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Understanding Solar Inverters: The Essential Component in Your System

Sabrina Lopez
November 14, 2022
2 min read

[Originally published on November 14, 2022 | Updated on January 24, 2024 - 4 min read]

Understanding Solar Inverters: The Essential Component in Your Solar Energy System

Solar Edge Inverter-1: When envisioning a solar energy system, solar panels usually capture the spotlight, being the most visible and substantial part of the setup. However, depending on the configuration, a solar system comprises various other critical components like solar meters, inverters, disconnects, conduits, racking, and sometimes batteries. The solar inverter transforms Arizona's abundant sunshine into practical energy.

This blog delves into the solar inverter, exploring its functioning and the types available in the market as of 2024.

What is a Solar Inverter? A solar inverter is essential in your solar power system, converting the direct current (DC) energy generated by solar panels into the alternating current (AC) energy required by household appliances. With an inverter, the DC energy from solar panels remains compatible and usable in your home.

How Do Solar Inverters Function? Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, when exposed to sunlight, activate electrons to generate DC energy stored in the solar cells. This DC energy is then transmitted to the inverter and converted into AC energy. During periods of low solar production, your home draws additional energy from the utility grid or a connected battery. Conversely, excess energy produced by the panels is either fed back into the grid or stored in the battery for later use, with the inverter playing a critical role in converting the stored DC energy back into AC for household use.

Pros and Cons of Various Inverter Types (2024 Edition): Inverters have evolved significantly, with newer models offering enhanced efficiency and features. The primary types of inverters available as of 2024 are:

  1. String Inverters: These are common for small-scale solar arrays, connecting panels in a series to a central inverter. They are cost-effective and durable but may suffer performance drops if one panel in the string malfunctions.

  2. Microinverters: Each panel has an individual inverter, improving efficiency by preventing one panel's issues from affecting the whole system. Microinverters, such as the Enphase IQ8, are ideal for complex roof layouts but are more expensive and complex to install​.

  3. Power Optimizers serve as a middle ground, optimizing each panel's performance before sending energy to a central inverter. They are generally more costly and suited for larger or more complex systems.

  4. Hybrid Inverters: Combining the benefits of string and microinverters, hybrid inverters like the SMA Sunny Boy offer flexibility for both on- and off-grid systems, efficient energy provision after dark, and compact designs suitable for limited spaces​.

Choosing the Right Inverter: Selecting the appropriate inverter requires considering your system's setup and potential shading issues. Expert solar installation teams can assist in making this decision easier, ensuring you choose an inverter that balances cost and efficiency for your unique setup.

Smart inverters have also emerged as a trend, enhancing grid stability and allowing for more efficient energy management, particularly in shared solar setups and during power outages.

Request a free, no-obligation solar consultation for further guidance on solar inverters and to start your solar project.