Inverters Are Key Components of Solar Systems
Let’s explore solar power inverters. Inverters play a crucial role in turning sunlight into usable electricity for our homes and businesses. So, what exactly are solar power inverters, and why are they so important? Let’s dive in.
Solar power inverters are the bridge between your solar panels and your home’s electrical system. They take direct current (DC) electricity generated by your panels and transform it into alternating current (AC) electricity that powers your lights, appliances – whatever runs off of electricity in your home.
The two primary types of solar power inverters are string inverters and microinverters.
String inverters are installed at a central location, usually near your electrical panel, and are connected to multiple solar panels in a series (or string). When designing a system using a string inverter, Sundance Power Systems pairs each solar panel in the system with an “optimizer”. Optimizers are devices used to maximize the energy output of a solar system. They are also referred to as Module Level Power Electronics (MLPE). Optimizers are added to each solar panel in a solar installation so that each solar panel produces their maximum energy output regardless of another panel in the string getting shaded or just failing – a rare occurrence.
A microinverter is a device that connects to a single solar panel, converting DC (direct current) from the panel into AC (alternating current), which can power household appliances or be sent into the grid for energy credits. Unlike string inverters, micro-inverters control the output of a single panel. Microinverters convert the DC electricity to AC right at the panel itself. This individualized approach ensures that the performance of one panel doesn’t affect the others. Microinverters are great for systems with shading issues or panels oriented in multiple directions.
Microinverters offer many benefits, such as rapid shutdown capabilities, flexibility for panel layouts, and panel-level monitoring and diagnostics.
The Downside of Microinverters
Microinverters are generally more expensive than string inverters, but their better long-term performance needs to be assessed when comparing to string inverters. String inverters are usually placed on the side of your house, while microinverters are located on your roof, meaning that if one of them needs to be fixed, the maintenance might be more difficult (and more costly if labor isn’t covered under your warranty).
Another thing to be aware of with microinverters is clipping. A microinverter has a lower power output rating than the solar panel itself. This means that when your solar panel’s output exceeds the microinverter’s output, you get clipping, and don’t get the full power output of your solar panel. (Thanks for this overview, EnergySage.com!)
Enphase is the market leader in microinverter technologies and Sundance uses their components in many of our designs. They are based in Fremont, California, with manufacturing facilities in South Carolina, Wisconsin and Texas, a plus for those seeking to support American companies. Their IQ series is a popular option for residential solar panel installations. In addition to manufacturing standalone microinverters, the company partners with multiple solar panel manufacturers to offer AC modules. They also manufacture energy storage and monitoring systems to pair with their microinverter products.
SolarEdge is a pioneering solar company that was founded in 2006 in Israel and has become a global leader in smart energy technology. One of SolarEdge’s standout innovations is its DC-optimized inverter system. Unlike traditional string inverters, which can be affected by shading or panel mismatch, SolarEdge’s technology optimizes the performance of individual solar panels. Each panel is equipped with a power optimizer, ensuring that even partially shaded panels can generate power efficiently. This advanced technology maximizes energy production, making solar systems more efficient and reliable.
Sundance Power Systems is always assessing which components to utilize in our custom designs. The solar industry is constantly evolving and it takes an experienced and knowledgeable company like Sundance to stay on top of the changes. We look for the highest quality components that deliver the best performance for our customers. You can count on Sundance to design, install and service the best possible solar system to meet your power needs!