Historically, commercial solar installations have relied on string inverters to convert the sun’s energy to usable electricity.
String inverters are low-cost and efficient, but if the output of one of the photovoltaic panels is compromised, the performance of the entire system may be affected.
In residential photovoltaic systems, micro-inverters are frequently used instead of string inverters. But can they be employed in commercial solar applications as well?
Absolutely, they can. In fact, micro-inverters offer a number of benefits for commercial solar projects.
By their design, micro-inverters are capable of increasing the amount of energy harvested from a photovoltaic array.
With this technology, each solar panel is connected to its own separate inverter. So if one module is shaded or damaged, only that particular module’s output is affected. The rest of the solar array will continue to produce power as usual.
In addition, micro-inverters require less voltage than string inverters to produce power. This means they turn on earlier in the morning and work later into the evening, capturing more solar energy throughout the day.
String inverters generate electricity at an extremely high voltage level. And depending on where the inverter is installed, the voltage must travel from the panel array to that location for conversion. Consequently, this can pose a shock hazard for anyone conducting routine maintenance near the equipment.
String inverters also require the addition of equipment that ensures the rapid shutdown of DC power generation if the power grid goes down.
Micro-inverter technology eliminates these hazards.
Each micro-inverter converts a much smaller amount of the sun’s energy, and it does so right on the rooftop. The lower voltages of micro-inverters and the location of their solar energy conversion points make them a safer choice for commercial applications.
And each micro-inverter is manufactured with its own rapid shutdown systems. This complies with National Electrical Code (NEC) standards for safety, easily meeting the rapid shutdown requirements intended to protect first responders in the event of a fire without the need for additional equipment.
A string inverter monitors the performance of the entire photovoltaic array. You can see that the solar panels are on and running, but you can check the system’s output only as a single unit.
Micro-inverters, on the other hand, allow you to track the uptime and performance of each solar panel in the array.
Any issue with a single module can be identified quickly and corrected. Finding the problem in a string inverter system, on the other hand, could take a good deal of time and money. The enhanced system monitoring is far more precise and valuable in commercial solar applications.
Intermountain Wind & Solar serves customers throughout the Intermountain West states of Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada and Colorado. We are the region’s largest provider of commercial photovoltaic, providing a significant cost savings, thanks to our bulk buying power.
Contact us today to learn more about inverter technology and how to determine the best design and equipment for your commercial solar energy system installation.
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