Microinverters vs. String Inverters

When you think of solar, the first image that probably pops into your head is panels. There’s no question that panels are important, but when it comes to solar, the inverter is what makes the energy the panels collect usable. Your panels produce direct current (DC) electricity, a form that you can’t use. Your inverter converts it into alternating current (AC) electricity, the kind you use in your home or business.

There are two main types of inverters: string inverters or microinverters.

String Inverters

Multiple panels in a "string" connect to a single string inverter, often located inside the home or business.

Multiple panels in a "string" connect to a single string inverter, often located inside the home or business.

String inverters are standalone boxes that are installed next to the system’s panel box, with wiring tying multiple panels together to a single inverter. Each solar panel is like a bulb in a string of holiday lights. With string inverters, the system can only perform as well as its lowest-performing panel. Every small pile of leaves or raincloud that passes overhead has a big impact on your system’s energy production. If one of the panels fails, the whole system will go out. String inverters are less reliable because there is a single point of failure for an entire system. Monitoring with string inverters gives you production information of the entire array, making it difficult to identify which panel is not producing.

Warranties on string inverters are typically 10-12 years.

Microinverters

Microinverters are located underneath each solar panel.

Microinverters are located underneath each solar panel.

Microinverters are individual units underneath each solar panel. Because each microinverter corresponds with a single panel, every panel operates independently, keeping your entire system performing optimally. Solar systems exist outside; obstructions will undoubtedly happen. Microinverters ensure that your other panels keep producing to their fullest, regardless of snow, clouds, shading, or other variables affecting an individual panel. There isn’t a single point of failure in microinverter systems. On top of that, microinverters allow monitoring of each individual module so issues can quickly be identified and fixed if needed.

In the event that there’s a problem with one of your microinverters, they are warrantied for 25 years.

Microinverters usually have a higher price tag than traditional string inverters, but for most systems, their benefits and features far outweigh the cost.

Request a quote from one of our Energy Consultants to see how the latest in inverter technology makes now the time to switch to solar.