Choosing Between a Micro Solar Inverter and Traditional Solar Inverter

If you have a home solar system or plan to invest in one, you will need a solar inverter. An inverter is necessary in order to convert the DC or direct current from your solar panels to higher voltage AC or Alternating Current, the type of energy used in households. The question now is what type of solar inverter should you use? A micro inverter? Or the old central solar inverter?

Central Solar Inverter

Central solar inverters are traditionally used for solar panels in converting DC to AC, and many people still use them. The advantage of central inverters is that the technology has been around in the market longer compared to micro inverters. Thus, they have established their credibility in the industry, which makes people want to invest in them.

Another benefit is the cost. Central inverters cost less per watt compared to micro inverters. Since a central inverter uses a single conversion unit, grid management for large applications is simplified. However, this also poses a problem in some cases. When a single solar panel is subjected to shading or any kind of coverage, the energy output of your solar array will be affected. It may be reduced by up to 50%.

Micro Solar Inverter

Micro inverters are not a new technology. They were not very popular in the market during that time however, because of their high cost. Lately however, micro inverters are gaining popularity among many and even appeared on the news.

What is a micro inverter? A micro inverter converts each panel from DC to AC. In other words, instead of a single inverter for the entire array like in central solar inverters, a micro-inverter is installed in each panel or every few panels. This in turn, maximizes the power produced by each solar panel, thus increasing efficiency.

Micro-inverters are particularly very useful in locations with shading or do not enjoy sunny weather all the time. They are easier to install, which make them suitable for residential applications. You can install them to your solar system yourself without much trouble.

One major drawback of micro inverters however, is the price. They cost more per watt compared to central solar inverters. To address this issue, dual micro inverters have been introduced. Dual micro inverters can be connected to two panels at once, thus reducing the cost.

What to Choose

Remember that the inverters are the second most expensive item in a solar energy system. Therefore, it is important to consider all factors when choosing between central inverter and solar micro inverter. It will require some research and careful planning.

First, you will need to determine how many voltages your battery has. An inappropriate sized inverter will affect the production of the components, which is why determining the wattage is very important.

It will also help if you familiarize yourself to terms like serge-watt or continuous-watt. Serge-watt determines the amount of wattage to start an appliance. You want to check the serge-wattage on your appliances to determine if the inverter you plan to install can handle the serge.

Of course, you will also want to select a solar inverter made by a trusted manufacturer with a solid warranty. Some inverters offer a 10-year warranty, while others offer up to 15 years or even more.

The Author

I took an interest in the Australian energy sector close to ten years ago and since then have monitored the trends, technologies and direction of the Australian Energy Market. I was drawn to the Australian solar market in 2008 and since then have worked heavily in the field. I am partnered with national and international solar energy companies, from manufacturers of solar panel and inverter technology, online software developers that introduce tools to quote, monitor and manage solar power systems and media organisations who like myself, closely monitor the solar and renewable energy sector.

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