String Inverters vs. Micro Inverters
To diversify or not? That is the question. We’re no Wolf of Wall Street but as solar experts, it’s kind of our thing. In every solar system, an inverter is perhaps the most important part of the setup. But when designing your system, there are two options when it comes to inverters, a singular string or multiple micros. But, is more merrier? Read on to see what Solar Bear thinks.
First, let’s tackle the question of what the purpose of an inverter is in the solar energy system. When solar panels convert sunlight, it is in the form of an electrical direct current (DC) energy but the electrical power needed in your home must be in an alternating current (AC) energy. In order to access that for your home, an inverter must transform it from DC to AC energy. Enter your inverter decision. But, should you choose a string or micro inverter? String inverters (sometimes called central inverters) work by linking solar panels together with “strings.” Each string is connected to a singular inverter box. Oppositely, a micro inverter pairs each panel with an individual inverter that is wired in a parallel fashion. This also makes them a great option for challenging installation issues that might require multiple orientations.
There are benefits to both systems so the challenge is which one works best for your family’s situation. For instance, is your roof shady because of trees or shadows? If so, the shade could prevent the panels from being wholly effective. In that case, a string inverter system is only as strong as its lowest-performing panel. When one panel’s performance diminishes, the others also operate at the same capacity. Whereas, a micro inverter may offer more efficiency because panels work individually. Production performance will be unique to each panel in the system but will require more intricate maintenance because it is a larger system. The lifespan of a string inverter is roughly 10-15 years while a micro inverter can last about 25 years with proper care.
Cost is another factor to weigh. Micro inverter panels usually cost about $1,000 more than a standard string inverter installation. Whatever you choose, you can count on saving financially with local and federal tax incentives.