How Micro-inverters work

Solar installations need a lot of planning, time and decision making. One of the key factors which need to be put into consideration when putting together any solar system is the inverter. Micro-inverters are a recent advancement t the solar power panel market and is increasing in popularity.

What are micro-inverters?

A micro-inverter is a relatively small power inverter used to convert direct current (or DC) form of electricity to a solar panel or a solar cell and then onto an alternating current (or AC) form of electricity. Electricity generated from several micro inverters is then fed to the electrical grid.

Micro-inverters are the compact units which attach directly to the solar modules in an array. Distributing the process of conversion to every module makes the whole solar system reliable, productive and smart than the traditional inverter systems.

How do Micro inverters work?

Solar panels produce DC at a voltage that is dependent on the module’s design as well lighting conditions. In converting DC to AC using string inverters, the solar panels are connected one after another in a series to produce one huge burst with a nominal rating of about 300 to 600 VDC.

The accumulated power will then pass through the inverter and will consequently be converted to regular AC voltage (240 VDC/60 Hz for the U.S. and Canada and 220 VDC/50 Hz in Europe). The big challenge for using this type of inverter is the limited and often unreliable selection of power ratings.

In comparison, micro inverters are connected to many solar panels. They obtain optimum power that even small amounts of debris, snow or shading in a solar panel wouldn’t affect the electrical output unlike central inverters. They perform in maximum tracking to a connected solar panel.

Micro-inverters are small inverters installed at the solar panel. As each micro inverter operates at the solar panel site of others in the system, they are categorized as module-level power electronics. MLPEs are the optimal option for complicated installations or those that experience marginal shading.

With conventional string inverter technology, the solar panels may generate electricity at the level of low performing solar panel on the same string. The size of every micro inverters depends on the solar panel size and the amount of power it can produce. In case the solar panel generates more power than the micro inverters can convert at a particular time resulting in power losses.

When to use micro inverters

There are several reasons for considering to install micro-inverters. Firstly, they allow monitoring of panel performance. With micro-inverters, you can compare ways every solar panel performs than only evaluating the system’s performance. This means quick servicing of the equipment because it is easy to determine whether a certain panel or micro inverter is failing.

Also, micro inverters are the optimal solution for the complicated installations which have panels that face different directions or even are tilted at a different angle. In case you have panels that face east and others south, the use of micro-inverters on every panel allows them to perform to their maximum while the sun shines because they will not be impacted by the production issues other than the solar panels in the system may experience.

How to evaluate micro-inverters

While comparing the micro-inverter options, there some of the critical factors to consider.

Price

Though they are not the most costly components of the solar panel installation, it is imperative to weigh the cost you will pay for the micro-inverters. High-efficiency micro-inverters with long warranties come with costly price tags, however, may be valuable depending on the setup of the solar panel system and preferences.

Efficiency

Just as the solar power panels, the micro-inverters have different efficiencies. The efficiency of inverters is a measure of the amount of energy lost in the form of heat during the conversion from DC to AC electricity. High-efficiency micro-inverters results in high system efficiencies and more power production.

Warranty

The available micro-inverter options on the market come with a 25-year warranty that will safeguard you against manufacturing defects or even undue degradation. Even two inverter manufacturers offering the same warranty term can provide various levels of coverage as part of the warranty. It is crucial to read and even compare the warranty agreement while selecting solar equipment.

Size

Micro-inverters come in different sizes where each is designed to handle different electricity voltages. Large micro-inverters will be more costly, hover you do not want to install a micro-inverters that are small for the related solar panel power output resulting in much clipping. The micro-inverters manufacturers list the guide as to the maximum DC wattage that a solar power panel needs to have while connected to their products.

Micro-inverter Manufacturers

Several manufacturers sell micro-inverter products, and here are some of the companies.

Sunpower

This company is the leading a high-efficiency solar power panels bought the micro-inverter company in 201. In 2018, the company sold the micro-inverter business to Emphase. This company employs the micro-inverter technology designed and built by Emphase.

AP Systems

This company was founded in California in 2010. Besides the various micro-inverter solutions, their micro-inverters are designed to connect different panels. Indeed, one APSystems micro-inverters may connect up to 4 solar power panels.

Enphase

Enphase is headquartered in California and is the market leader in the micro-inverter technologies. The company’s IQ series is a common option for residential solar panel installations. More to manufacturing the micro-inverters, the company partners with many solar panel manufacturers to produce AC modules. Also, they manufacture power storage and monitoring systems to pairing with the micro-inverter items.

Benefits of Micro-inverters

There are many benefits to micro-inverters; however, it is crucial to consider your solar and property needs. More to efficiently performing system, the other benefits of micro-inverters includes

  • Reliability: Manual high-quality micro-inverters have gone thorough testing in extreme weather conditions.
  • Enhanced safety. The micro-inverters converts the DC power to AC power eliminating the exposures to high DC voltage power.
  • Extended warranties: Micro-inverters have a 25-year warranty.
  • Micro-inverters are of better value and investment. 

The critical drawbacks to Micro-inverters

Some of the main factors which need to be considered while looking for micro-inverters includes possible failure rates and the high upfront costs.

To sum up, for every consideration of solar installation, micro-inverters offer an elegant solution to maximizing the power produced by the solar power panels and convert it to AC power. They are free up wall spaces by creating a separate inverter that is not necessary.

In case you have limited roofing space with varying angles, have a shade from a chimney or trees to compete with, and you are uncertain whether you want to increase the size of the panel, micro-inverters may be the best inverter choice. At the same time, considering using the DC power optimizers other than micro-inverters, especially when you are interested in home battery backup. Refer to the guide that helps you to choose the best inverter system for your home.