When choosing from different solar panel options, the type of inverter you select is crucial to overall performance. Solar inverters convert the direct current (DC) energy that solar panels generate into more compatible alternating current (AC) energy that powers the building. Depending on your specific needs, you can choose from three main types of inverters, including string inverters, microinverters, and power optimizers. Each inverter’s importance may vary for different types of photovoltaics (PV) installations.
Here we’ll review the advantages and disadvantages of these three types of inverters to help you determine which is right for your installation.
String inverters are the most cost-effective inverter option. Solar installers typically recommend using these if a roof has limited shading over the course of the day and doesn’t face multiple directions. However, today’s innovations make these inverters more suitable for a larger number of applications.
With this type of inverter, solar panels are arranged into groups connected by strings, and users can connect several strings of solar panels into one centralized inverter that converts DC energy to AC energy. While string inverters offer plenty of reliability as a decades-old technology, it’s not appropriate for every installation.
The combined low cost and ease of installation make string inverters a popular option for many. These inverters can be paired with power optimizers and are suitable for both residential and commercial applications if no shading problems are present.
Despite the appealing advantages of string inverters, there are a couple of potential disadvantages to consider. First, if one panel experiences decreased output, this causes output to drop for every panel in the string. Generally, string inverters are only ideal when panels see full sunlight throughout the year.
Another popular option is a microinverter, which a growing number of installations use today. Normally, systems using microinverters install them on the back of the solar panel, where they convert DC energy into AC energy without any need for a separate string inverter. Installers often mount microinverters onto the backs of solar panel backs, but it’s also possible to place them beside the panel on a solar racking system.
One advantage of microinverters is that poor-performing panels won’t compromise the entire PV system’s production capabilities. It’s also easy to determine when an individual panel needs maintenance or a complete replacement.
Microinverters come with a couple of disadvantages that make them unsuitable for certain installations. Microinverters are more expensive than string inverters. In addition, individuals need to access the roof to maintain or replace these inverters due to their placement on the panels.
Power optimizers offer similar benefits to microinverters, and they often serve as a sufficient compromise between string inverters and microinverters. Much like microinverters, power optimizers are installed on each panel. What makes them different is the way they convert DC electricity to AC electricity. Rather than converting energy directly at the panel site, power optimizers send the DC energy to a string inverter for conversion.
Power optimizers and microinverters share similar benefits. Both of these inverters normally have a 20 to 25-year warranty. They also come with the added benefit of lower costs compared to microinverters.
Power optimizers are also similar to microinverters in their disadvantages. Maintenance and replacement costs will be higher because of power optimizers’ location on rooftops. Additionally, they endure regular exposure to the elements, which can lead to eventual wear and tear.
Make the Right Choice of Inverter with Nine Fasteners, Inc.
Based on your installation’s individual requirements, you’ll need the right inverter. At Nine Fasteners, Inc., we can help you determine which inverter type is best for your PV installation. If you would like to find out more about our capabilities and how we can help you, contact us or request a quote today.