May 17, 2021

String vs. Micro Inverters: Which Type Is Better For Your Solar Panel System?

Solar Energy

One of the most essential pieces of a solar panel system is the inverter. What is an inverter you ask? It is a device that converts the direct current power (DC) produced by your solar panels to alternating current (AC) that is used throughout your home or business. Without inverters, your solar panel system would be useless.

Inverters come in many sizes and efficiencies but all of them do the same thing. There are two main types of solar inverters used: string inverters and micro-inverters. Each has its advantages and drawbacks. Let’s take a look at each to find out which one will work best for you.

String Inverters

Whenever a solar system is installed on a home or business, the panels are grouped together into rows called strings. They are called strings because each row or grouping is connected by one wire that leads to one central inverter. There may be several groupings, but they all feed into the same location. Each group functions as a single unit. That means  if there is shading or debris blocking the sunlight on one panel, it lowers the total power output of all the others as well. In other words, the string is only as strong as its weakest link.

This is not necessarily a weakness, however. In fact, string systems are the most common type of solar configuration used because they are a reliable and proven technology. They are also the easiest and most affordable type to install. And, should there be an electrical problem with your inverter, string configurations make it easy to locate and fix.

So, if you own a home or business that is free of any type of shading and has roof space that receives sunlight throughout the day, a string system is your best option.

solar panel string and micro inverter configurations
The power output of a micro-inverter configuration (left) compared to a string inverter configuration (right) when sunlight is obstructed by debris.

Micro-Inverters

In contrast to string inverters, micro-inverters are attached to each solar panel in the system. They operate by converting the DC current into AC directly at the panel and then sending it into the home. This allows each panel to operate independently instead of in a group.

The advantage is individual panels will not lose power if one of their neighbors has an obstruction to sunlight. This makes optimizing your system for maximum output much easier and provides the flexibility for systems to be installed on homes or businesses where there is partial or otherwise unavoidable shading or debris.

The drawback to micro-inverters is that they are more expensive and complicated to install. They also make locating electrical issues within your system more difficult and time-consuming. However, these drawbacks may be an acceptable tradeoff given the better power output and ability to work well in less than ideal conditions.

The Best Option

So, what is the best option? That depends on your particular situation. Does your roof receive unobstructed sunlight throughout the day? Do you want to maximize the power output of your system? Is affordability an issue? Do you want to be able to monitor and control your system remotely? The answer to these questions will help you decide which type of solar inverter will work best for you.  

At Shine, the majority of our installations use Enphase micro-inverters. This is because in our service area, there are many trees and other sunlight obstructions that make this type of configuration the best and most flexible option. Also, many home and business owners want to optimize and monitor their systems down to the panel level. This is only possible with a micro-inverter configuration.

So, now that you better understand how solar panel systems work, what are you waiting for? Call Shine today at 844-80-SHINE or visit our website at www.shinesolar.com and let us show you how easy it is to virtually eliminate your electric bill and become energy independent.

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Nick Gorden

Nick Gorden is the Co-founder and CEO of Shine Solar. Nick’s energy, enthusiasm, and leadership is contagious and has contributed to attracting a talented and successful executive team. His time is focused on strategic growth, maintaining profitability and creating the optimal customer experience. Nick has started, managed and sold companies within the communications, mortgage lending, insurance and real estate industries resulting in tens of millions of dollars of market value to investors.

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