When you buy a solar system, it’s crucial you choose the right inverter for you and your home.
Whilst this blog will guide you in the right direction, you can always head over to our inverters page to see some honest sparky reviews.
The Econnect Solar installs team has made it super simple for you to compare solar inverters by creating a simple star rating system based on value for money, efficiency, aesthetics and warranty and support.
Main types of solar inverters
Solar panels cannot work without inverters, as they convert your solar panels’ DC energy output into usable alternating current (AC) energy.
After the solar panels themselves, inverters are the most important part of your solar energy system.
There are three main types of solar inverters; string inverters, power optimisers and micro inverters. Before we get into the pros and cons, let’s look at the functionality of the different inverters.
Your solar panels are arranged into groups connected by “strings.” Each string of panels is connected to a single inverter, which transforms the DC electricity into appliance-friendly AC.
String inverter technology is tried-and-true, but it’s not suitable for certain solar installations. A string of solar panels will only produce as much electricity as its least productive panel. The entire power output is reduced if one or more of your solar panels is shaded.
So, if your solar panels are installed facing different directions, you might need to choose micro inverters or choose a string inverter with power optimisers.
Like micro inverters, power optimisers are located at each panel, usually integrated into the panels themselves.
However, instead of converting the DC electricity to AC electricity at the panel site, they “condition” the DC electricity and send it to a string inverter. This approach results in higher system efficiency than a string inverter alone.
Similar to micro inverters, power optimisers reduce the impact of panel shading on system performance, and also offer panel performance monitoring.
Micro inverters are installed on each panel in a solar system. They convert the DC electricity from your solar panels into AC electricity on your roof, with no need for a separate central inverter. In many cases micro inverters are integrated into the solar panel. However, they may also be next to the panel on the mounting system.
The biggest advantage of micro inverters is that they cancel out the negative impacts of partial or complete shading. Because the DC-AC electricity conversion takes place at each panel, there is no “bottleneck” when one panel’s production decreases. Micro inverters also allow you to monitor the performance of individual solar panels.
How do you choose the right inverter?
The age old argument is that micro inverters perform more efficiently and that they are safer. On the down side they are more expensive. Most micro inverters cost at least $150, whereas optimizers only cost about $70.
Choosing a Micro-Inverter vs Power Optimisers
A micro inverter converts the power of the panel from DC to AC right in the panel. This increases efficiency and safety. Micro inverters are not only very expensive, but they create more components in the system. More components equals a higher risk of having a technical issues.
If there is a problem with micro inverters, the installer has to physically get on the roof, locate the panel with the problem, unscrew the panel and replace it. Changing over a micro inverter is a much more difficult task than replacing a string inverter.
Imagine half your solar system is shaded throughout the day. If you just have a string inverter, your whole system stops working. You can prevent this from happening by putting optimisers on the back of the solar panels or purchasing micro inverters.
String inverters and optimisers together are less expensive than micro inverters. You also need to purchase a control unit (nvoy) with micro inverters, which is usually an additional $900. That’s why we generally recommend you choose a string inverter plus power optimisers if there is a risk of partial shading.
If you want to speak to a solar specialist or get some sparky support to find out which solar inverter is best for you, say g’day!