Micro Inverters vs. String Inverters

Choosing the right inverter for your home can mean a difference of up to 20% in your system’s production. Inverters play an important role in converting electricity produced by a solar power system.  Solar panels produce direct current (DC) electricity. Inverters convert the DC electricity to alternating current (AC) electricity, which is the type used by your home.

There are two types of inverters used in solar installations today: micro inverter and string inverters.  Micro inverters convert electricity from one panel, whereas string inverters convert electricity from multiple panels or a string of panels.

There are pros and cons to each option. Let’s take a look at string inverters first.

String Inverter – Pros

  • Traditionally, string inverters have offered a lower initial cost per peak watt price.
  • String inverters can be easier to install because they accept DC input from multiple panels and do not need to be installed directly adjacent to individual panels. This also makes them somewhat easier to maintain, though possibly more difficult to troubleshoot if something goes wrong.

String Inverters – Cons

  • Because string inverters treat a group of panels as if it were a single large panel, any problems with one panel are felt across the entire string. For example, if shading over one or two panels causes poor performance, the rest of the panels suffer an equivalent output loss.
  • Large inverters can take up space on the side of your house or garage.

Micro Inverters – Cons

  • Micro inverters have traditionally cost more per peak watt than string inverters, though this is changing with the introduction of dual-micro inverters, which accept DC input from two panels, and other advancements.
  • Micro inverters can be more complex and costly to install because they must be installed in tandem with individual solar panels, typically on the roof of a building. To eliminate this issue, some companies have begun releasing solar panels with a built-in micro inverter to reduce the installation time.

Micro Inverters – Pros

  • Micro inverters use something called “power point tracking,” which means essentially if one solar panel is shaded from the sun, the rest of the panels are not impacted. This makes micro inverters somewhat more reliable than string inverters.
  • Micro inverters can be easier to fix, because there is typically a single point-of-failure, unlike string inverters where the problem can be harder to diagnose.
  • Because they are attached to a single panel, micro inverters can typically operate at a lower power point (between 190 and 220 watts). As a result, they only require thin-film capacitors eliminating the need for large transformers or electrolytic capacitors.

 

Whether you opt for string inverters or micro inverters depends on your unique situation. It is important to partner with a company that offers both to help you investigate all of your options and advise you on the best technology for your needs. To learn more about the different technologies available to you, sign up for a free home assessment from Complete Solar Solutions today.