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What is a micro inverter?

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When building a solar energy system, a solar inverter is an essential component along with the solar panels. The solar inverter converts the direct current (DC) generated by the solar panels into alternating current (AC) that can be used by household appliances. In simple terms, only a solar inverter can convert the electricity generated by solar panels into usable power. Unlike string inverters, which typically handle the entire solar panel system, microinverters are installed at individual solar panel sites. Most solar panel systems equipped with microinverters include one microinverter per panel.

String Inverter VS Micro Inverter - What are the Advantages of Microinverters?

Despite the increased cost, solar microinverters have gained popularity due to their numerous advantages:

  • Reduced Risk of System Shutdown: The biggest advantage of microinverters over string inverters is significantly reducing the chance of system shutdown. Since microinverters are installed on individual solar panels, if one microinverter experiences an issue, only the panel connected to it will be affected, rather than the entire system. Additionally, since microinverters are plug-and-play devices, replacing a faulty unit can be done quickly.

  • Longer Lifespan: Most string inverters on the market offer warranties of 10 or 12 years. Microinverters, on the other hand, have a longer lifespan and often come with a 25-year warranty, matching the lifespan of most modern solar panels. Considering the potentially high cost of replacing a central inverter, microinverters present a compelling case for long-term value.

Easy Installation: Traditional inverters are bulky and can be challenging to carry and install. Microinverters, on the other hand, have a simple installation process that can be completed by most installers within minutes. In fact, some homeowners even choose to install microinverters themselves, making it a DIY-friendly option. Additionally, microinverters feature a unique structural design that supports folding, making them easy to transport and store.

Considerations when Choosing Microinverters:

  • Efficiency: Like solar panels, microinverters come with varying efficiency levels. The higher the efficiency of a microinverter, the more solar energy it can generate. Efficiency ratings are typically measured under ideal conditions, but factors such as climate and weather can affect the actual efficiency of microinverters.

  • Size: Microinverters come in different sizes, each designed to handle different voltage ranges. As you explore microinverter options, you may come across terms like "single-phase" and "three-phase." This refers to how power is distributed within the microinverter system; current flows through one active wire in a single-phase system and through three active wires in a three-phase system. Single-phase microinverters are generally cheaper and suitable for many residential solar panel systems, while three-phase microinverters can transmit more power and potentially enhance performance. For larger households with higher energy demands, three-phase microinverters may be worth considering.

  • Micro inverter cost: While microinverters are typically not the most expensive component in a solar panel installation, it's still important to weigh their cost. Microinverters with longer warranties and higher efficiency levels usually come at a higher price. However, depending on your solar panel system setup and preferences, it may be worth the investment.

If you would like to learn more about the selection of microinverters or have any other questions, please feel free to ask us.

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