Micro and a sting inverters are easily confused. Having a sound knowledge of the difference between these two main inverters will help you make the best decision for your home when deciding to go solar.
First Things First: What Is An Inverter?
Before we can dive into the difference between inverter types, you need a basic understanding of what an inverter even does. An inverter is a device used to convert the current that is gathered by your panels — direct current or DC — into a usable current known as AC (alternating current).
String inverters where the first inverter type to be produced and are still widely used by many installers.
How a sting inverter works
A string inverter has a line of panels that are all connected on the same string. You need the string of panels to be the same length, angle, and type of panel for the inverter to perform accurately.
String inverters with optimizers
To try and help with this performance problem, companies like Solaredge have created a string inverter that uses power optimizers on the back of each panel. The optimizer helps stabilize energy production.
A power optimizer channels the direct current to the central inverter so it can be converted to alternating current. Although better than a traditional sting inverter you still have a single point of failure which means your whole system will shut down if there is a problem.
What scenarios are best for string inverters?
With a string inverter, all the panels will produce at the same production level as the panel with the lowest production available. This means that this inverter is best when there is no shade on your panels.
Microinverters were created as a solution to the shading problems that string inverters where having.
What is a Microinverter?
A Microinverter has a mini inverter connected to the back of each panel so that it can convert maximum power from DC to AC. This allows you to get the maximum power possible whether one panel is being shaded or not.
There have been some questions raised about microinverters heating up the panels, but Greentech media has stated that if the microinverter is installed properly, there will be a large enough gap between the panel and the inverter that the heat from the inverter will have a minimal effect on the performance of your panels.
Situations Best Fitted For A Microinverter
Microinverters solve the shading problems that occur in a traditional string system. The main issue with these systems is that they cost more.
Go Solar Group’s Solutions
Go Solar Group uses the SMA sunny boy on most of their installs, but if the situation calls for it, they use Solar Edge’s optimizer sting inverters. These are both string inverters, but the Solar Edge inverter will allow you to have maximum power when there is shading on a couple of panels.
We decided to stick with SMA’s Sunny Boy because they are the best of the best in string inverters and combine German engineering with American manufacturing. Both of the inverters we use give you the option of adding battery backup to your system either now or down the road.