through a transformer that converts it into AC, which we use in our homes and work.
What are the different types of solar inverters?
Various types of solar inverters exist.
Some of the most common include Power optimizers. This inverter for a solar panel is designed to maximize the amount of energy tapped from an individual panel.
They are perfect for partially shaded conditions as the power optimizers are located under each panel. They optimize the system’s performance and track the maximum power point of these panels.
However, DC to AC conversion does not happen on the roof. Instead, the DC input is transferred into a string inverter in a solar system for conversion.
Pros of Power Optimizer Inverters
- Ideal for challenging roofs: Power optimizers are desirable if you have roofing challenges and your panels experience shading during certain times of the day. These inverters decrease the impact of shading or damage and will minimally affect the overall electricity output.
- Allow panel monitoring: Power optimizers also allow individual-level panel monitoring via a real-time app. They round up data about each panel’s output voltage and its efficiency and then store this data in the cloud. Its reporting feature will then send this information into your app. It’s an excellent characteristic as you know when your system is not working as expected, taking the necessary steps to ensure it’s in optimal condition.
Cons of Power Optimizer Inverters
- Expensive: Power optimizers need an inverter for each panel, significantly raising its installation costs.
- New in the market: Since they are relatively new in the solar market, you may have to look harder for compatible string inverters.
Micro inverters are fitted under each panel and are ideal for residential and commercial use. However, with technological advancements in the solar industry and the need to bring down solar system installation costs, you may come across some that cater to two or four solar panels.
With micro inverters, DC conversion is done under each panel. As such, they are more efficient than their string counterparts.
Pros of microinverters
- High efficiency: Since every panel handles its DC to AC conversion, the overall output is minimally impacted in case of shading or damage to individual panels. The cells continue producing optimal power, irrespective of adjacent panels’ problems.
- Support expansion: Microinverters allow for ease of expansion. Unlike string converters with expansion limitations, these inverters let you quickly add other panels when needed.
- Allow monitoring: Since microinverters are fitted under the panels, they support per-panel monitoring. From the data collected, you can identify underperforming panels and take the necessary actions to improve their efficiency.
Cons of microinverters
- Expensive: Since each inverter will have its individual solar panel inverter for the home, the solar system tends to be expensive.
- Hard to maintain: If a microinverter is damaged or fails, you will need a professional to go up the roof, find the faulty inverter and replace it. This might mean removing the panel to access the inverter.
- Advanced features need internet: To take advantage of advanced features such as real-time panel monitoring, you need a stable internet connection, which might not be available to people living in rural areas.
These are one of the most sought-after inverters, and they are named as such because solar panels are connected to them in string circuits.
In simpler words, a solar array that carries approximately 15 panels will connect to one string inverter, which converts the total DC tapped into AC electricity.
Pros of String inverters
- Cost efficiency: A notable advantage of string inverters is they are cost-effective, especially since – in most cases – you only need one inverter for your solar array.
- Ease of maintenance: Many homes mount string inverters in a room, and troubleshooting doesn’t entail climbing up and down the roof. Thus, they are easy to maintain.
- Trusted technology: String inverters were invented decades ago, meaning that professionals, electricians, and technicians in the solar industry are well aware of the technology. That way, you can easily find information and troubleshoot string inverters.
Cons of String inverters
- Not as efficient as other inverters: A disadvantage of string inverters is that when the performance of one panel is compromised, either through shading or damage, it affects the entire electricity output. Also, the whole system cannot function if the inverter breaks down.
- Doesn’t support expansion: Since inverters are set for a specific rating, you cannot add other panels in the future. Unless you installed a string inverter with a higher DC rating, you would need to purchase another inverter if you decide to add more panels.
What Is a hybrid inverter?
A hybrid inverter fuses the functionalities of conventional solar and battery inverters. It will convert DC to AC and store the excess energy for later discharge.
Hybrid inverters are quickly gaining traction as they do not require immediate installation of batteries. This makes the unit more cost-effective since it won’t require a series of inverters without needing battery systems.
Additionally, hybrid inverters support centralized monitoring. This functionality lets you keep tabs on the system and its batteries, knowing how much energy is stored, sent back to the grid, or used in your home or business.
What type of solar inverter is right for you?
The type of solar inverter to choose depends on your unique needs.
For instance, if there is a high chance of shading a micro-inverter would be ideal. Otherwise, if you are looking for a cost-effective option that’s easy to install, pick a string inverter.
Are there plug-and-play solar inverters?
It depends on the solar brand you have. If you want to purchase an inverter in the future, be sure to confirm from your dealer that it is compatible with your system, and, most importantly, they both have the same DC rating.
The bottom line
There are many types of solar inverters. Each solar inverter has its own pros and cons. To find out which one is right for you reach out to your local solar installer. If you are in Florida, give PPM a call.
PPM is a reputable solar panels for homes installer, well known for its high-quality inverters. Being in the solar installation industry for over a decade, we have an in-depth understanding of solar power and leverage our knowledge to ensure your home remains powered for longer. Our friendly customer service will assess your needs and help you pick an ideal option.
Greg is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) with 22+ years experience in Financial Services. He has held numerous FINRA Securities licenses (series 7, 63, 65, and 66), and is an expert on Investment Products and Financial Planning. Greg has 22+ years experience as a real estate investor and degrees in Psychology and Philosophy.
Greg has been quoted/interviewed in Yahoo Money, Yahoo Finance, USA Today, Authority Magazine, Realtor.com, Business Insider, and others.
Greg is an avid runner, and the father to identical twin girls and their awesome brother. His love of budgeting and his kids led him to join The Great Resignation in 2021.
Disclaimer: Any Financial Tips on ChaChingQueen are general and informational. Speak with a professional about your specific situation.