Micro Inverters are small inverters that optimise the total output of your solar power system, especially when dealing with shading and orientation issues. These inverters work independently with your solar panels to convert electricity onsite to AC. With microinverters, each module’s output power will no longer depend on the performance of others.
Solar power systems like string or central inverters are not the best solutions for rooftops with a complex geometry. If a single panel malfunctions, it will affect all other solar panels.
However, a microinverter system has each module operating independently and can help you maintain your solar total output power.
In this post, we’ll explain what microinverters are and how they work.
Read on to discover the advantages and disadvantages of using this solar power system.
What is a micro inverter?
Microinverters are small inverters that go directly on solar panels (each panel has one microinverter). They are part of the Module-Level Power Electronics (MLPE) family – a technology that maximises your PV system by boosting the Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) in each module independently.
Homeowners and installers have different options available when designing a PV system. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) says that the MLPE is gaining a market share of 55% at a residential level. The microinverter from Enphase was the first MLPE to come onto the market.
Unlike the string or central inverter, a microinverter converts DC to AC separately in every module. It makes the output power of each module independent of the performance limitations of the others.
What does a solar micro inverter do?
Typically, PV systems use sunlight to produce DC, which the inverter then converts to AC. Microinverters enable each solar panel to produce AC. Each micro-inverter works independently to turn DC into AC, eliminating shading and orientation issues on another panel.
Solar panels connected in strings are dependent on each other. In this case, the entire system is affected when one of the panels is malfunctioning or not exposed to sunlight. Solar-related issues also arise because the installer wired solar panels with different orientations.
If the rooftop of your house has a complex geometry or uneven shading, you will benefit from using microinverters.
Since these systems work independently (one microinverter per solar panel), they are more expensive overall. The more solar panels you have, the more microinverters you will need.
But you won’t have to worry about shading and orientation issues with microinverters, as each solar is panel-independent. However, you can save on the extra installation costs of microinverters by using a smart layout. Your installer needs to locate the best areas of your roof to do this.
How microinverters work
Microinverters convert electricity from each solar panel onsite to AC before sending it to the fuse box and electric grid. They help maintain your total output, even when one panel is shaded. Your solar panel system will be more efficient with micro inverters.
When solar modules are wired together and fed to a single inverter, the solar energy output will depend on the worst-performing panel.
In order words, if a particular panel malfunctions, it will affect all other panels.
This is the case with traditional string inverter systems, as the panels are all grouped in a set.
With microinverters placed behind each panel in your solar array, a malfunctioning panel does not affect your total output.
That’s because every single panel operates independently with its own microinverter.
What is the advantage of a microinverter?
Microinverters have some benefits over other solar power inverter systems, including performance monitoring, ease of installation, and more. No string inverters are needed in this configuration. AC energy is directly injected from each PV module to the load panel.
Here’s a list of the advantages of having a microinverter system:
1. Shading affects individual modules only
Each module has a microinverter behind it and operates independently. So, when a panel malfunctions due to lack of sunlight exposure or other reasons, it does not affect the entire system.
2. Monitoring of performances in each module
You can easily monitor the individual performance of each module using your smartphone. Mobile apps such as the Enphase Enlighten system can notify you when your total output is less than expected.
3.No DC power loss
DC to AC conversion happens at the site of the solar panels, which results in zero DC power loss.
4. Easy installation
Panel-integrated microinverters are easy to install. Some manufacturers integrate microinverters into solar panels out of the box. This makes installation a lot easier, as you will only need to wire the panels together, and everything is ready to go.
Labour hours make up a huge part of your investment during solar installation. So, getting panel-integrated microinverters is an excellent way to lower installation costs.
5. Expansion is easy as you only need to add more panels with micro-inverters
A microinverter system makes for easy expansion in the future. It is the perfect solution for people currently working with a limited budget but has plans to harvest more energy in the future.
So, if you’re sure you’ll be needing more energy for, say, a home-based workshop, microinverters are the way to go.
6. Highest efficiency regarding several orientations in each string
With microinverters, all the available electricity from each panel converts onsite to AC before moving to the fuse box and electric grid. Your solar PV system will become more efficient, as your total output won’t suffer when some panels encounter shading or orientation issues.
Are there disadvantages of microinverters?
There are a few disadvantages of using a microinverter system. Some of them include higher system costs than other systems and many total components.
Here’s a list of the disadvantages associated with microinverters:
1. Higher system costs among all system configurations
Microinverters are more expensive than other solar power systems, as you need one inverter per module. The more solar panels you have, the more microinverters you need. With lots of installation components, you can expect installation costs to be on the high side.
However, the amount you pay on installation depends on how much of a challenge it is to work on your roof and the installer you choose.
2. High number of total components
Microinverter systems are made up of many components, which can be a problem when dealing with a small space. Also, most of the equipment is made of metals. Having all that metallic components on your rooftop can be enticing for lightning to hit.
Are microinverters worth the extra money?
Microinverters are only worth the added costs if your rooftop has a complex geometry. In this case, any other solar power inverter system will suffer shading and orientation issues. It’s better to use a smart layout to save the extra installation costs of microinverters where possible.
Microinverters can help in challenging solar installation considerations, as they maximise the energy your panels produce and convert it to AC electricity. You will no longer need a separate inverter and will free up some wall space in your home.
If you want more efficiency without expanding your solar system, you will benefit from investing in microinverters.
When to use microinverters
Microinverters are the best options for a solar power system when your rooftop is uneven or has a complex geometry. Some everyday situations include houses with:
- Limited roof space
- Multiple angles
- A chimney to contend with
- Shading from trees
Microinverters can be a handy solution for people who don’t have space for an in-house inverter. Unlike string inverters, a fault or shading in one panel with a microinverter does not affect all the other panels.
Microinverters are small inverters built for individual solar panels. They are attached behind the panels to help convert DC to AC electricity onsite. These miniature inverters are pricier than other solar power systems and are only necessary for rooftops with a complex geometry.
An expert provider like Instyle solar can provide you with the most cost-effective solution possible.
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