The difference between string and micro-inverters

December 23, 2016

If you’re setting up a solar array, you will need to choose an inverter. An inverter is the piece of electrical equipment that turns DC power coming from solar panels into AC power, which is the usable power in your home or business. This can be done in variety of ways and is a little complex, so we’ll present a simplified version.

A string inverter is one single piece of equipment the solar panels lead into before connecting to your electrical panel. It converts the power from all solar panels as one to AC before being used.

The advantages of a string inverter:

  1. An older and more established technology, string inverters are generally cheaper than micro-inverters
  2. Easy to replace if there is a warranty issue
  3. There are additional technologies like power optimizers, which help solve most of the disadvantages, though there are almost always trade-offs

The disadvantages of a string inverter are:

  1. You may lose significant power production if a few of the panels are shaded or have dirt on them.
  2. The inverter is sized to the system, so it is not easy to expand add more panels.
  3. Monitoring equipment sees the system as a whole, so you can’t assess individual panel performance

Micro-inverters are like a string inverter and a DC power optimizer wrapped into one smaller package. The conversion happens right at the module level behind every one or two panels. There are exceptions to this...

The advantages of microinverters:

  1. Individual panel monitoring
  2. Easy to expand
  3. Arguably a safer technology

Disadvantages of microinverters:

  1. Too new to tell if they will outlast string inverters, as they haven’t been around long enough.
  2. The cost is higher for a microinverter

At Solarcor Energy, we provide solar installation in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Contact us today to determine which inverter best suits you!

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