Solar installation is one of the most important home improvement projects you will probably make for your home. So, it’s important that you get maximum bang for the buck from it. And, inverters play a big role in determining how much value you extract out of your solar panels. Therefore, you must choose a suitable inverter for your setup.
There are mainly two types of inverters preferred for solar domestic solar installations – string inverters and microinverters. Here’s everything you need to know about them.
String inverters are standalone devices that are connected to your solar panels in a string series. A single-string inverter is sufficient for most homes to convert all the DC power produced by their solar panels into usable AC. In rare cases, when the installed capacity is high, two string inverters may be required.
Pros of String Inverters
String inverters are the most cost-effective option at the time of installation. They are cheap and easy to maintain.
- Easy Care
String inverters usually encounter fewer problems over their lifetime. They have sharply lesser wiring and connections than microinverters, so their chances of going faulty are lower.
Cons of String Inverters
- Rapid Shutdown
Local codes and regulations in many areas require rapid shutdown capability on solar systems to protect early responders from electric mishaps in the event of power outages. Adding this capability to string inverter setups is more complex and requires additional work.
In the series set up, the string inverters cannot optimize the power efficiency of the solar panels. Instead, it brings down the power output of all the panels to that of the least efficient solar panel. For houses with shading problems throughout the day, it translates to a significantly less efficient solar power output throughout the day.
Microinverters are miniaturized versions of string inverters and are paired individually to each solar panel. In other words, a microinverter is installed underneath each solar panel. This configuration offers its own advantages and disadvantages:
Pros of Microinverters
Microinverters efficiently manage the differences in power outputs from each solar panel and convert all the power into usable energy for your home. So, theoretically, microinverters can supply move power to your home from the same number of solar panels.
- Rapid Shutdown
With microinverters, it’s easy to set up a rapid shutdown capability in the system.
Microinverters typically last twice as long or even longer than string inverters. While you’ll likely need to repurchase a string inverter for your system in a decade or so, microinverters typically last longer. Usually as long as your solar system.
- More Advanced
Microinverters bring panel-level monitoring and operational efficiency in a host of weather conditions. The same cannot be said of string inverters. For this reason alone, microinverters are recommended by most solar companies.
- Ease of Scaling
Scaling up your solar installation is a breeze with microinverters when your power requirements increase in the future, while it can be cumbersome with string inverters.
Cons of Microinverters
Since many of them are required, the overall cost tends to be higher.
As the number of parts increases, so does the need for frequent maintenance. That said, microinverters come with extended warranties, often lasting 25 years.
And the Winner Is…
When cost is the primary factor behind your decision, string inverters are the obvious choice. But, when performance, durability, and resilience against changing environmental conditions are your priorities, microinverters are a natural choice.