It’s all well and good to go ahead and purchase 5kW of solar panels for your roof, but the energy generated won’t be able to power your home’s electricity unless it’s run through an inverter.
A solar inverter converts the variable direct current (DC) output of a solar panel into alternating 240V current (AC) power that can be fed straight into your home to give life to everything from lightbulbs to appliances.
There are a few types of solar inverters on the market to choose from, and each inevitably has its pros and cons. This blog will explain the difference between two main inverter types: string inverters and micro-inverters.
So what is a string inverter?
String inverters tend to be the standard type of inverter, and their name comes from their design – they operate in ‘strings’ of solar panels. In a 20-panel solar system, for example, you might have a two string inverter, each attached to a ‘string’ of 10 solar panels.
A string inverter is responsible for converting the DC power of each solar panel in its circuit into AC power, like a chain, turning it into usable energy for your home. String inverters are usually located nearby their ‘string’ of panels, in a sheltered location close to the switchboard.
And what about micro-inverters?
Unlike string inverters, micro-inverters do not operate in strings or chains. Instead, a single micro-inverter is attached to every solar panel on your roof, converting its energy output into 240V current on the spot. A 20-panel solar system will, therefore, have 20 micro-inverters attached to the back of each panel.
While this type of inverter is relatively new to the market, it is generally accepted as being the ‘premium’ option, and micro-inverters are preferred by many homeowners and small businesses.
What are the pros and cons of each type?
The most obvious advantage of string inverters is their low cost. Naturally, they are much cheaper than micro-inverters because most residential solar energy systems will only require one string inverter, or two at the most. This is far fewer inverters than if you were to install a micro-inverter on each individual panel.
That being said, a solar system using a string inverter can only perform as high as its lowest-performing panel. In real terms, this means that if just one panel in the chain is out of action – whether due to shade from a tree, a pile of leaves, or another obstruction – all panels in the chain will be knocked back to operate at the same diminished capacity. This can really have a huge impact on your overall energy production.
This is where micro-inverters have a huge advantage over string inverters. If one panel is obstructed, then only that single panel’s micro-inverter is affected – not the entire string of 6-10 panels attached to the inverter.
This means that while micro-inverters may be more expensive upfront, they are guaranteed to make the most of your potential solar power generation, and micro-inverters also typically come with much longer warranties than their string counterparts.
Still confused, or unsure which inverter type best suits your home? Chat to one of our qualified team members today!
Image source: Fronius | Solar Power World