Understanding The Different Types Of Solar Inverters
When installing a solar panel system for your premise, one important decision you need to make is the type of inverter to install. A Solar Inverter or a PV Inverter is the device that converts Direct Current (DC) generated from solar panel to Alternating Current (AC). The key features of the solar inverters include tracking maximum power point as well as ensuring safety and reliability. In other words, these inverters play a vital role in the success of your solar power system.
Micro-inverters are installed on each individual panel in a solar PV system. They directly convert the DC generated from your solar panels into AC on your roof, with no need for a separate central inverter. Because micro-inverters make the DC to AC inversion right at each individual solar panel, they also allow you to monitor the performance of individual solar panels. They are highly efficient and reliable when it comes to generating more power.
String inverters got their name from the way your solar panels are arranged into groups connected by “strings”. This technology has been applied for decades, which is why it is so reliable. Some of the reasons why string inverters are the most commonly used inverters nowadays are ease of installation and lower price point. The downside when it comes to the string inverters are that they may not be the best option if your premise is prone to shading throughout the day. In this case, you can either remove the source of the shade or install your panels where they will not be shaded. Moreover, in string inverter setups, electricity output is dependent on the panel that is performing the worst, which means when one panel in the string suffers reduced output, every panel in the string drops to that reduced output. Therefore, you have to make sure your panels are not oriented in multiple directions and you don’t have shading issues where your panels are installed. In terms of equipment malfunction, note that if one of your panels stops working, your entire string stops working until you repair or replace the defective panel.
Power optimizers are a type of module level power electronics. In terms of the benefits offered, power optimizers are almost the same as micro-inverters. They reduce the impact of panel shading on system performance, and also offer panel-level performance monitoring, which means you are able to track the production from each individual panel, helping you spot defects and shading issues on a panel-by-panel basis. However, they usually come in a slightly lower price point when compared to micro-inverters. Therefore, power optimizers are considered a compromise between more expensive micro-inverters and the standard string inverter. Power optimizers are located at each panel and they work in a way where they “condition” the DC electricity and send it to a string inverter. If your roof is shaded, installing power optimizers will result in higher system efficiency than a using a string inverter.
Central inverters are like string inverters, only bigger. They are exclusively meant for utility-scale applications such as industrial facilities or large buildings. The investment for central inverters is less per watt when compared to string or micro-inverters. This is because there are fewer components and connections involved along with less installation costs. This type of inverter usually comes with a 5 year warranty period that is extendable up to 20 years.
If you are looking to install a solar+storage system, then hybrid inverters may be a good option. A hybrid inverter, or a multi-mode inverter, is the combination of a solar and battery inverter together in one simple unit. It can simultaneously manage inputs from both solar panels and a battery bank, charging batteries with either solar panels or the electricity grid. It is an all-in-one inverter solution for grid-connected solar+storage systems. The hybrid inverter technology is becoming more appealing as they are advancing towards being intelligent and programmable for maximising overall system efficiency and savings.