Microinverters, string inverters, and string inverters with DC optimizers -- oh my! With all the solar technologies out there and not a lot of straightforward information, deciding on the right solar option can be confusing. We're here to break down some key differences for you (in a way you won't need an engineering degree to understand). Once you've got it down,
you might find the choice is simpler than you thought.
Think of solar panels like bulbs in a string of holiday lights. In conventional inverter systems, when one panel fails, the whole system goes out. Or when one panel’s output drops -- thanks to fallen leaves, a passing cloud, or some other unavoidable factor -- the system’s overall performance drops to match that lowest-performing panel. With microinverters, each panel operates independently -- so no matter what happens to any one panel, the rest of your system keeps shining bright.
"I feel that customers are catching on to the misconception that you can just buy SolarEdge optimizers and you're getting all the benefits of a microinverter system. You have a lot more points of liability. The warranty is half as long. Why try to make a string system like a microinverter system? Why not just use microinverters?"
-- Jason Hayes, CEO and President
Advanced Improvements - Anaheim, CA
Whether it's a leaf, dirt, or a cloudy day, obstructions happen. All the time, to every system. With microinverters, only the individual panel is affected, while the others keep performing to their fullest. At the end of the day, that means more solar power and greater energy savings from the same panels.
A string inverter system can only perform as well as its lowest-performing panel. So if shade or a pile of leaves hinders one panel's performance, every other panel operates at the same diminished capacity. That means every little obstacle has a big impact on your energy production -- and takes a bite out of your potential savings.
DC-AC conversion happens on the panel level, so there's never any high-voltage power traveling through your system. In other words, you don't have to worry about the dangers lurking on your own roof.
In a string inverter system, there's a lot of high-voltage electricity working its way across your roof. That comes with potential hazards to both you and your installers, including arc-faulting and fire.
We've built our plug-and-play components to be easier and quicker to install. That's because we know that spending less time on the roof gives installers more time to devote to building their business.
-- Dan Reed, District Manager, Vivint Solar
10,000+ Enphase Systems installed since 2010
What happens when something goes wrong? If it's a string inverter system, it means the installer sends a truck to investigate in person. Making the trip, locating the problem, then resolving it -- by the time it's over, they've spent valuable manpower hours and dollars. With microinverters, smart monitoring lets the installer pinpoint the issue instantly from wherever they are, and often resolve it remotely. (Or if not, arrive at the site knowing exactly what to look for.)
Boom, problem solved; time and money saved.