Updated: Sep 3, 2020
The world has seen a dramatic increase in the use of solar energy over the past decade. The energy sector has gone through a paradigm shift where people are now more aware of and interested in renewable energy sources. Solar panel systems have become excessively popular with people opting to go for the cleaner energy than to use the old mainstream power provided by the national grid. There are many businesses set up providing services for solar installations and related devices.
An integral part of every solar power system is an electronic device known as an inverter. What is a solar inverter you might ask? A solar inverter is basically the core of the system, which converts the DC power generated by the solar panels into AC power that can be used effectively within our homes. Choosing the right type and size of an inverter is a very crucial decision that will determine the final amount of your investment. As technology evolves continuously, there are many different types of inverters available in the market. Two major types that this article will discuss in some detail are micro-inverters and string inverters.
String inverters are also known as centralized inverters. They serve as the central point where all the output from different panel strings is amalgamated and inverted. In systems where string inverter is to be used, panels are connected in series, giving them the name of ‘strings.’ The output from separate strings of panels is then run into the string inverter, which produces the single output stream. A string inverter features multiple inputs and has several advantages that make it a good option for small solar power systems. The first advantage is that a single string inverter is typically sufficient for the whole system, therefore providing the most cost-effective option. String inverters can also be used in combination with power optimizers and are ideal for both commercial and residential solutions.
One thing to be particular about using string inverters is that it should be used within systems that receive ample sunlight throughout the year. Any system is as reliable as its weakest link, and the weakest link in the case of a solar power system is the string inverter. One of the main drawbacks of a string inverter is that if a solar power panel suffers any reduced performance, all other solar panels will be forced to drop down to that level.
Micro-inverters, on the other hand, as the name suggests, is designed to be used separately with individual solar panels. Unlike a central inverter that controls the output of all the panels in the systems, a micro-inverter is essentially responsible for a single solar panel and manages its output only. This makes each panel a standalone electrical system, but at the same time, provides the most expensive option in terms of cost-per-watts basis. Micro-inverters provides the user the flexibility to arrange their panels in any configuration and allows them to go for expansion without any hassle if any need arises.
For large scale systems, investment is of key importance. Therefore, string inverters provide a more cost-effective solution compared to micro-inverter based solar power installations.