Important Info on Solar Panel Inverters

There are several important components that go into most solar panel setups that are used today, and many clients who utilize these products like to understand some of the simple basics on how they work. One great example here is the inverter - what exactly is this component, which different types are found in today's solar panels, and what should you be thinking about with regard to an inverter if you're having solar panels installed on your home or building?

At Intermountain Wind & Solar, we're here to offer a wide range of residential and commercial solar panel installation services to clients around SLC, Utah and Boise, Idaho. Here are some basics on what solar inverters do, their common types, and some important considerations within this area for any new solar client.

Solar Inverter Basics

For those who are just learning about solar power, it's important to understand the basic functionality of the entire system when discussing the inverter. Your solar panels are built to absorb sunlight and transform it into DC power, or direct current. However, most standard homes today actually use AC power, or alternating current - this is where the inverter comes in.

The main purpose of an inverter is to convert the DC power produced by solar panels into usable AC power for your home or building. This allows you to use the energy generated by your solar panels for appliances and electrical systems throughout the property. Inverters also regulate the amount of power flowing from your solar panels to prevent damage or overloading.

In layman's terms, think of the inverter as the bridge between your solar panels and your home's electrical systems. It takes the energy from the panels and transforms it into a usable form, making solar power a viable option for powering homes and buildings.

Types of Solar Inverters

There are three main types of inverters commonly found in residential and commercial solar panel setups:

  1. String Inverters: The original inverter type invented for solar panels, these are connected to a string of panels and convert their combined DC power into AC power. This string of panels is found at a centralized location, usually installed somewhere easily accessible on the property so they can be serviced without trouble. These are the cheapest option but may not be the most efficient - and they may require more maintenance over time.
  2. Microinverters: These are individual inverters that are installed on each solar panel, unlike string inverters which handle a whole string at once. They help keep efficiency high by ensuring each panel operates independently - if one panel underperforms, it won't affect the rest of the system's output. These are usually more expensive and may require additional maintenance, but they offer better efficiency.
  3. Power Optimizers: These are similar to microinverters in that they're installed on individual panels, but their purpose is slightly different. They optimize power output for each solar panel, then send the DC power to a centralized string inverter for conversion to AC power. This option offers high efficiency and some flexibility with panel placement, but they can be more expensive than string inverters.

Important Inverter Considerations

When choosing an inverter for your solar panel setup, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • Efficiency: As we've noted, different types of inverters offer different levels of efficiency - and this may also vary between brands. Make sure you research and compare efficiency ratings before making a decision.
  • Cost: In general, string inverters are the cheapest option while microinverters and power optimizers will come at a higher cost. Consider your budget and long-term savings before deciding on an inverter type.
  • Maintenance: Some types of inverters may require more maintenance than others, so factor this into your decision-making process. Microinverters and power optimizers may require more upkeep, but they also offer higher efficiency and flexibility.
  • Warranty: Like any major component of your solar panel setup, make sure to check the warranty for your inverter before making a purchase. Different types and brands will have varying warranty lengths and coverage, so be sure to read the fine print.

At Intermountain Wind & Solar, our team is well-versed in all types of solar inverters and can help you choose the best option for your specific needs and budget. We also offer regular maintenance services to keep your system running smoothly. Don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or to schedule a consultation for your residential or commercial solar panel installation project, whether you're in SLC, Utah or Boise, Idaho.

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