inverter solar panel system
If you are considering a solar panel system for your home, one of the key decisions you make is the type of inverter to install. Inverters convert direct current (DC) energy generated by your solar panels into usable alternating current (AC) energy. After the panels themselves, inverters are the most important equipment in your solar power system.
Breaking down solar panel technologies
There are three types of inverters that are currently available to you for your solar energy system: string (also known as centralized) inverters, micro-inverters, and power optimizers. Micro-inverters and power optimizers are often collectively referred to as “Module-Level Power Electronics” or MLPEs.
String inverters are by far the most commonly deployed option globally and comprise the vast majority of the world’s inverter market. However, MLPE technologies are rapidly gaining popularity and market share as their costs have come down. Despite the global dominance of string inverters, GTM Research found that over half of all residential solar systems installed in the U.S. in early 2014 used MLPE technologies.
Key takeaways: String inverters, microinverters & power optimizers
- Inverters convert the DC electricity that your solar panels produce into appliance-friendly AC electricity.
- The three main inverter options available for homes residential and commercial solar installations are string inverters, micro-inverters and power optimizers.
- Micro-inverters and power optimizers are more expensive than string inverters.
- Micro-inverters and power optimizers are best for installations where one or more panels may be shaded, or where panels are facing different directions.
- Micro-inverters and power optimizers allow you to monitor the power production of each individual panel.
- A system that uses micro-inverters or power optimizers will produce slightly more power than a similar system with a string inverter.
String inverters are the most cost-effective inverter option available in the U.S. Solar installation companies will generally offer you a system with a string inverter if your roof is not shaded at any point during the day and does not face in multiple directions (such as a gabled roof).
How String Inverters Work
Your solar panels are arranged into groups connected by “strings.” Each string of panels is connected to a single inverter, which transforms the DC electricity produced by the panels into appliance-friendly AC electricity.