When we talk about home solar components, the photovoltaic panels themselves get most of the attention. And rightly so, as they play the important role of harnessing the sun’s energy. But inverters are just as essential to creating solar electricity.
Inverters take the direct current (DC) energy captured by the photovoltaic panels and convert it into alternating current (AC) energy, which is the standard for household appliances and electronics in the United States.
Without an inverter, the electricity your solar array produces cannot be used in your home. Grid-tied photovoltaic systems can use either micro-inverters or string inverters, and each type has its pros and cons.
Micro-inverters have been around for years, but are enjoying a surge of popularity, thanks to improved technology.
Photovoltaic panels using micro-inverters are not wired together in arrays. Instead, each photovoltaic panel has its own micro-inverter. Homeowners can easily monitor their power production with micro-inverters, and their flexible design allows for easy expansion.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of this technology is the fact that it offers more reliable energy output. If one photovoltaic panel is shaded or suffers damage, the others will continue to function without a hitch.
As for drawbacks of micro-inverters, there’s really only one — the initial cost. Since one is needed for each solar panel, the overall system price adds up to more than it would if a string inverter were used.
Choosing a string inverter for your photovoltaic system will result in a lower upfront equipment cost. A typical home solar array needs only one, as a string inverter can handle the power conversion for multiple photovoltaic panels.
String inverters are also quite efficient. And because they are mounted at ground level, they are easy to access and monitor.
The primary disadvantage to using a string inverter is that, if one photovoltaic panel in the solar array malfunctions, the performance of the entire system will suffer.
Either type of power inverter can serve your energy needs well. Both are solid, dependable choices for a home solar system, so the decision will depend on your needs and preferences.
If reducing your initial investment cost is of primary importance — and you aren’t worried about shading issues — choose a string inverter. However, if optimal solar output at all times is your goal, micro-inverters may be preferable.
Don’t forget to consider the possibility of expanding your photovoltaic system in the future. If you think you may want to increase your system capacity, micro-inverters may be the way to go.
An experienced photovoltaic contractor can give you more personalized advice on choosing the right power inverter for your needs. Intermountain Wind & Solar, the leading professional installer in the Intermountain West, will work with you to select the home solar PV components to meet your energy needs. Call to schedule your consultation today.
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