A Closer Look at Solar Inverters

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5-24-2015 A Closer Look at Solar Inverters

One component that all solar systems must include is a solar inverter. It’s what makes the electricity that the system produces useable. Solar panels convert the sun’s energy into Direct Current (DC) electricity. The problem is that the American power grid uses Alternating Current (AC) electricity.

The purpose of a solar inverter is to convert the DC electricity that the solar panels produce into AC electricity. Once the electricity has been converted from DC to AC, it can be used by the homeowners. Any extra AC electricity can then be seamlessly added to the grid.

Each solar inverter, regardless of its physical appearance or placement in the system is tasked with doing the same thing – converting DC electricity to AC electricity.

String Inverters

If you have a rooftop solar system, whether residential or commercial, it likely uses a string inverter. A string inverter looks like a semi-large box that is placed a short distance from the solar array. If your system is on the large side, you may have more than one string inverter.

String inverters are the least expensive option, and they’re relatively efficient. Because they’re widely used, it’s generally easy to find maintenance support for it in the event that it stops working. You can monitor your string inverter remotely, which is extremely convenient.

Micro Inverters

A second option for residential rooftop solar systems are micro inverters. A micro inverter is a small box that is situated very close to a solar panel. Sometimes, micro inverters are even placed on the backs of solar panels. Each solar panel gets its own micro inverter, which converts the DC electricity each panel makes into AC.

Micro inverters can increase a solar system’s availability because a single malfunctioning panel won’t have such a serious impact on the entire array. However, micro inverters are more expensive than string inverters. You need one for each solar panel you have, and those costs can add up quickly.

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Inverters With Optimizers

When used together, inverters and optimizers can create a more efficient solar system. Optimizers are placed on each solar panel and track the maximum power point (MPPT) of each individual panel. The optimizers then match the output of each panel to that of the system inverter.

Don’t Overlook Inverters

There are many factors that affect which solar inverters installers will use: a customer’s budget and the solar system’s output and design requirements are just some of the things to consider. Selecting the right inverter for a solar system is an important process that shouldn’t be rushed. The system’s efficiency depends on it.

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